Among the largest and greenest of Greece’s Cyclades Islands, laid-back Naxos offers myriad delights. As well as the sandy beaches so typical of Aegean islands, fertile Naxos also boasts mountain villages, lush valleys, and a bustling seaside capital packed with Venetian monuments and ancient attractions.
Naxos is a common day trip or side trip destination for visitors based on the nearby islands of Paros, Santorini, Mykonos, and Ios. Many tours of the island dock at the main port town of Naxos Town (Hora) on the west coast, known for its Venetian fort, harborfront walkways, and Byzantine churches.
Beaches are a big draw, with several stretches, such as Agios Georgios and Plaka Beach, within easy reach of Naxos Town, as are ancient sites, including the Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Demeter. Active travelers will find plenty to keep them occupied, from windsurfing and horseback rides on the beach to hiking in the hilly interior.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Naxos is a must for history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, and beach lovers.
- While local buses do connect most of the island’s major destinations, popular routes fill quickly during the summer months. For more flexibility, consider renting a car or scooter or joining a guided tour of the island.
- Pick up a map of Naxos Town; it’s easy to get lost among the city’s winding streets.
How to Get There
Domestic flights operated by Olympic Air and Sky Express connect Athens to Naxos; the airport is located about 2 miles (3 kilometers) southwest of Naxos Town. Most visitors arrive in Naxos by boat. Ferries from Crete, Piraeus, and many of the Cycladic Islands stop at Naxos Town’s main jetty. Ferries from Paros—run by Blue Star Ferries, SeaJets, Hellenic Seaways, and Golden Star Ferries—run regularly and take around 25–45 minutes.
When to Get There
Naxos is at its best between June and September, when the weather is sunny, and the waters are warm enough for swimming. Naxos attracts fewer tourists than neighboring Mykonos and Santorini, so even in the peak visitor months of July and August, it rarely feels overrun.
Historic Sites on Naxos
Having been inhabited for the best part of 6,000 years, Naxos has a lot of history. Archaeological sites and monuments such as the 6th-century BC Temple of Demeter ruins, the Temple of Apollo, and the Kouroi of Flerio—a large marble statue of a nude figure—hark back to ancient times. In Naxos Town, meanwhile, the area around the Kastro (Castle) features Venetian mansions and buildings, including the remains of the 13th-century Tower of Sanoudos.