A destination rising in popularity among the yachting aficionados, Naxos is the largest Cycladic island and abounds in hidden turquoise beaches, scenic villages, and charming port towns. Beautifully underexplored, this stunning hidden jewel is the perfect choice for those looking to stay under the radar but enjoy the beauty that matches that of more popular and nearby Santorini or Mykonos. With dozens of well-preserved archeological sites and alabaster sand beaches that could easily be confused with resorts in the Caribbean, Naxos offers a laid-back vibe and a nonchalant allure that will surely convince you to stay a few days more than you first planned.
The most underrated Cycladic island is often overlooked by tourists - but their loss is solely your gain. It was previously named Dionysia because it was the residence of the Greek god of wine in ancient mythology, Naxos is also the most fertile Cycladic island and is covered in green forests, fragrant orchards, and enchanting vineyards.
Stroll around the neoclassical towns, enjoy the delicious local sweets and wake up to a new dreamy beach every day on your luxury charter cruise - Naxos is the ideal place to escape the everyday frenzy and enjoy a tranquil tour through the enchanting hilltop villages and electric blue beaches.
Best towns to visit in Naxos
Being a large island with a landmass of 429.8 km, Naxos is an ideal choice for the wanderlust infected charterers who crave variety during their vacation. With plenty of hauntingly beautiful towns and ancient ruins, this Cycladic island offers plenty to do both on feet and on land.
Often referred to simply as Naxos Town, Chora is one of those places that provokes love at first sight. The main city seduces with its eclectic architecture, heavily influenced by Venetian, Byzantine, and Cycladic styles. As you enter the harbor, you’ll immediately notice the Portara, a huge square marble gate that dominates the small Palatia islet, connected to the city by an isthmus that leads to the waterfront. The Portara is the only remaining part of the Apollo Temple, whose construction began in 520 BC but was never finished and consisted of four marble parts that weigh 20 tons each. Today, this is the most emblematic site of Naxos and home to some of the most colorful sunsets in Greece.
Beautifully backdropped by the craggy hillside, the town served as the cultural hub of the island since ancient times and still has a vibrant social and art scene, with remnants of different historical eras and various conquerors. Just at the top of Chora, you’ll find a beguiling Venetian castle, referred to by locals simply as Kastro, that serves as a time capsule that will quickly transport you to the medieval days. It was built by the Venetian duke Markos II Sanoudos who ruled the island under Frank’s sovereignty in the early 13th century. Walk along the steep streets surrounded by cubist mansions to reach the Castle of Sanoudos and round Crispi tower that houses the Byzantine Museum with a vast collection of sculptures from the 7th to 12th century. At the top of Kastro, you’ll find the Archeological Museum with an impressive display of artifacts dating back to Neolithic times. Here, you may also see the Mycenaean vases and early Cycladic figurines.
On your way from the citadel back to the waterfront, you’ll walk through a labyrinth of whimsical old streets lined with shops and cafes. You might find yourself tempted to spend hours visiting the galleries and bars housed in whitewashed houses with blue shutters - while you’re there, you can shop for some souvenirs to bring back home. Chora is also the liveliest settlement on the island and really comes alive at night - put on your dancing shoes to enjoy the music in one of the trendy bars and nightclubs in the promenade. Head to DaCosta for a more intense party experience or book a table at the Ocean Bar to enjoy beats played by talented international DJs.
Located in the center of the island, the picturesque village of Halki or Chalki makes a great first impression with its seductive Venetian and Byzantine architecture and verdant hills. Tucked away in the valley of Tragea, the charming village is the principal olive cultivation area of Naxos. Walk through the maze of old streets making regular stops to savor the delicious Kalamata olives and make your way to the imposing renaissance Barozzi Tower or visit the oldest church on the island, Agia Panagia. The fertile land of the village is covered in aromatic citron trees from which the locals produce the peculiar Kitron liquor sold on every corner - buy a bottle or two to enjoy after dinner on the sundeck of your luxury charter yacht.
Completely unique and different from any other Naxos village, Apiranthos is situated between two viridescent valleys and offers mesmerizing scenery and a relaxed Mediterranean tempo.
The romantic village is dotted with Venetian mansions, all gleaming in fine marble, juxtaposed by fragrant trees. Apiranthos is, in fact, so green that its name actually translates to “plenty of flowers”.
Culture vultures will surely enjoy one of the three museums found in the village - the Archeological, Geological, and Folk Art museums all have interesting exhibitions that tell about different segments of the heritage of this Cycladic island. Just above the village, you’ll find a 16th-century windmill located by the ruins that provide stunning views of the mountainous island and serves as a perfect spot for stargazing at night.
Best Beaches in Naxos
With a myriad of exotic-looking white sand beaches, it can be quite difficult to decide where to head next. The best beaches are located on the west coast and are different from ones you’ll find on other Cycladic islands, mostly due to their size. With seemingly endless stretches of white sand and turquoise seas, Naxos offers a unique experience for sea worshippers looking to enjoy the tropic vibes.
Located just 8 km from the main town, Plaka Beach is the most popular on the island and certainly one of the most beautiful in Greece. Just at the start of the beach, you’ll find taverns and cafes that offer complimentary parasols and loungers - the rest is just uninterrupted nature, sugarcane sand, and crystal clear seas.
Agios Prokopios Beach
Another gem found near Chora, Agios Prokopios extends over 1,5 km and has the softest golden sand you’ve ever come across. Mercifully protected by the wind, the beach is covered in sandy dunes and is perfect for those looking to enjoy a laid-back family beach day.
With so many sandy beaches to choose from, it’s easy to find a secluded oasis to enjoy nothing but nature and exotic scenery. Aliko, sometimes referred to as Hawaii beach, is a natural reserve ideal for moments when you want to enjoy some peace and quiet in an Eden-like setting. No tavernas and beach bars - just neverending stretches of fine sand, turquoise seas, and the scent of cedar trees planted along the dunes.
Mikri Vigla Beach
For those looking to enjoy a more active beach day, Mikri Vigla offers a unique water sport experience and is known as a popular kitesurfing location thanks to Meltemi, winds specific to the Cycladic islands. It’s found in close proximity to Chora and consists of two impressive beaches separated by a large hill. The northern part of the beach is the place to brush up your kitesurfing or windsurfing skills, while the southern part, also known as Sahara Beach, is the place to relax and enjoy a more tranquil atmosphere and is more suitable for those traveling with children.
Aliko Agios Beach
The sandy cove resembles Santorini hotspots in many ways, except for it being spared by mass tourism. Protected by the winds by green hills and mountains, the beach takes its name from the whitewashed chapel of Agios Georgios and is a great option for families traveling with children.
It’s not easy to decide between Naxos beaches - there’s the scenic Agia Anna beach, the verdant Orkos, and Caribbean-looking Maragas, but Kastraki beach steals the show with soft sand impressive rock formations, and limpid, glittery seas, often overlooked by tourists.
Best Restaurants In Naxos
Being the most fertile Cycladic island, Naxos is covered in orchards and vineyards - the fresh local produce and traditional recipes make it one of the best places for foodies looking for an authentic Greek culinary journey.
A bohemian and upscale beach bar on Plaka offers a unique seaside dining experience but is also a great place to base your entire day around. Focused on organic, locally-sourced ingredients and Greek fine cuisine with a twist, 521project offers mouthwatering dishes like handmade phyllo pies and delicious cocktails to enjoy at sunset.
At first glance, this seems just like another ordinary Greek tavern, but you’re in for a surprise. Dalas is the best place to try ridiculously underpriced Naxos cuisine in a charming garden setting of Koronos village.
A great choice if you have a special occasion in mind, Ostria Inn is a gorgeous family-run seaside restaurant with a perfect ambiance for romantic evenings and artfully presented gourmet meals that honestly deserve a Michelin star.
Antamoma Cuisine Deli Store
A hip restaurant in the main town, Antamoma Cuisine Deli Store serves classic Greek recipes with an innovative rendition, with fresh products grown at their own farm. A pinnacle of style and sustainable cuisine, this modern restaurant is a must-see during your stay in Chora.
A stellar beach restaurant with four decades of tradition, Nissaki has a privileged location in St George bay and offers gourmet meals that will exceed the expectations of any hedonists that come by. Make sure to try the lobster linguine - they’re simply to die for!