Planning to spend one or two days in Naxos? Use this Naxos itinerary to plan the perfect stopover on this special Greek island!
Naxos is one of the most beautiful Cycladic islands. It’s located in the heart of the Aegean Sea and it embodies the ideal of the Greek island with a whitewashed old town and an imposing castle surveilling the sea. The island features unique archaeological sites and findings, a beautiful port, and a laid-back vibe. You can see a lot in just a few days!
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Where to Stay in Naxos
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Naxos. Generally, budget means hotel stays for around $65 a night, mid-range is from about $50-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.
Luxury: There are so many beautiful places to stay in Naxos when your budget is more flexible, that’s very hard to choose. Our favorite places are Alkyoni Beach Hotel and Melidron Luxury Hotel & Suites in Agios Prokopios.
Planning to visit Santorini as well on your trip? We’ve curated a list of all the best Santorini Cave Hotels & Suites
The Landscape of Naxos
Considered the largest and most important Cycladic island, Naxos is in a rather central position in the South Aegean Sea. It has a mountainous landscape with high peaks and traditional mountain settlements.
A rich island with fertile, green valleys, offering some of the best crops in Greece, including the well-known potatoes of Naxos. Overall, Naxos represents a suitable environment for stock raising as well. Besides, the island is home to some of the prettiest beaches in Greece.
When to Visit Naxos
Being such a big island, Naxos is not just a holiday destination. All year round there are shops and hotels open so it’s a good idea to schedule a visit during less busy months, such as September and October, when you will certainly find not just good weather, but also many things to do.
How to Get to Naxos
The best way to visit Naxos is to travel by ferry, either from Athens or from any other Cycladic island. Since the port of Naxos is one of the main ferry stops in the Aegean, it’s super easy to reach the island and, once there, board another ferry to visit any other island in the area.
Just a few meters from the port, you will find yourself in the heart of the old town, the Chora. You can travel to Naxos with a high-speed catamaran or by ferry. Usually, it’s easier to book your tickets online.
A regular boat trip by ferry departing from Athens takes from 5 to 6 hours while a trip by high-speed boat can take less than 4. You can also fly to Naxos from Athens International Airport. The flight Athens-Naxos is less than an hour.
Great Things to Do in Naxos in Two Days
The first day on Naxos
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the imposing structure of the Portara, which is probably the most famous landmark in Naxos.
Located on the tip of an islet, the Portara (which in Greek means big door) is connected to Naxos through a long stone path. However, no matter how stunning the Portara might look to you, don’t head there just yet, let’s leave it for the last hours of the day. There’s no better place in Naxos where you can enjoy the sunset!
Visit the Chora
Walk all the way from the port to the old town of Naxos, which is one of the most beautiful in the Aegean. A stroll along the alleys of Naxos town can take anything from 1 to 4 hours, depending on how interested you are in discovering the past of the island.
The old town directly faces the sea. It’s a magnificent labyrinth of cobblestone alleys, with connecting passages, arches, and buildings that truly stand the test of time. The ancient houses, as well as the imposing Venetian castle, are some of the must-see buildings in the old Chora.
Known as Kastro of Sanoudo, the Frankish Castle of Naxos was built back in 1207. It used to have 12 different towers, of which only one remains, the circular tower known as Krispi, and it’s located opposite the Portara.
The Chora also houses many small churches and chapels with blue domes and whitewashed walls. There are also exhibition venues and art galleries hosted in old Venetian houses and a few museums as well.
The Archaeological Museum of Naxos is one of those places worth a visit, it is hosted in a magnificent historical building from the period of the Frankish rule (13th – 16th centuries AD).
The museum hosts several archaeological collections such as the magnificent Early Cycladic marble figurine. There is also an interesting collection of glass vases from the Roman period in the museum.
Other museums you can explore are the Venetian Museum Della Rocca-Barozzi portraying interesting pieces dating from the Venetian times which used to belong to the Italian aristocrats that lived within the walls of the castle.
Finally, the Folk Museum Collection is a perfect place to discover everything about the local traditions, folklore, and history of Naxos.
At lunchtime, stop for a quick gyro wrap at Yasouvlaki, almost at the end of the seaside promenade, and head to Agios Prokopios, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.
Sunbathe at Agios Prokopios Beach
The beach has received many awards for the clean waters, it is truly one of the best beaches on the island
Agios Prokopios is a popular seaside area in Naxos. The best way to get to Agios Prokopios is by bus. Buses ride every half an hour and the trip takes about 10 minutes as the beach is less than 6 km away from the center of Naxos.
Conveniently located quite close to the main town, Agios Prokopios is a wonderful beach, with beautiful light blue waters and smooth, clear sand. It’s very well organized, so there’s no need to pack anything other than the essentials, such as very protective sunscreen lotion, a beach towel, and flip flops.
The beach is not as wide as you could expect, but quite long, so even when crowded, it doesn’t really give the impression of being surrounded by hundreds of tourists. Agios Prokopios is a great place to spend the afternoon. There are several restaurants and bars along the coast for a cocktail or a cold coffee in the afternoon.
It’s also possible to practice windsurfing or play beach volley in Agios Prokopios. Besides, the area is a good place to book a stay, there are several hotels, and it’s quite a tranquil spot once the beachgoers have left.
Spend some time sunbathing, swimming, or snorkeling in the clear sea and then jump on the bus again to make it all the way back to the port.
Sunset at the Portara
You will experience one of the most magical sunsets in Greece when heading to the Portara a few minutes before the sun goes down. The place tends to be a bit crowded since nobody really wants to miss witnessing Naxos’ most famous sunset place.
It’s always a good idea to grab a coffee to go along the seaside promenade, and walk until you reach the Portara at least 15 minutes before the sun goes down. This way, you’ll be able to find the perfect spot.
The Portara of Naxos is an imposing marble monument over 2500 years old. It’s located on the small islet of Ariadne and connected to the island of Naxos through a pathway. It faces both the Chora and the port of Naxos and it’s believed to have been one of the gates to a magnificent temple dedicated to the god Apollo.
Once the sun starts going down, the sun rays illuminate the gate, passing through the mysterious gate, and tinging the rest of the island with a magnificent palette of reds and oranges. Some people are so stunned by the view that forget to turn their heads and catch a glimpse of the old town of Naxos which seems to catch fire!
Once this natural show is over, head back to the port, have dinner or enjoy a kitron cocktail… What’s kitron? You will learn all about it on day 2, so set your alarm clock early and get ready for a second day full of adventure.
The second day on Naxos
To explore the villages of Naxos the best thing you can do is rent a car. Otherwise, it will be quite difficult to fit all the villages we’re planning to see in a day relying only on public transport.
If you’re interested in discover every little secret about life on a Greek island, some tours completely immerse you in everyday rituals and traditions. The one I always suggest is this Greek cooking experience with a local family. It takes place in an authentic small village and you also get to eat all the things you cook!
So today, start by spending the morning driving on the mountains to explore the villages of Halki and Apeiranthos.
Mountain Village of Halki
Halki is the first village we will visit today. The picturesque mountain settlement is one of the must-see spots in Naxos, and it’s famous for the production of kitron. Kitron is the trademark of the island Is a sweet liqueur that has been produced on the island for centuries, and the most important kitron factory is in Halki.
Vallindras is Naxos’ most important kitron distillery and it has a fantastic museum open to the public on the main road of Halki. Pay a visit to discover the citrus plant that gives origin to the spirit and the method to prepare the drink.
Inside the factory, you’ll also be able to see the old cauldrons used to distillate the drink and to sample the three different types of liquors they produce.
Spend the rest of the morning visiting the artisan shops where women still produce unique embroidered fabric by hand. In Halki, it’s a good idea to stop at one of the local tavernas for a traditional lunch and a taste of galaktoboureko.
Galaktoboureko is a very authentic Greek dessert made with soft custard and covered with a thin dough of phyllo pastry. The dessert is then finished with a generous amount of very sweet syrup. The best way to enjoy it is with a cup of Greek coffee.
The Marble Town of Apeiranthos
The next stop on our mountain trip is the village of Apeiranthos, about 40 minutes from Halki. To get to Apeiranthos you need to drive up the mountain and pass in front of the traditional settlement of Filoti. As you climb up to Apeiranthos, you’ll enjoy the unique landscape of Naxos’ highest peak, Mount Zas.
By many people regarded as the most beautiful gem in Naxos, Apeiranthos village has managed to retain a unique authenticity still visible in its alleys, houses, and monuments.
The unique village is inhabited by nearly 1100 people who trace their origins back to the island of Crete. They share a distinct dialect that shares some traits with the Cretan dialect. The village is disposed in a semi-circular shape at the slopes of Mount Fanari with beautiful views of the mountains.
Apeiranthos boasts the typical architecture of mountain houses but almost all of them are made of bright white marble. It is, in fact, known as the marble village of Naxos. In the village, stone-built towers and churches also display marble facades.
The village stands about 600 above sea level, an altitude that offers extraordinary views from any of the cafeterias facing the underlying valleys.
If you’re interested in the history of the village, you can visit not one but five different museums! The most remarkable ones being the Apeiranthos Archaeological Museum as well as the Museum of Natural History.
Temple of Demeter
If you still have some time left, embark on a journey through the past of Naxos reaching the magnificent Temple of Demeter in the village of Sangri.
One of the most perfect examples of Classic architecture, the Temple of Demeter was constructed with fine marble from Naxos and dates back to the 6th century BC.
Demeter was the ancient goddess of agriculture and grain, therefore the temple stands in the center of one of the most fertile valleys of Naxos.
In the nearby area, it’s also possible to visit a museum dedicated to the temple, which showcases unique findings unearthed during the archaeological excavations.
As centuries went by, the temple was turned into a Christian center during the Christian period on the island. Today, it’s still possible to visit the remains of a small chapel dedicated to Saint John, built in the center of the archaeological site.
The church was probably ruined in the 6th century A.D. when the Arabs invaded the island. However, it was rebuilt in 1977 not far from the temple.
The temple is located only 10 km from the center of Naxos and it’s open to the public every day except Tuesdays.
These are some of the stunning things you can do in Naxos and the amazing places you can visit if you spend two days on the island. Although the island is pretty big and there are countless more things to discover, this 2-day itinerary covers some of the most remarkable places that you can enjoy during your Naxos adventure!
5 Things to Bring with You to Naxos
If you’re planning a trip to Naxos, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in Santorini is drinkable, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! There are places on the island where the water tastes like minerals.
We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Santorini roads are winding, especially around the coast. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
– Travel safety items. We think Santorini is very safe to travel to, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie nor I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.
It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
More Greece Travel Resources
Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip.
First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more.
Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.
If you’ll be spending time in Athens, check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned!
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Naxos with Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Santorini, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!
Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. While Santorini is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.
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Gabi Ancarola is a translator and travel journalist living in Crete. She regularly writes about the island for several magazines about travel, gastronomy, and hospitality. She has published several travel guides about Greece and runs a local gastronomy tour in Chania. She loves cooking local dishes, taking photos, and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.