Naxos Island – guide and useful information
Naxos is the largest, greenest and most fertile island in the Cyclades archipelago, being located in the middle of the Aegean Sea and if you have been thinking of a less commercial summer destination, Naxos is the ideal place for a stay to remember with pleasure.
The island of Naxos is bordered to the west by the island of Paros, to the north by Mykonos and Delos, to the south by the group of islands Heraklia, Shinoussa, Koufonissia and to the east by the small islands of Donoussa, Stroggili and Aghia Paraskevi. Naxos is known as the island of the god Dyonyssos (the god of the vine and wine in Greek mythology) and has recently established itself as an attractive tourist destination, especially for relaxation and rest, being much quieter than its neighbors Mykonos or Santorini.
The capital of the island is Naxos Town (Chora), which, together with the 64 villages, mostly mountainous, benefits from a pleasant climate for tourists who come here to spend a quiet vacation and enjoy the delicious dishes of the local cuisine.
The island of Naxos is surrounded by numerous beaches making it a perfect destination for lovers of vacations, nature, peace and beauty and offers optimal conditions for lovers of water sports. The beaches where windsurfing is practiced are Amitis and Aliko for a quiet surf, Saint Prokopios, Santa Anna, Mikri Vigla and Pyrgaki for slalom and speed.
Beaches in the island of Naxos
Agios Georgios beach is a beach with fine sand and crystal clear waters, being located in the capital of Naxos Town. With a length of about 1 km, Agios Georgios beach is ideal for families with children, being very well laid out and clean.
Enjoying numerous tourist facilities, such as hotels, bars and cafes, but also an ideal atmosphere for a family vacation, Agios Georgios awaits you just a few steps from Naxos Town, combining utility and relaxation. The beach is equipped with deckchairs and umbrellas and hosts a windsurfing school.
Agios Prokopios beach is a beach with fine, yellow sand, with a length of about 1-2 km. The beach is only 5 km from Naxos Town – the capital of the island and is served by a bus station.
A part of Agios Prokopios beach is organized and welcomes tourists with deckchairs, parasols and centers for renting water sports equipment, and a part is left in the talented hands of nature, being ideal for those who want to relax in peace, directly on the fine sand.
Agia Anna beach is the continuation of Agios Prokopios beach, with the same fine sand and crystal clear waters. You can get here by bus from Naxos Town. This beach consists of a group of small strips of sand interrupted by a small fishing port and some stray rocks.
Located 10 km from Naxos Town, Plaka beach is a beach with very good quality fine sand and crystal clear waters, which stretches for several kilometers. Plaka is like a continuation of Agia Anna beach and is one of the most beautiful beaches of the island, but also listed among the most beautiful beaches in Greece. At the beginning of the beach, you can find sunbeds and umbrellas, but most of it retains its unspoiled natural beauty, without any tourist facilities to disfigure it. A few hotels, restaurants and cafes can be found behind the sand dunes that line the beautiful beach.
Plaka beach hypnotizes with the calmness of the sea and the peaceful atmosphere and encourages relaxation and dreaming. At the beginning of the strip of sand, you will find an organized portion, but if you move away from the most popular area, you will discover corners of paradise intended for those who prefer the peace of nature.
Mikri Vigla beach, with fine white sand, is a beach that stretches for about 4 km. The northern part of the beach is called Parthena, being separated from the southern part – Sahara by a hill. Mikri Vigla beach is about 14 km away from Naxos Town.
Orkos beach is located in the vicinity of Plaka beach, but different in atmosphere. Made up of a series of small coves and surrounded by hills dressed in red, where potato plantations grow, the beach offers a picturesque setting for relaxation and days spent in the sun, far from the tourist bustle. Orkos beach is organized and does not even need sunbeds, umbrellas and other modern facilities, because its beauty is enough to charm tourists.
Kastraki is another very beautiful beach on the west coast of the island of Naxos. Located immediately after the southern beach of Mikri Vigla, Kastraki is a quiet village, which hosts several apartments for rent and numerous coves. It is not a place very visited by tourists, so it can easily become your personal oasis of relaxation in Naxos.
Just 2 km from the village you will discover the small Venetian fortress Pyrgos Oskelos. Several taverns are waiting for you on the village’s seafront, and in some parts of the beach you can also find sunbeds. The southern end of the beach, known as Glyfada, has two small lakes and several taverns that offer sea views.
Aliko beach will appear immediately after Kastraki and Glyfada beaches, bringing you even closer to the south of the island. The beach is located at a distance of 17 km from Naxos Town and is an ideal place to relax, far from tourist complexes and the agglomeration specific to Greek summers.
Walking along the beach, you will discover several coves surrounded by very fine white sand and shaded by tamarisk bushes. The forest in this area has been declared a protected natural region.
Pirgaki is a small beach and covered with golden sand, access to the beach is on an unpaved road, the beach being directly exposed to the sun’s rays throughout the day, without any corner of shade. The winds turn Pirgaki beach into an ideal destination for windsurfing lovers, and the shallow waters at the shore are ideal for families with small children.
Nearby you will find a tavern and a hotel complex that seems out of place in this beautiful virgin landscape. However, it turns out to be very useful if you want to stay longer here or have a meal. Being a secluded beach, Pyrgaki is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island of Naxos, a fact that once again proves the beauty and charm of the island.
Attractions and sights in the island of Naxos
The castle in Naxos Town was built by order of Marco Sanudo, conqueror of the Cyclades in 1207 and he made the island of Naxos the seat of his duchy. In addition to his residence, the castle also contained various administrative institutions. It was designed in the shape of a pentagon, with buildings and villas in the Venetian style. The castle of Naxos still preserves the enchanting medieval atmosphere and offers enchanting views of the city and the sea.
The ruins of the Portara temple, a temple dedicated to the god Apollo, are also well preserved. The construction of the temple began in the 6th century BC. during the reign of King Lygdamis, never being finished because he was exiled after losing the war with the tyrant Samos.
Iria is a sacred place where people’s life and activities have continued without interruption since the 14th century BC until today. The sanctuary was discovered in 1982 and opened to the public in 1992, representing the cradle of Ionic architecture.
The temple of the goddess Demeter is located near the village of Sangri. To get here from the capital of the island, you can take a bus, and the entrance ticket costs 2 euros. The bus leaves you on the road, but there are signs to help you reach the temple. From the village of Sangri to the Temple of Demeter is approximately 2 km. Demeter is the goddess of agriculture and prosperity in Greek mythology, and the temple in Naxos was built in the 6th century B.C. It seems that until a few years ago there was not much to see there, not a single piece of the temple was left standing, but some German archaeologists discovered that the pieces used in the construction of the temple remained on the site, being either buried or used in other constructions. The Temple of Demeter was restored and looks almost intact.
Agios Mamas is one of the oldest churches in Naxos, dating back to the 9th century. The church of Agios Mamas is famous for its fine cross, sculptures and murals and is dedicated to Agios Mamas, the patron saint of shepherds.
Built on the steep cliff, right on the seashore, apparently suspended between the sea and the turquoise waters of Agiassos bay in the south-west of Naxos, the church of Agios Sozon attracts many visitors, because you will have a unique photographic experience.
Apiranthos is a picturesque mountain town located 26 km from Naxos Town. In Apiranthos there is an interesting archaeological museum that houses a vast collection of discoveries brought to light following archaeological excavations from different areas of the island of Naxos.
The village of Koronos is a small mountain village with Cycladic architecture, located in the northeastern part of the island.
Eggares is a village located about 7 km NE of Chora, on the road to Apolonas. Here you can visit a shop – museum dedicated to olive oil, where you can admire some traditional installations used for pressing olives and extracting the oil. You will find out a lot of interesting information both about the history of the place and its importance in the production of olive oil, as well as about the process itself. Entrance is free, but it is recommended to buy some products from the shop (olives, oil, cosmetics, alcoholic beverages or sweets) to repay the guide’s kindness.
Where are you staying on the island of Naxos?
The most and cheapest accommodation spaces in Naxos are concentrated in the central area of the island, in the capital Chora. Here you can find accommodation units with double rooms, with private bathroom, balcony, kitchenette, air conditioning and internet at prices starting from 25-30 euros/night.
In the tourist resorts in the vicinity of the beaches there are spaces for rent at slightly higher prices (40-50 euros/night), but negotiable for a stay longer than 3 days. There are also luxury accommodation spaces, with special facilities and services, breakfast included and sea view, rates starting from 60 euros/double room/night.
If you want to be sure of accommodation, you can make a reservation in advance on booking.com (you can frequently find promotions and discounts), but you should know that the prices for accommodation in Naxos are lower and can be negotiated. During the off-season, you will always find accommodation available directly on the spot, regardless of the time you arrive on the island.
Transport in the island of Naxos
Public transport is not well developed, there are quite a few delays of the buses connecting the towns on the island. In order to move around and visit the many tourist attractions of the island of Naxos, we recommend renting a car (30-35 euros/day) or a scooter.
What and where do you eat in the island of Naxos?
In the restaurants of the island of Naxos – regardless of whether they are located in the center, on the beach or in the surrounding villages – you can eat lunch or dinner at very advantageous prices.
We recommend the local dishes – souflaki, mousaka, Greek salad, gyros – and the fish and seafood that can be found in the menus under the heading ‘offerta/meniu de la day’. A meal for two with drinks included costs between 20 and 25 euros, fish and seafood being slightly more expensive.
Breakfast can be eaten in all restaurants and costs approximately 5 euros/person.
In most taverns on the island of Naxos, as in most places in Greece – the meal always ends with a dessert on the house – generally fruit, ice cream or a brandy.
Nightlife and entertainment in the island of Naxos
Although the night life in Naxos is not intense, there are numerous bars where you can spend the evening and where you can relax with family and friends, listen to live traditional Greek music.
Many bars can be found in Naxos Town or on the island’s most popular beaches such as Agios Prokopios. Naxos town also has a few clubs that stay open until the early hours of the morning.
How do you get to the island of Naxos?
How to get to the island of Naxos by personal car
If you plan to go on vacation in Naxos with your own car, you must take into account that you have to arrive in Athens, and from the port of Piraeus (the port that serves the Greek capital) you will take the ferry to Naxos.
The island of Naxos is an important node in maritime transport in the Aegean Sea, having connections with all the surrounding islands, being 5 hours away by ferry from the port of Piraeus and an hour and a half from the island of Santorini.
From Piraeus you can reach Naxos with one of the ships belonging to the Blue Star Ferry or Aegean Lines companies (travel time being ~ 5 hours) or with the high-speed Flying Dolphin ships (travel time being ~ 2 hours).
Blue Star Ferry runs daily direct flights and the price of a single ticket (Economy Class) is 36 euros (on deck, no reserved seat) or 41 euros (inside, armchair with reservation).
How to get to the island of Naxos by plane
The island of Naxos has its own small airport, located one kilometer from Chora – the capital of the island, from the airport it is relatively easy to reach any part of the island.
If you love the Greek islands, if you like stretches of golden sand but also beaches covered with colored pebbles, if you like to explore rocks and stones and then relax on a deserted beach, far from civilization or spend your evenings in the middle of the crowd , on the narrow streets in the center of the capital or on the seafront, then we wholeheartedly recommend a vacation in the island of Naxos.