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Unveiling Naxos:
4-Day Itinerary and Best Things to Do

Unveiling Naxos: 4-Day Itinerary and Best Things to Do

Date
15 May 2024

Welcome to Naxos, where golden shores meet the high peaks of Mount Zas! As the largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos offers a unique blend of natural beauty and rich history, creating an enchanting backdrop for an unforgettable journey. This guide provides a recommended four-day itinerary (or three full days) for Naxos, tailored to showcase the island's most captivating sights and experiences. Our carefully curated suggestions aim to connect you deeply with Naxos' vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and genuine culinary delights, allowing you to savor the island with all your senses.

Image after introtext
View of the Portara from Chora after sunset

Practical Guide to Naxos

Basic info about the island

Naxos, the largest of the Cycladic islands, is steeped in Greek mythology. It is said that Zeus, the king of gods, was raised in a cave on Mount Zas, named after the god himself. Historically known as "Dia," Naxos symbolizes divinity, serving as the marital isle of Dionysus, the god of wine and festivities.

The island’s myths are vivid, featuring stories like the abandonment of Ariadne by Theseus, who was subsequently found and loved by Dionysus. Other legends include the audacious giant brothers Otus and Ephialtes, and the tale of Poseidon meeting his future wife, Amphitrite, on Naxos' shores.

A key landmark tying Naxos to its mythical past is the Portara, a massive marble gateway of an unfinished temple of Apollo from the 6th century BC, that gives a sense of mystery to the island. Located on a small islet connected to Naxos Town, the Portara is an iconic site, especially at sunset. Legends claim that passing through the Portara leads to a path of enlightenment, reflecting the island’s deep mythological roots.

 The famous Portara

Best time to visit Naxos

Naxos is enchanting from the beginning of May through early November when the Aegean Sea sparkles under the sunny skies, and local businesses welcome visitors. Although July and August are lively, these months also see the largest influx of tourists. For a quieter and more pleasant visit, the best times are from mid-May to the end of June and from mid-September to mid-October. During those periods, the weather is still beautiful, the tourist crowds are smaller, and the charm of Naxos shines brightly, allowing for a more relaxed exploration of the island.

 Plaka beach

How to move on the island

Public Transportation

Naxos offers a reliable bus network that connects all the major sites and beaches, with the central hub in Naxos Town (Chora). Buses run frequently, especially during the peak season, offering an economical way to travel around the island. However, keep in mind that bus schedules can sometimes be unpredictable, so it's wise to check the latest times before heading out. Expect busier services and potential delays during sunset, particularly in popular areas like Portara or Plaka Beach during peak months.

Car rental

For those looking to explore at their own pace, renting a car is an excellent option. Car rental agencies are available across the island, including at the airport and in Naxos Town. Renting a car allows you to visit secluded spots and beaches that are less accessible by public transport. However, be prepared for narrow, winding roads and limited parking in busier areas like Naxos Town and the popular beach areas during high season.

Taxis and private transfers

Taxis in Naxos can be scarce during peak hours and we would recommend agreeing on a fare before starting your journey. You can hail a taxi on the streets or book one through your accommodation for convenience.

 Naxos Chora

For a seamless travel experience, consider booking a private transfer. This service offers professional, English-speaking drivers who will offer you the best value. The vehicles are comfortable and reliable, perfect for ensuring timely arrivals at your destinations without the hassle of waiting or navigating public transport schedules - ideal for catching early flights or arriving from late ferries.

A local's tips to make the most of your Naxos trip

Naxos isn’t just another spot on the map of the Cyclades - it's a true island paradise with its own unique rhythm and secrets. So if you're aiming to ditch the tourist trails and vibe with the island like a true Naxian, here are some insider tips to keep you cool, collected, and cruising through your stay.

First things first: don't skimp on the sunscreen. The Aegean sun is no joke, and if you want to explore Naxos without getting scorched, you’ll need that SPF as your daily companion. The wind may make you feel that you are not getting burned... but trust us, you are. Whether you're basking on a hidden beach or strolling through quaint villages, keep that sunscreen handy.

Now, let's dodge the mainstream. Everyone flocks to Agios Prokopios and Plaka beaches, but why not explore the serene Psili Ammos? Hidden away near Moutsouna on the east coast, this spot offers tranquility and pristine waters - perfect for a quiet day under the sun. And when hunger strikes, drift into the mountainous embrace of Apiranthos. Wander its ancient marble streets, taste the local delicacy of graviera cheese, and treat yourself to a glass of kitron (or citron), the island's signature citrus liqueur.

And if your timing's right, immerse yourself in the Naxian Festival during the summer months. It's a celebration of local culture like no other, featuring everything - especially traditional music and dances!

Important to know! Stick to bottled water for your drinking needs. The tap water here is fine for everything else, but when it comes to quenching your thirst, especially after a day under the Greek sun, bottled water is the way to go.

Apeiranthos village Naxos

Where to stay in Naxos and why

Naxos, the heart of the Cyclades, sprawls with a rugged, mountainous heart and sweeping sandy shores, celebrated as some of the finest in Europe. This gem is not just a visual treat but a soulful retreat for families, couples, and solo adventurers who return year after year. The island's closeness to a necklace of other charming islands only adds to its allure. Given Naxos’s grand scale, finding the perfect spot to stay can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, we've sifted through the options for you. Here’s a guide to help you decide where to stay during your visit:

Why stay in Chora (main town)

Naxos Chora is the perfect base for exploring the island's treasures. Staying close to the port means you'll have quick access to ferries, and you're just steps away from waterfront tavernas where fresh seafood and local wine flow freely. The lively harbor buzzes with colorful fishing boats and offers stunning views, making it an ideal spot to soak up the local vibe.

In Naxos Chora, you're perfectly placed to discover the island's golden beaches, venture into traditional villages, and experience timeless Greek hospitality. Its cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings, and blooming bougainvillea exude a welcoming charm that blends historical richness with everyday island life. From ancient ruins to lively markets, everything you need is right at your fingertips, making Naxos Chora the perfect gateway to the authentic beauty of Naxos. The town offers convenience and flexibility. Of course, this inevitably means more crowds.

Chora of Naxos itinerary

Why stay in Plaka

If you're after that laid-back island vibe and want to be right by Naxos' stunning sea, Plaka is your spot. Its long stretch of golden sand, crystal-clear waters, and relaxed beach bars make it the perfect place to kick back. The cozy family-run tavernas scattered throughout the area dish up delicious Greek fare, from fresh seafood to local classics.

Plaka makes it easy to explore nearby beaches, like Agia Anna, and you're only a short drive away from Naxos Chora if you want to browse shops or do bar hopping. It's a sweet mix of peace and convenience, offering everything you could want: jaw-dropping sunsets, a vibrant beachfront, and that warm local spirit that makes you feel like a part of the community.

Pro tip! Naxos is famous for its strong winds - chances are that half of your stay will be windy. This, of course, is a welcoming situation in the hotter summer months. But, the wind creates waves in the sea. Since the wind mostly comes from the north, Plaka is your best bet to enjoy the beach, strategically looking at the west.

The beach of Plaka in Naxos

Why stay in a mountainous village

Considering a stay in a mountainous village like Chalki, Kaloxylos, or Apeiranthos? This is an excellent option if you're seeking more peaceful surroundings and cooler temperatures during the hot summer months. However, it's essential to have a rental car for flexibility in exploring the island and accessing beaches or the main town of Naxos.

Best things to do in Naxos

Enjoy the sunset from the iconic Portara

The Portara, or "Great Door," stands proudly on the islet of Palatia, directly facing the town of Naxos. Wander to this ancient marble gateway, the only remnant of the ancient Temple of Apollo, and watch the sun dip into the Aegean Sea. With the sky painted in brilliant hues and the Portara framing the view, it's the kind of sunset that stays with you long after you've left.

Best things to do in Naxos

Try the local delicacies of the island

Naxos is famous for its local gastronomy, especially for its mouthwatering local honey, its rich-in-taste Naxian cheeses (‘Arseniko’ and ‘Graviera’ varieties), and those unique, tasty Naxian potatoes. Sample these specialties at a taverna or a local market to savor the authentic flavors that embody the island's fertile fields and traditional farming.

Enjoy Naxian food

Visit a village and try a unique-in-the-world liqueur

Venture into the traditional village of Chalki, the old capital of Naxos during the era of the pirates. Take in the local hospitality as you visit the Vallindras Distillery, a 120-year-old, family-run distillery, to sample its unique liqueur made of kitron (or citron). This Naxian treat is famous all over Greece. With its crisp and distinctive flavor, this drink provides a genuine taste of island life, reflecting long-standing traditions and giving you a warm welcome into the heart of local culture.

Extra tip! While in Chalki, visit the family-run taverna “To spitiko galaktobureko”. As its name suggests, they have a delicious, homemade galaktobureko (it's a mouthwatering dessert that you should not miss).

Itinerary to Chalki village Naxos

Visit the ancient temple of Demeter

Set out on an adventure to the ancient temple of Demeter, where the ancient Greeks worshipped the goddess of agriculture. This sacred sanctuary, crafted from local white marble in the 6th century BCE, lies in the fertile Gyroulas Valley near the quaint village of Sangri. Surrounded by lush countryside, the temple stands as a glimpse into the spirituality and architecture of old Naxos.

Here, Demeter, revered as the protector of farmers, was celebrated in rituals that sustained the island’s agricultural traditions. And you can see why they picked this position to honor her. The landscape wraps around you, evoking the spirit of Naxos’s pastoral beauty. Stroll among the meticulously restored marble columns and archways, which hint at the grandeur that inspired future temples like the Parthenon. The small museum showcases artifacts that breathe life into this ancient era. Feel the energy of this sacred ground and immerse yourself in the island’s timeless connection to the land.

Tip! Have a state-licensed guide with you to truly understand and delve into the importance of this temple for the lives of its creators.

Temple of Demeter Naxos

Hunt for Kouros

Naxos has 3 different “kouroi” (kouros is a male ancient statue) carved from the famous Naxian marble lying forgotten in the hilly mountains. The tallest one reaches the height of 6 people combined! The one with the easiest access can be found near the Malanes village.

These ancient sculptures offer a fascinating peek into early Greek art and mythology, embodying Naxos's long-lost magic. Stand in awe as you take in the detailed features of these unfinished statues, still bound to the island’s marble quarries. Listen to the wind rustle through the surrounding trees, and feel the weight of history and myth all around you, capturing the spirit of old Naxos in every curve and contour.

Any idea how these marvelous statues ended up here? Take a guided tour to uncover their mysterious history.

One Kouros in Naxos

Embark on a sailing trip in the Aegean

Set sail on a day excursion, immersing yourself in the crystal blue waters of the Cyclades. Glide across the Aegean Sea, marveling at the beauty of Naxos from a unique perspective. Feel the gentle sway of the boat as you explore hidden coves and stunning cliffs along the coastline.

Under the bright Mediterranean sun, soak up the refreshing sea breeze on your skin as you enjoy a glass of local wine or beer. The panoramic views of Naxos's coastline will captivate your senses. From rocky shores to sandy beaches, experience the allure of Naxos's coastline and beaches as you cruise through the day.

Naxos 4-day itinerary

Just arrived in Naxos and you have four days to explore? Worried that it might not be enough time? Don't fret! We've crafted the ultimate 4-day itinerary for Naxos, including both the must-see and off-the-beaten-path experiences, ensuring your visit is unforgettable.

Best itinerary for Naxos

Day 1

- Morning: Arrival in Naxos. Private transfer to your hotel.
- Check in at your hotel and settle in. If your room isn't ready yet, leave your luggage with the reception and take a stroll to familiarise yourself with the area.
- Lunch at a local, recommended restaurant (note that some good options require reservations in advance).
- Afternoon/Evening: Relax at a nearby beach or your hotel’s pool. Use this time to rest and recharge your batteries after the arrival trip.

 Evening vibes in Naxos town

Day 2

- 9 am - 2 pm: Take a half-day guided tour that will offer you valuable insights into the island, help you explore its local treasures, and get you oriented so that you make the most of your remaining time. Our suggested tour blends everything that makes the island special, from the charm of traditional mountainous villages to the flavors of local products and the island's rich cultural heritage.
- Head to the beach and enjoy your afternoon swimming in the Cycladic waters.
- Dinner at a local, recommended restaurant.
- Evening: Time to explore Chora, the main town of Naxos! After your dinner, take a leisurely stroll at the labyrinth-like alleys and discover the many surprises it holds. When you feel like the route ended, another little shop or bar pops up where you do not expect it!

 Tasting Naxian cheeses in Apeiranthos

Day 3

- 8.30 am - 4.30 pm: Join a full-day sailing trip. This is a must-do in our opinion. The waters around Naxos are amazing and you will have a great time enjoying the sea and the shore of the island, helping you understand why Cyclades are so famous around the world.
- Return to your hotel and get some rest. Relax at the pool or head to the beach (again).
- Plan to arrive at the famous Portara (Temple of Apollo) in Chora before sunset. Marvel at the unique sunset views and the vibes of this sacred place.
- Walk to the town and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Then, explore the little alleys filled with shops and head to a bar to enjoy the night vibes of the island.

Enjoying dinner in Naxos town

Day 4

- Private transfer from your hotel to the airport/port.
*If your flight/ferry leaves later in the day, you can leave your luggage at the hotel’s reception and enjoy the beach for one last time or perhaps indulge in some souvenir shopping at the local stores

Strolling Naxos town

As your 4-day itinerary in Naxos comes to an end, it's clear that this island has far more to offer than just its stunning shores – it's a place full of stories waiting to be told. Whether it's your first or tenth visit, Naxos remains irresistibly captivating, where history, culture, and nature blend to provide a truly unforgettable experience.

From the lively streets of Chora to the tranquil mountain villages and the golden beaches, each day has revealed a new facet of the island's charm. The local insights and tips we've shared are sure to make your journey one to treasure.

When you leave this island paradise, don't just take home photographs, but also a deep sense of Naxos's timeless allure. Let your experiences over the past few days inspire you, and remember: Naxos always welcomes you back with open arms.

You may also find useful:

 

Credits: All photos were captured by our team.

About the author: Our team at Greek TravelTellers consists of academics and lovers of Greek culture. Our vision is to convey our knowledge and Greek values through immersive experiences and curated trips. Through our blog, we hope to bring Greek history and culture closer to you. Feel free to learn more about us.

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