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The trip notes given to me at the beginning of my Intrepid tour through the Greek Islands referred to the island of Naxos as “the largest and most fertile of the Cycladic Islands.” It told me that I could expect to find “picturesque villages, Byzantine churches, lush valleys, ancient citrus groves, and wonderful beaches.” It all sounded a bit embellished to me, to be honest.

So I went to Naxos feeling slightly skeptical, unsure of what I would actually find. What does the “most fertile” island in the Cyclades mean, anyway? All the others I had seen had been brown, brown, brown. I could hardly picture a “lush” one.

In the end, the description WAS a bit embellished. There were no jungles overflowing with greenery, and I didn’t visit any beaches in Naxos that were any more beautiful than those I visited on other islands. But you know what? It WAS greener. And it DID have picturesque old villages and ancient citrus (and olive) groves.

Naxos

Octopus on Naxos

Overall, Naxos took me by surprise. Was it my favorite island in Greece? Probably not. But it IS one worth adding to your itinerary.

Things to do

As the largest island in the Cyclades, there’s actually quite a bit to do on Naxos. But, since Naxos relies on agriculture just as much (if not moreso) than tourism, not all of these things to do are super touristy.

Climb to the Venetian castle in Naxos town

Yes, the Venetians once built castles and fortresses all over Greece — and many of them are still standing. The castle in Naxos is at the top of town; an easy walk from the waterfront and kind of cool to see. There’s a museum up there, too, though it wasn’t open when I visited. Another thing you can do at the castle (and probably the most popular thing to do) is to see a bouzouki concert — a show of live traditional Greek music and dancing. I highly recommend doing this on Naxos!

Naxos town

Venetian castle, Naxos

Greek bouzouki on Naxos

Watch the sun set at the Unfinished Temple of Apollo

Another popular thing to do in Naxos town is to watch the sun set behind the Portara — the ancient entrance to an unfinished temple dedicated to the god Apollo. The “gate” faces directly toward Delos, Apollo’s birthplace, and is basically the only remnant of the temple still standing from the 6th century. The temple sits on a little island connected to Naxos by a causeway and is by far the most popular spot to catch a sunset from.

Temple of Apollo, Naxos

Naxos sunset

Visit villages like Halki and Apiranthos

Naxos is much bigger than the other Greek Islands that I visited. And it has mountains! Mountains topped with tiny white churches that I could not imagine reaching on foot in the searing Greek sun. I got to see these mountains up close as I rode various buses through them to visit some of the island’s mountain villages. I chose to visit both Apiranthos and Halki. Halki is much more tourist-friendly (and has a kitron distillery), while Apiranthos is clearly an aging village, full of many abandoned and crumbling buildings. Both are interesting and worth a visit, though.

Halki village, Naxos

Apiranthos, Naxos

Kitron distillery in Halki, Naxos

Greek kitty in Halki, Naxos

Apeiranthos village, Naxos

Check out the Temple of Dimitra

Naxos has a few other ancient things on it, including the ruins of Dimitra’s Temple. I would recommend perhaps seeing this site on a larger tour of notable sites on Naxos, however, as it’s a bit difficult to get to if you don’t have a rental car.

Temple of Dimitra, Naxos

Dimitra's Temple, Naxos

Beaches

Naxos is known for its pretty beaches — and, being a larger island, it has no dearth of sandy spots.

Popular beaches on Naxos include Agia Anna Beach (a long, sandy beach great for windsurfing), Plaka Beach (a sandy and relaxing beach where nudity is allowed), Agios Prokopis Beach (the most popular on the island, known for its dunes), and Agios Georgios Beach (the shallow, family-friendly beach right in Naxos town).

St. George Beach, Naxos

What makes Naxos special

The fact that Naxos doesn’t focus solely on tourism means that you can get away from all of that quite easily. Heading up to the villages in the mountains was something very unique — and the part of Naxos I think I will always remember best.

Naxos

Naxos town

 

The practical stuff

WHERE TO STAY — I stayed in a hotel within a 2-minute walk from Agios Georgios (Saint George) Beach. There are a ton of hotels in this part of Naxos town, all within walking distance of the beach in one direction and shopping and restaurants in the other.

WHERE TO EAT — Head to any of the tavernas along the waterfront if it’s fresh seafood that you’re after. You’ll find fresh octopus drying on lines during the daylight hours, and decent deals at dinnertime.

GETTING AROUND — If you want to visit any of the villages up in the mountains (which I highly recommend!), you’ll either need a car or a bus ticket. Buses to each village leave throughout the day from the main bus station in Naxos town, where you can also go to pick up a schedule. Ticket prices depend on where you’re going (a round-trip ticket to Apiranthos, for example, will cost you 3.10 Euro).

 

*This is the last Greek island that I will be profiling on my blog. But, even though I visited 5 very different islands throughout my Greek Islands adventure, I really only just scratched the surface. There are MANY more islands scattered in the sea around Greece. And many popular ones, too, from Crete to Corfu to Paxos to Rhodes. If you want to check them out, Cosmos offers villas to rent all over Greece.

——

Is Naxos an island that YOU would like to visit?

 

 

*Note: I visited Ios as part of a complimentary Greek Islands tour from Intrepid Travel through my partnership with them. As always, though, opinions are entirely my own.

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35 Responses to The Greek Islands: Naxos

  1. Patti says:

    Well, I’ve said it before but your photos have just sealed the deal for me. I look forward to the day when we find ourselves in Greece! What time frame would you suggest to get the full experience of the islands? Would one month be enough?
    Patti recently posted..Mountain Memories ~

    • DangerousBiz says:

      There are SO many islands to choose from. But I think a month would be plenty of time to get a taste of a handful of them (I visited 5 islands over a span of 2 weeks, but I would have liked more time on a couple of them).

  2. HayUp says:

    Love this post! I am presenting on Greek Tourism tomorrow! Just finished the power point and all!

    HayUp

  3. I really loved all your Greek islands posts!! What a beautiful part of the world, and with such an interesting history too.
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Rainy Roatan Nights

  4. SnarkyNomad says:

    That bike on the window is great. I can’t tell if it’s decorative, but if it’s on the first floor of a building, you can lock your bike there and never have to worry about tracking mud indoors. Genius!
    SnarkyNomad recently posted..36 Awesomely Awful Backpacker Pickup Lines

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Haha, pretty sure that it was just decorative (it was kind of up on the side of the building, at head-height), but that IS a genius idea!

  5. Renuka says:

    Naxos sounds amazingly good! Must say that you have captured the island to its best. Greece has something about it. Even the ruined, unfinished sites look so charming!
    Renuka recently posted..5 Reasons To Visit Umaid Bhawan Palace In Jodhpur

  6. Julie says:

    The picture of the octopus confirms my aversion to creatures from the sea :) Beautiful pictures although I think my favorites are the ones that feature bougainvillaea. All I need is a tree of that and a whitewashed house and I’m set.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Hahaha. I tried some of that octopus on Naxos. It wasn’t bad, though definitely not my favorite seafood.

      I’m with you on the bougainvillea, though! I loved seeing it all over Greece.

  7. Laura says:

    I like the idea of an island that has other things going on besides tourism. Naxos looks beautiful!
    Laura recently posted..A Florida Keys Road Trip

  8. Beth says:

    With every new island post you make, I just get more jealous over how many you were actually able to visit! I can’t even decided anymore which one is my favorite.
    Beth recently posted..50 Things We Love About the Maldives

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Haha, same here, Beth! I can’t possibly choose a favorite, because they are all so different!

      Two weeks to visit 5 islands was a nice time frame, I think. Though I definitely could have spent more time on a couple of them!

  9. Red Hunt says:

    Whoa, those squid/octopus things look crazy, so ugly for something that tastes so good. I’ve heard form some people that Naxos is their favourite Greek Island….it definitely looks great from these photos.
    Red Hunt recently posted..A Royal Resort in a Borneo Rainforest

    • DangerousBiz says:

      A few of the people I was traveling with said Naxos was their favorite island of the 5 we visited. I myself can’t choose a favorite. I can understand why a lot of people like Naxos, though. Since it’s bigger, there’s a lot to do. And while it IS touristy, it’s a much more laid-back and family-friendly island. You won’t find as many partying backpackers here.

      (And I think the drying octopus looks cool!! Hence why I snapped so many photos. ;) )

  10. George from Naxos says:

    Although the photos above are very tempting, believe me, my island has much more to offer

  11. Lizzie says:

    Naxos is my favourite Greek island so far (I have only been to 7, so not really conclusive!). I love that it’s not very touristy and the Old Town is so wonderful! This post has made me very jealous… I must go back and visit again soon!
    Lizzie recently posted..The World From Above: Gray Malin’s Abstract Photography

  12. […] The Greek Islands: Naxos – Do – A general overview of what’s on the Greek island of Naxos. [A Dangerous Business] […]

  13. Jason says:

    Love, love Naxos! My wife and I traveled there as often as we could when we lived in Greece. Close favorite for us (Tinos is wonderful as well). We were there once over Easter and since everything was essentially shut for the holiday, we rented a car the night before and drove all over the island all day long during Easter, watching all the villages prep and cook for the feasts. It’s a laid back place, especially compared to some of the better known Cyclades. Needless to say, I’m a big fan!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Awesome to hear, Jason! It’s certainly very different from some of its nearby neighbors. Your Easter drive sounds lovely!

  14. Kyrene says:

    My sisters and I are going to Greece for 2 weeks the beginning of May and we are trying going to Athens, Mykonos, Santorini and Ios for sure and are trying to decide if we should add either Syros or Naxos. Which did you prefer? Would you recommend adding one of them or should we just really enjoy the ones we have planned already? LOVE the pictures on your posts!!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Syros is not touristy at all; a very sleepy island compared to the others you’ll be visiting. If you were going to add one more, I would probably add Naxos. But you could easily fill up 2 weeks with just Athens, Mykonos, Santorini and Ios! I personally could probably spend 2 weeks just on Santorini alone!

    • Jason says:

      We loved Naxos and visited many times when we lived in Athens. Highly recommend it. Great island, big enough to explore, but also plenty to do if you just want to stay in Naxos-town and enjoy the beach. We were not so keen on Mykonos when we visited, but you can easily spend endless days on Santorini, too, and not regret a minute of it.

  15. Sabina says:

    Naxos looks amazing – your photography is so good and it seems like it actually really does it justice :)

    I included a link to your post in my latest article about Santorini, which you can find here http://www.girlvsglobe.com/2014/07/10-reasons-why-you-should-visit-santorini-greece.html :)
    Sabina recently posted..10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Santorini

  16. […] 150km away, but there are other amazing places scattered around. Why not try Ios, Milos or Naxos for something a little different? Have you ever been to Santorini? If so, would you visit again […]

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