If this is your first visit to Naxos, then you would be wondering which are the best places to see, in order to get an idea of what Naxos is all about. In this article, we have collected the Top 10 must see places on the island, to help you make your selection much easier.
There are definitely many more places you should visit, like museums, archaeological sites, beaches and villages that are not mentioned here. That surely doesn’t mean they are less important; we have just tried to collect the most visited places on the island as voted by tourists during 2015 summer.
Place 1 - Portara
The name itself means “big door” and this is a doozie! it basically consists of two posts and a lintel of massive proportions and unthinkable mass! What the real questions should be are “How it got there?” and “What it took to get it all standing!!??”
The structure is seen on the approach to the harbour of Naxos and is worth visiting for a photo shoot. It is a shame that people may no longer climb the structure for a good photo, but it is after all several thousand years old and deserves respect.
Place 2 - The Castle of Naxos Town
The Castle of Naxos Town is known to the locals as “Kastro” and basically defines the old city most of which was built during the Venetian occupation of Naxos.
It is quite an edifice and like most old castles the walls are thick and built of some really big rocks. The streets are narrow following the traditional style of medieval architecture which are today lined with shops and the occasional eatery usually in the form of a Greek Taverna. These serve local produce and meats of exceptional quality, the locally grown potato is in a league of its own when it comes to taste colour and texture and well worth ordering as a snack or with other foods.
Place 3 - Agios Prokopios beach
According to many, it is the best beach of Naxos and perhaps of the entire Cyclades, due to its deep turquoise waters and its thick grain white sand. It offers its guests many amenities (umbrellas, sunbeds and sports clubs). Taverns, bars and coffee shops have been built along this marvelous beach, transforming Agios Prokopios village to a fine and much loved holiday resort. Access to Agios Prokopios is easy, by car, by bus (very regular connection to Naxos Town) or on foot from Saint George’s beach (by walking along the coast).
Place 4 - Moutsouna
Moutsouna village is a throwback to the 50’s. if a person were to see it in black and white or even sepia it would complete the picture of the quaint little fishing village that at one time, long ago, was also supported by an emery export industry now defunct and relegated to the past.
The tiny port offers solitude and a quaint view of the now somewhat antiquated machinery that once supported it financially. The food is of very good quality, an unadventurous palate will appreciate the cuisine of basics in meats, poultry and seafoods, the freshness and taste of the local produce is sublime.
Place 5 - Apeiranthos
Stunning, simply stunning would be the word best to describe this mountainous village! the trip to the village is a bit of a challenge if you are not used to driving on narrow roads with hairpin turns but the reward is unforgettable.
Apeiranthos village seems as old as the rock it is built with, high on the slope of mount Zas overlooking the valleys and plains below and an endless view to the surrounding peaks. Heavily shaded by plane trees, the cobble stoned paths snaking through this village are lined with private residences, restaurants and small shops, selling local wares and produce. no vehicles are allowed or can indeed navigate the narrow streets but a parking area just outside the village has been designated and even that provides a heart stopping view!
Place 6 - Filoti
It still is the most heavily populated of the villages of Naxos. And there is a good reason why. It still remains traditional not only in its look but in local life as well. There is much to see if you decide not to spend all your time at the cafe under this huge plane tree in its main square.
Big churches, beautiful houses of traditional architecture and many, many alleyways for pedestrians only. You really get to travel back in time.
Place 7 - Halki
Halki village was the former capital of Naxos and its past glory is apparent in its architecture. It is the most colourful village of Naxos, visited by many tourists each year, who love to walk around its alleys enjoying a coffee, lunch or just shopping for fun.
The area around Halki is fertile and provides the island with olive oil (and olives), vegetables and it is the birthplace of Naxos’ famous liqueur Kitron.
Place 8 - Plaka beach
Plaka beach is the largest, longest and widest of the beaches of Naxos with a golden brown fine grained sand. The beach is unique to the Cycladic islands based on these characteristics. it also has the advantage, to date, that there are relatively few people that visit it even during peak season so crowding is not an issue either.
Several family owned accommodations are within walking distance of the beach and all are very reasonably priced. generally these accommodations are quite spacious and clean and within walking distance of bars and cafe on the beach.
Place 9 - Alyko beach with its cedar tree forest
Alyko peninsula forms many beaches, all of which are sandy and secluded. With only basic infrastructure (still untouched by mass tourism) it is a magnet for nature lovers and nudists.
The various beaches formed at Alyko have different orientation, so you get to choose the beach you prefer according to the wind. The most famous of them all is Hawaii, one of the most impressive beaches of Naxos. Accessing it is a bit challenging but it is definitely worth it. The blue of the sea and the dark green of the cedars are the main colours of the entire area.
Place 10 - The Kouros of Apollonas
There are certainly larger statues than this from the ancient world, but the size of this one is unbelievable as it is! Just the foot is some 2.5 meters high!
One of two that have been found on the island (apparently several have been “liberated” by unscrupulous persons and are found in museums and private collections). Even though these are incomplete and ancient, they certainly look like modern minimalist art. Something worth considering is that people were making these with copper and wooden tools and transporting them over many miles to their sites several thousand years ago and even today this would cost millions and still be a serious feat of engineering.