Things to do in Naxos

The charm of Naxos rests around a number of attributes. Its genuinely rural personality that is an integral part of its charisma as shown by the countless quaint villages; its delicious, moreish food, the ingredients of which often come from personal gardens and the activities visitors can try, that reveal the island’s authentic allure. Therefore, the top Naxos things to do will revolve around these wonderful characteristics, making it an ideal destination for families, yet not exclusively.

Things to do for families in Naxos Island

Naxos is a very family friendly destination, able of providing quality moments for every member. Children will love its medieval traits in Naxos town and the mythic ancients sites laden with legendary fables; the wonderful beaches that allow them to play without any concern; the array of traditional villages that exude a more laid-back, rudimentary kind of life that parents will find refreshing; the food which is absolutely homely, honest and packed with flavour; the various leisurely and fun activities that all family members can engage in reveal the splendour of simplicity that characterises Naxos as a whole.

Villages

Apirathos village

The most impressive village to visit in Naxos is definitely Apiranthos village. It is the most striking village on the island with not only a unique appearance but also a dialect to match it, which to the trained ear, reveals a Cretan origin. Built 600 m above sea level, this mountainous village is almost entirely stone built displaying beautiful architecture, which makes it stand out from the rest of the Cycladic style settlements in Naxos. This jewel of a village has five museums that exemplify the uniqueness of the place. These are the Apiranthos Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Geological Museum, the Folklore Museum and the Visual Arts Museum. Its elevated positioning commands spectacular views of valleys and summits that you can admire from a local open-air cafe. You can browse the local produce shops run by a local cooperative, selling traditional embroideries and food products.

Damalas village

From the most impressive to the smallest village on Naxos island, Damalas village will steal your heart. It boasts a great location, set amphitheatrically in Tragea valley of olive orchards, at the foot of Lagos hill. Inhabitants are few but express a heartfelt desire to welcome visitors and show them their ways. The top highlights in Damalas are the old olive mills, and the ceramics and pottery culture which has been kept very much alive due to a source of clayey soil in the area. Manolis Lybertas is the friendly, traditional pottery maker who is happy to share the secret of a centuries-old art.

Halki village


Also set amidst the Tragea valley, Halki village is one of the most beautiful ones. Local legend has it that its name came about from a dominant family of bronze smiths during the Venetian era. A place of much history and prosperity, its local church of Panagia Protothroni has an uninterrupted service since 1052 while the wider region has over 30 Byzantine churches dotted all around. The whole of Halki village is a small architectural marvel, what with all the imposing mansions that feature spacious balconies and wonderfully paved courtyards and the Barozzi Tower which was built during the 1600’s. A highlight in Halki village is the historic manor house that is home to the Vallindras distillery and its special citron liqueur.

Eggares village


The soothing, bucolic aura of Eggares village had captured the famous Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis’ heart, having visited it in his youth. This village is blessed with a source of water near the settlement, which is to attest for the Eggares village long standing tradition in farming. In fact, most of the produce consumed on the island originates from there. It is home to two old olive mills dating back to 1885 as well as 8 water mills in the nearby now uninhabited neighbouring settlements. The stone built square is where you will find the local church, Kimissis Theotokou, in reverence to the Virgin Mary and during 15th August a feast is prepared in her honour. To the east of Eggares is a beautiful chapel on the hill of Nativity, where the sanctuary of the Nymphs existed during ancient times. Also close by is a lovely old bridge made of marble of double arches. Eggares village is built on a rise from where you can enjoy some amazing views. Check out the Olive Press Museum to find out about the local tradition behind olive oil production which also has a cafe that hosts sampling sessions of various olive oil based delicacies.

Activities

Hiking – The terrain of Naxos makes it a top destination for those who enjoy the more active side of Naxos things to do. Hiking, trekking or walking , depending on the level of difficulty chosen, is indeed the best way to discover Naxos’ beauty. Consider that it used to be the way that the locals used to get around, well by foot or by animal. Today this old habitual routine of getting from one place to another has been revived by a local hiking enthusiast, who through her specially curated, predefined hiking itineraries will take you to walk the ancient marble paths, through villages, temple ruins, deserted chapels and spots that command astonishing views.

 

Horse riding –  An experience that feeds both the mind and soul, horse riding in Naxos will not only reveal the natural beauty that can be enjoyed from various locations that can be reached only through specific horse riding trails, but also will satiate your soul as you connect with your horse. You can ride to sandy beaches and even ride into the sea, watch the sunset on horseback or take to the mountains and valleys of Naxos and learn about local customs, practices and become part of the Naxian way of life.

 

Cycling trails – For those who feel more comfortable riding a ‘vehicle’ that you are in complete control over, cycling around Naxos may be a more fitting feat. Follow the country trails along the coast, or take to the dirt road network of cycling routes either on your own from Agia Anna to Kastraki along the south western shores, or for those who seek more of an adventure, bolder cyclists can opt for the trail from Sangri to Agiassos. Organised cycling rides are available too, for those who prefer to ride with a group.

Water sports – The beaches of Naxos are for the most part, a playground for water sports enthusiasts. Wind and kite surfing are very popular activities in Naxos, with the top beaches for them being Agios Prokopios, Agios Georgios and Plaka, that both have Water sports schools to rent equipment and book lessons. Other top locations are Mikri Vigla, Pyrgaki and Kastraki beaches.

 

Water park – One activity most suited to the younger crowds but also to adults who have not lost touch with the child within them, the Aqua Fun Water Park of Naxos will provide endless moments of fun. With about 10 different slides and pools, entrance is 7 euros per person for the entire day. It is located in Stelida, about 6 km from Naxos town.

 

Naxian marbles – The crystalline, Naxian marbles have long been known throughout Greece for their exquisite quality. There is one specific region in Naxos near Kynidaros where 5 mountains meet, that is the source of marble for hundreds of centuries. Naxian marble has been quarried since Neolithic times, used for structures locally and exported to other islands and mainland Greece too. Evidence of this is Naxian marbles found on Delos island as well as Delphi too, two sites that have held great spiritual importance for the ancient Greeks. The village of Apollonas in the north east of Naxos is an ancient quarry site about an hour’s drive from Naxos town, where visitors can get to know the artisanal side of marble sculpting. There lies the massive, unfinished Kouros statue that dates back to the 6th century B.C.