Naxos lies somewhere between myth, ancient heritage and the day to day of today. Like all Greek islands it has a range of experiences to offer, depending on traveler preferences. However, when considering what to do in Naxos, your top items on the list for sightseeing should definitely include the following landmarks.
Portara – Apollo’s Temple entrance
None approaching Naxos can miss this impressively imposing site. Witnessing the jewel of Naxos is definitely number one of what to do in Naxos. Portara, as the locals refer to it, is visible from a distance, commanding the awe and respect of all those who lay eyes on it. It is essentially a massive marble doorway measuring 6 meters in height and 3,5 meters wide. Dating back to 530 BC, it was supposedly part of a temple, the rest of it did not get constructed due to the turmoil of the time. Regardless of it being unfinished, it is highly recommended that you walk up to it and absorb some of the palpable energy it emits.
Naxos town (Chora) – Kastro
An integral part of the old town of Naxos known as Chora to the locals, the Venetian-built castle known to locals as Kastro, was erected during the 13th century and is most definitely an unmissable when thinking about what to do in Naxos. Today it has been fully incorporated in the local way of life and you will find many shops, stores, cafes and eateries as well as more recent churches and monasteries within its walls. As it is usual for such fortifications, it is built on a hill so prepare yourself for steps on an incline although it is a fairly easy feat overall. It offers you the experience of going back in time as well as some amazing backdrop views from certain vantage points which you will discover walking around it.
Temple of Demeter in Sagri
One of the most remarkable ancient ruins of Naxos, the Temple of Demeter in the area of Sagri is highly recommended for the ancient history enthusiasts in search of what to do in Naxos. Situated about 30 minutes drive from Naxos town, the Temple of Demeter will astonish you. Built around the same time period as Portara, the ruins that remain are quite well preserved, giving you a good visual of what it used to be. Dedicated to the ancient goddess of crops and fertility, Demeter, following the conversion to Christianity it later began a place of worship for the faithfuls before being consecrated during the 6th century A.D. after an Arab siege. Entrance is 4 euros and you can visit Wednesday to Monday 08:30-16:00 with last entrance at 15:45.
Temple of Dionysus
Another one for the ancient history lovers considering what to do in Naxos, a 10 minute drive from Naxos leads you to the Temple of Dionysos, a sanctuary dedicated to the cult of the most jubilant ancient Greek god. Apart from one myth that identifies Naxos as his birthplace, the sanctuary is linked to Naxos’ proliferant wine culture and the fact that Dionysos was the consummate god of wine and celebration. Legend has it that Dionysus resided in the forests of those parts of the island. Reaching the site can be done by a 30-40 walk from town too, if you prefer to experience the visit like a pilgrimage, and when you get there be sure to take a moment to relax under the shade of the trees and take in the energy that pervades the entire site. It also houses a museum while the site is closed on Mondays, the rest of the week you can visit from the morning until 16:00. Entrance is 4 euros.