One of the finest on Naxos, Plaka is a long, attractive sandy beach which really comes alive in summer. Multiple taverns and cafes line the waterfront (most operate May to October), and holidaymakers swim in the turquoise waters and play beach games and water sports from dusk till dawn.
Boasting some of the best infrastructure on the island, the sandy beach of Agios Prokopios is well-connected to the Hora via public buses. Water is clear, and (optional) sunbeds are available for hire in abundance. The beach teams with taverns and cafes, and is home to a reputable diving company.
A stone's throw away from the popular Agios Prokopios is Agia Anna, a sheltered, quiet sandy beach perfect for families. The shallow, clear water makes it perfectly safe for children, and the general tranquil atmosphere attracts couples and older visitors. Sunbeds are available for hire.
A compact, sheltered cove where the tiny paradise beach of Mikri Vigla is located used to only be visited by a handful of travelers in-the-know, but has become increasingly popular with holidaymakers over the past years. There is a single (very popular) tavern here, ideal for a refreshing retreat.
To stay close to the center of it all, Saint George would probably be the best pick when it come to beaches on Naxos. Located in very close proximity to the island's Hora, it is, perhaps, what one would refer to as the "city beach." Water here is shallow, which is perfect for families with children.
Those looking to experience the quieter side of Naxos will certainly appreciate the tranquility of Kastraki Beach - a long stretch of sand perfectly fit for long walks along the water. The beach is less developed and never gets crowded, but several taverns do operate in the area.
Take a turn up a narrow alley in the island's Hora and inevitably get lost in the maze of windy streets of what is, perhaps, Naxos' main attraction aside from the splendid beaches. Explore the ancient, packed with authentic Venetian mansions Kastro district dating back to the 13th century.
Perhaps the most scenic spot on the island, the Portara (also known as the Temple of Apollo) is where locals and visitors flock at sundown to take in the splendid golden sunsets. Walk along a causeway and up towards the ancient gate-like structure perched atop the hill for some of the best views.
Housed inside a historic home of a Venetian family, the Della Rocca-Barozzi residence and museum (which the family still calls home a few months a year) is now open to the public, and hosts temporary exhibitions as well as the well-known locally Domus Cultural Festival. Guided tours available.
The Naxos Archaeological Museum contains an impressive collection of Cycladic art and sculpture, one that reportedly even rivals the compilation of artifacts in the Greek capital city of Athens. Visitors will get the chance to closely examine some of the earliest Greek figurines and artwork.
The Olive Press Museum is a curious local attraction, where visitors are granted insight into the behind-the-scenes makings of olive oil and other olive-derived products. At the end of the tour, guests are invited to take part in a sampling of the high-quality items and foods on sale.
One of the attractions best seen as a part of a guided tour, the remains of the ancient Temple of Demeter reportedly date back to as early as the 6th century BC. Little remains of the temple's former glory days, but some pillars and walls do stand as reminder of the island's historic heritage.
Alyko in the island's southwest is known for its lush cedar trees stretching along acres upon acres of land. The natural environment here is rather unique and well-looked after - local authorities have even given plans of constructing dwelling buildings in favor of salvaging nature.
One of the experiences topping the "must-do" list when on Naxos is joining one of the many sail boat tours offered by local companies. Tour programs vary, but very often include swimming in secluded coves, visiting nearby islands (such as the whitewashed Paros) and beaches, snorkeling, and stopping for lunch in a scenic waterside location somewhere in or around Naxos. Captain Panos Sailing Day Tours +30 697 353 7424 www.captainpanos.com Naxos Sailing Tours +30 694 435 5717 www.naxossailing.com
Climbing the Zas Mountain is best done in the early hours of the morning, when the sun is yet to release its burning midday rays. There are several departure points (starting from Filoti, for example) and route directions are displayed along the way. From the hilltop, stunning views over the valleys and sea below unfold.
Waters around Naxos hold a plethora of marine treasures - from eerie remains of sunken ships to colorful fish and curious underwater creatures swimming an arm's length away. Several companies offer professional training courses to beginners and necessary guidance through local waters to experienced divers. Blue Fin Divers +30 2285 042629 Agios Prokopios, Naxos Town www.bluefindivers.gr
Naxos is a hikers' paradise - try the route leading towards the Tragea, an elevated land area in the heart of the island dominated by olive groves. Some of the best stops for a hiking itinerary are the scenic settlements of Halki with its attractive town square, Aperathou (a village overlooking the island's southeastern coast), and the mountain-side village of Koronos.
The tiny distillery offers travelers to Naxos an opportunity to look behind the scenes of how the island's very own kind of liquor - "kitron" - is made. A tasting of citrus liquors is offered at the end of the tour, and visitors are welcome to purchase kitron-themed souvenirs at the adjacent shop.
The Bazeos Tower is best-visited in July and August, when it serves host to the annual Naxos Festival and becomes the site for multiple musical and theatrical performances, readings, exhibitions, and more. The building itself dates back to the 17th century, and has been recently refurbished.
Delfinaki offers a warm welcome and excellent local cuisine largely made with home-grown ingredients and fresh fish. A meal will be normally followed by a complimentary drink and/or dessert, the hospitable owners often insisting that guests bring some house delights along with them upon departure.
No establishment on Naxos is quite like Rotonda - a unique restaurant set on the hilltop, with panoramic (360-degree) views unfolding before diners' very eyes. The view alone would be worth the trip, but the Restaurant has excellent contemporary Greek and Mediterranean cuisine to show for its fame.
To Ariston offers a quintessential Greek dining experience in Naxos Town - the family-run tavern is where excellent value local food (gyros pita, souvlaki, Greek salad, tzatziki, and others - prices for a meal start at as low as a couple of euros) is served by the personable son of the family.
The on-site restaurant of Ostria Inn is one of Naxos' hidden gems. The establishment offers sea-view dining on a charming, airy outdoor terrace. Some of the menu highlights include the vegetable mille-feuille, octopus carpaccio and feta topped with honey and sesame seeds for dessert.
The longstanding family restaurant (now run and recently reinvented by the family's son) showcases local ingredients at their finest. Meat, seafood and vegetables are all locally-sourced and cooked the Naxian way with an elegant modern twist. Dine with direct view of the majestic sunset.
The concise menu of Nostimon Hellas offers substantial variety, with a selection of grilled meats, fish and seafood dishes, pasta and risotto, as well as a rather extensive list of hot and cold appetizers. Ingredients are mostly locally-sourced. The house wine comes highly recommended.
The excellent value Greek tavern is located only a stone's throw away from the Naxos' waterfront, smack in the middle of a busy touristy street. Despite the prime location, the tavern charges vary fair prices for the generous portions of authentic Greek food served.
Beyond any doubt one of the finest on the island, Axiotissa is known first and foremost for its organic dish ingredients and wines, all grown and produced by the owners. Naxian fish, meat, and vegetables are all cooked to perfection (do try the daily specials). Booking essential for evening dining.
A carnivore's paradise, Sto Ladoxarto is a restaurant specializing in meats - primarily the grilled variety. Orders normally come with a side of potato wedges and a salad, and meals are often followed by a complimentary chocolate "kormos" dessert. Offers views over the harbour (among other perks).
Located in one of the tiny town alleys (do sit outside if the weather allows), Metaxi mas offers some of the best-value local meals in the old market area. Try one of the saganaki varieties, the melt-in-your-mouth veal with vegetables, or any of the dishes, with a complimentary dessert afterwards.
The standout establishment in east-of-the-Hora village of Melanes, O Giorgis serves very decent home-made Greek cuisine to those who happen to pass through the settlement on a hiking route. Try one of the pot stews, or - at the weekends - savour a piece of whole-roasted pig.
Sea view doesn't come at the expense of quality at this waterside restaurant, serving delicious local meze. Seafood is the true star of the show - try octopus, mussels, and, of course, fish caught that same day as part of small plates cooked Naxian- and Cretan-style.
The tiny cafe run by the industrious Anna is one the places to go for those looking to dine on dishes made with locally-sourced, organic ingredients. Daily specials vary, at least one is normally vegan and/or vegetarian. Anna's is known for great set breakfasts, too.
The cafe's well-deserved pride is its beautiful terrace overlooking the water and offering a splendid panoramic view over the whitewashed Naxos Town. Coffees are strong and enjoy a good reputation, but other drinks are available as well. The cafe is located at the top of the town castle.
Gyro Gyro does fast food the Greek way, serving excellent value pita gyros at very reasonable prices. Grills are extremely appetizing - add fresh vegetables and tzatziki to your liking. Seating available outdoors. The spot is great for those travelling on a budget.
The elegant cafe with a rather sophisticated vibe offers front-row seating to the spectacular Naxian sunset, pairing the offer with a pleasant selection of food and drink. Excellent for breakfasts on an airy outdoor terrace by the water, overlooking the town harbour.
Maya is known for its decadent-looking pancakes drenched in chocolate cream and syrup, which are its main draw. The cafe also serves good breakfasts and a whole selection of desserts, such as Nutella cheesecakes, banoffee cakes, tiramisu, and fruit salads as a healthy alternative.
Rendez Vous is the go-to place for dessert in Naxos Town. The selection of treats is extensive, with a whole variety of local and international desserts present. Try the local "baklava" paired with a strong cup of traditional Greek coffee, or - for a more substantial snack - the Greek honey donuts.
At Milkato Gelateria, the chilling dessert comes in many delicious varieties (e.g. parfait) and flavours. Apart from plain ice cream, guests are welcome to order freshly-made waffles topped with a selection of mouthwatering extras. Outdoor seating available overlooking the waterfront promenade.
The port-side cafe offers a selection of scrumptious dishes (a typical meal includes a variety of meat of your choice served with a side of french fries and vegetables), and breakfasts that are rumored to be some of the best value in town - food and drink refills are complimentary.
The traditionally whitewashed yet very trendy beach cafe invites vacationers to an evening cocktail or even a full-blown meal in the waterfront veranda - try the "surf and turf" mixed grill plate, or go with one of the lighter snacks abundant on the menu. In the evenings, various events are hosted.
The pleasant waterside cafe offers great value breakfasts, with international breakfast classics such as omelettes, fried eggs, bacon, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Multiple pastry varieties are on offer. Repeat customers are welcomed with exceptional warmth.
The well-run cafe offers a truly international selection - breakfasts come in Greek, Continental, German, and English varieties - plus an added bonus of a "healthy" and "hangover" options. Menu items range from burgers and pizza to desserts and a whole list of coffees.
The beach bar's thatched roof provides much-needed shade on one of the island's most beloved beaches, inviting guests to stop by for a relaxing break with seats offering direct views over the water. Select a dish from the cafe's extensive menu or enjoy one of the many refreshing drinks.
Apart from its broad collection of local and international wines (organic wines and French champagne imports, for example), the La Vigne Wine Bar offers first-class dining on Greek, French, Asian, and Caribbean cuisine-inspired dishes in an intimate and welcoming atmosphere.
The waterside establishment with a view specializes in "kitron" - a citrus-derived drink produced at a nearby distillery (Valindras in Halki). Guests are invited to sample multiple varieties of the island's signature drink and other citrus-based products crafted there, such as candy.
A lively venue with a massive display of liquor behind the bar, On The Rocks serves quality drinks and frequently hosts karaoke nights where patrons sing their hearts out in multiple European languages. The bar is one of the rare spots on the island that offer shisha service. Broadcasts football.
One of the island's go-to nightlife venues, The Ocean Club boasts an airy outdoor terrace for low-key evening cocktails and an indoor dancing area that comes alive every weekend during the high season. In the winter, the venue remains open hosting (less frequent) concerts and guest DJs.
A venue that frequently hosts DJs (often from the Greek mainland) and theme parties, DaCosta is a stylish bar with nightclub character - the danceable tunes bring the floor alive, and quality drinks keep the party going well into the wee hours. Opens nightly May through September.
Jazz & Blues caters to a mature audience, putting on regular live music performances in the evenings. Offers seating in an intimate, dimly-lit outdoor area. A selection of drinks is served (wines, beers, cocktails and spirits). Prices tend to be lower than in most waterfront bars.
Housed inside one of the delectable whitewashed Cycladic houses, the 520 Bar offers some of the best views among evening establishments in Naxos Town, its terrace directly overlooking the port sunset. Cocktails are artisan, containing some quintessentially Greek ingredients (e.g. mastiha liquor).
One of the standouts in Agia Anna, Banana Beach Bar is where sun-kissed vacationers come to while away an evening to the sound of waves rustling (or live music tunes - with relative frequency). Serves delightful cocktails and a wide array of meat and seafood dishes.
Hora's old quarter known as Kastro is the island's shopping hot spot - its windy streets are packed with tiny stores and boutiques selling all manner of things, from clothing and beach paraphernalia to local delicacies and souvenirs, including Naxian foods and ceramics.
Those who venture out on a hike to to the scenic Halki will be duly rewarded by a chance to marvel at the masterful ceramics and exquisite jewellery by the well-regarded local Fish & Olive brand. The boutique also stocks a fabled extra-virgin olive oil produced by the Mercouri family.
The tiny family-run Naxian boutique specializes in artisan candy, made with quintessentially local flavors such as sage, citrus, mastic, and even ouzo. Candy is made directly before the eyes of the visitors, who are welcome to sample several varieties before taking a pick.
This artisan pottery shop is where the talented host invites visitors to watch as the one-of-a-kind creations emerge from under his hands. The tucked away studio offers a selection of exquisite creations that make perfect souvenirs to bring home with you. Ask for directions to find your way.
This family-run jewellery shop offers unbeatable, personal customer service and a selection of unique, artisan items designed locally as well as by well-established Greek designers (Stella Deligianni, Margoni and Sarina, among others). Conveniently located in Naxos Town's Court Square.
The Pagonis leather store specializes in hand-made shoes and sandals, and sells all manner of natural leather goods from bags to belts - for men and women. The family-run enterprise aims to represent local Greek producers, and has been in business since 1940.
What once was a small used book shop has now turned into a store with a rather impressive selection of literature in a variety of European languages - an estimate of 15 000 editions altogether. A special book-swap system is in place, allowing customers to exchange books at a very moderate fee.
Naxians themselves frequent Kiriakos Tziblakis - a longstanding local store, that packs an assortment of authentic cheeses (made by the managing family), wines and raki, honey, a variety of spices and so-called "spoon sweets", rare teas, and even a few ceramic pieces and handicrafts.
The store is a good place to stock up on the citrus liquor ("kitron") indigenous to the island, as well as browse through a nice selection of locally produced wines and sweets ("spoon sweets" - fruit and vegetables preserved in a thick syrup without artificial additives).
If you're in the market for some exquisite authentic embroidery, rugs, bed linens, and other home decor items made of fabric, look no further - Techni stocks an incredible selection of artisan pieces, both old and new, many being one-off examples of hand-made Naxian art.
A Naxian local, who had spent a good three decades living abroad in New York, has returned home only to start this exquisite gallery-cum-art store, packed with artisan items inspired by the verdant island. Olive tree motives dominate the art work - from home decor pieces to jewellery.
Run by a German expat, the store packs an excellent collection of jewellery containing some fine, exquisite necklaces, rings, bracelets, and more. The store is also authorized to recreate the original Nebra Sky Disk - a piece depicting star constellations dating back to the Bronze Age.
The artisan crafts shop in Halki village is run by its talented namesake Penelope, who puts the knowledge passed down to her through generations to practice and creates unique traditional designs of bed linens, table cloths, items of clothing, and other souvenir-perfect pieces.
The Naxos National Airport is located a mere couple of kilometers outside the town center. At the moment, the airport only serves the capital city of Athens. There is a bus service to the city - buses run at half-hour intervals from the bus stop just outside the airport. Further destination on the island may be reached from the main bus station in Naxos Town. Taxis are available for hire at the airport's taxi stand.
There is a well-developed bus network on the island, so reaching nearly any settlement (especially during high season) shouldn't present much difficulty. Tickets must be bought prior to boarding and are always sold at bus stations and/or ticket machines. In Naxos Town, the bus station is located right by the port, not for from the Tourist Information Center.