Day 1 in Naxos
Welcome to Naxos, an island in the popular Cyclades that has commonly been referred to as Greece`s most underrated island. Upon arrival, head to your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do.
Naxos Town is the main port town of Naxos. Spend your first day wandering around the town center, popping into the many local shops, and checking out some of the top attractions.
The most famous part of Naxos town is the Portara, which means `big door`, or the Temple of Apollo. It sits atop a hill overlooking Naxos Town and is a look back in time at Naxos` ancient history. According to Greek mythology, this is where Dionysus met Ariadne. The unfinished temple was dedicated to Apollo, built in 522 BC by the tyrant Lygdamis. Had the temple been finished they say it would have been one of the most important archaeological destinations in Greece. The legend is if you stand in the doorway and make a wish, you can feel the force of energy as Apollo begins working to make your wish come true.
Another area worth exploring in Naxos town is the Kastro (or Castle), this district is a fortified area of the town that was once a castle. It`s one of the oldest parts of the town itself, and it`s very different to the architecture you`ll find towards the bottom.
Make sure to take a walk around the beautiful Chora Waterfront. Watch the locals on their boats and take in the views of the Portara. There are also a lot of restaurants along the waterfront here, however you might notice many of these restaurants on the water are overpriced and offer sub-par food.
As you explore Naxos town you`ll discover many local shops, cafes, museums, and art galleries in the winding maze-like streets surrounding the Kastro. For shopping this is the place to be. You could get lost in here for hours admiring locally handmade jewelry, hand-painted postcards, and so much more from all the charming local shops.
Finish your day with some fantastic food at one of the many restaurants in the area. Make sure to try the delicious local cheese and the famous Naxos potatoes (you`ll never look at any other potato the same way again after tasting the Naxos potatoes).
Day 2 in Naxos
Wake up early today to enjoy a hike at the Cave of Zas and Mount Zas (Mount Zeus), the most popular hikes on the island. If you`re an adventure-seeker, you will love this hike! Located in the Tragea region on the island, Mount Zas has important historical significance. In ancient times, the local Greeks believe that the cave on the northwest flanks of the mountain was the birthplace of the god Zeus. Zeus, the god of the sky, became the king of the 11 other gods known as The Olympians. This is how Mount Zeus and the Cave of Zeus were named.
Filoti, a small mountain village of about 2,000, is located at the very base of the mountain. There are several nice outdoor restaurants here where one can grab a bite to eat after the trek. North of Filoti stands Mount Fanari (2,897 feet) and Mount Koronos (3,271 feet), which are Naxos only other substantial peaks.
There are a few ways to hike to the top of Mount Zas - an `easy` way and a `difficult` way. The more challenging route involves hiking past Zas` cave, and up a very steep, rocky incline to the top. This route is not well marked, and involves literally climbing up piles of rocks. We would only recommend this hike if you are an experienced hiker.
The easiest way to reach the top of Mount Zas is the Aghia Marina route, nicknamed after the little chapel near where it starts. It is a well-maintained trail posted with a number of signs and is fairly easy to follow. As you hike your way up the mountain, take in the breathtaking views that surround you, along with lots of adorable goat companions.
Once you reach the top of the mountain, which is the highest point in the Cyclades, you`ll be rewarded with the most spectacular 360-dgree views of Naxos that you truly have to see to believe.
After a long day of hiking, head into the nearby village of Tripiti and relax over a refreshing drink and some local food at one of the many tavernas.
Day 3 in Naxos
Spend your last day in Naxos discovering all the many quaint mountain villages. Make your first stop at the small village of Melanes, set into the side of a mountain, it is one of the oldest villages in Naxos, located 5 miles south east from Chora. The village got its name by the dark color of the soil and the surrounding nature is full of olive groves and fruit trees, creating a magnificent scenery. Once you arrive, find a spot to grab breakfast and take in the beautiful mountain views.
Next, make a pit stop at the ancient marble quarry near Apollonas at the very north of the island to Kouros Statues. These fallen statues reach up to an impressive 32 ft. in height, and were carved in the 7th Century BC. The statue is a Kouros, a nude sculpture of a man. It`s a thrill to see this work in its unfinished state, with cuboids for arms and long un-carved planes making up the body. It is an estimated weight of 80 tons and has only been cut free on three sides. There are a few theories for the statue`s abandonment, a plausible one being that the cracks had started to appear in the marble at this early stage.
Next, make your way to the popular Panagia Drosiani, a small mountainside church at the mountainous heart of Naxos. This church is gorgeous and extremely old dating back at the end of the 6th century AD.
From the church, head over to Chalki (Chalkio or Halkio), arguably one of the most picturesque villages in Naxos. The village is located in the central area of the region of Tragea, 10 miles from Chora or Naxos Town, and is the biggest olive cultivation area of the Cyclades. Chalki has a long history and was once the capital of Naxos as well as its main administrative and trade center. The many Neoclassical houses and buildings exemplify the past wealth and power of the village. This is a great village to enjoy lunch and wander around a few local shops.
After a busy day driving around the island, enjoy the rest of your day with some rest and relaxation - Beach time! Make your way to the beautiful Agios Prokopios Beach. The golden sand beach is almost a mile long with crystalline turquoise water. Grab some ice cream, lay out a towel, take a dip in the water and just chill.
Complete your last day enjoying some of the nightlife that Naxos has to offer.
Additional Days in Naxos
Should you be able to spend additional days in Naxos we recommend checking out the Vallindras Kitron Distillery. Kitron is a liqueur distinct to Naxos. This is made by distilling the fruit and leaves of the citron tree, a citrus fruit not too different to lemon. It comes in three varieties: Green, which is the sweetest and least alcoholic, yellow, the strongest and with the highest proof, and clear, somewhere between the two. For a Naxos-specific experience you could journey into the hills to see how kitron is made at the distillery in the village of Chalkia. This started making kitron in 1896, and has been in the Vallindras family for five generations. Things are still done the old-time way, using vintage copper stills and big fermenting jars with wicker baskets.
Alternatively, take a day just relaxing at the beaches of Naxos. There are so many beaches to explore on the island with soft white sand and crystal blue waters. Most of the beaches are located on the western side of the island, which is also the most touristy developed part. The most famous beaches are Plaka beach and Agios Prokopios beach. They are considered among the most beautiful beaches in Greece.
Your Last Day in Naxos
Depart your hotel for the ferry station or airport where you will head home or make your way to more Greek Island adventures. Savor the memories of a very special time in Naxos Island.