Right in the heart of the Cyclades lays the undiscovered island of Naxos. Situated between touristy Mykonos and Santorini, this place offers you a peek inside the authentic Greek island life. Naxos is the biggest island of the Cyclades with green mountains and sandy beaches which makes it ideal for hiking and relaxing. The variety of things to do with the joy of being one of the only tourists around is what made us fall in love with Naxos.
Climb mount Zeus// Definitely the most exhausting and rewarding activity you can do on Naxos. Mount Zeus, or mount Zas for the locals, is 1.003m high and can be seen from all sides of the island. You start this circular trail in the small town of Filoti. Leaving the town, you’ll be looking for the Barossi Tower, a old windmill that is easily missed. Believe me, we spend 2 hours looking for it 🙂 You’ll find it on your left-hand side, 10 minutes after leaving the village. Next up, you’ll walk around 30 minutes on a small path that crosses some sheep pastures. You can open the gates on the path since they’re only intended to keep the sheep on their meadow. You’ll arrive on the perfect stop to take a rest at Arion fountain. The water is safe to drink, so fuel up before the climb! Zas cave lies just 15 minutes from this place. Mythology says this is the place where Zeus grew up, hence the name of the mountain. The next hour is all the way to the top, which is clearly marked with yellow dots. Best hike of our entire trip through Greece!
Explore Naxos town// Naxos town, also called Hora by the locals, is Naxos’ main town. This is the first place you immediately see when the ferry arrives. The old Kastro area, which rises above the rest of the city, dominates the view. The easiest way to enter this area is through the North Gate. This part of town was build by the Venetians in the medieval times. Walking inside the old city walls, feels like you’ve been taken back for hundreds of years.
Sunset view at Apollo’s shrine// This marble gate is the only remain of the once mighty Temple of Apollo. Located on a small islet next to Naxos’ harbour, this is the perfect place to wind down after dinner and watch the sunset. Watching sunsets is a must do when visiting Greece but I assume you guessed that already 😉
Discover the history around the island// Although Naxos is the biggest island, we managed to visit all the historical sites across the island in one day. We visited the Kouros of Melanes and Apolonas. A Kouros is a big lying statue that was left in its original place. These monuments are up to 10 meters long! Demeter’s temple is another historical site I would highly recommend to check out during your trip. Renting a scooter costs €15 for a full day in the off-season which is considerably lower than the prices we got in Mykonos. I would highly suggest getting your own transport, as this will make it way easier to discover the island without wasting too much time.
Enjoy the relaxing beach life at Plaka// The Western side of Naxos offer the best beaches which seem to stretch on endlessly. You can drive your scooter along the small, sandy road in search for the perfect spot. Put your bum in the sand and enjoy the sound of the waves and the sun on your skin. We did all the beaches and Plaka was out favourite!
Visit the quite island towns// Naxos is filled with small, rustic villages where there isn’t anything major to see except for their authentic houses and charming squares. These picturesque villages of Naxos were able to maintain their original character away from tourists. Hiking is the perfect way to discover the hidden gems since there are dozens of marked trails covering the island. Halki is one of the bigger towns that surprisingly holds place to an internationally successful ceramic shop Fish & Olives. If you have some time left, hop into Phos Gallery to check out the local talent. Another favourite of ours was Apolonas, a small beach town at the Northern side of the island.
Korali Garden// We stayed at the Korali Garden Hotel in Naxos Town. We wanted to be close to the harbour, enjoy a swimming pool and have good value for money which is everything this place has to offer. Our studio was very spacious and clean with a balcony overlooking the pool. The host was so kind to arrange our scooters at the same price which was offered by the local shops but with the scooters being delivered to the hotel.
Local cuisine at Maro’s Taverna// This restaurant is the place you’re looking for when you’re very hungry and local for a local meal. The portions here are gigantic and you’ll get a slice of cake from the house to top it all off for a very small price. Maro’s Taverna is frequently visited by locals.
Mama’s food at Scirocco// Another local favourite in Naxos Town is Scirocco where the food is still made by la mama herself.
Authentic food in Halki// The Greek feta on the grill at Giannis Taverna on the local square is delicious and a must try.
A quick snack at Relax// A quick snack near the harbour can be found at Relax. Our kebab rolls were tasty for only €2 a piece. The terrace of Relax is located on the passageway that leads to Apollo’s shrine.
Dessert at The Waffle House// Dessert, afternoon snack and everything in between that involves sugar or ice-cream can be found at The Waffle House. Their variety of cookie flavours is through the roof.