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Golden-sand beaches, small farming villages, ancient ruins and Venetian mansions on the largest Cycladic Island, Naxos

The largest of the Cyclades, Naxos offers you the chance to explore golden-sand beaches, whitewashed farming villages and ancient ruins. The island has played a vital role in Greek mythology — this is where Dionysus met and married Ariadne and it’s home to one of the (many) caves said to be where Zeus was born. More historically, this was an important ancient trading hub and you can visit significant archaeological ruins here. During the Middle Ages, the main town was a major stronghold for the Venetians and later the Byzantines, who left behind a rich architectural legacy that you can explore.

Today, Naxos is quieter than its better-known sisters. Boasting a fertile interior, it’s the main agricultural producer for other Cycladic Islands, and you’ll be able to visit small farming villages that have largely disappeared elsewhere in the archipelago.

Things to see and do in Naxos

Venetian mansions and Apollo’s temple in Naxos Town

Arriving into Naxos Town, you’re greeted by the door-like remains of a temple to Apollo standing like a sentinel at the mouth of the bay. The island’s history is written in the architecture of the town — this was the capital of the Venetian Duchy of the Aegean from the 13th to the 16th centuries, and you can see many mansions from the era still standing in the town’s kastro area. You might also like to explore some of the small Byzantine chapels tucked in among the streets.

Hiking through the villages of Naxos

Historic streets of Halki, NaxosSet within the island’s rugged interior, the Tragea Valley is home to a number of traditional villages, including Halki. The sturdy whitewashed buildings and stone-paved streets are a remnant of the time when this was the island’s capital and commercial hub.

Nearby, the village of Moni is home to Panagia Drosiani, a Byzantine-era church where nuns and monks secretly taught local children about Christianity during the Turkish occupation. Even smaller hamlets, like Kaloxilos and Akadimi, support fewer than 100 residents amid surrounding olive groves and scrubby oaks.

If you’d like to explore these out-of-the-way villages, we can arrange for a privately guided tour that includes a hike through the mountainous landscape.

Best time to visit Naxos

Like all of the Greek islands, Naxos is primarily a seasonal destination, and many hotels and restaurants only open from May to October. July and August are typically the hottest times of the year and the busiest, though crowds here are thinner than you’ll find at many other islands. May to June and September to October are better times to go, when you’re likely to be accompanied by blue skies, warm weather and fewer visitors.

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Audley Travel specialist Corina

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Map of Naxos

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Naxos

    Accommodation choices for Naxos

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Naxos. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Reception, 18 Grapes Boutique Hotel

      18 Grapes Boutique Hotel

      First Class

      Combining effortlessly chic decor and a quiet seaside location that’s convenient to Naxos Town, 18 Grapes is a luxe boutique hotel with spacious rooms, located just a five-minute walk from the beach at Agios Prokopios.

    Ideas for experiencing Naxos

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Naxos, and which use the best local guides.

    • Hiking the villages of Naxos
      Agii Apostoli, Halki, Naxos

      Hiking the villages of Naxos

      Hiking the villages of Naxos

      Naxos is the agricultural powerhouse of the Cyclades and you can still find traditional small farming villages in the island’s rugged but fertile interior. This privately guided hike offers a chance to spend the day exploring four of these small hamlets.

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