Best Beaches in Naxos, Greece: A 4 Day Itinerary
Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades island group. Naxos has the most unique landscape in the Cyclades and reminded me more of the Ionian islands due to the vast green landscapes. In case you aren’t aware, most the Cyclades have the characteristic dry landscape devoid of much greenery (although they make up for it in other ways!). In other words, Naxos has the best of both worlds in that it is very green with lush landscapes, yet it retains the traditional Cyclades architecture you will see in the traditional Greek villages.
Naxos blew me away and I think it’s one of the most underrated Greek islands for sure. So what is Naxos famous for and why is it worth visiting? Well, first off, Naxos has the best beaches in the Cyclades (along with Milos). Other impressive things to see in Naxos include the quaint hilltop villages, the hike to Mt. Zeus, ancient monasteries, archeological sites, marble villages, cool Byzantine churches, and one of the most beautiful main towns in all the Greek islands, Chora. Oh, and Naxos is also famous for potatoes so make sure to order some Naxos potatoes when you go, they are pretty good!
Naxos 4 Day Itinerary
Day 1: Chora town + Naxos port
Day 2: Alyko Peninsula + best beaches in Naxos
Day 3: Hike Mt. Zeus, Monastery of Fotodotis, Apiranthos town, & Rotonda restaurant
Day 4: Melanes, Panagia Drosiani, Chalkio, & Filoti
Bonus Day 5: East Coast beaches
Best Beaches in Naxos: Hawaii, Alyko, Glyfada , Agia Anna, Mikri Vigla, Plaka, and Agios Prokopios.
Day 1: Chora (Naxos town)
As soon as you approach Naxos by ferry, you will notice the huge marble doorway called Portara. Portara is the symbol of Naxos town and is the only remaining part of an unfinished temple dedicated to Apollo.
The Portara (or “large door”) was said to be too heavy to move, so it has remained there for over 2,500 years. It is also an awesome place to watch the sunset, although it does get quite crowded up there as it seems the entire town flocks here during this time.
Old Town Naxos
Old town Naxos has to be one of the prettiest old towns in all of Greece, with stiff competition all around! The typical white washed buildings with small alleyways and boutique shops is very typical of Cyclade architecture, but there is something just so special about Naxos Old Town that makes it stand out from the rest.
Get lost in the maze-like streets and go shopping at the cutest little boutique shops. There are also many traditional tavernas inside the old town as well.
Kastro (Naxos Castle)
At the top of the old town is the Kastro, the 13th century Venetian Castle of Naxos. It’s more like remnants of a castle with an archeological museum, medieval architecture, old mansions, a Catholic Cathedral, and the Tower of Glezos, the only tower still remaining of the original twelve.
Naxos has a nice seaside port lined with cafes with a very relaxing vibe. This is also another great place to watch the sunset if you’ve already gone up to Portara.
I rarely recommend specific restaurants in Greece because most the food is super fresh and consistently good just about anywhere you go. But here are 2 places in Naxos town that were memorable so I thought I would mention them:
Kozi– restaurant on the water with a great view of the Apollo arch (pictured below). They have true Greek meze plates at a great price. Try the stuffed grape leaves. Yum!
Meze 2 -restaurant in Naxos port with tasty food. Try the lamb in lemon sauce.
Day 2: Alyko (aka Aliko) Peninsula and Best Beaches in Naxos
You can park and then walk to Aliko nature reserve and take paths to different beaches. It’s a sandy peninsula with trees and bushes separating the beaches. It’s also home to cedar and juniper forests. Aliki is such a pretty area and you could spend a whole day there exploring. The beaches are not organized and are rugged with no facilities (except out houses on Alyko beach).
Glyfada has an epic entrance through sand dunes, trees, and bushes. It’s a very wild beach with gorgeous clear blue water and red rocks on the far end. You can park at Faros and walk down. I was the only person there when I went.
Hawaii is the most beautiful beach on Naxos that you can reach by walking on paths with bushes. It opens up to a cliff where you look down onto the beach. Find a spot on the rocks to climb down, there are no actual steps. Hawaii has soft sand with completely crystal waters. This was my favorite beach of all the Naxos beaches. If you only go to one beach in Naxos, go to Hawaii beach!
Alyko is a rugged sandy beach with a little traditional chapel framing it. This beach lies next to a cedar tree forest, offering a very peaceful environment away from crowds.
Agia Anna is a cute little beach with a little fishing dock. It has sun beds and many cafes along the beach. This is one of the closest beaches to Naxos town and can be easily reachable by bus in about 20 minutes from the port.
Tip: at Palatia cafe (pictured above) you can use their free sun beds if you buy something. I ordered only a Greek coffee and was able to use their sun beds all day.
Agia Anna was my favorite beach that was close to the city center. It was smaller than the others and more chill. And the little pier and fishing boats were really pretty in the calm bay.
Plaka is one of the largest Naxos beaches with sun beds and restaurants lining the beach. Although it is one of the busiest Naxos beaches, it is vastly stretched out and there are many spots you can go to avoid crowds. Tip: Go to Yazoo restaurant for a nice beachy vibe and good food.
Mikri Vigla-two beaches separated by a sandy hill. One side of the beach is very windy and famous for kitesurfing and wind sports. The other side of the beach is more calm with a long stretch of sand and rich blue waters.
Agios Prokopios-a well organized thick sand beach located 3.5 miles from Naxos town. It is one of them most popular Naxos beaches a has some of the clearest waters on the island.
Pyrgaki beach-soft sand beach with some sun beds. It’s skippable in my opinion.
Day 3: Hike Mt. Zeus, Monastery of Fotodotis, Apiranthos, & Rotonda restaurant
Mt Zeus Hike
Mount Zeus is the highest peak in the Cyclades island group. It is graded as a difficult hike but I would say it’s more like the high end of a moderate hike.
The hike takes about 1 hour 10 minutes to the top. The last 30 minutes is up some loose rocks so just be careful and wear proper shoes. (i.e. sneakers, not converse). It’s mostly uncovered so make sure to wear sunscreen and go early in the morning to avoid the heat.
Tip: Start the hike at a tiny church called Agia Marina. There are only a few parking spaces here so that’s another reason to get here early to get one of those parking spots.
Monastery of Fotodotis
Right across from Agia Marina church (on your hike to Mt Zeus), there is a tiny dirt road that leads to this beautiful monastery. Drive about 7 minutes up the dirt road to reach the monastery. There are 2 gates you have to open and then close behind you to keep the wildlife in (and out).
NOTE: I would ONLY drive up the road on an ATV or 4WD SUV because the road was very rough with lots of big potholes. A small car would probably get stuck and/or get a flat tire.
Apiranthos is a small mountainous village famous for marble. Most the alleys, streets, and steps are made of beautiful marble and it’s very unique to see. The city is set high on a hill overlooking the countryside. It was my favorite small hilltop town in Naxos.
The view alone is worth visiting this restaurant. It’s on the way to Apiranthos town so it’s nice to make a quick stop here and get a coffee and snack. It’s overpriced as you would expect, but you’re going for the view and experience.
Day 4: Melanes, Panagia Drosiani, Halki, and Filoti
Make your first quick stop of the day in Melanes for coffee with a beautiful view in this tiny little town.
The “Virgin Mary” Drosiani is a gorgeous Byzantine church set inside the Greek hillside that dates back to the 6th century. The inside walls are decorated with ancient frescoes and paintings. Panagia Drosiani is one of the oldest churches in all of Greece.
Chalkio (Aka Halki) is a traditional little town located in the center of Naxos island, nestled between the mountains. Halki is the former capital of the island of Naxos.
Halki is a cute town with little jewelry and embroidery shops. You can walk 10 minutes to the church of St. George Diasoritis, a gorgeous and secluded Byzantine church dating back to the 11th century (pictured below).
On your last stop of the day, stop at Filoti, a traditional town located at the foot of Mt. Zas in the center of the island. Filoti is not only the largest village on the island of Naxos, but in all of the Cyclades.
Bonus-Day 5: East Coast Beaches
Panermos was the only beach I saw in Naxos with palm trees. It is a small beach with a mix of sand and pebbles. There is an acropolis of Panermos above the beach that you can visit. There is also a little beach shack serving drinks and food. It’s windy and the water is a little rough, but there weren’t many people there so it’s nice and secluded.
Psili Ammos Beach– a very secluded beach that was hard to find. I drove all around on dirt roads and couldn’t get to it. Hence, I don’t have any photos of it unfortunately.
*There were a few random beaches I stopped at while driving so I’m not sure of the names (below). It’s always nice to find some unnamed beaches!
Note: Most of the best beaches in Naxos are on the West Coast so I would only visit the East Coast if you have lots of time on the island as there are many better beaches elsewhere.
Where to Stay in Naxos
I stayed in this cute little studio (Margo studios) a few minutes walk to the center, in a very quiet area. It had a free parking lot right out front, which was so helpful! I paid $30 per night and it was great value for the money. There was free coffee and tea every morning, and free beach towels. The staff was also so nice and helpful.
There was a cool rooftop area with hammocks where you could chill and watch the sunset. I needed to do laundry during my stay and they had full-service laundry service that they picked up in the morning and it was all folded and ready in the evening (for a very reasonable price).
Margo studios has a 4.9 review rating on booking.com, and I can totally see why. I highly recommend this place.
How to Get Around Naxos
Rent an ATV, Scooter, and/or Car
I usually like renting ATVs on the Greek islands because it’s so much fun and makes it so easy to explore the many beaches and villages. You can also easily park almost anywhere. However, Naxos is a lot larger than most Cyclades islands and the distances between places is a lot greater. Plus, it is very mountainous with many windy roads. So in this case, I did a combination of ATV and car rental. Take the ATV to explore the beaches closer to the Chora, such as Plaka, Agia Anna, etc. And then take the car to explore the center of the island and smaller villages.
I used Fun Car & Rides to rent a 300cc ATV and also an automatic car for 25 Euros a day on the spot. The office is right in the port. You need an international drivers permit (IDP) to rent any vehicle in Greece and they have recently become more strict about enforcing it. You can easily get an IDP at AAA offices in the USA for $20 and it lasts one year.
*a 300cc is the most powerful ATV I’ve ever rented and goes extremely fast so be careful and always wear a helmet!
Tip: the only time I don’t pre-book a vehicle is on the Greek islands because you can often get a better deal right on the spot. You can negotiate a better deal and usually get it for cheaper if you rent it for more days and/or if you pay in cash.
Travel Insurance for Greek Islands
I would never travel without travel insurance anymore. I learned my lesson. Too many bad things can happen (and they have unfortunately). Travel insurance is especially important when traveling to islands, as you may need to be air-lifted to the mainland in the worst case scenario. Do you know how much air-lifting costs? Think at least 5 digits (I.e. Expensive AF!).
My favorite travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads. I have made 3 claims so far and have been fully reimbursed for all 3 without any hassle. I highly recommend them.
MY TOP 5 RECOMMENDED TRAVEL GEAR FOR GREECE:
1.Sony Alpha 6000 Mirrorless Camera: I made the switch from my huge DSLR and I wouldn’t go back. It’s light, compact, and takes amazing photos!
2. Sony 10-18mm Wide Angle Zoom Lens: this wide angle lens is the key to landscape shots. I use this lens more than the original and am super happy with it. It’s not cheap, but super worth it if you want to get those special nature shots. Honestly, I would purchase the Sony alpha 6000 camera body only and save up for this lens to go with it.
3. E Bags Packing Cubes: the biggest life changer to keep me packing light! This is my biggest travel gear obsession and I have NO idea how I traveled without them before.
4. Anker Portable Charger: this helps me recharge my iPhone several times a day when I travel. It also has dual ports so you can charge your camera or other electronics simultaneously. I couldn’t travel without it.
5. GoPro Hero 11 Black: I am a proud GoPro ambassador and obsessed with GoPro selfie pics if you didn’t notice! The Gopro cameras are the best for action and underwater shots, and of course for taking those selfies when you’re traveling solo. It’s super small, compact, and easy to travel with. Plus it’s so much fun to use! 🙂
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a super small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I have used before on my own and that I truly love 🙂
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