One-day itinerary of Naxos

Maybe the Greek island of Naxos is too big to be seen in just one day. However, if you’re island-hopping in Greece, it might be useful to have plans for just one day. This itinerary won’t show you all the things you can do on Naxos, but it will give you a good insight of top places you must see if you visit the island. So let’s set the rules:

Wake up very early
Wear a smile and a good attitude
And follow this one-day itinerary on the island of Naxos!

This article has affiliate links to products and services that I use. If you make a purchase through these links, it might earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Before you go: Basic information about Naxos

Sunset and portara ruins in Naxos island
Sunset at the Portara, Naxos.

The island of Naxos is the largest island of the Cycladic cluster and it’s located in a fairly central position in the Aegean sea. The island’s landscape includes imposing mountains, fertile valleys and some of the prettiest beaches in Greece.

How to reach the island of Naxos

It’s not difficult to reach the island of Naxos by sea. In fact, Naxos is one of the ferry hubs in the Aegean sea. It has a well-served port and once you disimbark, you just need to walk a few steps to find yourself in the center of town.

people on the ferry in Greece
Me and my son about to leave the boat and start the Naxos adventure!

Get to Naxos by boat

You can travel to Naxos using a high-speed catamaran (faster but very sensible to weather conditions) or by the traditional ferry. You can book your tickets directly online.

speed ferry in the sea
Speed hydrofoil arriving to Ios island.

To book our tickets in Greece, I use the company below (Let’s Ferry). Check them often as they are known for sales, discounts, and special offers, even during the high season!

A normal trip by boat from Athens (port of Piraeus) takes 5 to 6 hours. A high-speed boat takes you to Naxos in 3.5-4 hours.

In any case, either if Naxos is one of the many stops on your Greek island itinerary or if you will visit only Naxos, take some time to learn the basics about island hopping in Greece. It’s not complex, but some planning is always needed.

Get to Naxos by plane

Olympics plane departureing over lake Naxos island
Olympic Air departing from Naxos.

You can also reach Naxos by plane, flights arrive regularly from Athens (International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos). Direct flights are operated by Aegean Airlines-Olympic Air.

Consider that if you’re staying in the center of Athens, you need at least one hour to reach the airport (sometimes more), you won’t always be saving on time. The flight Athens-Naxos is about an hour.

What to do on Naxos in one day

  • IMPORTANT: We spent a total of four days on the island of Naxos so as to be able to cover it in depth. However, I’ve decided to write itineraries for different lengths of stay for different readers. This particular itinerary is the one we followed on our second day on the island. It took us only one day to see all of the following.
White streets in the old town of Naxos.
White streets in the old town of Naxos.

Our second day on the island was hot but also cloudy and windy. It was not good enough to spend it on the beach, so we took our rental car, and decided it was better to explore the island, and we saw a lot!

White walls, houses, pink flowers, old town Naxos island
Naxos chora.

Why do I tell you this? Because it is real proof that this, even if tight, is a possible itinerary that can be done in one day (we did it with two small kids).

The itinerary was not planned but decided as we went, and since we were always hoping for the sun to come back, there’s even some time left for a last minute trip to the beach (in case the weather is better for you than it was with us).

narrow passage, blue frames on the wall, shops Naxos island
The beautiful chora of Naxos.

First stop: Exploring the Chora, Naxos old town

Exploring and shooting in the Chora of Naxos.
Exploring and shooting in the Chora of Naxos.

We headed from our villa to the center of the city, parked near the old town, and walked for a few hours to see what old Naxos was about.

The old chora of Naxos is probably one of the most beautiful towns I’ve seen on a Greek island. It might not be as elegant as the Chora of Patmos, nor as refined as the town of Oia in Santorini. But for me, it is truly picturesque, with a lot of opportunities for stunning pictures.

Chora Naxos
The kids exploring the Chora of Naxos.

The chora of Naxos is located right by the sea, a few meters from the port. It’s pretty big, if compared with other old towns on the Greek islands. It’s mostly made of several alleys, some of them covered giving the idea of narrow passages.

alley naxos island
Alleys in Old Town Naxos.
garden naxos old town
A colorful patio.

Other little streets are adorned with patios, balconies, and stairs, lots of flowers and plants. It’s a magnificent and intricate maze.

This architecture explains how the former inhabitants were determined to protect themselves ad their island. The streets lead to the sea, but they also take you to the doors of the Kastro of Sanoudo, Naxos imposing castle, dating back to around 1207.

Kastro, Naxos, Cycladic islands. Greece
The impressive castle of Naxos.

Glezos or also Krispi is the only tower still standing of the twelve different towers that this fortress used to have in the past.

When you explore Naxos’ Old Town, you enter a Venetian world (accessible either through the southern door or Paraporti; or the northern door, Trani Porta). There are distinctive traits of Venetian architecture, domes, and palazzi, some of them hosting art galleries and museums.

Passage, blue door, fishing net
Chora, Naxos.
restaurat on the street naxos
Naxos old town.

Take some time to look up! There are many beautiful domes and all curches all over the old town of Naxos, some of them incredibly old and traditional.

Church, Naxos Chora.

In the old town you can visit the Archaeological Museum of Naxos to know more about the past of the island. It features archaeological findings and a collection of Cycladic art, such as vases, figures, and jewelry with abundant use of marble and clay.

All objects the objects come from a necropolis on the island, and they where inside the tombs to accompany the dead on their final journey

Chora of Naxos, Cyclades
Chora of Naxos, Cyclades.

Three more stops: Mountain villages of Naxos

mountains Naxos island
Up in the mountains of Naxos island.

After a couple of hours walking around the old town (without including the Portara which we left for the sunset), we stopped for a coffee along the seaside, and took our car again to explore the villages.

Take the road that from the Chora of Naxos takes you up to the mountain villages, follow the sign that reads “Xorio”. Drive for about twenty minutes to reach the first of the villages we are seeing today. Probably one of the most beautiful traditional towns in the Aegean: Halki.

Village of Halki

old house flowers naxos island halki village
Old house of Halki.

One of the closest villages to the center of Naxos is Halki, (about 30 minutes by car). Halki is easy to visit on foot, and there are plenty of things to see.

Halki is a very picturesque mountain town and it’s also the home of one of the main traditions of Naxos, the kitron.

The kitron of Naxos is a strong liquor made from the leaves of the citron tree.

stairs, blue doors, flowers, PATIO NAXOS
The courtyard inside the distillery.
old bottles
Inside the museum.
tables street naxos
The area outside to sit and taste kitron.
bottles with naxos liquor, Kitron
The three different types you can taste.

It used to be exported to several countries around the world but now it is mostly consumed locally. A visit to the traditional distillery Vallindras is a great opportunity to taste the different types of the spirit they produce.

Kitron fruit, Naxos.
Kitron fruit from Naxos.

The village has some remarkable Neoclassical houses, most of them adorned with colorful bougainvillea and tall trees. Not far from Vallindras, we stopped to visit a local jam workshop, Era.

Here, Mr. Giannis Mandenakis has been producing home-made spoon sweets and jams since 2003. We tried different flavors, and we took home a pot of oranges and another one of cherries. It was truly delicious.

jam from Naxos island
Spoon sweet, Halki.

At this point, it was already time for lunch, so we found a place to eat before following our itinerary.

On Halki’s main road, we entered a very traditional taverna located on a corner. It’s the perfect example of old times Naxos. To Spitiko Galaktoboureko (which means the home-made galaktoboureko) serves delicious food that has gained a well-deserved reputation.

It’s all very simple and fresh, made in an open kitchen, right in front of you. They have also great sweets, when you visit Halki, don’t miss it!

Greek coffee and galaktoboureko, Halki.
Galaktoboureko, a traditional custard desert with syrup and a cup of Greek coffee.

Village of Filoti

Our next mountain village was Filoti, we didn’t stay long, but we certainly loved the scene of the mountains from the square.

You reach Filoti 15 minutes after leaving Halki, driving up the mountain on the same road. Most guide books describe it as a must-see when on Naxos and it’s really a picturesque place.

Mountain and church - naxos
Views from Filoti.

There are several small traditional houses on the slopes of the mountain. The alleys and passages are adorned with fruit trees and flowers. On the main road, there are several bars and tavernas where locals engage in long conversations and board games such as cards and tavli (or backgamon).

Taverna in Filoti, Naxos
Taverna in the village of Filoti, Naxos

From the village of Filoti starts one of the paths to reach the Cave of Zas (or Cave of Zeus), about 600 meters above sea level.

According to mythology, God Zeus found shelter in the cave while he was being chased by his father. The cave boasts an impressive interior while on the outside a spectacular green landscape softly descends to meet the blue shades of the sea.

Mountain and church on top
Mount Zas.

We didn’t include a visit to the cave in our itinerary because it would have cut our afternoon (we really wanted to see the village of Apeirtanthos) and at that point it had also started to rain.

Naxos landscape.
Villages in the mountains, view from Filoti.

However, if you want to do walk the Filoti-Zas trail, check this site with updated information to hike Mount Zas.

Marble village of Apeiranthos

After a short visit to Filoti, we got on the road again drove for about 8 km to reach a village known for its marble walls, stairs, and buidings, Apeiranthos.

This small mountain town is laid-back and collected. It has an impressive medieval architecture and a very produ character. Of all the villages we visited during our itinerary, it was the only one really full of tourists.

Apeiranthos village on Naxos island.
Apeiranthos village on Naxos island.

The suburban landscape of the village is made of stone and white marble in every building: houses, towers, and beautiful flocks of stairs. Both the narrow alleys and the tight mule tracks are all paved in white blocks.

There are four museums worth a visit in the village too.

  • Archaeological Museum of Apeiranthos
  • Museum of Folk Art
  • Geological Museum
  • Museum of Natural History
cloth of naxos and artisan hands working
Crafts typical of the island include fabric and embroidery.

Apeiranthos also has a long-time textile tradition of hand-woven fabric and embroidery, crafted with local looms known as krevataria.

Back to the coast: Beaches of Naxos

Agios Prokopios Beach.

The weather didn’t allow us to go to the beach on that day, even though we had some extra time available. We went for a cup of coffee and cake in the old town, but if it’s hot enough you can go to the beach.

On our next day we woke up with a radiant sun and hot temperatures. We took advantage to visit many beaches in one day, you can read about those in this article and add it in your itinerary. Here are a few tips for you to choose.

Considering that this is a one-day itinerary and that you might be short of time, choose a beach that’s not too far away from the center, or that’s close to the port.

My favorite beache ticking those boxes are Maragas and Plaka. They are next to each other and offer Several kilometers of white sand and turquoise water will allow you to find a quiet spot to spend the last of your afternoon.

Maragas beach. Naxos island, Greece
Maragas Beach.

Enjoy a swim or even a cold coffee in one of the many bars in front of the beach. But don’t overdo relaxing, you still have the best to come.

Sunset in Naxos: Head to the Portara

Kids sunset
Kids looking at the sun setting in the horizon.

It’s time to change your clothes and go back to town. There’s an appointment that won’t wait. Sunsets in Greece are a landmark tradition.

No matter where: The old castle of Oia (in Santorini), the windmills of Mykonos or the beach of Falasarna (in Crete). Sunsets are always special and have a place of their own. When in Naxos, that place is the Portara.

Portara of Naxos, sunset.
Portara of Naxos, sunset.

We deliberately skipped this visit in the morning, knowing that the area is at its best when the sun goes down. Check on your weather app what time the sun sets, and walk to the area at least 15 minutes ahead of time.

As with every sunset hotspot, be patient. Chances are the place is already full.

Two are the options for the best sunset view. Either you wait in front of the monument for the sun to be right inside its frame. Or you go a little bit further, go pass the Portara and sit on the rocks facing the sea. The sun won’t be going through the big door, but the landscape will be equally fantastic.

Sunset from the Islet of Ariadne, Portara of Naxos, Cyclades.
Sunset from the Islet of Ariadne, Portara of Naxos, Cyclades.

When the last rays of the sun are still visible, don’t forget to turn your head back to the Chora. All those whitewashed houses bathed in a warm shade of orange are a memory worth taking with you.

Chora of Naxos, from the Portara
Chora of Naxos, from the Portara

If you still have time: Dinner and Kitron cocktail

While on Naxos I enjoyed food in two different places of the city (without counting Halki). They are both on the main promenade facing the sea. And they were so good that ne ver checked other places, we just returned there. One of them soon became the kid’s favorite.

Children’s paradise was Yasouvlaki. It’s almost at the end of the main road, coming from the Portara. They offer very creative choices of souvlaki, the local fast food, which kids adore.

There is also a nice selection of dishes for those who prefer more serious food. Prices are extremely convenient; the atmosphere is pleasant and the food… oh, so good!

For a different option, made of assorted appetizers, succulent and fresh salads, or delicious fish courses, try Meze Meze, also in front of the marina. They specialize in seafood. Their octopus salad was mouth-watering.

To end the night with a local drink, visit the Kitron Cafè Cocktail Bar, enjoy some creative variation of your favorite drink, only prepared with kitron, rigorously served with fresh fruit and nice music.

Kitron Bar Naxos
Kitron Bar, seaside Naxos.

Sit under the stairs, looking at the white yachts been lulled by the soft waves and breath the salty air coming from the sea.

It will be the perfect way to end your one-day itinerary on the island of Naxos.

If you change your mind and decide to stay overnight…

Naxos is an island with a lot of things to do, not just during the Summer, but all year long. I often say that if, for any reason, I hadn’t moved to Crete, my second island of choice would have been Naxos.

If you have more time to stay, a flexible itinerary, or simple decide last minute that you want so spend more days in Naxos, you will be able to visit at a slower pace. Check museus and art galleries or visit interesting archaeological sites.

You can spend the night in the old town or in a villa. We stayed here and we loved it. But there’re more budget friendly that you can check, there are a few down below, click on the arrow to open the box:

Where to stay in Naxos

  • Sagri Village Vacation Home is located in the old town and it has very convenient prices for its location. It’s big enough for a family of 4. Check photos, prices, and book here.
  • If you want to stay in the mountains, Filoti can be a good idea. Smilis Villa House is a comfortable and traditional villa, also spacious and good for families or bigger groups. Check it here.
  • Halki is also an adorable place to stay, check Motel Halki for a budget stay and Elaiolithos Luxury Retreat if you’re ready to spend a bit more.
  • Finally, if you’d rather stay by the beach, Nikos & Maria Studios are right opposite the spectacular beach of Plaka, has excellent reviews, and convenient fees. You can book in this link.

Our trip to Naxos, Paros & Antiparos was possible thanks to the support of the South Aegen Region,
the local municipalities and local companies.
As usual, every opinion expressed is my own.
Our trip and some of the articles about Naxos where covered also by the local press. You can check this article on Naxos Post.

If you’re looking for more activities to enjoy your days on the Greek island of Naxos, check this article. For those interested in staying in a Naxos Villa, read here our review.
This article about Naxos has been completely updated and includes all the information you need to spend a wonderful day on the island. If you have questions about other things you can do over there, let me know in the comments section below!

Have you been to Naxos?

Check these resources when planning a trip to Greece

Disclaimer: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Keep in mind that I link to products & companies that I personally use and recommend for their quality.

CAR RENTAL
When in Greece, I always recommend choosing a local rental company over an international one. With Rental Center Crete fees are more convenient, there’s a zero-excess insurance policy (as well as no hidden costs, free mileage, and extra driver). Check this car rental website and use my promo code to get a 5% discount.

ACCOMMODATION
Whenever I need to book accommodation in Crete I personally use Booking.com. Their Genius Loyalty Programme allows me to find better fees. As they say, the more you stay with them, the more rewards you get.

TOURS & DAY TRIPS
For organized activities, I usually book my tours through Viator and GetYourGuide. From transfer to cooking lessons, including archaeological site visits, skip the line attractions, and boat trips, both platforms help you save time and money.

FERRY TICKETS
Getting to Crete can be really comfortable with an airplane, but nothing beats the romantic experience of traveling by sea. Choose Let’s Ferry to visit several Greek islands or to travel directly to Crete.

TRAVEL INSURANCE
Greece, and especially Crete, is a fairly safe destination, however, you should never travel abroad without an insurance policy for complete peace of mind. My favorite? World Nomads, click here for a quote.

YOU MIGHT ALSO WANT TO READ:

Roads of Antiparos, Greece
Taverna with flowers, Paros
Patmos windmills

PIN FOR LATER: NAXOS, ONE-DAY ITINERARY

About the Author

Hola! I’m Gabi. I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round.
I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.
I’m a beach freak and on this island, I’ve found heaven on earth!

Gabi Ancarola
The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog

Discover the best of Crete with The Tiny Book

6 thoughts on “One-day itinerary of Naxos”

  1. We loved this post about Naxos, we’re planning our next holidays in Greece and we’d like to combine Naxos, Paros and Antiparos as well. I read some of your articles about Antiparos and we saw that there’re many things to do there! This surprised us, so maybe we will cut on Paros and go for more Antiparos or Naxos 😀
    The sunset photos are so beautiful! Which of the mountain villages did you like better? Is it really possible to do all this in just a day? Mind you, we’re travelling with kids too, a 6 y/o, a 3 y/o and a 1y/o.
    Thanks
    Ingrid

    Reply
    • We did it exactly as it is detailed in the post, trust me, you can do it, and with kids. Naxos is big, but not that big after all, and distances are relatively short after all.
      My favorite place was Halki, no doubt about it!
      Thanks for leaving your comment, and enjoy Greece!!!

      Reply
  2. Hi! I’m Mariano and I’m writing from Argentina, your country! I love the articles you write about Greece. This is one of the countries I dream to visit and reading your words is like you take me there. I hope to visit Greece soon one day, and this blog will be our online guide,
    Un saludo porteño y un mate!
    Mariano

    Reply
    • Hi Mariano! (my brother who lives in Argentina is called right like you 😀 )

      Thanks for the beautiful words. I do hope that you can visit Greece one day soon. You will fall in love with the country, the people, the landscapes and the food!
      Un beso desde Chania!!!

      Reply
  3. Naxos looks wonderful. How long did you stay there? I read your post about accommodation on the island but we might need to book something less sophisticated (aka: a cheaper hotel), what do you recommend?
    Andrea

    Reply
    • We were there for less than a week and it was good enough to see a lot. Of course, when you are on a Cycladic island you never want to leave… but that’s another story. As far as accommodation, try looking for some studios on Booking(dot)com, there are plenty of cheaper options and they are not hard to find. If you still need help with hotels, do drop me a line through a pvt. msg. I’d be happy to help!
      Gabi

      Reply

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