The largest island in the Cyclades group situated southeast of mainland Greece, Naxos is a relatively small but popular tourist location and agricultural centre with a population of roughly 12,000.

Being Greek, Naxos’ early history is naturally entwined with mythology. Indeed, according to certain stories, Zeus himself was raised in a cave on Mt. Zas (Zeus). More concretely, Naxos has been typically associated with the Early Bronze Age Cycladic civilisation (roughly between 3000BC and 2000BC), and dominated the region practically throughout antiquity. The island has also been rather rebellious in the past, being responsible in 502 BC for the initial revolt against their Persian overlords which sparked the wider Ionian Revolt and precipitated the great Persian Wars reported by Herodotus. This trend continued even after Greece’s victory, as the island revolted once again in the 5th century BC against Athens and the Delian League, this time being comprehensively suppressed.

Outside of antiquity, Naxos’ history is less spectacular. The Middle Ages were marked by Venetian control, which lasted until 1714. Followed by a period of weak Ottoman rule, the island was finally incorporated into the new Greek state in 1832. This history is reflected somewhat today, as English, Italian, French and German can all be heard making for a rather cosmopolitan feel on the island. This fact, along with the lush valleys and mountains, make it a welcoming prospect for the tourist.


The most impressive piece of ancient architecture in Naxos is one of the first things you see in the city’s capital, Naxos Town (aka 'Hora'). The Portara doorway was originally intended as a doorway to the ancient temple of Apollo which, although built in 522 BC, was not completed. Elsewhere, in the village of Saggri, The Temple of Goddess Dimitra can be found.

Naxos is packed with ancient churches. Among these, the Panagia Drossiani in the village of Halki stands out, being one of the oldest churches in the Balkans (stretching back to roughly the 6th century BC and completed in its current guise during the 10th century BC).

For an insight into Cycladic civilisation, the villages of Melanes and Apollon exhibit the Kouros Statues.

The main museum can be found in Naxos Town at the heart of the castle area, specialising both in the history of Naxos and local art. Alternatively, the Archaeological Museum in the same location has a selection of fine ancient ceramics.

However, the central attractions of Naxos are its fabulous beaches, the majority of which are Blue Flag certified and found around Naxos Town. Although Plaka is considered the best beach, Agios Georgios is the main tourist area. Regardless of where you choose, you are guaranteed some beautiful scenery (although expect some nude sunbathing).

If you’d like to venture outside the island, the quay in Naxos Town sells tickets for ferries going to other islands. The most frequent destination is Piraeus, south of Athens, and takes about six hours.


Naxos Town, and particularly the Bourgos area, is the main location for shopping. Among the local crafts, look out for the 'Naxos Eye' special stones, forged by the sea and the climate, in jewellery shops.

There is a market area in Naxos Town, which is also a hotspot for anyone searching out the less obvious local shops.

The village of Apeiranthos is also surprisingly good, with its choice of handicraft outlets, specialising in cloths and laces.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Expect the usual Greek dishes like souvlaki to be on the menu alongside local specialities at the many restaurants strewn across Naxos. Paradiso in Agia Anna and the Taverna Galini represent two of the finest establishments for local cuisine, but foreign alternatives are possible, for example at the Picasso Mexican Bistro in Agios Prototikiou.

Its seaside location, and agricultural inportance, mean the many eateries in Naxos use locally grown produce. More uniquely, Naxos produces its own liquor, Kitron, made from an exotic lemon-like fruit and usually suitable for dessert.

Naxos has plenty of bars and cafés, particularly around Hora and Procopios. A selection of clubs can be found around Paraleia like Cream and Ocean. The largest club is Super Island in Grotta Road in Naxos Town.

Tourist Information

Naxos does not have a fully-fledged tourist office, but one private company acts as one, located in Paralia near the main taxi rank.

Tel: +30 22850 24570


If travelling by air, the best option is to fly to Athens International Airport and get one of the two or three daily connecting flights to Naxos via the Greek carrier Olympic Airlines. From Naxos, buses and taxis are available, most frequently to Naxos Town.

Alternatively, there is an option to fly to neighbouring Mykonos and use the ferry service.

All car hire locations in Greece