Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades islands but relatively unkown compared with the super famous Paros and Mykonos islands. Despite being the ‘under dog’ of the Cyclades, I gave it a change and Naxos rewarded me with breathtaking scenery and gave me some unforgettable memories. I’ve stayed 6 days on the island and one of the highlights was definitely a roadtrip across the beautiful island.
Together with 2 friends from college we rented the smallest car we could find (because of our tight budget). The rental costs were around 40 euros for the car and 15 euros for gas. We started in Naxos town (Chora) and drove to the east side of the island.
The next road trip is not only about stunning nature but also sleepy villages, history, astonishing beaches, delicious food and breathtaking views.
Start in Naxos town
Naxos is the capital of the island and is also known as chora by many people. From the harbour to the top near the venetian castle Naxos town has lots of narrow, steep streets with beautiful old stone houses. There are many bars, cafés, tavernas and restaurants which make this city very popular with tourists.
Tip: Visit The Portara: The Portara is the entrance to a temple that was never finished, the construction of the temple started around 525 BC. It is nowadays a very popular tourist attraction in Naxos town!
First stop: Temple of Demeter (Dimitra’s Temple)
This magnificent temple has been made of the finest quality of Naxos marble and is believed to date back to the 6th century BC. The temple is located in a beautiful rural area a bit off the beaten track. This is definitely a fascinating place for history lovers.
Second stop: Chalki (Halki) and the church
Chalki is a picturesque and traditional village located on a fertile mountain plateau between olive and all kinds of fruit trees. The village has a very cosy atmosphere and there are many souvernirshops with handmade products. There is also a church nearby the village which is very beautiful and worth a visit. It is about a 10 minute walk from the village with some great views!
Follow this sign to find the church:
Tip: If you have enough time you can also stop at Apiranthos village! The village is built on the slopes of Mount Fanari, at an altitude of 800 meters. Apiranthos is completely car-free. The picturesque houses are built against each other and the narrow alleys often run underneath the houses.
The lively center of the village is higher, here is the village square with its characteristic plane tree. On the square and the alleys around it are nice shops and traditional cafes. Apiranthos is also called “the marble village”, because almost all alleys are paved with marble stones.
Want to see more of this? Go check out the Cyclades island video HERE
Third stop: Mountsouna village and beach
Oh boy.. The road from Chalki to Mountsouna is crazy!! This road has to be in the top 10 most beautiful roads I’ve ever seen! But the road is quite dangerous so you have to drive very slow and not get distracted by the astonishing views or many goats on the road.
The port of Mountsouna used to be the port of Apiranthos on the eastern coast of the island which once was a busy export harbour when emery was in high demand and at this day you can still see the remains!
This village has some great taverns with a panoramic seaview right on the beach! One of them is: The Net, in this tavern we had the most amazing lunch. They offer yummi dishes with lots of fresh fish!
And after lunch: take a dip in the beautiful blue and clear water.
The last stop: Kouros of Flerio & Kouros at Melanes
The remarkable statue of Kouros can be seen just outside the village of Melanes. It is located in the country side of naxos in a serene valley. The kouros of Flerio is indicated with signposts and easy to find. Both statues lie on the ground and date back to the 7th century!
Archeologists believe that this statue used to hold a temple roof but they were decidedly abandoned by the ancient sculptors, due to faults in the marble and stone they were made of. Historians assume that the statue depicts god Apollo or god Dionysus.
After you finished this day full of impressions I recommend going to the Naxos open air cinema Cinenaxos and watch a movie under the stars to end this perfect day!
How to get to Naxos island?
Naxos has an airport but it is almost impossible to fly directly from your home country to Naxos. There is a daily flight connection to and from Naxos from Athens. It is best to fly to the airports of Athens, Mykonos or Santorini. You can reach the port of Naxos by boat from Mykonos, Santorini, Heraklion, Ios, Paros, Syros, Patmos, Ikaria, Kos, Amorgos and Donoussa.
Naxos has a good public transport network (we did the rest of our visit with the local bus). The roads are good and generally it is not too busy. Only in Naxos city is it particularly busy in the summer months with traffic.
Naxos has many beautiful, wide and elongated sandy beaches. In the summer months the beaches are very popular with the tourists. The best beaches of Naxos are in the southwest of the Greek island. Plaka beach is a long and wide sandy beach with slowly sloping sea levels. Other beautiful beaches are Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios, a few kilometers south of Chora.
Other beautiful beaches on Naxos are Mikri Vigla, Kastraki, Aliko and Pirgaki and Agiassos beach.