Naxos is the largest and most fertile island in Greeces Cyclades, and it’s home to dozens of traditional villages. Many of these villages are known for something unique, like olive oil from the surrounding groves, or architecture left over from the Byzantine era.
Partway through our week-long stay on Naxos, we rented an ATV to zoom up into the mountains and visit some of the villages. You could easily spend more time in one or several of the villages; all of the ones we visited would have been charming and relaxing places to stay a few days. Because our time on Naxos was beach-focused (since it came at the end of a month of constantly moving around Iceland, Scotland, Kos, Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini), a day trip worked best for us. If you also have limited time, one day is perfect to get a glimpse of village life. If you don’t want to rent a car/ATV, you can choose one village and take the bus (more rides during high season, grab a copy of the schedule in Naxos Chora).
This was our route:
From where we were staying, in Agia Anna, we visited the villages of Halki, Apeiranthos, and Naxos. Filoti is right along this route as well. The views are phenomenal as you ascend the mountain towards Apeiranthos, so much so that even if you’re terrified like me and have a death grip on your beloved driver, you’ll want to let go every so often to take videos!
Halki is the former capital of Naxos. It’s surrounded by olive groves, so of course it’s well-known for its olive oil. It’s also home to Vallindras Kitron Distillery, whick has been making Kitron liqueur from a citrus fruit (citron) since 1896! You can do a tour of the tiny distillery, and have a taste of the Kitron, and check out Halki’s unique architecture (plus a smattering of shops, cafes, and restaurants).
Apeiranthos is paved in marble, and offers great views at 600 m above sea level. If you’re interested, it boasts several museums, and is very photo friendly, with stone towers and Venetian architecture. Plus… cafes and restaurants: the views are best enjoyed over ice cream, I can vouch for that!
Naxos (Chora) is the capital of the island, and the main port where ferries come in. It’s a bustling town during tourist season, with an abundance of restaurants, shops, accommodation, car rentals, and nightlife. It’s well-known for the Portara, or the doorway to the unfinished Temple of Apollo – you’ll know you’ve arrived when you glimpse this archeological site from your ferry! There’s also a Venetian castle here. Buses leave from Naxos to all other parts of the island (e.g. if you’re staying at Agia Anna, you’d need to come into Naxos to catch the bus to one of the villages).
These villages – plus Filoti, known for its olive groves and Byzantine churches – are some of the most popular for visitors to Naxos. You have so many to choose from though, so if you have a while on the island, you won’t regret taking the time to visit them slowly. I’ve also heard of some nice hiking trails (perhaps best done outside of toasty August). Enjoy your time on Naxos!