Amazing Day Trips to Take Around Naxos by Boat
As the capital of Naxos, Chora offers a lot, but our day trip guide has even more | © Georgios Tsichlis / Alamy Stock Photo
The largest island of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, Naxos offers a lower-key experience than the busier Greek islands such as Mykonos. It’s rich in history, natural beauty and some of the best homegrown food you’ll taste, served in authentic tavernas. From pristine sandy beaches to snorkelling around nearby islets, there’s plenty to see and do by boat. Here, Culture Trip selects the must-do day trips from Naxos.
Hop on a catamaran
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The core theme of any holiday should be to not overthink things. Keep it simple with a day-long catamaran cruise taking you from Naxos Marina to secluded coves, sandy beaches and the island’s best diving spots. Most trips are all-inclusive, so you’ll be served a traditional Greek lunch brimming with local ingredients and freshly caught fish. With all your snorkelling equipment provided, all you have to do is jump into blue waters.
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This tiny islet between the islands of Naxos and Ios offers unspoilt beauty and laid-back Greek charm in spades. Close to the harbour you’ll find Livadi Beach, with a naturist section and calm, clear waters. Elsewhere, Alimia is a sheltered cove on the south coast, home to a German WWII plane wreck, visible from the surface. Iraklia is mountainous, with eight hiking trails that lead to incredible ocean views. Note, there is only one ATM on the island.
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The best way to visit Koufonisia is on a traditional kaiki, a wooden boat used locally for over 300 years – typical of the area’s step-back-in-time feel. Swimming, walking, cycling and eating are the main activities, but watch out for the naturist beaches if you blush easily. Sailing excursions usually include a Greek barbecue lunch, but alternatively you can grab piping hot souvlaki skewers from Souvlaki Sti Strofi, a classic hole-in-the-wall joint.
Restaurant, Pub, European, $$$
This Naxos taverna is a tourist destination in its own right. The owners pride themselves on creative dishes made from locally sourced ingredients: think Naxian cheese made from sheep and goat milk; fresh sardines and shrimp; freshly picked herbs; and meat including local sausages. The tzatziki with mustard seeds is next level, and they serve home-made rose wine and Cretan craft beer. It’s worth hopping off a boat for.
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Naxos has it all for watersport fans. From jet skiing to kayaking, paddleboarding and water skiing – plus windsurfing and kitesurfing – you can master the waves at your leisure. The place to sail to is the watersports centre on Naxos’ largest beach, Plaka, opposite the fabled island of Spinalonga. Opt for rentals or lessons – or just a reviving rakı in the restaurant.
Antiparos and Paros
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Less than 1mi (1.6km) apart in the heart of the Cyclades, it makes sense to sail around both of these islands in one day on a catamaran or yacht cruise. On the way, look out for sea turtles, dolphins and flying fish. Sail past the bays of Paros, snorkel at the Blue Lagoon of the Panteronissia islets and explore caves and coral in the turquoise waters. Just remember to pack your underwater camera.
Restaurant, Greek, $$$
One restaurant worthy of a sailing pit stop is Lucullus, perfect for a long lunch. Almost invisible down a narrow, vine-filled lane off Old Market Street, it’s been open since 1908 and is reputedly Naxos’ oldest taverna. Expect whitewashed walls, blue shutters and a welcome worthy of an old family friend arriving home after a long voyage. Menu highlights include the lamb kleftiko, octopus stifado and the best Greek salads on the island.
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An award-winning beach, a little over 5km (3mi) from Naxos town, Agios Prokopios is perfect for a lazy day in the sunshine or a spot of watersports. Umbrellas and sunbeds can be rented along the curve of white sand, while a scattering of small bars and cafes buzz with locals and tourists in summer. There’s everything you need to relax, swim and stay beyond sunset for cocktails.