Once a cultural centre of classical Greece and of Byzantium, the island is home to a number of historical landmarks: temple ruins, beautiful old churches, Venetian castles and marble towers, all of them sightseeing highlights! Renowned for its cheese and mouth-watering wine, the local produce and traditional recipes native to the island is also a popular draw for visitors. So, whether you’re interested in history or passionate about food, Naxos is bound to delight and with your hire car to hand there is nothing stopping you from enjoying all the island has to offer!
Visit the Capital
Just a 5 minute drive from the airport is the island’s capital. Hora is an old castle town with a tangled web of cobbled alleys and marble archways, perfect for exploring on foot. Split into two neighbourhoods: the hilly old town of Kastro and the Greek quarter Bourgos, a stroll through Hora makes for an interesting wander. Filled with the hubbub of tourism and the bustling day-to-day activities of a port town, Hora is a lively place full of colour.
The town’s main landmark is the old Venetian castle, a celebration of medieval architecture sat at the very top of the hill overlooking the port. Explore the castle ruins, walk the fortress walls and visit the castle cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The unfinished Temple of Apollo is another historic sight worth visiting whilst you are in Hora. Cross the causeway that leads to the islet of Palatia where you will find the marble gate of the 6th Century temple. Although there isn’t much else to see besides this simple landmark, many people head to the islet at dusk to watch the sun set over the picturesque ancient capital.
Sunbathing on the South Coast
For those simply looking to spend some quality time relaxing on the beach, the island’s entire south-west facing coast, from the resort of Agios Prokopios down to Agiassos at Naxos’s southerly cape, essentially forms one large uninterrupted stretch of white sand and sparkling blue sea. At just a 30 minute drive between the two furthest points, be sure to make the most of this chain of unspoilt beaches and visit a different one each day!
Further Afield in Your Hire Car
Alternatively, if you fancy exploring the island’s mountainous terrain head inland to the village of Filoti. Just a 25 minute drive from the capital this beautiful village is the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee in the shade of the village square or sample the delicious Naxian wine at one of the many traditional tavernas. Set at the bottom of Mount Zeus, it is also the best point from which you can climb the Cyclades highest peak! With a variety of hiking trails to the mountains top, and cycling routes through the mountain valleys there are plenty of opportunities to get a closer look at the beautiful scenery.
If you do have the stamina to climb Mount Zeus not only will you be rewarded with breathtaking views but also the chance to explore the stunning cave of Zas- a treasure trove of jewelled stalagmite formations.