Naxos town or Chora is the capital and the main town of Naxos island, and one of the most beautiful towns in the Aegean. The locality is amazing with Instagramable snaps in every corner. Art and history lovers will love the Naxos town with its sweeping vistas. The photos you see on the internet about Naxos town often don’t do justice to the reality.
Chora a large town, located on the west of Naxos island, where the port is also located. The Chora town is very impressive with its imposing Venetian Castle (Kastro) that stands like a crown jewel on the hilltop. The greatest highlights of Naxos town and the trademarks of the island are the Portara Gate, the Temple of god Apollo, and the Kastro. You clearly spot these two monuments when you approach at the island’s capital from the side of the harbor.
In 1207, the Venetian ruler Marco Sanudo conquered the Cyclades, created the Duke of Naxos in the Aegean with Chora Naxos its capital, and built the Kastro, a marvelous stone construction Castle. There is a thriving community inside the Castle with Venetian mansions, churches, the Kastro Cathedral in the main square, museums and a monastery. It’s an absolute delight to explore the narrow winding alleys of Naxos town. Stroll around Chora Naxos, where every corner uncovers a new gorgeous snap, on the seafront and backstreets, just below the Kastro, between whitewashed houses with cobblestone slab alleys and grey paint decoration, doors and window frames painted in light blue and red colors, overhanging bougainvilleas and other flowers, old decayed buildings, or preserved ones, all combined emit an amazing Cycladic vibe!
Table of Contents
Why visit Chora Naxos Town?
Chora Naxos is an eye candy! It’s an amazing maze town like a graphic puzzle, perfect for getting lost! If you are a bit of an explorer, don’t use a map but just wander off randomly and let these great maze-like alleys with their multiple paths guide you and to take you into their wisdom and magic! You may end up discovering a pocket of Naxos you’d never have encountered.
If you love art and history especially, or you’re a medieval period lover, Naxos town is a must visit. Travel back in time! Enjoy beauty in the form of culture, historic alleys, the architectural splendor, the topography that’s appealing in its own right will take you back in time. Naxos Town or Chora is a must see in Greece! Chora Naxos town is fascinating, it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful towns not just of the Cyclades but all of the Aegean, alive with traditional Greek character, the most scenic views, impressive Cycladic and Venetian architecture, authentic traditional character, and strong local colors. Not visiting Chora town while you’re in Naxos is missing out on an important part of Greece. Stroll around the Kastro and immerse yourself in living history, where the castle walls and cobblestone alleys travel you back to an old era. If you are looking for authenticity and history, Kastro visit is highly recommended.
Necessities, agencies and shops
Around the port area you will find most of the important places like bank ATMs, bus departures, taxi stands, tickets agencies, luggage storage and rental car agencies. But also at the seafront and through out all of Chora Naxos, you will find Banks, cell phone stores such as the Cosmote and Germanos shops, many ticket and rental car agencies.
A plethora of lovely shops with jewlery, clothing, souvenirs, trinket shops, home goods, arts and crafts, ceramics, Naxian marble object d’art, are situated in Naxos town and shopping here is pretty easy and enjoyable. In Naxos town you can shop till you drop!
Is Chora Naxos Town Lively?
There is a lot to see and do on Naxos town or Chora Naxos. It requires at least one full day and a night in order to say that you have experienced some of its beauty. Chora Naxos has interesting historical sights, vibrant taverns and pretty active nightlife. A plethora of taverns, restaurants, fish restaurants, cafes, bars and eclectic souvenir shops of all kinds are lining on the waterfront and the picturesque backstreets of Naxos town. Chora Naxos is the island’s center and the most concentrated touristic area. During the day and the night, the alleys of Chora town thrive with activity and people enjoy its lively atmosphere. After dark, the bars and taverns spring into action and you can party through the night till the sun comes up.
The Harbour in Naxos town
Chora Naxos is the arrival point for most visitors who arrive on Naxos island by ferry at the port, located in the center of the town. As the boat approaches the harbour, all sights are visible, the Portara Gate the landmark of the island to your left, the imposing Venetian Castle (Kastro) in the center on the hilltop stands like the crown of the town, shops, cafes and restaurants on the seafront – all just a short walk away.
Where to park in Naxos town Chora?
There are 4 large free parkings areas in Naxos town:
- The main one is at the St. George’s end of the paralia, around and underneath the Naxos Town Hall area and the waterfront. This is the one used most by the locals and is always very busy, even out of season
- There is a smaller parking area at Grotta bay,
- Another large parking lot behind the Metropolis Cathedral next to the bus parking lot, just behind the Kastro
- And one more parking lot near the open cinema
All of these are very convenient for the port, paralia and old town. All are free. It’s recommended to wear comfortable shoes.
There is a valet parking lot with a fee, just before the Police Office in Naxos town, named “Parking”, and you can check this out on google map if you like.
Wherever you park, just pay attention to where you park, especially around the main street of Papavasileiou, the seafront or the port. It’s recommended whatever you do, do NOT park around the paralia or port area because you will be fined!!
You might find some parking spots at the port and the KTEL public bus station just across the harbour square, but most of them prohibit parking because there’re loading and unloading zones for hotels, buses and taxis.
What to do in Naxos Chora
There’re many things to explore in Naxos town that will delight you. Just make sure to visit Chora Naxos during the day and also during the night. A visitor can see:
Seafront Naxos town Chora
Plenty of cafes, pubs, tavernas and restaurants for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner are located at the seafront of Naxos town. The choice is tough because most of them are quite appealing and one has to choose between these and the hidden ones that are also gems, located in the backstreeets shortly behind the seafront with panoramic vistas overlooking the harbour, and the waterfront vicinity.
You cannot leave from Naxos island and not have taken a picture here. Worth the views and the inspiration. In the northern part of the capital Chora a long paved road leads to the islet of Palatia (Palaces) where the unfinished imposing Temple of god Apollo stands, the glorious Portara which is Naxos’s emblem and main landmark, and amongst the most famous landmarks of Greece. The famous Portara (means Big Door) which is the gate of the temple is also the logo of the National Geographic Channel.
Thousands of visitors gather up here to watch the magnificent sunset and take pictures.
Summertime get quite crowded during sunset time here.
Agios Georgios Beach in Chora Naxos town
The beach of Agios Georgios (Saint George) is close to the capital Naxos town, and is a long golden sandy beach lined up with many taverns, restaurants, and cafe bars on the beach, while its ending is a well-known spot for windsurfing and horse riding. This beach has very shallow waters, popular for families with children. It’s an organzied beach with sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent. Agios Georgios is a very crowded beach, and is the first northern beach along the long line of the popular beaches of Naxos on the west coast.
Grotta Beach in Naxos Town
Grotta beach is as you exit the town and port, on the left north side of the island, with its characteristic to be its wild beauty and views during the strong winds. It’s a picturesque spot where many people stop for a while to get beautiful views of the Portara Gate and the islet of Palatia, along with the Grotta inhabitant area. Its name derived from the Italian word “grotta” which means cave. Here is the location where an ancient Mycenaean city once stood, which at the time was perhaps the most important town of all the Cyclades.
The Grotta area is a worth the stop especially when the fierce northern winds (the meltemi) are dominant in the Aegean, and the location is beaten up with great waves. You will have the opportunity to take great snaps of the scenery. The wild sea and the overall views are simply spectacular, seen nature so fierce on your feet. Because of the often strong winds, Grotta beach is not suitable for swimming, and it’s not recommended. There’re a few abandoned buildings, a derelict church, a couple of caves to look into, a few cafes and taverns around the Grotta beach area. The open area where you can stop and grab beautful photos is used as a parking lot, and it’s free.
Orthodox Cathedral in Chora Naxos Town
Behind the Grotta beach, just a few steps in the back of the main road, there is the Metropolitan Church of Zoodochos Pige, The Orthodox Cathedral of Naxos. It’s a very large whitewashed church that was built at the end of the 18th century in the place of a smaller church. In the front of the Cathedral there is a large cobblestone square with 2 smaller churches worth a quick visit. Anyway if you park in the parking lot close to the church, you can begin your strolling into the Kastro of Naxos town from there. It’s a good starting point.
Bourgos Area in Naxos town Chora
When you first enter the Naxos old town, you are entering the Bourgos area. The lower area of the old Naxos town is called Bourgos and is the place where the Greeks used to live in Medieval times. The highest point of the old town is called the Kastro (castle). The Bourgos area is where the Old Market is located. The Old Market is the place to shop and eat in Chora Naxos. Here you’ll find a great variety of shops, bustling picturesque cafes, and restaurants, and a plethora of various kinds of shops.
Just wander around and enjoy scenic views over Naxos town and of the Aegean. Naxos old town is full of history. These streets here to the north of Kastro, towards Bourgos area, are highly scenic and offer fabulous views over the island’s capital.
The Bourgos area is also beautiful in the evening spotlights. We highly recommend a night stroll through Bourgos old town during the night. You would love it!
Bourgos links to the Kastro area through entrance gates and small passages.
Kastro (Castle) in Naxos Town
The best of Naxos Town is not found at the seafront but in the backstreets of the old town. The further you walk away from the sea, the narrower the streets become and the more delightful the town gets. The citadel, Kastro area is actually a Castle with old stone defensive walls, entrance gates and small passages, a hilltop town that stands on its own, and was constructed by the Venetians in the 13th century. Still partly surrounded by the defensive walls, its maze drives you into quiet squares and alleyways leading to various inhabitant houses in clusters huddled together, monasteries, churches and museums.
Kastro is a beautiful and charming place that has kept its medieval atmosphere to nowadays. It’s well preserved despite wars and the ravages of time
This historic Castle (called Kastro in Greek) was a residential area of the Venetian rulers, the residence of Marco Sanudo, as well as the residence of various other Duchy institutions and administrations. It was designed by an engineer and has a pentagonic shape, built according to Venetian architecture with beautiful buildings, mansions, monuments and churches standing on the paved narrow streets. In the castle’s area is the Archaeological Museum of Naxos, housed in an old Jesuit Commercial school.
Led by Marco Sanudo, the Venetians had conquered Naxos island from the Byzantine Empire in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade in 1207. Sanudo established a duchy in the Aegean Sea and made Chora Naxos its capital. The Venetian rulers and the local Roman Catholic population of Naxos lived together in harmony and safety inside the defensive walls of the Kastro, separate and divided from the Orthodox Greeks in the Bourgos area immediately down below, outside of the defensive walls.
In the heart of the Kastro there is the Roman Catholic Cathedral which initially dates back to the 13th Century, although much of the present day building is a 16th century restoration paid for by the wealthy Catholic merchants and traders of Naxos.
Note: There is an elevator available if you want to avoid all the steep walking to the Kastro. Finding the elevator is a bit tricky though. You can use this link from Google Map to get there. There is a small fee to use it, but it’s recommended especially in the summer for those who cannot walk all this long way to the top in high temperatures
The Castle is at the highest point of Naxos town and offers you astonising views of the town and its surrounding area. You can easily see most of these historic sites in Kastro & Bourgos area in a day.
If you want further information about the Kastro, you can check this here
Experience visual satisfaction that speaks to your heart. Find a spot in the seafront of Naxos town to settle in for a couple of hours, sit down with a drink, and watch the harbour action, with the ferries coming and going in and out one after the other, or several ferries arriving at the same time, it’s a sheer beauty. Enjoy the ferry’s horn sound signal declaring its arrival to the harbour, watch them maneuver and dock successfully. Feel an emotional tug and admire how amazingly these enormous ferries turn around so fast from the captains’ operational skills. Be amazed by listening to the prolonged blast horn that sounds like a concert in the atmosphere of the town. Watching these ferries come and go is pleasing to the eye and the senses as they look like dancers in the sea! And it’s a real Greek island experience!
Can you drink the water in Naxos town Chora?
The water in Naxos town Chora, and the surrounding area is NOT drinkable. You need to get bottle water to drink. The municipality of Naxos has placed several taps in Naxos town with fresh water of good quality, suitable for drinking. As you walk around Naxos town you will see small marble structures about 2 feet high with a tap and a drain. Locals get their drinking water from these locations. Tap water is fine though for bathing and brushing your teeth.
Prepare to see a beautiful town that blends history and modern life with elements that date back to the medieval period: This is Chora town Naxos town!