3 Short Hikes in Naxos to Hidden & Unusual Sites
I’ve put these historical sites in the hiking in Naxos category as they’re not the most accessible of places. Although these treks are short they’re fairly strenuous. (Or perhaps that’s just how I found them since I lugged 15 stone up and down!)
While they’re not exactly secret one of them is definitely hidden and unusual. The other two are kind of hiding in plain sight but they’re easily missed by tourists doing the usual things in Naxos. If you’re feeling fit then it’s fun to find these lesser-known places.
Should you be a keen walker, there are plenty of longer hikes in Naxos. They’re well waymarked and show off the best of the island’s nature and varied landscapes.
Walk to Monastery Kaloritsa Naxos
This ruined monastery was built into the rocks. You can just about see the external stonework from the road. But the real treasures are in the cave below. Although there’s a padlocked gate across the entrance now you can still see in.
Icons, lecterns and other items have been left there. But if you look beyond you can see the frescoes on the walls too. It’s fascinating and a little bit eerie too.
Getting on the path to Monastery Kaloritsa
The path is unmarked although once you get onto it you can make it out. Nearer the monastery, there are red paint marks on the rocks you can follow. It’s all uphill to get there but the views are amazing and it’s not too steep for the most part.
It took me around 50 minutes to go up explore, take loads of pics and come back.
I parked on the road a bit beyond the turning that’s signed for the monastery (which is just a few hundred meters past Bezeos Tower on your left). Although the blue sign looks like a road sign, you can’t drive up there with any type of vehicle.
After walking back and taking the turning I ended up on someone’s farm. A woman came out and helped me find the path. So as to avoid bothering her with unwanted visits please read the directions below!
As you turn into the dirt road where Kaloritsa is signed it curves to the right. Do not follow the road round. Right on the corner, you need to go straight ahead (where the yellow highlight is on the image).
You’ll need to scramble over some rock to get onto the land. Aim for the dry stone wall of the goat pen and keep that to your right.
As you get over the rocks you’ll be able to make out a track in front of you. At times it’s more obvious than others, like where it meets and hugs the wall.
At others, it’s more like picking a goat trail through the gorse. But head in the general direction and then you’ll pick up the red markings on the stones. Once you’re on the path at the start you can’t go too wrong.
Once you’ve finished exploring and enjoying the view return the same way you came up.
Walk to Theologaki Church in Chora
Only 30 minutes from Naxos port is another church built into the rock. Theologaki is tiny but open. Again, it’s up a hill (quite a steep one) so you’ll get your heart rate up. But it’s a relatively short hike and worth it. Plus it’s a fab sunset spot if you go at the right time of day.
Head out of Naxos past AKTAION pastry shop. (Stop there for ice cream or a cake on the way back. It’s brill and open all year.)
You’ll be able to see the church up to your right. Take the right turn where signed on the main road. You have to walk up the same road you’d drive up so follow the hairpins.
Once Theologaki is in front of you go to the left and there’s a path up through the rocks to the staircase.
After you’ve spent some time at the church follow the road a little further and you’ll come to Chrysostomos Monastery. It was closed when I went.
But if you’re there during opening hours (usually 9am – 12noon and 4 – 6pm) then call the mobile number on the door. I’ve heard there’s a pleasant nun living there who’ll gladly let you in.
Hike to Apano Kastro (Upper Castle) Naxos
Lower Castle is in the medieval old town part of Chora. The ruins of Upper Castle are on a hill between Potamia and Chalki. Another spot with outstanding views. The castle is signed from the main road from Naxos to Chalki so it’s accessible that way (you’ll need to walk from the road if you’re in a normal hire car).
But it’s also on Naxos walking route 5. If you don’t want to do the whole hike you can start at Ano Potamia and do the last part of the trail in reverse. That’s what I’m showing you here.
The best way to get to Ano Potamia is to drive. There’s a large parking area outside I Pigui restaurant (restaurant open summer only) by the church.
There is a bus that goes through the Potamias (there are three: Ano, Mesi and Kato) to and from Chora. But check at the bus station in Chora to see if it’s running at convenient times (or at all) when you visit.
Pick up the signs from the end of the trail at Ano Potamia and it’s about a 30-minute walk to the castle. Come back the way you came if you’re only doing this section of the hike.
Once you’re by the restaurant take the path that runs up the side, away from the church. Then follow the signs saying walking path until you get to the wooden waymarkers.
You’ll walk uphill through the village until you come to the main road.
Look to your left and you’ll see the route 5 waymarker across the road.
Cross over and go up the hill. After the first part, the path evens out. But don’t get distracted by the views or you’ll miss the path to the castle. It’s not far as you come up the hill from the main road.
As you walk up the track you can see the ruined castle on the hill in front of you. Watch like a hawk as you come up to a junction of dirt tracks. The road you’ve been on – which you’ll now leave – curves to the left.
You need to take the small path that forks to the right, where I’ve put the yellow arrow. You might be able to see a blue sign in the distance on that image. The sign is for the castle but it’s broken.
When I went up the wind (or a goat) had knocked it down so it was face down on the ground. I picked it up and put it back on the wall and took these pictures on the way back.
But be aware you might not see it if the same thing happens. If you have better eyesight than me you could also pick out the red and white route 5 waymarker on a rock further ahead to your left.
Anyway, once you’re on it, walk up this track and say hi to the goats. Soon you’ll come to a little church which was open when I passed. Pop in and have a look at the beautifully preserved frescos on the wall and roof.
From here you can clearly see the castle ruins ahead of you on the hill. Walk up the track a little further and you’ll see a gate in front of you. The gate has a small wire tie. It’s just to keep the goats out but make sure you close it properly behind you.
Once you go through the gate it’s a bit of a free-for-all. Pick your way through the gorse as best you can. It’s quite steep and will definitely get your heart rate up and give you a leg workout. After I scrambled up the first half of the hill I found a bit of a path that hugged the stone wall and fencing on the left.
Once you’re up close to the bottom of the castle it’s a case of trying to pick a safe route over the stones. Please take care and do this at your own risk!
Once you make it to the top the ground flattens out and it’s much easier to walk around the ruins. But keep your wits about you and watch where you’re stepping as you take pictures. There’s no fencing to protect you from the sheer drops.
Maybe don’t linger under any arches either given the number of stones that have fallen off the building.
The views are incredible and you can see Mount Zas in the distance.
Once you’ve explored for long enough you’ll need to carefully make your way back down the hill. Watch where you’re stepping and avoid any long grass. Keep an eye on where the gate is to help you find the quickest route. Go through the gate and follow the trail back past the church and down to the village.
staying Safe Even On Short Hikes
Particularly for the walks to the monastery and the castle wear closed-toe shoes (trainers/sneakers are fine) and long trousers. They’ll protect your legs from the gorse (definitely – it’ll shred you otherwise), and from snakes (highly unlikely).
Make sure you wear a hat, suncream and take water. Even in the winter, I can still get a bit sunburnt so take care. If you go on these walks during the hotter months then go early.
More Walking in Naxos and Beyond
Other posts you might like are:
- Do I Need a Car in Naxos?
- Walking in Paros: 5 Short & Enjoyable Walks with Great Views
- Hiking in Andros Greece – A Paradise for Walkers
- 9 Traditional Naxos Villages You Have to Visit
- 27 Best Things to Do in Naxos
- Naxos Greece – Naxos Travel Guide
- Naxos Beaches: A Guide To The Island’s Most Gorgeous Spots
- Where to Stay in Naxos: Best Villages Beaches & Hotels