Hiking in Naxos: Best Way to Discover this Lush Island
Hiking in Naxos is one of the best things to do on the island. It’s a beautiful, lush place with a variety of different landscapes for you to explore. The routes will take you through whitewashed villages, lush valleys, high peaks, waterfalls and marble paths.
You’ll see, hear and smell a variety of flora and fauna and pass ancient sites and Byzantine churches. Whether hiking is the purpose of your holiday or you’d just like to take a bit of a stroll there’s something for you.
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Where are the Hiking Routes on Naxos?
There are hiking routes all over Naxos. The island has a total of 18 trails. Six of those have additional branches and all but 4 of the main routes are waymarked.
Naxos Hiking Map
As you move around the island you’ll no doubt spot some waymarkers from the road. If something takes your fancy and you want to follow a trail to the next point of interest them go for it.
If you’re looking for something a bit more organised then I’d recommend picking up a Naxos hiking trail map. Anavasi’s map covers Naxos and the Small Cyclades. They also have a digital version that you can use offline. You’ll find the map in a number of touristy shops in Naxos or you can buy a copy from their website before you go.
Are There Any Hikes from Naxos Town?
There aren’t any official hikes from Chora. Someone on Wicilok has created a circular route from Chora. It’s about 8.6km if you want to give that a try.
There’s also a short walk you can do up to Theologaki Church. It’s a pretty building built into the rock and it’s quite a climb to get up there. Takes about 30 minutes from the port.
The nearest official route to Naxos town is route 6. It starts from Melanes which is about a 15 – 20 minute drive from Chora port.
How Long Does it Take to Climb Mount Zas?
Mount Zas is one of the most popular hikes on Naxos and probably the hardest. Mount Zas is over 1000m and the highest peak in the Cyclades. Needless to say, the views are outstanding. Partway up there’s also a natural cave.
Legend has it, it’s where Zeus spent much of his childhood. It was excavated in the 80’s and 90’s and you can see items collected from there in the Naxos Archaeology Museum.
Mount Zas is on route 2 from Filoti which takes about 3.5 hours to walk. You can also choose just to walk to Zas summit and there are two options.
The first option is to pick up route 2 to the right of Saint Marina Holy Chapel. This way is more gradual and takes around an hour to hike to the summit. If you do this you’ll come back the way you came.
If you’re up for a challenge, scale the peak starting from Aria Spring. This is walking route 2 in reverse. It’s the hardest way to get to the top of Zas and it’s pretty vertical. It’ll take you at least an hour and 30 minutes to get up there.
Where to Stay in Naxos for Hiking
There are trails near many of the villages. If you’re just looking to do a bit of hiking then you’ll easily find something fairly close. If you’re coming specifically for a walking holiday on Naxos then I’d recommend staying in the middle of the island.
Chalki, Filoti and Apirenthos are close to a cluster of routes. If you stay in any of these villages you won’t have to venture far to start hiking.
There are a couple of official “Hiker Friendly” hotels in Naxos. They are Finikas Beach Hotel in the southwest of the island and Elaiolithos Luxury Retreat just a few minutes away from Chalki.
But that doesn’t mean that many others aren’t also suitable. When booking, see if your hotel or accommodation offers any facilities to hikers, like a drop-off/pick up service or packed lunches.
Getting to and From Trail Heads
Not many of the official walks are circular so you’ll need to plan a bit for getting back.
If you’re in a group and you have multiple cars then the easiest thing to do is leave one at the end of the trail and drive together to the start.
Many trails end on a bus route but you’ll need to check times. Double-check them especially if you’re going to be hiking in March/April/end-October/November time.
I heard that some tavernas will organise transport back to your hotel for a few euros. You’ll need to ask around about that and book in advance of your walk.
Alternatively, you can book a taxi or retrace your steps back to the beginning.
Naxos Hiking Tours
If you’d prefer to have a guided hiking tour then check out Stella’s tours at Naxos Hiking. I’ve heard people rave about the experience.
Stella offers a number of routes including the Seven Villages Trail. She’ll tell you all about the herbs and plants you’re walking through as well as update you on Greek and Naxos culture, lifestyle and tradition.
For something that takes care of your whole trip, Responsible Travel offers walking holidays. They have a combined Naxos and Santorini experience and a Naxos and the Small Cyclades experience.
Exodus runs a week-long, three-island trip, taking in walks on Naxos, Santorini and Paros.
Which Months Are Best for Hiking in Naxos?
The shoulder seasons are the best time to go hiking in Naxos. While it’s possible throughout the year the weather is usually best in these times.
We can get lovely sunny days through the winter, the photos below are from February for example. But if you’re only on the island to hike for a few days it probably makes sense to go when you have the best chance of good hiking weather.
March / April
In March and April, the weather in Naxos is usually mild with just a few days of rain throughout each month. You might encounter some cloudy days but you’ll also likely get some really clear days with excellent visibility. Without the summer haze, you can see far and wide across the surrounding islands.
Note that facilities on the island are more limited until around Orthodox Easter, usually at the end of April. You’ll still be able to hire a car, find somewhere to stay and enjoy the restaurants that are open. But you won’t have as much choice as later in the year.
For me, that’s a plus, because it also means the island isn’t completely overrun with people. You’ll have space to enjoy the great outdoors and the nature around you.
May / June
In May and June Naxos is getting hotter but hiking’s still possible depending on your tolerance. I’d recommend going out in the morning before the heat kicks in. Take plenty of water with you and stay out of the midday sun.
During the spring the island is at its most lush. It’s very pretty but can also be a bit overgrown in places. You’ll need to keep an eye out for waymarkers behind the vegetation. (And snakes probably too.)
September – November
I wouldn’t recommend hiking any great distance in July or August but by September the oppressive heat of summer has calmed down.
I find it can still be quite warm and prefer to go out walking early in the day. The temperature continues to drop in October and up until the middle of the month, it’s usually excellent conditions for walking. Many facilities are usually still open until about that point too.
I have enjoyably hiked Naxos through the end of October and into November. However, the weather can definitely be changeable. Be aware that you might end up going out on quite cloudy days. I think Naxos is beautiful all year round and cloudy skies can make for some quite dramatic images.
What Should I Wear to Go Hiking in Naxos?
For hiking in Naxos I’d recommend the following:
- decent pair of shoes/boots
- long trousers
- lightweight waterproof (probs not necessary May/June/September)
I’m notoriously bad for not wearing long trousers for hiking but I would recommend it. I can tell you from personal experience some of the gorses will cut your legs to shreds. And in spring, I’ve had to wade through waist-high nettles in Naxos, so, ya, wear full-length trews.
Anything Else I Should Know About Hiking in Naxos?
Oh yes, another good reason for wearing trousers is the snakes. Don’t freak out but there are some snakes on Naxos. If you go in the cooler months you probably won’t see any. But as the weather warms up in spring they’ll start to come out and about a bit more.
If you do see a snake it’ll more than likely be a harmless grass snake. Even some of the bigger ones that look scary won’t hurt you.
But, there are vipers in the Cyclades too. I’ve done loads of walking in the countryside and never seen one but it does pay to be cautious. The black/green snakes won’t hurt you but steer very clear of the brown vipers.
Sometimes they can be at the side of the path, especially in areas that are quite isolated. You should also be cautious around rocks and dry stone walls as they’re keen on hiding in spots like that.
Naxos Footpath Network of Historical & Cultural Interest
Please note that the village of Chalki/Halki is also known as Tragea, and Vivlos is also known as Tripodes. You might see Apirenthos also written as Aperathou and Apollonas written as Apollon.
1. Apirenthos – Agios Ioannis Theologos – Agia Kyriaki – Kalloi – Emery Mines – Aspalathopo – Moutsouna
2. (Circular) Filoti – Agia Irini – Agia Marina – Lefgasa Spring – Zas Peak – Zas Cave – Aria Spring – Stavrakis Windmill – Filoti
3. Danakos – Monastery of Fotodotis – Karkos – Agios Ionannis sta Finelia – Kerami – Metochi – Chalki
4. (Circular) Chalki – Agia Marina – Monoitsia – Rachidotissa – Drosiani – Moni – Kaloxylos – Chalki
5. Chalki – Tsikalario – Agos Andreas – Ano Potamia
6. Melanes – Myli – Flerio (Kouroi Statues) – Potamia – Episkopi – Mitropolou – Vivlos
7. Tsikalario – Cheimaros – Taciarchis – Aios Sisois – Agia Anargyri – Sangri – Gyroulas (Temple of Demeter)
8. (Circular) Moni – Sifones – Skala Metriou – North Fanari – Psari Plaka – South Fanari – Astivadi – Agios Spryidon – Moni
9. Koronos – Skado – Agios Nikolaos – Komiaki – Apollonas
10. Koronos – Apano Mylos Bridge – Agios Georgios – Prantouna Tower – Mesa Gitonia – Eggares
12. Koronos – Stavros – Keramoti – Routsouna Waterfall – Agios Sotira – Skeponi
13. Apierenthos – Agios Georgios & Pachomios – Agios Ermolaos – lakkous – Mersini – Agios Ionnis Theologos – Danakos
14. (Not waymarked) Zas – Angelou – Ariovessa – Tower of Chimarou – Mavropetri
15. Panermos – Androus – Spedo – Rina – Kalandos
16. (Not waymarked) Chalki – Agios Georgios Santani – Damarionas – Mersinou Spring – Panagia sti Spillia – Apalyrou Castle
17. (Not waymarked) Vivlos – Agios Nikolaos – Agios Mattheos – Plaka
18. (Not waymarked) Komiaki – Karavos – Palachoria – Anathematistra – Tower and Monastery of Agia
So that rounds up my post on hiking in Naxos. I hope you get great weather for your trip and get to explore the island.