The main port and town is Hora, on the island’s west coast, with its 13th-century hilltop Venetian fort and houses, harborfront walkways and Byzantine churches.
Save some time for the town’s museums, with Hellenistic sculptures in the archaeological museum and the remains of a Mycenean city from several centuries BC in the Mitropolis Museum. Venetian history and art are revealed in the fort (kastro) museum, and if you stay on into the evening you might catch a concert of live music staged in the fort grounds.
There’s plenty to do on this large island, including horseback riding along the long beaches, windsurfing when the breeze whips up waves, and catching an excursion boat to neighboring islands.
Hire a scooter to ride into the hilly interior, where untouched villages lie waiting to be discovered, surrounded by olive groves. There are some fabulous ruins on Naxos, including a temple to Demeter and the cave where according to legend Zeus was raised, as well as the oldest church in the country, the Panagia Drosiani.
While you’re on Naxos, make sure to order a glass of kitron, the island’s legendary citrus-flavored liqueur. You can see how the drink is distilled in the time-honored way by taking a tour of one of the island’s distilleries; there’s a famous distillery with tours in the historic village of Halki, a 20-minute drive from Hora.
Being Greece, beaches are another Naxos highlight, with particularly nice stretches near the main town at Agios Georgios and Plaka Beach.
Buses run a regular circuit around Naxos, and Hora’s port is a popular area to rent a scooter.