Halki Naxos (Chalkio) self-guided day trip

Halki Naxos (Chalkio) self-guided day trip

Traveling to Halki Naxos is like a journey back in time! Here’s a self-guided day trip to discover the best sights, food, shopping, hikes, and other secrets of this old and colorful former capital of Naxos, which is among the most picturesque villages on the Greek islands.

Halki Naxos (Chalkio): A Gem in the Mountains

Naxos is a stunning mountainous island hiding charming village communities in its central plains and hillsides.

Halki on Map of Naxos Island, Greece
Halki on Map of Naxos Island, Greece

Although many will go to the well-known beautiful villages of Filothi and Apeiranthos, it is Halki (also called Chalki, Chalkio, or Khalkion) that I love best.

Amidst its olive groves, Byzantine churches, pink-painted stone houses, and marble sculptures, you’ll find it easy to understand why.

Not the largest village, Halki is cosmopolitan yet traditional, with a long history that is evident in beautiful Byzantine church frescoes (Panagia Protothroni), its trade center heritage, its cafés culture, and its arts and crafts workshops.

This Greek island’s old capital is an ideal day trip break from the beach routine.

You can spend as little as a few hours on a day trip to the mountains that includes the village of Halki, or base yourself here for your stay on Naxos (see below for where to stay).

Church of Panagia Protothronos, Halki, Naxos, Greece
Church of Panagia Protothronos, Halki, Naxos, Greece

At a minimum, you’ll want to visit Panagia Drosiani just outside the village and wander the main alleyways and squares of Halki.

Shopping is excellent here, and it would be a real shame to come to Halki and not eat lunch. So let’s call that a half-day.

If you added some hiking as well, you could happily spend a few days here, soaking up the leisurely pace of the village.

Leave your car rental, and bring comfortable shoes to walk about and explore the village.

You’ll find abundant free parking all around the village. I like to park in the car park beside the Venetian Tower because it’s so easy to find.

Getting to Halki

Naxos is serviced by daily ferry and airlines.

This makes the trip from Athens, Thessaloniki, or the neighboring islands of Paros, Mykonos, and Tinos an easy journey. Day trips to Santorini are also very popular.

The trip to Naxos from Athens, and indeed all ferry routes in Greece vary in time depending upon the type of ferry.

The high-speed and the large and slowest ferries are the best for rough waters, and the price differs according to the speed of the journey.

Ferry Hopper Banner

Schedules change in Greece regularly, so I use Ferry Hopper to check up-to-the-minute schedules and to buy my tickets in advance.

During the summer months of July and August things get quite busy, so if you want to get on a ferry on a particular day, make sure to book your tickets as soon as you’ve booked your accommodation.

ATV rental in Halki, Naxos

The island of Naxos is best discovered by rental vehicles, be it cars, ATVs/Quads, or motorcycles/scooters. Naxos has plenty of options to drive away straight from the ferry and enjoy its vivid villages.

But like all of the popular Greek islands, if you’re coming in summer, you need to book a car rental well in advance. I use Discover Cars because they’re a global, reputable company.

Public (KTEL) bus arriving in Halki, Naxos
Public (KTEL) bus arriving in Halki, Naxos

Alternatively, a public bus is also available, the trip from Naxos town is around 30 minutes (€2.3 adult, one-way) and the bus stop is called, unsurprisingly, “Halki”.

The bust stops right in the middle of the main road through Halki. The last bus leaves around 7 pm both to and from the village.

Best time to visit Halki Naxos

The best time to see Halki is when you have had a few beach days had a good look around Naxos Chora and would like a break from the heat and sun on the beaches.

Still, it can get quite hot in the mountains too, so local siesta hours are usually between 2-5 pm.

Locals sitting outside in early May in Halki, Naxos
Locals sitting outside in early May in Halki, Naxos

If it’s just a day trip you’re after, early morning breakfast, a few hours exploring the village, then a sumptuous lunch will give you time to head off on a hike, before returning to the beach bars in time for Happy Hour or a sunset cruise!

How did Halki get its name?

Halki got its name from the Greek word for copper or bronze (Chalkos). The village is named after several coppersmith families that were settled here by the Venetian rulers of the island.

The heritage of craftsmanship, trade, and commerce, as well as its role as a main administrative center, is visible in its many townhouses, mansions, commercial squares, and public buildings along the narrow streets.

Halki village street, Naxos
Halki village street, Naxos

Set in the heart of the valley of Tragea, 280 meters above sea level, Halki is 16 kilometers away from Naxos town (Naxos Chora), Naxos airport, and Naxos port.

Nowadays it is a local administrative center nestling in the heart of the most productive olive-producing area of the Cyclades.

The stone houses with tiled roofs, wrought-iron gates, and paved courtyards indicate a break from the traditional Cycladic architecture.

Some of the Naxos’ oldest churches are here, along the cobbled village streets lined with bougainvillea flowers.

When visiting, leave the car at the end of the village (parking located near the supermarket) and start exploring the village of Halki!

The Colors of Halki

The most striking thing about Halki is the painted houses and shops throughout the central area of the village.

Pinks of every hue, but also a lovely color I think of as Halki Green.”

Halki home, Naxos Island

Shops and Experiences: The Arts and Crafts of Halki Naxos

Halki village keeps the tradition of the commercial center of the valley – the old neoclassical houses and mansions in the colorful streets have been turned into art galleries, craft workshops, boutiques, and shops selling hand-made souvenirs.

Fish and Olive store, Halki, Naxos
Fish and Olive store, Halki, Naxos
Workshop of Fish and Olive
Workshop of Fish and Olive

As you arrive in the village, stroll the shops and the art galleries to see the remains of the handicrafts traditions of the Naxos hill towns.

Liqueurs are produced only here in the whole of Greece

Historic Vallindras distillery is the single most important living connection of present-day Halki Naxos with its industrial and craftsmanship past.

Operating continuously from 1896 and through five generations, Vallindras Kitron distillery produces the finest liqueurs of Naxos that are the pride and joy of this Greek island.

A museum is available on site, where the whole process of making this tasty citron leaf aperitif is made.

Valindras distillery, Halki, Naxos
Valindras distillery, Halki, Naxos

The mansion-style neoclassical house keeps memories in family photographs, old equipment, copper cauldrons, old glass bottles, and advertising posters, centered around a lush inner courtyard.

Vallindras liqueurs are products with a protected origin seal and are one of the special souvenirs you can take home from the Halki.

Jewelry and Ceramics

In one of the central streets of Halki village, you will find Nature & Art Traditional Products. The fabrics and items you find here are either woven by hand or made on a traditional loom.

Nature and Art Store, Halki, Naxos
Nature and Art Store, Halki, Naxos

There’s also a little slice of heaven here for foodies – preserves, jams, honey, olives – all made locally. (Try the tomato jam!)

Further down the road, don’t miss the arts-souvenir shops of Flouri and Filotechno.

You’ll find wonderful Cycladic marble products at this lovely store. My daughter chose a triangular marble pendant from here as her birthday gift.

I especially love visiting the Fish & Olive Workshop Gallery for unique pieces of jewelry and art ceramics by world-renowned designers Alexander Reichardt and Katharina Bolesch – look for the olive-styled jars and cups!

Traditional Products

For traditional pure and painted pottery, visit Manolis’s workshop, atelier, and exhibition gallery, which has been operating in Halki since 1937.

Continue straight onwards to the general store (pantopoleion in Greek) Ariston, a place located nearby and truly devoted to keeping Hakli’s history alive.

Traditional Products for sale in Halki, Naxos
Traditional Products for sale in Halki, Naxos

Under one roof you can stock up on high-quality goat bells, excellent cheese, beans, and chickpeas in one-kilo plastic bags, hand-woven baskets, local beers and wine, Greek tin wine jugs, and other paraphernalia essential for understanding the Greek rural lifestyle.    

This has to be one of my favorite general stores in Greece!

Living culture

The gray and white building of the petite Phos Art Gallery houses excellent exhibitions, while the main cultural event of Halki is its annual European Music Day.

Credit: Phos Art Gallery
Credit: Phos Art Gallery

Every second summer, the Axia International Festival of music, art, poetry, and creativity briefly transforms Halki into the cosmopolitan capital of Naxos Island.

It takes in the main square over three days and is organized by Fish and Olive in Halki.

Eating and Drinking

Halki is dotted with small coffee houses, pastry shops, and restaurants located along its main streets.

I am in love with the semolina and cinnamon cakes and the citrus cakes that are such a simple treat, but incredibly moist and with the taste that you can only get when the fruit has not been commercially produced and treated.

A Gastronomic itinerary

Visit all of these on a savvy route, beginning with Galani Kafeneion, where besides fresh Greek coffee and homemade juices, you should definitely try the traditional syrup sweets of galaktoboureko and kadaifi.

Lunch in the main square of Chalki, Naxos
Lunch in the main square of Halki, Naxos Island, Greece

Keep on to Kera for homemade loukoumades, Greek doughnuts covered in honey and nuts – best enjoyed under the shade of a plane tree, a fruit tree, or under an archway along the cobblestone alleys.

True mountain-style recipes with hearty meat dishes await in Gianni’s Taverna, after which you should go to Era for fresh fruit and homemade marmalades.

Continue your gastronomic adventure by exploring Dolce Vita, the oldest coffee shop in the village and one of the bars with hidden gardens.

Cafes abound in Halki, Naxos
Cafes abound in Halki, Naxos

Try Caffe Greco (which has a beautiful stone Well), Kitron, or Mitos ARTernative BAR, where you can try the famous black pizza with squid ink and Naxos Graviera cheese.

Mitos ARTernativeBAR, Halki, Naxos
Mitos ARTernativeBAR, Halki, Naxos

Greek island epicureanism at its best, and in beautiful surroundings too!   

Churches, Towers, and Monasteries

Halki Naxos is also known as “Little Mistras” or “Mistras of the Aegean”, a name referring to the throne city of the last Byzantine emperors, deep in the Peloponnese region of Greece.

The resemblance comes from the many Byzantine temples in and around Halki, all of them in beautiful surroundings and worth a visit.

Churches and Temples

Arguably the oldest church on Naxos island, the Church of Panagia Protothroni (Panagia of the First Throne) stands proud since at least the 7th century AD adorned with magnificent Byzantine and post-Byzantine frescoes.

It is a large whitewashed church famous for five layers of wall paintings discovered by archeologists.

7th Century Fresco of Saint Isidore, Panagia Protothroni, Halki
7th Century Fresco of Saint Isidore, Panagia Protothroni, Halki

The earliest layer of frescoes was painted around the same time as those at the Paleochristian Monastery of Panagia Drosiani (see below).

The fresco above, of Saint Isidore, is from the earliest layer of frescoes.

Next, visit the church of Saint George Diasoritis, which is about 500 meters further from the village center.

Agios (St.) George Diasoritis, Halki. Photo credit: By Kategiam, CC BY-SA 4.0
Agios (St.) George Diasoritis, Halki. Photo credit: By Kategiam, CC BY-SA 4.0

The way is signposted and following the signs around the village, you walk through orchards and olive groves.

You’ll suddenly find yourself in the secluded spot where this small stone-built domed church is located.

Built and adorned during the 11th century, this Byzantine church is a gem of traditional ecclesial construction of the time, as evident by its architectural features, frescoes, and sculptures.

You can visit the interior of the church at no extra cost. Arrive early as it is open during the morning hours of the summer months.

(From July 1 to August 31, Monday to Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m).

The same legacy is preserved in the Byzantine Church of Taxiarchon (Monoitsia Naxou), a short walk 800 meters north of the village of Halki, and well worth a visit.

You can hike to it from the village of Rahi, too. Its stone-built walls, emblematic apse, and tranquil location gives you the feeling of being in a very old part of the Mediterranean.

Monastery in the Hills

On the road between the village of Halki and the settlement of Moni, is the Paleochristian Monastery of Panagia Drosiani, built around the 6th century AD.

Panagia Drosiani, Halki, Naxos Island
Panagia Drosiani, Halki, Naxos Island

Like the other temples, this monastery is set in the pristine nature of Naxos island, among hundred-year olive trees, palms, and aromatic herbs.

During the time of the Venetian occupation of the island, the monastery belonged to the wealthy Belonia family, only to be returned to the hands of the Greek Orthodox churches when the Ottoman forces captured Naxos in the 16th century.

Panagia Drosiani, Halki, Naxos Island
Panagia Drosiani, Halki, Naxos Island
Frescoes of Panagia Drosiani, Halki, Naxos
Frescoes of Panagia Drosiani

Its many domes, along with bell tower and stone walls are a sight to see under the Cycladic sun! I have seen a lot of painted churches and I was blown away by the vividness of this fresco – and it’s been there for 1400 years!

You’ll find there is likely to be a guardian of the church who, if not there when you arrive, will turn up shortly afterwards.

She is looking for a small donation and so remember to take a couple of Euro along with you.

Venetian Towers

Naxos is dotted with Venetian towers. Almost every beautiful village has its own, but the one that is best preserved is found in Halki.

Hiking in Halki, Naxos Island
Hiking in Halki, Naxos Island

Built by the influential Barozzi family during the 17th century as a secure stronghold able to withstand both Ottoman and pirate attacks, the Barozzi-Gratsia Tower has been in continuous use ever since.

It was renovated recently and is inhabited by the same original family in the central area of the settlement.

You will love the massive rock entrance and the coat of arms carved in stone that reminds visitors of the golden days of Halki. You can find it just behind Panagia Protothroni.


Naxos is a hiking paradise and one of the many Aegean islands where every hiking trail is connected with local heritage points of interest, archeological sites, and striking landscapes.

Hiking in Halki, Naxos Island
Hiking in Halki, Naxos Island

Trail No. 4 of Naxos serves the village of Halki and the surrounding area of Tragea, offering the possibility to see many of the fine Byzantine churches (and to stop by local cafes in the villages along the route).

In previous centuries, the hiking trails were the main transportation network of the island, serving both people and commerce. A fantastic day trip idea!

The Route No. 4 Itinerary

Route no.4 goes starts in the village of Halki, towards the villages of Agia Marina, Monoitsia, and Rachidiotissa.

It continues to Drosiani, Moni, Kaloxylos, and Acadimi, eventually ending up again in Halki.

It covers a distance of 7.2 km (4.5 miles) and takes 2 hours and 10 minutes to complete the circuit through the olive groves and the “Byzantine park.”

Every beautiful village on this path is close to Halki!

Tip: If you feel like spending a half day hiking around Halki, this is a great route. In summer, start early and see the village after your hike. Take lots of water.

If you decide to stay over, here are my top 3 picks for where to stay in Halki.

Our TOP 3 picks!

Naxos Chalkion Beautiful Detsis House

Book it

Traditional House at Kaloxilos Naxos

Book it

ELaiolithos Luxury Retreat in Naxos

Book it