Naxos. Island in Greece, Europe


Island in Greece, Europe

Naxos Photo © cmgramse

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Naxos -
Naxos - Naxos. Photo by Hervé
Naxos, the biggest and the greenest island of the Cyclades archipelago, boasts picturesque villages, beautiful beaches, and bustling towns. The island's capital city is Naxos Town, also known as ‘Hora’.

With a huge amount of paths and trails crossing the countryside, Naxos is ideal for walking, hiking, and biking. The highest mountain on the island is Mount Zas, a 1,004-meter high peak named after the Greek god, Zeus, which can be reached from the village of Filoti. On your way to Zas’ top, don’t forget to visit the beautiful cave of Zas which showcase impressive stalactite formations.

There are plenty of superb beaches and you’ll be spoilt for choice. From the most famous Agia Anna (Wikipedia Article), Agios Prokopios, and Plaka, the busy Agios Georgios to the tranquil Panormos and the marble-pebble beach of Apollonas. If windsurfing is your thing, then look no further than Agios Georgios, Plaka, and Mikri Vigla. For a quiet, peaceful day on the beach, head to Ayiassos Beach on the southwest coast.
Local excursion boats make it easy to visit Mykonos, Delos, Paros, Ios, Santorini, and Little Cyclades on a day cruises.

Naxos has a typically Mediterranean climate, with long hot summers and short mild winters. The best time to visit the island is from May to October. Strong winds called ‘meltemia’ can be a regular phenomenon in late summer, especially in August. If you like to avoid excessive heat in July and August, head to the island in spring or early autumn.

What to Do

Stroll in Hora

The Hora has a pretty harbor, labyrinthine streets, and a Venetian castle. Wander through the winding alleyways and admire the whitewashed houses, with their potted flowers and colorful doors. Visit the Venetian castle where and take in fantastic views of the island. The Hora also features many taverns, cafés, shops, and open-air market to keep you occupied throughout the day if sightseeing isn't at the top of your list.

Visit the Archaeology Museum

Archaeological Museum of Naxos, located in the quarter of Kastro in Naxos Town, displays regional artifacts from the late Neolithic period to the early Christian era. It is especially renowned for its collection of ancient Cycladic figurines, and there are also some very fine collections of vases dating from the Mycenaean. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday 08:00 AM - 15:00 PM.

Catch a Sunset at Portara

One of the nicest ways to see the Portara is at sunset. Portara, the symbol of the island, is located right by the harbor, beautifully framing the sea and sky. The massive marble door is the only remaining item from a 6th-century BC Temple of Apollo which was never completed.

Naxos Portara -
Naxos Portara - Naxos. Photo by exilism

Explore traditional villages

The island has has a number of authentic villages. Each village is tempting, and you can easily spend several days exploring them. The picturesque Potamia, Apiranthos, Filoti, Sangri and Halki (Wikipedia Article), surrounded by wonderful nature, will charm you for sure. Take a stroll through alleys, enjoy a cup of Greek coffee, and make sure to try out some of the local products. Also, make sure you don't miss the island's most important Archaeological Site of Giroulas, located at the south side of Sangri, with the archaic temple of Goddess Dimitra and the Archaeological Museum.

Daytrip to Koufonissia

Koufonissia is made up of two tiny islets, Ano Koufonissi and the uninhabited Kato Koufonissi, which are separated by a 200-meter sea channel. The tiny island is a perfect place to relax. Superb, soft, sandy beaches, turquoise waters, friendly locals and amazing fresh seafood will ensure that you'll never want to leave.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of studios, houses, hotels, and apartments for rent. Ferries are always met by proprietors clutching notebooks filled with promotional photos of their properties. Compare the prices before you decide which one to go for. Staying in Hora or Naxos Town certainly has its charms. The town is lively with plenty of taverns, shops, and sights. If you prefer to spend most days on the beach, stay around Agios Prokopios, Plaka, Orkos, Agia Anna, or Mikri Vigla.

Another shot of Plaka beach...
	- Naxos
Another shot of Plaka beach... - Naxos. Photo by Random_fotos

Food & Drink

If you want more of a local experience, avoid the popular beach-front restaurants. Also, the restaurants by the harbor are pricier than the ones further into Hora. The island offers a rich selection of locally-grown foods. You'll find fresh lamb, goat, and seafood on the menu in most taverns. Local specialties include ‘rosto’; a wine-stewed chicken, ‘saganaki’; a fried cheese, stuffed lamb ‘patudo’, spaghetti with lobster ‘astakomakaronada’, and ‘gouna’, a fish opened and dried in the sun with herbs, before being grilled.

Don't leave the island without having a glass of ‘Kitro’, the island’s famous liqueur made of the homonymous fruit. If you’re a cheese lover, be sure to visit the shop of Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Naxos on the port road of the town, where they sell everything that is locally produced.

Getting Around

The local buses service is efficient and connects several of the island’s villages and beaches. For more adventurous explorations, hiring a car or a motorbike is the best option.

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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Nov 07, 2014

Pictures of Naxos

Castle of Naxos - Naxos
Castle of Naxos - Photo by Ingo Meironke

Naxos, Greece - Naxos
Naxos, Greece - Photo by mariadelajuana


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