Naxos is the largest and the greenest of the Cyclades island group in the Aegean Sea. According to the greek mythology Dionysus, the God of wine was born here and Zeus was raised on Zas mountain in Naxos. It may not be as famous as Mykonos and Santorini but it is a popular tourist destination and will amaze you from the first glimpse. This is what you will see when the ferry enters the port of Naxos.
The town of Naxos or Chora is the main city, built on a hill and giving you the chance to experience the Cycladic architecture. As in every Cycladic island white houses with colourful doors and windows and steep narrow alleys taking you up to the town castle where you can enjoy the Aegean sea view. No matter how many times you wander around the old city, you will never have enough of it. Tiny churches, traditional tavernas, beautiful shops and pink bougainvillaeas hanging above your head complete a lovely scenery.
You may get lost in Chora as all the alleys look alike and almost create a labyrinth but you can always check the maps or ask the locals that are really helpful to tourists. My favourite taverna and one of my favourite bars in the island are here. Try Lucullus taverna (photo below in the middle), the oldest one in the town and have a cocktail in a total white bar in Chora overlooking the port and Portara hill from a terrasse at 520 bar .
Except from picturesque Chora, Naxos is famous for its clean, turquoise waters beaches as well as for the windy Agios Georgios and Mikri Vigla beaches that are windsurfers and kitesurfers paradise. Driving from Chora to the south you will be able to explore the best beaches of the island, very close to each other. The closest to the city is Agios Georgios, after that one, you reach Agios Prokopios (top left picture) which is considered the most beautiful on the island, Agia Anna,Maragas, Plaka (bottom right photo), Alyko, Mikri Vigla and Hawai beach. Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna are more organised and touristic while all the rest are quieter. Keep in mind that the local bus final stop is at Plaka beach and if you are driving you will need to take a dirt road to get to the other beaches but it is totally worth it. All in all, those are the sandy beaches I would recommend if you prefer pebble beaches is Lionas (top right picture) which is in the northern part of the island.
Unlike most of the Cyclades islands, Naxos is also well known for its beautiful inland. The villages on Naxos mountains have remained untouched by tourism and are a destination for those who want to get a taste of tradition, local life and serenity. To visit them you will enjoy a beautiful road trip along olive groves, gorges and green valleys and experience this heartwarming feeling when on a turn of the road a white and blue village built on a slope pops up asking you to make a stop there.
All the villages are built amphitheatrically, in local cafes and tavernas you can experience the purest kind of greek hospitality. The most beautiful villages are Apiranthos, Filoti, Koronos and Halki. My favourite one is Filoti, just because of the huge tree on the main square (top left photo) and the delicious sweets you can enjoy under its shadow at Platanos Cafe. You may have some difficulties driving as donkeys and goats are making their way on the main road but who cares? There is no stress in this amazing place!
Of course, like in every island of the Aegean Sea, the history played a leading role on the island. The temple of Apollo, or Portara as it is called by locals was built on the islet right on the left of the port, only the entrance to the temple remains.
For those interested in Cycladic civilisation the Archaeological museum is worth a visit and a huge (11 meter) statue of Apollo is to be found close to Apollonas village on the north of Naxos. Agia tower (top left picture) is also 6km away from Apollonas village.
For seafood lovers, there is a wide range of fish restaurants at the promenade. Best drinks to have with seafood are ouzo and raki. For a delicious souvlaki try Piperi m...eating point on one end of the promenade.
What you should definitely not miss is a sunset on Portara hill, watching the sun disappear into the Aegean.
Accommodation is generally cheap compared to other Greek islands and there are solutions fro every budget. A camping I would recommend is Plaka Camping which also has a restaurant and a swimming pool (even though you would never use one in Naxos).
If you have a sweet tooth Waffle House (one in Naxos town and one in Plaka beach) will become your favourite spot.
Do not forget to buy a bottle of Citrus liqueur a hard local cheese, Graviera Naxou.
If one island is never enough for you the best option is to take a daily cruise to Koufonisi island, a closeby turquoise water paradise
I would love to wear my swimsuit and swim in the waters of Plaka beach right now…
Have you ever been to Naxos? Which is your favourite beach?