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Why Should I Visit Naxos?

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Naxos at a glance

Naxos has so much to see: medieval fortresses and 17th-century Venetian towers; Byzantine churches and ancient temples; atmospheric stone mountain villages and exotic beaches where the sea comes in every shade of blue; lush vegetation and the highest peak in the Cyclades, the legendary Mount Zas! The largest of the Cycladic islands uniquely combines aristocratic elegance with authentic folk traditions, offering an unforgettable travel experience steeped in myth and history. It is a matchless blend of cosmopolitan sophistication and unassuming simplicity that you can enjoy with one of the itineraries for Naxos. An ideal place for travellers looking for the secret to the good life and a perfect setting to inspire their dreams.

10 reasons to visit Naxos

1. To watch the sunset from the iconic Portara, the marble gate of the Temple of Apollo (6th century BC), which stands on the islet of Palatia.

2. To explore the impressive medieval fortress of Naxos (13th century), built by the Venetian crusader and founder of the Duchy of the Aegean, Marco Sanudo choosing the ferry for Naxos.

3. To discover the 30 or more Byzantine churches with rare frescoes (6th-15th century) that adorn the valley of Tragea. The area is also known as the “Little Mystras” of the Cyclades, after the famous fortified town in the Peloponnese.

4. To walk the paved marble streets of the mountain village of Apiranthos, one of the most authentic and beautiful of the traditional settlements in the Cyclades. The famous “marble village” stands out for its Venetian architecture and the artistic pursuits of its inhabitants.

5. To try the authentic local citron liqueur that has been made on the island since the 19th century and whose reputation has travelled all over the world.

6. To visit Naxos Archaeological Museum and admire unique treasures from the Early Cycladic Period, as well as collections of Mycenaean pottery.

7. To ride the waves off the western beaches of the island, discovering a paradise for windsurfing and kitesurfing.

8. To experience the special atmosphere of the Naxos Summer Festival at the iconic 17th-century Bazeos Tower on the plain of Agiassos.

9. To look out over the Cycladic archipelago from the top of the legendary Mount Zas, the highest peak in the Cyclades at 1004 metres, where the god Zeus was raised.

10. To go back in time to the period of Venetian rule, admiring the 30 stone towers scattered around the island, which have remained frozen in time since the 17th century.

The top 5 beaches

St George: One of the most popular tourist beaches of the island, close to Naxos town, which you must visit if you have a ticket to Naxos. Young and old alike can safely enjoy all kinds of water sports in its shallow blue-green waters. It appeared in the Guardian’s list of Europe’s ten best family beaches in 2019.

St Prokopios: Not only a cosmopolitan beach, but also voted one of Europe's most beautiful, with fine golden sand and blue-green waters reminiscent of the Caribbean. The part with tourist facilities offers wonderful opportunities for water sports.

Mikri Vigla: Divided into two parts by a rocky hill, this long sandy beach with turquoise waters is particularly popular. Its north end attracts adrenaline junkies and lovers of adventure, whether in, on, or above the waves, offering ideal conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing. At its south end, also known as Sahara Beach, families and couples relax on sun loungers or snorkel in its shallow waters.

Plaka: One of Naxos’ longest (4 km) and most beautiful beaches, with fine white sand and attractive dunes. It is a continuation of the famous St Anna Beach, with stunning views of the sea and the island of Paros.

Alyko: An exotic setting of white sand and turquoise waters surrounded by dunes and, unusually, a forest of cedar trees. A sheltered piece of paradise for lovers of seclusion and reflection, Alyko is situated on the northwest side of the island, 17 km south of Naxos town.

Don’t leave Naxos without…
  • Discovering the enormous ancient statues that have lain unfinished in the ancient marble quarries at Apollonas and Flerio since the 6th century BC.
  • Visiting the Cave of Zeus, one of the island’s most impressive natural sights, on the north-western slopes of Mount Zas.
  • Taking a tour of the Vallindras Distillery & Museum in the beautiful village of Halki, the old capital of the island. This is where five generations of the same family have produced the famous citron liqueur of Naxos – the recipe for which remains a closely-guarded secret – since 1896.
  • Buying a piece of unique handmade fabric from the Women's Traditional Crafts Cooperative at Apiranthos.
  • Learning about the art of Naxian ceramics at the pottery workshop in the village of Damalas.
  • Following the beautiful path from the old bridge at Keramoti to the Routsouna waterfall for a dip in the pretty lake or a picnic on its banks.
  • Visiting the archaeological site of Gyroulas in the village of Sangri, the ancient centre of worship of the goddess Demeter, to admire the imposing marble temple built around 530 BC.
  • Admiring the unique stone architecture of the Church of the Virgin Mary Drosiani, near the village of Moni, with its beautiful 6th-century frescoes.
  • Standing on the ramparts of the imposing Fotodotis Castle Monastery, which stands above the village of Danakos at an altitude of 500 metres, for a breathtaking view of the Aegean.
Tasty experienes
  • Discover the island's great tradition of cheese, which dates back to antiquity. Be sure to try the famous Naxos Graviera and the excellent Naxos Arseniko (Kefalotiri).
  • Take a seat at one of the tavernas in Apiranthos and order kolokythopastitsa (fried pumpkin pulp) and aperathitiko zamboni, the local version of Italian prosciutto.
  • Make a toast with the famous sweet wine from the mountains of Naxos.
  • Take the ferry to Naxos and discover the secrets of the local cuisine by trying sefoukloti (a pie filled with a variety of greens) and Patoudo Naxou (a roll of lamb stuffed with herbs).
  • Sweeten your palate with a melachrino, the local walnut cake made with citron liqueur and served with mastic-flavoured sheep's milk ice cream.
  • Raise a glass of Naxos’ famous liqueur, kitron, made from the leaves of the citron tree. First distilled in 1870 as a flavoured raki, it is available in three colours, yellow, white and green, depending on how much alcohol it contains.
Trivia

“If paradise was on Earth, it would be here.”

The philosopher and writer Nikos Kazantzakis on the village of Engares, in his “Report to Greco”.

 

Did you know?

The mountains of Naxos are home to the wild orchid Ophrys thesei. Its flowers appear from January to June, creating wonderful splashes of colour between Galanado and Halki.

MAP OF NAXOS
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