4 & 1 Reasons to visit Naxos
Portara –the symbol of Naxos– welcoming you on the fringe of the harbor, picturesque villages in the hinterland, magic beaches and crystal clear seawaters make Naxos the ideal place for Aegean island hopping. Below follow the 5 main reasons why you should visit the island…
Naxos has been inhabited since the 4th millennium B.C. Numerous myths have arisen from its solid marble and granite soil. It is here where Zeus resorted to protect himself from his father, Cronus, and grew up on mountain Zas that was named after him. It is here where Theseus stopped on his way from Crete to Athens leaving Ariadne at the harbor. Then, according to the myth, Ariadni either married god Dionysus or fell into the sea desperate.
Naxos played a significant role in the development of the Cycladic civilization and became an important port of the Aegean. In the Classic ancient times, unique pieces of art -marble temples and sculptures- were created, while in the Byzantine era, many churches were built here. In the Middle Ages, Markos Sanoudos founded the Duchy of Naxos, until the island got occupied by the Turks in 1566. Along with the rest of the Cyclades, Naxos became part of the Hellenic State on 3rd February 1830.
Portara (meaning ‘huge door’ in Greek) is the first taste one gets when reaching the island by sea. The gigantic marble gateway was once part of the temple dedicated to Apollo and is the visitors’ favorite location to enjoy the sunset. From there all paths lead to the Castle. Passing through Trani Porta or Paraporti, you will take delight in the unique architecture of the fortified settlement. A visit to the Archaeological and Venetian Museum complete your journey through history.
From Hora (the town of Naxos) to… the hinterland. Highlights of the island are the well-preserved temple of Dimitra in the village Sangri, the temple of Dionysus in Livadi and the Kouros statues in the villages Apollonas and Melanes. The Byzantine era is reflected in the Castles of Plaka, Himmaros and Apaliros. And then follows the Venetian period with the imposing Castles of Vazeos, Glezos, Bellonias, Gratsias and Varotsis, travelling us to a mystic era. Museum lovers should not miss visiting village Apiranthos, where operate the Archaeological, Folklore and Natural History Museums.
Tip: Distances are not short. Study your maps and get informed about distances before setting off for exploration.
Naxos has a coastline of about 90 kms. Most beaches are located at the northwestern part of the island. The first one to meet is the organized beach of Agios Georgios. Also, you should not miss the famous beach of Agia Anna with the fine-grained sand, Plaka and Agiassos. Agios Prokopios is also one of the best-known beaches in a distance of 5km from Hora: a 2km-seaside with fine grained sand, excellent organization and crystal clear turquoise waters. Water sports lovers prefer Mikri Vigla, while those seeking calmness and tranquility choose Orkos. Other sandy beaches are Pyrgaki and Kalantos, the last one located at the most southern part of the island. Kastraki is the largest beach of Naxos full of sand dunes and cedars.
Also impressive are Amitis Beach and Abram bay at the northwestern part of the island, Apollonas in the north, and Lionas, Psili Ammos, Panormos and Moutsouna in the eastern part.
It is hard to say which of the 45 villages are the most beautiful in Naxos. From the seaside villages to the hinterland and then to the mountainous villages, the alternating landscape is seducing and the sea breeze intermingles with aromas of the rich island vegetation. In the small and big villages of Naxos, you will wander around the picturesque alleys, walk through nice and neat courtyards, take delight in the Cycladic architecture, relax on cool and shady squares, taste delicious products straight from nature and experience the warm hospitality of the islanders.
Naxos has its own amazing gastronomy and unique products, such as the famous lime liqueur, spoon-sweets with island fruits and thyme honey, traditional cheeses (e.g. arseniko, ladotiri, xinomizithra, thiliko, graviera). Also, the potatoes and meat of Naxos are exceptionally tasty. You can enjoy delicious dishes at the tavernas and restaurants of the islands while drinking local wine.
Extra Tip:Shopping in Hora is a MUST! Make a stop at Paraporti and Erato Art Shop to find jewellery, folklore art, modern art pieces and other gifts.
There is daily ferry connecting Naxos to Santorini (2,5 hrs) throughout the year. In summer, there is also a high-speed boat connection (1,5 hr). There are flights connecting Naxos to Athens and other destinations, both inside Greece and abroad.
Naxos Airport, tel. 22850 23292
Naxos Port Authority, tel. 22850 22300
Finikas Hotel (Small Luxury Hotels Member), tel. 22850 75230, Pyrgaki (www.finikashotel.gr)
Villa Marandi Suites, tel. 22850 24652, Stelida Beach (www.villa-marandi-naxos.com)