Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades and the most diverse in terms of scenery. Its diversity is due to the mountains that prevail in the central part of the island, offering a more mainland Greece type of view. As most islands in the Cyclades, Naxos has been active from the Neolithic period, throughout the ancient times and later during the Byzantine Empire and the Venetian era.
It is said that Zeus has grown up in a cave on the highest mountain of Naxos, mount Zas 1001 m (coming from Zeus).
Currently it has 40+ villages all over the island and is one of the most interesting islands of the Cyclades due to its beaches, mountain scenery, good food and location close to the Small Cyclades islands.
Naxos many hotels, apartments, rooms, studios, campings, etc. to choose from.
what do I need to see in Naxos
Naxos (Hora) – The capital of the island, which is also the main port of the island. It is one of the largest Horas that you will find in the Cyclades. It is very similar to other Horas, full of paved streets, narrow alleys, balconies, arches, steps, etc.
The most beautiful part of it is under and around the castle. Most other parts and especially the main road, by the sea, is touristy and packed with people strolling up and down. There are also lots of hotels, apartments, rooms, studios, etc. in Hora.
Portara, at the Temple of Apollo dominates the entrance of the port and the city and it is worth visiting, especially during sunset. The castle on the top part of the city transports you to a different era and it is a place that you should visit. In Hora you will find lots of bars and clubs and several taverns and restaurants to eat. You will also find many hotels, apartments, rooms, studios, campings, etc. to choose from.
Apiranthos & Philoti are two very beautiful mountain villages, which are totally different from the typical Cycladic villages. They are both worth visiting, although Apiranthos is more picturesque, since it has kept its old character and it hosts a Venetian Castle and a 13th century church.
Apollonas – On the NE side of the island, this village is well known for the marble quarries and the unfinished Kouros statue.
Agios Prokopios & Agia Anna, are the main beaches of Naxos, where most people go for swimming and where you can find hotels, apartments, rooms, studios, campings, taverns, coffee places and most other tourist amenities. In effect they are just one very long sandy beach where you can have a wide array of swimming choices.
They are both very good choices for swimming and you will also have the chance to relax on the numerous chaises-longues. Agia Anna and the Agios Georgios bay (the bay closest to the city) are considered the main windsurfing spots of Naxos.
Another nice beach, further down the SW side of the island is Alyko, a small-pebbles beach different from the typical sandy beaches of Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna.
The next beach from Alyko is Pyrgaki, one of the nicest sandy beaches of the island, which is worth visiting.
This wide area has many hotels, apartments, rooms, studios, campings, etc. to choose from.
The mountain mainland of Naxos is probably what you should definitely visit. This is where you will find the extreme change of scenery, balancing between mountain and sea.
You will also have the chance to see the impressive marble quarries and the magnificent views from the slopes of mount Zas.
There are local buses connecting the main port with the villages and with various other places in Naxos, like the beaches of Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Plaka, Apollonas and the mountain villages.
More information on Naxos from wikipedia, here.
hints & tips about Naxos
- What will captivate you in Naxos is the change of scenery. From the sea to the mountains and back. Ask the locals for the itineraries to follow by car.
- There are places where you will find yourself in mountain plains, surrounded by mountains, without being able to see the sea.
- There are other places, on the mountains, from which you can have a perfect view of the islands Koufonissia, Schinousa, Iraklia, Ios and Paros.
- Naxos is a very large island and it is suggested to rent a car. The prices are considerably cheaper than those in other islands.
- If you are into exploring every dirt-road and visiting even the most remote beaches and venetian castles it is advisable to rent a jeep (4×4) because some roads will give you a really hard time.
- You will need at least 4-5 days in order to get a good overview of the island. You will find lots of places of interest.
- There are some nice campings in Agia Anna and Plaka beaches, which are almost on the waterfront.
- There are some interesting caves and sources to visit in the mountain mainland.
- Naxos is full of venetian castles, that have been kept in a quite good condition and most are accessible.
- You will find excellent traditional food in massive portions at a restaurant in Eggares, a village 7 km outside Hora.
- It is highly suggested to try the local liqueur of Kitro, made out of citrus leaves. It comes in three great-tasting colors.
- Walk around the narrow alleys in the old parts of Hora and the Castle.
- Visit the bars under the castle in Hora. They have cozy backyards and a nice view of the castle, especially when it is lit.
- If you are into windsurfing and you have chosen Naxos as your vacation spot you will find windsurfing facilities, rentals, etc. in Agios Georgios and Agia Anna.
- Naxos has many hotels, apartments, rooms, studios, campings, etc. to choose from.