General Information on Naxos
Naxos with a surface area of 428km² and population of 12,089 people is the largest island in the Cyclades island group. Located in the center of the Cyclades group, Naxos is surrounded by Paros, Donoussa, Schinoussa and Koufonissia. Its rich geographical relief creates dramatic changes of scenery. High mountains, fertile valleys, rivers, caves, huge beaches compose a harmonic diverse set. Due to the fertile land, Naxos inhabitants are financially independent. This is the main reason for the island's late opening to tourism. As a result, Naxos is still one of the few Cycladic islands that have kept its authenticity. Naxos caters for all tastes.
History of Naxos
According to mythology, Naxos is the island of Dionysus and Ariadne. Dionysus, god of wine, lived there when Theseus abandoned Ariadne, daughter of Cretan king Minos, after she helped him find his way out of the labyrinth. Ariadne found consolation in the arms of Dionysus and became his wife.
Naxos had been inhabited before 2000 B.C. However, the island flourished during the 7th and 6th century B.C. At that period, Naxos was master of all Cyclades and developed its trade and art, particularly sculpture. During the Persian wars, Naxos was a member of the Athenian Alliance. Until 338 B.C., the island remained under the Athenian rule. At that point, Naxos was taken by Macedonians and later on (in 166 B.C.) by the Romans. This period was followed by the lengthy Byzantine period, during which many fine churches were built on the island. The Byzantine period was followed by Venetian rule. In 1210 A.D., Venetian Marco Sanudo established the Duchy of Naxos. In 1566, the Turks conquered the island and ruled until 1830 when Naxos was liberated and became part of the New Greek state.
Towns & Villages in Naxos
Hora is the port and the capital of the island. Also it is the biggest town of Naxos. It is a harmonious fusion of traditional and modern features, as small whitewashed houses and big luxury hotels and apartments compose an aggregate picture. Next to the waterfront lies the old part of town up the hillside where Kastro is. The old town is divided in two neighbourhoods, Bourgos where the Greeks lived and Kastro, residence of the Venetian-Catholic nobility.
Potamia is well-known for its many creeks. It is a settlement which includes three small villages: Ano, Mesi and Kato Potamia all lie in a green valley in the centre of the island. It is a perfect place for walks, as the landscape around the villages is unique.
Apollonas is a charming fishing village located on the northeastern side of Naxos. It is one of the most popular villages of the island and has a big variety of hotels, rooms, taverns and cafes. The village of Apollonas is famous for its Kouros of Apollo (10.5 meters tall) created in the 17th century that stands at the entrance of the village.
Apiranthos is a beautiful mountain village, in the centre of Naxos island with small traditional houses made of stone and narrow marble alleys with arches and lovely squares. Its history is linked to Crete, as many of its inhabitants have the dialect of their ancestors.
Chalki is the old capital of Naxos and one of the biggest villages of the island. Well preserved classical houses, a beautiful church and a Byzantine museum compose the set of this village.
Koronos is a mountain traditional village, which in the past played an important role in the island’s economic growth.
Tripodes is a small village to the south of Naxos. It is distinguished from the others because of its windmills.
Filoti lies on the slope of Zas Mountain at an altitude of 400 meters. The village has developed a lot in the past few years, but the landscape remains untouched.
Koronida or Komiaki is a traditional mountainous village built at an altitude of 700 meters. You should definitely try the local wine, which is different from anything else you have already tried.
Skado is a small quiet village where you can relax and enjoy the countryside of Naxos.
Moni is a very characteristic village of mainland Naxos.
Agios Arsenios is located on the western side of Naxos. The village is not far from the sea and few visitors prefer to stay here rather than seaside villages.
Keramoti is a traditional village of the northern mainland style of Naxos.
Eggares is a lovely village with many green fields and quick access to the beach of Amitis.
Beaches in Naxos
Agios Georgios is one of the most popular and crowded beaches in Naxos. It is near the capital’s centre. It is a long sandy beach with shallow waters which is well organized.
Agia Anna is a popular seaside resort. The beach is long and sandy and close to Hora (7km). During the past few years, many nice hotels were built here making it easy to find accommodation. There are also several taverns and cafes.
Agios Prokopios is a lovely and very long beach that ends where Agia Anna beach starts. It’s got crystal clear shallow waters and sand. Plaka beach is a beautiful quiet beach with white sand and deep blue waters. It is very popular with nudists but, due to its size, nothing is obligatory.
Parthenos is south of Plaka beach with clear waters ideal for those who want to relax and enjoy the sea.
Mikri Vigla is considered one of the most beautiful beaches of Naxos. It is actually two beaches separated by a hill. The beach is excellent for windsurfing because of the winds that blow here. At the northern part of the beach the wind is strong. The south part, though, is a sandy beach with amazing colours, ideal to relax protected by the meltemia.
Alyco is a white sandy beach with cedar trees and few restaurants around.
Kastraki is a beautiful golden sandy beach with crystal blue waters and plenty of space for everyone to relax.
Moutsouna is a small fishing port at the very east of Naxos with a few beaches around the area.
Lionas is a very rocky and different beach.
Top Things to Do in Naxos
1. Portara: is the first thing you see when you arrive at the island of Naxos. The ruins of a temple dedicated to Appolo. Its construction started in the 6th century B.C. when tyrant Lygdamis ruled the island. The temple was never completed, as Lygdamis was sent to exile by his people.
2. Venetian Castle: The Venetian Castle at the old part of Naxos capital, Hora, was the fortress of Sanudos, Duke of Naxos. The wall surrounding the fortress is pentagonal and has three gates. The Glezos tower stands near the northwestern gate and extends in part along the western and northern side of the fortress.
3. The Archaeological Museum of Naxos, located in the Kastro area at Hora, contains objects from the Late Neolithic period to Early Christian times (5300 B.C. – 5th century A.D.). The building of the Archaeological Museum is a historical monument. It was built in the period from 1600 to 1800 A.D. and it is an impressive example of architecture that developed in Naxos during the Frankish rule.
4. Pyrgos Chimarrou: This is one of the most important monuments of Naxos, located on the southeastern side of the island on a hill between Zas and the sea. Similar towers have a wide distribution in the Aegean, but most of them have been damaged and only the foundations are still visible. The tower of Chimarros is an exception, as it stands almost 15m high.
5. Cycling: Naxos has many dirt roads and trades that offer unique routes for cycling lovers. The coastal area on the southwestern coast from Agia Anna to Kastraki is an excellent choice.
6. Windsurf: the magical mix of a waist-deep lagoon and waves makes Naxos one of the best destinations for those who like windsurfing.
7. Trekking: For people who like to explore, Naxos is an ideal place. There are dozens of paths spread all over the island, which lead to historical monuments, quiet beaches, villages and abandoned areas. Some of the most known paths are: Chalki-Potamia (3-4 hours), Zas Mountain and Kinidaros-Egarres (4-5 hours).
How to Reach Naxos
By air: there is at least one daily flight to/from Athens. The trip last 45 minutes.
By boat: Several ferries connect Naxos to Piraeus daily, on a trip that lasts six hours. Naxos is also connected to Ios, Santorini, Mykonos, Tinos, Syros, Amorgos. Less frequent destinations include Thessaloniki, Kos, Andros, Skiathos, Kos, Iraklio (Crete).
Getting Around in Naxos
From Hora there are frequent buses to Agia Anna, Filoti via Haliki, Apiranthos via Filoti and Halki, Apollonas, Pyrgaki and Melanes. Less frequent buses go to other villages. Buses leave from the end of the wharf in Hora and the timetables are posted outside the bus station.
Weather in Naxos
Like all Cycladic islands, weather in Naxos depends on the “meltemia” from the middle of July to the middle of August. Due to its location, in the middle of the Cycladic group, the winds in Naxos are even stronger than in other islands.
Top 10 Destinations in Naxos
All Destinations in Naxos
Map of Naxos