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Naxos - Long Beaches, Green Plains and Ancient Culture

Naxos offers a great balance. You either spend your day relaxing at the beach with your family or party with friends in the evening. Travellers either explore the cultural assets of bygone times or experience an adventurous time thanks to the variety of sporting and leisure activities.

The Cycladic island of Naxos

Geography - The largest of the Cycladic Islands

Naxos is an island in the Cyclades and lies in the Aegean Sea. With an area of about 448 km², it is the largest island of the Greek island group. It is only separated from its neighbouring island of Paros by a narrow strait. The island is populated by about 17,000 people. Naxos' capital is the city of the same name, which is commonly called "Chora" and is the main tourist destination. Naxos is very mountainous with peaks of up to 1,000 metres of height. The highest point is Mount Zas, which crosses the island from north to south. While the east of the island is characterised by steep coastal landscapes, the west is much flatter. The climate on Naxos is Mediterranean like on the other Cycladic islands. In the summer months, pleasant refreshment is provided by the Meltemi wind, the dry north wind in the Aegean. The winters are mild and rainy.

Village in the mountains on Naxos

Nature - Green meadows, bubbling springs and beautiful beaches

In comparison to the other Cycladic islands, Naxos is not only the largest but also the greenest and most fertile island. Its scenery is unique and diverse. There are vast green meadows which change into long sandy beaches towards the sea. Fertile valleys and plains, which are used for agriculture, alternate with barren, harsh rocks. Bubbling springs as well as raging rivers and streams are the source of life for the lush flora. Besides long beaches, you also find numerous sandy bays and even the sand on Naxos is special. It is used as sandpaper and exported to many countries. Along the beaches, visitors see dunes which are vegetated by cedars. The most popular beaches are located in the west of the island, south of Chora. Examples are Agios Prokopios, Pyrgaki, Parthenos, Aliko, Plaka and Agiassos Beach.

Mountains and meadows on the island of Naxos

Culture - Apollo Temple's entrance and pyrgi

According to Greek mythology, the god of wine, Dionysus, came from Naxos and the father of the gods, Zeus, grew up here as well. However, the island is best known as the art centre of the Cyclades, which it owes to its sculpture workshop. Today, Naxos one of the most popular Greek islands, especially with individual travellers and backpackers. It offers a variety of cultural sights such as Kouros of Flerio near Melanes, the Kouros of Apollonas, the Temple of Demeter in Sankri as well as numerous Byzantine churches and monasteries. A real highlight is located in the Port of Naxos: the Portara, the incomplete Apollo Temple. The only part which was built is the Temple's entrance, which greets travellers who arrive by ship. In the city of Chora, you should visit the Venetian castle with the Tower of Glezos, the medieval alleys in the districts of Boúrgos and Agoró and the Archaeological Museum of Naxos. The residential towers (pyrgi), which are characteristic of the Cyclades, can be found all over the island.

Portara in front of the Port of Naxos

Experience - Enjoying Greek specialities

Although tourism is well developed on Naxos, it does not compare to the neighbouring islands of Santorini, Paros and Mykonos. Nevertheless, the island offers everything travellers could wish for. The nightlife is very varied. There are many bars, clubs and discos, especially in the capital, and a lot of beach parties. You will not find great shopping centres but a number of shops which sell souvenirs, leatherware, clothes, belts and jewellery. On the market in Naxos city, holidaymakers can buy handmade products like ceramic ware, baskets, textiles and traditional handicraft. Popular souvenirs are embroidery, honey, copies of well-known Cycladic icons, olive oil, lemon liqueur but most of all the wine from Naxos. The latter has been referred to as the "nectar of the gods" for a long time. Besides typical Greek delicacies such as moussaka, souvlaki and Greek salad, visitors can taste local specialities like beef and goat meat. The milk of these animals is used to produce different kinds of cheese, for example Graviera, Myzithra, Anthotyro and Kefalotiri. One dish which travellers should not miss put on is saganaki, a fried cheese.

Greek moussaka

Activities - Family beaches and perfect hiking trails

While the mountains are perfectly suited for going hiking, the long beaches offer excellent conditions for going swimming, diving and snorkelling. Agios Georgios Beach is protected from the wind and the water level is very low, which makes it the ideal family beach. This beach also offers a great variety of water sports. You can go sailing, windsurfing and fly a kite. Holidaymakers also enjoy exploring the island on the back of a horse. If you do not want to ride, you can go by mountain bike. A worthwhile experience is a day trip to the neighbouring islands, for example to the ruined island of Delos. Travellers who are looking for tranquillity and want to forget about their stressful everyday life also get their money's worth on Naxos because the island accommodates many remote locations which are far away from the tourist destinations.

Sandy beach in the Cyclades

Information

Travellers reach Naxos either by plane or by ferry. There are no direct flights from abroad but you can take a charter aircraft from Athens. Most bigger airports offer regular flights to Greece's capital. The people on the island - as in the rest of the country - speak Greek but visitors also get on by using English or German as the hotel staff often knows both of these languages. The farther you go into rural regions, the more difficult it gets. Naxos' inhabitants are delighted when travellers are able to say a few words in their native language. A friendly "kaliméra" ("good morning") and the ice is broken.

Naxos is an island which offers everything you want on holiday without being overcrowded. Whether you are looking for remote or exciting beaches, lush green landscapes with excellent hiking trails, fascinating cultural sites or a varied nightlife - the island caters for all tastes. Those who have taken Naxos into their hearts will keep coming back.

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