“This island possessed great sweetness and tranquillity .... I looked at the inhabitants. Their faces were kindly...and their eyes were not on fire. Liberty here had extinguished the yearning for liberty. Life extended like a sheet of contented, slumbering water which, though turbulent at times, never raised to a true tempest. As I walked about Naxos, security was the island’s first gift that I became aware of.” (Nikos Kazantzakis from the book “Report to Greco”)
Security and sweetness. Serenity and authenticity. A few decades ago, when Nikos Kazantzakis - the famous philosopher and writer of Zorba the Greek - was writing about the island of Naxos, he meant to predispose us of the sentiments we would feel through our visit. This large and fertile island of the Cyclades presents an antithesis of sceneries ranging from high mountains to heavenly beaches. Green valleys, infertile areas, lofty mountains, gorges and springs, picturesque villages, treasured ancient monuments, sandy coastlines and solitary beaches are all succeeding images that will greatly appeal to the visitor who seeks the unspoiled and pure.
It is the largest island of the Cyclades and the most self-sufficient one due to the fact that it has adequate sources of water in a region of Greece where water is sparse. Mount Zeus has an altitude of 1.003 meters, making it the highest peak above the Cycladic complex which tends to trap the clouds and, thus, cause greater rainfall.
Facing the gigantic marble gateway
Just as you approach the island of Naxos, the first thing you will notice, is a gigantic marble gateway. Its name is Portara and it is an ancient temple dedicated to god Apollo. It is located on Palatia islet just off the shores of the port of Naxos and it constitutes the island’s absolute trademark. It is one of the most important monuments of the Aegean sea and it will draw you to it like a magnet. Choose the cool afternoon hours just before sunset and take the path that will lead you to it, if you want to be filled with unprecedented feelings of amazement.
Chora is Naxos’s main town but unlike other main towns of Cycladic islands which present numerous labyrinth-like alleys, the Chora of Naxos has just one picturesque alley that magnetises the interest of visitors throughout the day. You will find it behind the main road of the port and you will love it for its string of interesting stores and boutiques, as well as for its nightlife hot spots.
During your stay, you must include a visit to the impressive Kastropolitia in order to admire the well preserved Venetian Castle of Naxos and, of course, to visit the Venetian Museum which exhibits countless specimens of the island’s history, culture and civilisation.
Touring the villages of Naxos
No matter how exciting Chora may seem, the island of Naxos offers numerous distant beauties which you will be willing to explore by car. The settlement of Aghia Anna will attract you with its turquoise waters for a morning swim but also after dark for a romantic night out drinking cocktails. Apiranthos is one of the island’s most beautiful villages presenting visitors with enchanting spots at 32 km from Chora. Really worthy of your visit are also a number of other mountainous villages which offer a very different view of the island.
Filoti will attract you for its numerous small tavernas serving only the best of traditional tastes. In Potamia make lunch arrangements at the famous taverna named ‘Pigi’. Melanes and Chalki should definitely be part of your excursions in order to grasp the essence of the island. If you reach the back side of the island, then a stop at the fishing village of Apollo is a must.
Naxos has a plethora of golden beaches to suit all tastes. The turquoise waters of the region will bewilder you with their alluring beauty. A positive aspect concerning the island of Naxos, is that it has so many options that chances are you will have plenty of space to yourself for quality time by the sea front. In case you want to be with the crowds and feel the island’s cosmopolitanism, then try the beach of Aghios Prokopios. The most organised beach is named Aghia Anna and its other extreme is Plaka. If you want to relax and have some peace of mind then Psili Ammos and Panormos, on the east side of the island, will monopolize your preference. Last, but not least, surfers should head to Mikri Vigla.
Your holiday in Naxos will enable you to discover your simplest and most authentic self without even realizing your inner transformation. The island’s beautiful villages, the solitary but also cosmopolitan beaches, its beautiful nature and its rich culture and civilisation will all convey you to an unpretentious place willing to share with you its most charismatic temperament.
For your accommodation in Naxos, choose Villa Archaion Kallos, a well-hidden gem just 5 minutes away from the capital city Chora.