The island’s most important monument which is called the Portara and constitutes a trademark. Located on the islet of Palation just off the port, it is a gigantic marble gate dedicated to god Apollo and the first thing that will attract your sight as you approach the island by boat. According to mythology this is the spot where Theseus abandoned Ariadne. TIP: Choose the cool afternoon hours just before sunset to visit the monument, by taking the path that will lead you to it and be prepared for unprecedented feelings of amazement.
The main town, Chora, which has one main picturesque stone-paved alley drawing the attention of visitors, plus a beautiful seaside promenade around the port for long and enjoyable walks. TIP: In the evening hours, cars are prohibited from the area letting you enjoy unhindered strolls by the seaside promenade and the pier.
The Venetian Castle built according to tradition by the Venetian Marco Sanudo during the Latin Occupation. Oriented towards the island’s interior, it had three basic gates two of which are still preserved. This is the area where the Archaeological Museum of Naxos is also located exhibiting a rich collection of Cycladic statuettes (for information call 22850 22725, entrance fee: 3€ or 2€ reduced) and the Venetian Museum which is hosted within the impressive tower of the 13th century called Della Rokka-Barozzi (open daily between 10.00 to 15.00 and 18.30 to 22.00. For further information call 22850 22387, www.naxosisland.gr/venetianmuseum). Highlight: Domus Festival which presents a string of concerts of classical music, piano recitals and feasts with traditional Greek music accompanied by stunning views to the gate of Portara.
The area of Mpourgo which is a medieval settlement north of the Venetian Castle and which, back then, was inhabited by the richest people of the island of Naxos.
The temple of Dimitra. It is an all-marble ancient temple built in 530 BC and constitutes one of the marvellous ancient monuments of Naxos. You will find it in the area of Giroula (also called Sagri).
The island’s unique selection of beaches that satisfy all tastes. The majority of them are large and with golden sand and they are caressed by crystal clear turquoise waters. The beach of Aghios Prokopios has a very distinctive small pebble and is a must-see at 6 Km from Chora. For an enjoyable swim at a superb sandy beach, Aghia Anna should be your selection at a 10 minute drive from Chora. Visit also the homonymous settlement at close proximity to the beach. Do not omit to visit the beach of Plaka for which we have devoted a whole paragraph further down, the peaceful golden beach named Sahara at 16 km from Chora, Mikri Vigla beach and, of course, the secluded beaches of Panormos and Chrysi Ammos which will reward you for your effort to get there at 45 km from Chora.
The beach of Plaka is situated at around 10 km from the main town, Chora. Not only is this the best beach of the island, but it has shown signs of great development and will cover the visitor’s needs in a stunning surrounding. Party Tip: Yazoo Bar is an all-day bar presenting high aesthetics and modern designs. During the day, the friendly staff will serve to your sun-bed anything you choose from the menu, while after dark the bar transforms to a party spot with very interesting music and a rich cocktail menu (Plaka beach, for reservations call 22850 41233, www.yazoo.gr).
A drive to the island’s glorious interior which cherishes numerous picturesque villages, is really worthy of your time. Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades and it is mostly mountainous but with a good water supply. Don’t leave the island without visiting the village of Apiranthos at the foot of Mount Fanari. The village will bewilder you with its marble-paved alleys, its traditional two-floored houses, its beautiful squares boasting numerous cafés and tavernas, but also for its five museums. The village of Filoti is the biggest village of the island and the most densely populated, built at the foot of Mount Zeus and full of olive groves. Here you will see the Tower of Mparotsi, the Cave of Za and the Tower of Heimaros. The village will please you with its plethora of tavernas and cafés under the cool shade of plane trees and sycamores. The village of Koronos should also be included in your list of excursions. Numerous stone-paved alleys and an incredibly picturesque square is what you will see there. Tip: Driving back towards the sea shores, make a turn and pass through the fishing village of Apollo. If you have some time at your disposal, have lunch or an early dinner at Matina’s taverna which serves traditional homemade dishes made of the purest ingredients. Beyond its picturesque character, the settlement is also known for the ancient marble statue depicting Kouros.
The area of Glinado is the place to be for a fun ride on a donkey which will be happy to take you on a tour around the labyrinth-like alleys of the village. At the area of Chalaros you can leave your donkey and have a luncheon of grilled meaty delicacies or, indeed, your coffee at the famous café-museum (Open daily from 08.00 onwards, Glinado area, for information call 6942 704912).