Greece is famous for its islands. The Greek Islands are a collection of over 6,000 islands and islets. There is a total of 78 islands connected by regular ferry, with another 40-odd islets visited by tour boats and 48 ‘inhabited islands’ being occupied by off monks, goat herds and the occasionally shipping billionaire.
Naxos is the largest Greek island in the Central Cyclades. The Cyclades derive their name from being said to ‘circle’ the island of Delos – birthplace of the god Apollo. Naxos is said to be one of the most popular Greek islands. It offers an alluring mix of an attractive port town, easy accessible beaches, and good links with other islands. There are many ferry companies that offer services to Greek islands, information can be found here.
For the first time, I discovered the island of Naxos that has numerous sandy beaches, which is the perfect holiday destination for nature lovers and those who seek quiet and beautiful place for vacation. There are more than 60 villages on this island, which most of them are on the mountains. Hora or Chora (Naxos Town) is the capital of Naxos island.
We stayed in Agia Anna village for 1 day. Agia Anna is a popular seaside destination on the western side of Naxos, south of the capital. It takes about 20-25 minutes to travel from Hora/Chora. There are many hotels, apartments, studios for rent. So, accommodation is never a problem! However, you need a car or scooter to go around, which is probably the best way to discover the island.
We later decided to base in Agios Georgios, which is nearest to Hora/Chora (Naxos Town). Agios Georgios is a more buzzing place compared to Agia Anna. Many shops and restaurants are within reach and it is only about 15 minutes away from the sea port where you can board the ferry.
It’s probably everyone’s concern to have accommodation pre-arranged. Yes, it is a better idea especially during peak season. However, in September, there are less tourists so it could be a good idea to shop around on the day itself. There are plenty of studious, houses, hotels, and apartments for rent, which is great to compare the prices before you decide which one to go for.
So, what are the things to do in Naxos? Well, here are some suggestions:
1) Stroll in Chona/Hora (Naxos Town) – to get a taste of the island, walk through the winding alleyways to admire the whitewashed houses, with their potted flowers, and colourful doors and shutters. It is truly a calming and rejuvenating experience.
2) Check out Naxos Portara – Portara is the landmark of Naxos. It is a great marble gate of a an unfinished temple dedicated to god Apollo.
3) Venetian Castle and Museum – The museum of Chora is at the heart of the castle. There is a large number of artefacts of Naxos.
4) Naxos Windsurfing – Naxos is well-known for windsurfing especially during summer when the wind blows from the north. Mikri Vigla, Agios Georgios, Plaka, and Agious Prokopios are famous spots.
5) The Old Town/Market – it is a charming little place that is full of secrets! You will discover some old-style houses, small shops, tavernas and bakaries all tuck away in this old town.
6) Rent a car, scooter, or quad to go around the island – we went to the North of the island one day, stopped by villages and admired the view of Naxos from the top of mountains. Do stop by Apollon – it is 35km north of Naxos Town. Apollon is a very picturesque fishing village with a bay with sand and a longer bay with pebbles.
There are plenty of tavernas and restaurants, I think for me, the best traditional food and wine are found here! I had Greek salad – simple but tasty! It was served with a generous portion of Feta cheese!! The whitebaits are just as gorgeous! These go down well with a glass of local red wine! We finished our meal with a simple dessert of Greek-style yoghurt with drizzles of Greek honey!!
As for the south of the island, I personally think that it is less picturesque than the north. However, Damalas is the village that I most like. There is an old pottery workshop called Libertas, which is well known for the traditional way of production. The family owns it for many generations now (1890) and insists on the old tools as far as the progress allows. An olive press in the old style can be visited behind the workshop as well.
7) Enjoy the sunset and indulge yourself with a Greek dinner – the most amazing sunset that we have seen so far would probably be on this island! The colours are just too amazing to be described! Never have I ever seen anything like this! As for dinner, traditional and authentic restaurants or tavernas can be found either along Agios Georgios or in the Old Town.