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Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades, showcasing a vibrant mix of beautiful beaches, historic sites and picturesque little villages. Historically, Naxos was an important cultural centre in the Byzantine and Greek empires, with later Venetian and Frankish cultures leaving their mark too, so there’s plenty for visitors to discover.
Famed for its fertile soil, the island produces citrus fruit, potatoes, grapes and olives, while the focal point of the island is Mount Zeus, the highest peak in the Cyclades islands. Naxos is a great choice for active outdoor enthusiasts, with a wide range of activities to choose from including trekking, cycling and even kiteboarding on the sandy beaches in the south. Naxos embodies the traditional charm of Greece, with beautiful blue skies, balmy Mediterranean climate and historic monuments scattered around the landscape. If you’re looking for a relaxing Greek holiday in 2019 / 2020, Naxos is a great choice, offering an excellent range of sightseeing opportunities and a vibrant shopping scene.
Naxos has a wide variety of attractions and things to do, including museums, churches, historic monuments and plenty of stunning beaches. Some of the best museums in the area include the Della Rocca-Barozzi Venetian Museum and Archaeology Museum in Apiranthos. Naxos Town and the surrounding area are home to some incredible churches, including the Roman Catholic cathedral on the main square of the Kastro as well as the rural church of Panagia Drossiani. There are a couple of monasteries in the nearby countryside that are well worth a visit, the ruins of Kalamitsia palace, and the tower monastery of Fotodotis. Other popular attractions include the Kouros of Flerio, the Bazeos Tower and the Panagia Drosiani, historic sites that give you the opportunity to learn more about the heritage and culture of Naxos. If sightseeing historic attractions isn’t your cup of tea, you can head to Plaka Beach to enjoy the soft white sands and crystal clear waters, or explore the local markets for souvenirs or tasty local treats.
As the largest and arguably most beautiful of the Cyclades archipelago of islands, Naxos has a wide selection of beautiful beaches to choose from. Agios Prokopios is situated on the western side of the island, 5km to the south of Chora. The most famous beach on the island, it is renowned for being one of the best beaches in the whole of Europe. Stretching from 1.2km from East to West, the southern facing coastline protects beach-goers from strong northern winds, making it an ideal choice for families with children and those who prefer a more tranquil beach experience. To the north of the beach you’ll find Salinas and at the most western point of the beach, a picturesque chapel. Agia Anna is practically Agios Prokopios continuing in the southwest of the island, and is just 7 kilometres from Chora. An immaculate beach with excellent facilities including beach bars, restaurants, sun loungers and parasols, Agia Anna has been recognised with a Blue Flag award. Another option for beach lovers is Amitis beach, located in the north west of the island, close to the village of Eggares. In contrast to Agia Prokopios, Amitis has good exposure to the northern winds, making it the best choice for fans of adventurous water sports including kite surfing and windsurfing, but is not suitable for novice swimmers due to its stronger currents.
Whether you’re looking for a traditional Greek taverna or are craving international cuisine, Naxos has a good range of dining establishments to cater to all tastes. For many visitors to Greece, the idea of enjoying a meal by the clean white sands and warm waters is very appealing. In Naxos Town, there are plenty of excellent restaurants and cafes situated by the waterside offering freshly-prepared local food at reasonable prices. For traditional Greek cuisine, seaside dining venues offer the best way to enjoy the island’s natural beauty while you enjoy popular dishes including fried maridaki, or small fish, indulgent cannelloni stuffed with fine cheese and meats, and the famous Naxos cheese. As the most fertile island of the Cyclades, Naxos produces some of the finest fruit and vegetables in the area, so make sure you order a fresh salad and sample the local rose and white wines. Further from the coastline in the town areas such as Chora, you can find quaint Greek eateries and traditional restaurants serving their own takes on authentic Greek dishes, making for unforgettable dining experiences.
Despite being the largest of the Cyclade islands, Naxos has a fairly quiet nightlife with just a handful of clubs in the main area of Naxos Town. Many of the clubs are situated on the Paralia, or seafront, with the town’s lounge bars split between there and the main beaches in the area. If you’re planning to make nightlife a main feature of your holiday in Naxos, it is better to visit during the summer months, as most of the clubs only operate in summer. Some of the best nightlife in the area includes the open-air cinema Cine Naxos, located on the south edge of town that screens films all year and has open-air screenings between May and September. If jazz is more your thing, try Jazz and Blues, a bluesy backstreet bar in an old building with both indoor and outdoor live performances, a favourite with older audiences. Younger holidaymakers looking for a more upbeat clubbing experience may want to try The Ocean Club, a popular club that changes format each season. Here you’ll find mainstream dance music in the summer months and special events including concerts and themed music parties offseason. If you’re looking for a bar with cocktails and flavoured shishas, head to On The Rocks, which offers themed parties and evening DJs in a vibrant yet casual atmosphere.
With lazy days spent lounging on the beach, exploring the winding alleyways of the town or learning about the fascinating history of Greece as you take in the beauty of historic attractions, there’s plenty to do for all the family. Many families focus their holidays on the beach and its attractions, as well as water sports and swimming. Thanks to the wide selection of beaches on the island, from Plaka Beach to Aghios Prokopios, it’s easy to customise your holiday experience here, to be as lazy or as active as you like. Head to the southern coast for protection from the strong winds from the north and enjoy warm, calm waters ideal for paddling, or take a trip to the northern coasts for the best venue for more extreme water sports including kite surfing and windsurfing. Another great day trip for families on holiday is renting a sailboat for the day, providing an affordable way to explore the island at your own pace. Alternatively, join a boat trip to take a back seat while the tour guide points out the main points of interest on the coastline. When it comes to the town itself, the narrow alleyways in the old town of Naxos are contained within castle walls from a Venetian medieval-era structure and are well worth exploring for discovering shopping gems. With a good selection of museums and historic attractions including the Portara Apollo Temple, Temple of Demeter and Castle of Naxos, there is plenty on offer for families that enjoy taking in the history and culture of the Greek Islands on holiday too.
When you first arrive in Naxos and take a look at the sun-drenched landscape and beautiful azure waters, you’ll realise why it is a prime destination for romantic holidays in Greece. The natural beauty and balmy climate of the island make for the ultimate no-fuss, get-up-and-go versatility that the Cyclades are famous for. You can roll out of bed and enjoy a romantic stroll on the beach, head to a taverna for an intimate meal or make memories with your significant other at one of the many unforgettable historic attractions in and around Naxos. While it’s the largest island of the Cyclades, Naxos is far less busy than Mykonos or Santorini. The scenic villages and mountainous scenery in Naxos instantly adds romance to any excursion here, providing the perfect backdrop to hopping on a cycle and exploring the island with your loved one.
Naxos is renowned for being a great island for windsurfing and kite surfing, particularly in the beaches of Plaka, Laguna and Mikri Vigla, as well as most of the beaches on the west side of the island. Here you’ll find plenty of windsurfing centres with all the equipment you’ll need to hire and courses for all ages and ability levels. Another popular activity in Naxos is diving, the sea around Naxos being scattered with reefs and shipwrecks. One of the main places of interest for divers is the wreck of a Beaufighter torpedo bomber, as well as some recent shipwrecks and a German seaplane. For those who prefer to keep their feet on dry land, there are several horse riding centres in Naxos, as well as plenty of trekking routes and a network of signposted footpaths which are ideal for cycling too.
Naxos has retained a great deal of its heritage as a cultural centre of several different civilisations including the Byzantines and Greeks. In modern day Naxos, cultural events remain important in island life, celebrating important dates and people in Naxos history. Most of the island’s festivals take place during the summer, the most popular being Naxos Festival, Axia Festival, the Festival of the Castle and the Days of Kynidaros Dance. Timing your visit to coincide with one or more of these vibrant festivals is a great way of adding value to your holiday and getting to know more about the local traditions and people.