Naxos, Lady of the Cyclades

Overview of the Old Town of Naxos, seen from PortaraOverview of the Old Town of Naxos, seen from Portara – Photo by Sotiris Lambadaridis
 

Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades islands, covers an area of nearly 450 km² and its coastline is 148 km long. It lies around 100 nautical miles from Piraeus or 4 hours by ferry boat. Its neighbours are Paros to the west and Donousa to the east, with Schinoussa, Irakleia, Keros and the Koufonisia islands to the south at a close distance to Naxos. To the north you’ll find Mykonos and Delos.

Portara Gate at Naxos port - Photo by S. LambadaridisPortara Gate at Naxos port – Photo by Sotiris Lambadaridis
 

The island of Naxos has a quite varied landscape. Around the coast you’ll see fertile plains, which towards the inland turns into rocky masses interspersed with vibrant green gulleys that lead down to superb beaches. The highest point on Naxos is Mount Za, which is the highest mountain in the Cyclades with its 1,004 metres above sea level.

Beach on Naxos - Photo by S. LambadaridisNaxos beach – Photo by Sotiris Lambadaridis
 

The western coast has an indented shape with several sheltered bays (Naxos Bay, Agiassos Bay) and beautiful beaches, separated by capes (Cape Agios Prokopios, Cape Parthenos and Cape Kouroupa). The eastern coastline has a much more straight shape only interrupted by Cape Moutsouna, opposite the island of Donoussa. The conical neck of land at Cape Stauros, the northernmost point of the island, and Cape Katomeri in the south, give the island its oval shape.

Lagos Mare, hotel entrance, Agios Prokopios, NaxosWe arrived at Naxos around midday with the ferry “Delos” (one of the Blue Ferries), which is leaving from Piraeus daily at 7:30 in the morning for Paros, Naxos, Ios and Santorini.
We then went to our hotel “Lagos Mare”, which is situated at Agios Prokopios, one of the best beaches on Naxos. It is around 10 min. drive from Naxos Town (Chora).
You can use the regular buses on the island, find a taxi or hire a car – the best solution to get around, since Naxos is a lady of proportions!

Covered archway in Chora, NaxosChurch of Panagia Chrisopolitissa, Chora NaxouCall that a narrow streetNaxos port - Photo by S. LambadaridisNaxos port – Photo by S. Lambadaridis
 

Portara, Naxos port"The Old Inn" restaurant in Chora, NaxosView of the old town of NaxosThe first day upon our arrival to Naxos we spent at the beach of Agios Prokopios, where the waters are crystal clear and perfect for diving. The beach consist of something in between sand and pebbles.
In the afternoon we took a cab to Chora in order to get a closer look at the impressive Portara, standing tall and lonely on its hill.
We also walked around the curvy, narrow streets and alleys of the old medieval part of town. It is quite like a labyrinth – you never know what you’ll find after the next turn.

Chalki village, Naxos Chalki village, NaxosChalki village, NaxosChalki village, NaxosOn our 3rd day on Naxos island we decided to make our tour round the central villages in the moutainous part of the island. Still in Chora you need to take a turn inland where a signpost says “To the Villages” and the road will lead you steadily upwards through many turns. Soon the nature turns into its dry, rocky look. Not bare, by no means, but with tough, low shrubs – the colours of yellow-green and brown being the dominant. This vegetation can stand against the burning sun.

Our first stop was to be at the village of Chalki, a most picturesque location with cafés, shops and tavernas in its narrow streets and alleys only suitable for walking, since the slopes, steps and turns do not allow any other way.

“Kitron Naxou” Distillery

Kitron Naxou DestilleryKitron Naxou DestilleryKitron Naxou DestilleryKitron Naxou Destillery"Kitron Naxou" traditional destilleryKitron Naxou Destillery

Here I found the traditional distillery of “Kitron Naxou”, an amazing and most colourful little place still preparing its sweet-fresh citron liquor, produced in three variants with a traditional method using old recipes.
Eight years ago the Vallindras family started an effort to restore the citron production. They approached the agriculturers, who had lands where citron used to be produced in the past, they convinced them to start planting the trees again, and they undertook the responsibility for these cultivations, excluding the usage of fertilizers, which alter the taste of the fruit. So the production was extended and simultaneously the old distillery and shop were restored in 2000, when also a new one was created. 450 persons visit in average the traditional distillery daily. This has given the opportunity for rejuvenation of the local economy: two home handicraft shops, one pottery and 4-5 restaurants and traditional coffee shops make their living because of the distillery. See the photos above.
Everyone visiting will have the opportunity to taste the strong, middle and sweet variations of this tasty drink.
Contact info: Chalki Naxos, Greece
Tel: +30 22850 31220

Fish & Olive Creations

Fish & Olive Creations, Chalki, NaxosWhen visiting Chalki you will have the opportunity to admire at close hand the art of two rare artists, art potter, Katharina Bolesch and jewellery designer and craftsman, Alexander Reichardt. The couple lives and works in Chalki where their workshop, gallery and L’Olivier shop operate under  the international name of Fish & Olive.
Contact info:
Platia Chalki, 84302 Naxos, Greece
Tel/Fax: +30 22850 31771
Website

chilling out in NaxosTaverna in Filóti, NaxosGrapes in Naxos

Filoti village, NaxosAfter this brief stop our trip continued upwards towards Filoti, a village built amfitheatrically in the mountains, hiding in a valley at the foothills of Mount Za (here you’ll find the Cave of Zeus). After Filoti, on your way to Apeiranthos, you will soon find a signpost on your left hand directing you to the cave and the Spring of Aria. From here a tiny mountain way will take you (through sharp turns and elavation) to a point where the road goes no further. Standing on the highest point of the island you have a breathtaking view towards all directions.

On the way to Zeus Cave, NaxosOn the way to Zeus Cave, NaxosPath at Zeus Cave, NaxosNear Zeus Cave, Mount Za, Naxos
The Spring of Aria is right here, a hundred metres or so futher down a walking path. Many locals travel up here with empty bottles in order to collect the healthy and tasty water from the spring. To reach the Cave of Zeus you must follow the walking trail another 500 m. The cave has still not been fully investigated and is not prepared for visitors. Therefore it is only safe to watch from the entrance. It is dangerous to enter, both because it is slippery and because of risk of getting lost in the depth of the cave.

This is the highest point of Naxos with its 1,004 m. You can choose to continue on the walking trail which is part of a larger trail system taking you either to Mount Marathos to the south or (at a split point) towards the Church of Agia Marina on your northeast, which will lead you on your way back toward Filoti or Danakos.

Apeiranthos village, NaxosApeiranthos village, NaxosApeiranthos village, NaxosApeiranthos village, Naxos

After the Cave of Zeus we left for the village of Apeiranthos, which is paved mainly with marble and therefore also known as “Marmarino”, (meaning “made from marble”). Steep and narrow little lanes with covered archways, balconies decorated with flowerpots and the shady squares with cafés and tavernas all make Apeiranthos a very inviting village to the visitor. We sat and had an icecream while enjoy the spectacular view from the slope of the village before heading further down the road.

Stauros Church, NaxosSignpost at Stauros, NaxosChurch of Stauros, NaxosStauros, mountainous NaxosNow on our way to see the gigantic unfinished kouros from the 7th century BC at Flerio, a nice surprise awaited us on the way. At Stavros, a cross-point in the mountains of Naxos, we had to make a stop in order take in the most astonishing view from the little blue-roofed church, also bearing the name of Stavros. See the photos above.

Kouros of Flerio, NaxosFinally, we turned at the crossroad in direction of Flerio to make our way to Kouros, still in majestic sleep in an olive grove, probably the site of a quarry where the statue was produced, but for reasons unknown to us it remained unfinished and never reached its destination. After wondering a little about time passing by and works left undone in the company of Kouros we headed back to the coast and beautiful “Lagos Mare” in order to eat and rest after a day in the mountains.

Beaches

Agios Prokopios beach, NaxosApollonas, NaxosPlaka beach, NaxosAgios Prokopios, one of the most beautiful beaches of Naxos

Hotel “Lagos Mare”

Hotel Lagos Mare is a newly built A class boutique hotel with cubistic Cycladic architecture. We stayed here for five wonderful days in July and can only praise it in every way from the standard of our room, to the most delicious meals served at all times. The environment is charming with its colour and playful details and the staff is helpful, kind and at high spirits, whenever you see them. Most recommended.
You can find more information about “Lagos Mare” and Agios Prokopios at Lagos Mare website

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A reception with friendly and most helpful personel at "Lagos Mare"View from Lagos Mare Hotel, Agios Prokopios, NaxosGiant chessboard in "Lagos Mare" gardenView of Lagos Mare Hotel

Where to eat in Naxos town…

The Old Inn restaurant, Chora, NaxosWe found the most atmospheric restaurant, “The Old Inn” in a lane in Chora. It is an old yard with a big tree and folklore decoration. The food tasted awesome and the service was kind and thoughtful. We will definetely be back.
You’ll find it in H. Aitolou street, it is close to the marina.
International Restaurant
Tel: +30 22850 27013 Mobile: +30 69701 77301

Things to do

Cruising around Naxos: One-day-cruises

Cycladic Cruises Alexander
website  Book your cruise
Delos – Mykonos (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
Iraklia – Koufonisi (Mondays – Wednesdays)
Paros Naousa (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
Santorini (Sundays)

Jason Daily Cruises
Daily (except Tuesdays): Aliko-Kalados-Rina
Tel: +30 22850 24131 Mobile: +30 6970 169318

Workshops

The Hidden Naxos (photo) Tour
Three day workshops for beginners and the less experienced photographer take you a step further with technique and creativity.
Website  email: phototoursnax@yahoo.com
Tel: +30 69089 70294

Cooking lessons
The Organic Table – A Cyclades culinary experience
by Maria Polikreti, in Potamia village, Naxos
Reservations: +30 6950777111, +30 6945974525
website  email: info@theorganictable.gr

Sailing

Naxos Island Sailing
Day trips to remote places on Naxos and to other islands
George Fragiskos Yacht Charter
Tel: +30 6944355717
Website email: fragiskos@hol.gr

Watersports

Flisvos Water Sports
Situated at Saint George and Saint Prokopios Beach, 84300 Naxos
Windsurfing – Watersports – Beach Sports
Tel: +30 228500 22804, +30 22850 22919

Blue Fin Divers Diving Centre
Located 30 metres from the beach of Agios Prokopios, 84300 Naxos
Reef dives – Wreck dives – Night dives – shore or boat dives
Provide the following facilities:
Filling station, Scuba equipment sales, Classroom for all theory, Place to store your personal objects, Swimming pool for the courses, Glass bottom boat,
Scuba equipment rental
Tel: +30 22850 42629  email: info@bluefindivers.gr  website

Plaka Watersports Club
Plaka beach, Naxos
windsurfing – wakeboarding – waterskiing – sailing – and more…
Tel: +30 69446 33194
Website  email: info@plaka-watersports.com

Museums and cultural events

Venetian museum – Domus Festival
from April to the end of October every day concerts
It is a well-preserved tower house belonging the Karavias family, who has maintained it unaltered through the ages in its old glamour. Today a unique museum whcih contains furniture and everything else belonging to a household.
You can visit it alone or with a personal guide (the guided tour lasts approx. 30-35 min.) and is completed with the offer of local drinks and refreshments in the cellar.
Location: at the Kastro in Chora.
Opening hours: 140:00 – 15:00 and 18:30 – 22:00
Tel: +30 22850 22387
email: venetianmuseum@yahoo.gr  website

Hiking and Trekking

Naxos is the largest, highest, most fertile and perhaps the most beautiful of the Cyclades. Naxos has castles and towers, monasteries and Byzantine churches. Villages hidden in olive groves and orchard valleys or perched up in the heights, long sandy beaches with dunes dotted with cedars, fertile plains and lofty mountains, solitary old paths, desolate backcountry and busy tourist summer resorts.
The best way to get to know Naxos is to walk the island!
Naxos has many foot paths, shown on maps. So ask at your hotel and they will provide you with the necessary info.

Trekking Naxos with Naxos Tours
Chora Naxos, Greece
Tel: +30 22850 23043
email: info@naxostours.net  website

On wheels…

Heart Rock Go Karting
On the way to Galando, 4,5 km from Naxos Town you will find the Naxos Go Kart “Heart Rock”. With many fast carts, big track, music and bar with cold soft driks. Free transportation from all over Naxos. Have fun and drive carefully. Open from 10 a.m. untilmidnight.
Tel: +30 69380 10894, +30 69324 36874, +30 69448 85527

Biking on Naxos
Naxos is perfect for biking with a great variety in difficulty with its mountainous inland and routes of different length. With a guided tour in Naxos with “Ciao Bike Tours you will find the best choices bikes and equipment, not to mention the well studied routes, which will help you find the secret spots of the island, the villages and attractions that are “must-sees”.
Ciao Bike Tours, Naxos island
Tel: +30 22850 26612 Mobil: +30 69327 95125
Naxos Bike Tours website

Horseback riding

Naxos Horseriding Club
Enjoy the distinctive nature of Naxos on horseback.
Ride on the wonderful beaches or in the mountains. Rides with a duration of two-three days can be arranged. The professional team will help you every step of the way.
Contact info:
Naxos Horseriding Club
84300 Kokkina Spitia, Naxos, Greece
Mobile: +30 69488 09142
email: lindabarratt70@hotmail.com

On wings…

Naxos Aeroclub
The club was founded in June 2008 from people who love flights and air sports. Shortly it will be part of the Greek Air Sports Federation (G.A.F.), approved association from the GGA (General Secretariat of Sports).
Contact info:
Tel: +30 22850 29269  Mobile: +30 69743 94593 (President of Naxos Aeroclub)
Naxos Airport: +30 22850 24816
Website  email: info@naxosaeroclub.gr

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