Why Naxos captured 6th place on Tripadvisor traveller ranking of the top 10 islands in the world in 2014
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We’ve put together a list of the 10 best qualities of this island-paradise that make it a unique holiday destination that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.
1. Over 500 churches, monuments, archaeological sites
Since ancient times Naxos has been continuously inhabited by many different civilizations apart from Greeks, such as Romans, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, Franks and Venetians who have shaped its culture, architecture and forged its diverse character. Each one of the civilizations that thrived has left something behind. Here are a few examples of the sites and monuments that you must visit:
- The Portara, the Gate to the Temple of Apollo.
- The ruins of the Ancient Mycenaean City and tombs in the area of Grotta, in Naxos Town.
- The Castle in Naxos Town which was built by Marco Sanudo, in the 13th century, during the Venetian Rule, an excellent specimen of medieval architecture, with 3 gates, 12 towers and a watch tower.
- The Tower of Bellonia, the residence of the Venetian sovereign of the area.
- The cave of Filoti at the base of Mount Zas with its collection of rare stalagmites, where according to legend, the ancient God Zeus grew up.
- The Kouros of Apollo and Kouros in Flerio, unfinished statues of the 6th and 7th century BC which are now lying on the ground.
- The Venetian towers of Melanes and Venetian castles of Sangri.
- The Sancturay of Demetra & Apollo.
- The Iria Ancient site and the 4 temples of Dionysus.
2. Incredible beaches
Nobody can resist the never-ending, golden beaches of Naxos and its clean, crystal clear blue waters. Naxos has the longest sandy beaches of the Cyclades. It offers more than 30 different beaches to choose from… our favourite ones are Psili Ammos, Alyko, Panormos, Moutsouna, Pyrgaki, Orkos, Mikri Vigla, Lionas beach, the list is long!
Organised, deserted beaches, nudist beaches… you’ll find what you are looking for and will certainly return home with magnificent memories and vivid images of diverse landscapes and unique colour patterns.
3. A unique gastronomic destination
Naxos is a fertile land with rich vegetation and it is widely known for its agriculture and rich culinary heritage. You will sample delicious traditional dishes with the finest indigenous-to-the region ingredients.
Naxos is especially known for its cheeses, especially the “graviera”… its potatoes, which are considered to be amongst Greece’s best… vegetables in general, fresh fruit, meat, fresh fish, olive oil, thyme honey. Don’t forget to try the local liqueur made from the leaves of the citron fruit, its local wines and raki, the most popular drink of the locals. A visit to a traditional olive making press, cheese factory and citron distillery is a must during your stay.
During our guided and self-guided walking adventure holidays we eat at local taverns whose owners cultivate their own vegetables, make their own wine, have their own animals… you will love it if you are a foodie traveller.
Check pictures on our Facebook page from our previous trips…
4. Traditional villages
Naxos has more than 40 traditional villages scattered around the island for you to explore. They all have their own history, style and character. Here are a few of our favourites ones to visit:
- Apeiranthos, a picturesque village with marble pavements and long history built on the slops of Mount Zas at 650m altitude.
- Koronos, a rustic remote and unspoilt village built on the slopes of a hill. Can be combined with a hike to the solitary beach of Lionas, visit to the emery mines and lunch at one of our favourite taverns of the island.
- Keramoti, a very attractive village full of walnut trees, surrounded by mountains.
- Halki, once an administrative centre, now a beautiful village with long history, great architecture, towers, picturesque cafes and restaurants.
- Filoti, surrounded by olive groves and settled on the flank of Zas mountain. Can be combined with a hike to the top of the highest peak of the Cyclades to admire the amazing views to the Aegean Sea and surrounding islands.
- Sagri with its ancient monuments, Byzantine Churches and Venetian castles.
- Potamia, a group of three beautiful villages in a fertile valley which can be combined with a visit to admire the Kouros statues…
The list is long… there is an ancient network of paths and trails that connect these traditional villages and also connect them to the most remote bays of the islands. Walking is the best way to explore inland, the nature, the villages, culture and way of life of the islands.
You can read a sample of our walking holiday in Naxos & the Small Cyclades…
Contact us for our special offers on our walking holiday in Naxos & the Small Cyclades starting on the 18th of March…
5. The old town of Naxos
The main town of Naxos, the Chora, has maintained its fine Venetian architecture, composed of Venetian and Cycladic elements, elegant towers and narrow paved streets. Naxos Town has kept an authentic and traditional character and has kept its medieval atmosphere.
At the centre of the town, at the top of the hill, an impressive Venetian castle stands which was built by Marco Sanudo who conquered the Cyclades in 1207 and used Naxos as the seat of the Duchy of the Aegean. It has a pentagonic shape and is built according to Venetian architecture with beautiful buildings, mansions, monuments and churches standing on the paved narrow streets. You will enjoy the musical concerts at night under the starry sky during the summer months.
6. Mindblowing Landscapes
Mountains with ravines, caves and gullies shade verdant valleys with olive, fig, orange, lemon trees and vineyards, abundant springs, waterfalls… long sandy beaches adorned with juniper and tamarisk trees… villages surrounded by fields and vegetable gardens… Protected biotopes with rare fauna and flora complete the mosaic of an island that offers the visitor all the lavish gifts of nature.
7. Unique wildlife
Naxos hosts several protected species such as the Caspian Turtle, the Sea Turtle Caretta caretta, the Mediterranean Monk Seal, the Checkered Blue Butterfly, Common Kingfisher, the Balkan Emerald Lizard, Eleonora’s Falcon and various plants such as crocus leavigatus and crocus tourneofortii to name a few.
Migratory birds find refuge and food at its coastal waters, rocky coasts, shrubland landscapes, wetlands, olive trees, pine forests and predators nest at its steep cliffs and high slopes.
The most common land mammals include rabbits, hedgehogs and beech martens… you can observe two amphibians, the European green and marsh frog… also the river turtle… lizards such as the Turkish gecko, the “cyrtopodion kotschyi” lizard, the green lizard, the Aegean lizard and, of course, the famous agama lizard.
The surrounding sea also offers another exciting world for you to explore. Characterised by a rich biodiversity, the marine world offers colourfull reefs, rocks, caves full of life, meadows of Posidonia oceanica… Marine mammals such as the striped and bottle-nosed dolphins appear frequently out of nowhere to make our day.
Our walking holidays at the island of Naxos and the Cyclades have an eco focus. We will inform you using presentations and observations about the unique flora, the endemic and common species you will encounter while walking, swimming or snorkeling around the island.
8. Lively music and dancing tradition
It is said that young Naxians come out of their mother’s bellies dancing because they learn how to dance from a very young age. It is as if they have the rhythm in their genes. Many well known families of musicians from Naxos have devoted their lives to music and keep the island music alive. Don’t miss the chance go to an island festival and discover the beauty of the Naxian island music and dancing for yourself!
The folk music instruments came to Naxos from Asia Minor and are the souvliari (a kind of shepherd’s pipe), the doubaki (a drum), the tzambouna, the violin and the lute. The most popular nowadays is the violin but you can listen to the tzambouna and the lute at small gatherings, taverns who offer live music or festivals in August.
9. Perfect location
Naxos is located in the center of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, just a few miles away from Mykonos and Santorini. It is very easily accessible by ferry to and from Athens, Mykonos and Santorini which also have international airports. Naxos is probably one of the best possible bases for an island-hopping tour around the Cyclades, the Dodecanese as well as Crete.
We like to combine a walking tour at Naxos with the Small Cyclades & Santorini but it also possible to combine a walking holiday with other islands such as Crete, the West Cyclades and so on. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information…
10. Beach or Activity holiday… you’ll find what you’re looking for
Some of you may be simply looking for a chance to escape to somewhere peaceful and relax on the beach… or you may wish to combine a beach holiday with your favourite hobby such as birdwatching or photography or yoga… or you may be looking for an activity holiday such as hiking, diving, windsurfing, cycling… there are so many options so you won’t be disappointed.
During the last 11 years we have acquired extensive knowledge of the places we offer holidays to and built strong relationships with the local accommodation owners and other activity providers, meaning that you can benefit from our expert advice prior to your holiday.
When you contact our office, Annie who has been guiding people at Naxos since 2006, will be very happy to help you choose the walking holiday that is right for you and answer all your questions about Naxos…
If you wish to discuss the above or any other matter please don’t hesitate to contact us either by phone at +30 6976 761492 or email at email@example.com
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
The nofootprint team