EPIDAURUS | MAINLAND GREECE | PELOPONNESE
In the 1970s and 80s the island attracted the young who used to camp on the long beach of Agia Anna. Nowadays, however, it seems to have shifted its focus to families and to those who are looking for undiscovered beauties in Greece. Naxos offers a wide choice of places to stay, entertainment and food, at accessible prices. It also possesses a unique natural beauty, picturesque mountain villages and seaside resorts rimming endless stretches of beach, some of which rank among the loveliest in Greece. Facilities for tourists are concentrated in Hora and to the south, from Agios Georgios to Agios Prokopis along the southwest coast and from Agia Anna to Agiassos.
Naxos’s size has permitted the dispersal of tourism, making it possible for the visitor to find peace and quiet even during the high season, with the exception of Hora and its immediate vicinity. Nevertheless, anyone intending a July or August holiday should reserve their room well in advance. Time should also be set aside for day trips to the inland villages of the Tragea, many of which are well worth exploring for their dramatic scenery, archaeological sites, Byzantine monasteries and churches, Venetian fortified mansions and castles. Easily reached by sea and air, the island also has a comprehensive network of good roads, most of which are paved, as well as old footpaths interlinking villages and interesting landmarks.
NAXOS IN BRIEF
The isle of Dionyssos and Ariadne is the largest of the Cyclades, with high mountains, fertile valleys and charming villages. Naxos has 15,000 inhabitants, a long ancient, Byzantine and medieval history, and the strongest musical tradition of these islands. Among its many landmarks are the imposing Portara, the entrance to a long-vanished temple of Apollo, and its well preserved medieval castle in the upper Hora, where you’ll find the Archaeological Museum. Particularly beautiful are the mountain villages in the interior, Kato, Mesi and Pano Potamia, while Apiranthos is one of the most attractive and biggest villages in the Cyclades.
Some of Greece’s most superlative beaches are to be found in Naxos, such as Agios Prokopis, Agia Anna, Mikri Vigla, Pyrgaki, Alyko, Plaka and Psili Ammos. Most of them lie near Hora, the south and southeastern coast, which has the largest concentration of hotels and restaurants.
The houses of Naxos can be divided into four main categories: the spare stone mansions of the Venetians in the Kastro, with their stern fortress-like character; the merchants’ homes outside its precincts, less severe and more luxurious, with marble ornamentation on the façades and wooden decoration in the interiors; the vernacular houses in Hora and in the villages, simple edifices composed of one large room or more complex, with various spaces such as lofts and cellars, often embellished with arches; and finally the Venetian tower-houses (pyrgi). These last are usually imposing structures built for defensive purposes and only rarely incorporate the comforts of a real country manor. The stairs in all the houses are made of stone and very steep, to economize on space. The roofs are almost always flat with a gentle slope to guide rainwater into the cistern and a low ledge round the periphery.
BEST 10 THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN NAXOS
Hora – the Kastro, Old Town, Portara
The Byzantine churches and monasteries in the interior
The walk from the temple of Artemis to Engares
The northern coastal road from Hora to Apollonas
Moutsouna and Psili Ammos beach
The walk from Melanes village to the Kouros
The ancient temple of Demeter
Excursion to the Small Eastern Cyclades