Naxos is a large Greek island with buckets of food, sights, and beauty to offer—check it out here
The largest of the Greek Cyclades islands, Naxos is home to a wonderful array of beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, intriguing mountain villages and mouth-watering restaurants.
STAY: Princess of Naxos Hotel
With gorgeous sea views and spectacular sunsets, the stylish Princess of Naxos Hotel is a great place to stay on the island. Boasting comfy beds, whitewashed rooms, breezy air-con and shaded patios, the hotel has everything you need to wind down between excursions.
"Naxos is home to a wonderful array of beautiful beaches"
The relaxing Agios Georgios beach, with its shimmering, shallow waters, is right on the hotel’s doorstep, while the island’s famed Plaka coastline is a short 15-minute drive. The historic town centre of Naxos, with its Venetian fortifications and maze-like cobbled streets, can be reached in five minutes by car or 25 minutes on foot.
SEE: Ancient temples and beautiful beaches
Standing tall on the islet of Palatia at the entrance to Naxos harbour, you’ll find a magnificent white marble gate, the remains of the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo. This ancient ruin is the emblem of the island and a popular spot each evening for those wishing to enjoy the streaky pink hues of the sun setting over the Aegean.
Further inland, the remains of the Temple of Demeter also date back to the 6th century BC. The brilliant white marble columns were constructed in honour of Demeter, the ancient goddess of grain and agriculture, and the people of the valley have farmed Naxian potatoes and goat on this land for thousands of years.
The island’s best and most-accessible beaches are found on the east coast, just south of Naxos Port. Here you’ll find the glorious golden sands and crystalline waters of Plaka beach, a long stretch of coastline backed by tavernas and beach bars. The northern end is more developed, with lots of sunlounges and umbrellas, while the southern shore is a little quieter and less developed.
EAT: Fresh seafood and traditional Greek cuisine
The strip beside the harbour in Naxos town centre is home to some truly special eateries.
Visit Meze Meze for spectacular seafood dishes such as salatouri skate salad (delicate boiled skate with lemon, dill and spring onions), gooey Naxian Gruyere parcels, crunchy courgette, crab and cheese fritters, fresh calamari, fried prawns and a selection of homemade dips such as taramasalata, smoky aubergine, spicy cheese and tzatziki.
Ya Souvlaki serves the best kebab skewers on Naxos. Their succulent veal and moist chicken souvlaki are seasoned with lemon, olive oil and oregano, alongside fresh salads, chips, barbecue sauce and pita. Supremely tasty and great value for money, these build-your-own kebabs are lovely washed down with a (small!) bottle of local Ouzo.
For the ultimate in indulgent, traditional Greek cuisine, you simply must dine at Irini’s Restaurant. Surrounded by hanging green vines and blue and white chequered tablecloths, the taverna is a picture-perfect setting for an evening of red wine and lovingly made food. Look out for house specials such as creamy garlic mushrooms, juicy Greek salad, salty Naxian potato chips, thick tzatziki, earthy local beef ‘burger’ stuffed with feta and the must-try stuffed cabbage leaves with delightfully light lemon sauce.
"For the ultimate in indulgent, traditional Greek cuisine, you simply must dine at Irini’s Restaurant"
DRINK: Sunset cocktails and local liquor
In addition to the delicious tavernas, there are lots of cocktail bars overlooking the glassy water of the harbour. Lemon Café has romantic sofas facing outwards, making it a great spot for an aperitif before dinner.
Citron is a local liqueur produced on Naxos from the fruit and leaves of the citron tree. Similar to lemon, but stronger and with its own distinctive taste, the fruit is pressed and distilled to form a strong liqueur that you can try neat or mixed into innovative cocktails at bars such as Kitron Café Cocktail Bar.
DO: Tour the island and climb Mount Zeus
The Temple of Demeter
The highest mountain peak in the Cyclades island complex is Mount Zeus (or Mount Zas). Situated in the middle of Naxos, it is said to be the place where Zeus, the Greek god of sky and thunder grew up. It’s a gruelling climb, but the views from the top are out of this world – craggy mountain peaks rolling towards the Aegean.
To gain a fascinating insight into the history and culture of the island, while visiting numerous intriguing landmarks, contact Naxos Bus Transfers to arrange a tour with passionate guide and archaeologist, Irene Vasilaki.
"The highest mountain peak in the Cyclades island complex is Mount Zeus"
The itineraries feature attractions such as: the Temple of Demeter; a stunning 6th century Byzantine church with beautiful frescoes; the neoclassical village of Chalki; a community-run olive press museum; a local pottery workshop; a citron distillery museum; the laidback amphitheatrical village of Apiranthos; and the incredible remains of the island’s 6th century BC kouros statues – colossal sleeping giants made from marble that have rested in the same spot for thousands of years.
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