Naxos has an area of 423 km² making it the biggest of all the islands in the Cyclades island group. Approximately 15.000 people live on the island. Naxos is a fairly typical Cyclades island. It might be a popular destination with tourists but it still is a lot better than Mykonos or Santorini. You'll still find quite a few backpackers and independent travellers. Unfortunately budget accommodation is a lot harder to find these days so their numbers decrease.
Naxos is popular for many reasons. The number one reason would probably be the excellent beaches. They fine sand beaches stretch for kilometres and they are easy to reach. What I always liked about the island is the size. Naxos is so big that you can easily avoid the crowds. There are many remote areas far away from tourist resorts where you can enjoy local culture or just be on your own. Naxos has less tourism than neighbouring Paros, Santorini and Mykonos but you sometimes wonder why. The island has it all: a beautiful capital, some of the finest beaches in the whole island group, some interesting archaeological sites and one of the best hiking areas in all Greece.
The islands capital is Naxos City. It is build around a hill. On top of the hill is a very impressive Venetian castle. The view from there is stunning and the little museum highly recommended. Around the castle you'll find the Old Town with the two parts Burgos and Agora. They are particularly pretty with their narrow streets and old houses. Old town remained more or less untouched since medieval times.
The main ferry port of the island is located in Naxos City. At this stage the city is a fully developed tourist destination with about 100 hotels and very good infrastructure. 90 percent of all Naxos visitors stay in the capital or on the beaches south of it. The beach at Agios Georgios for example, with its shallow water and protected from the wind is considered one of the best family beaches in the Cyclades islands group. Fairly popular and with beautiful beaches is also Agios Prokopios.
Good places to stay in Naxos Town are Hotel Soula and Naxos Windmill. They have both very cheap rooms with prices around 25 Euro per room and night most of the year. Hotel Soula has also shared, hostel like, rooms. It is the only place with dormitory on Naxos. Naxos Windmill also has apartments.
Plaka until recently was an insider tip for backpackers and travellers. Unfortunately this has changed in the last few years. By now it is packed with sun beds and attracts pretty much the same audience as all the other villages.
Behind Plaka is the only nudist beach on Naxos. It has a very faithful following; many people that go there would be considered regulars. They come to Naxos every year. Needless to say most of them are German. South of Naxos City are three campsites: Agia Anna, Agios Apollon and Agios Georgios.
The coast with its fine beaches might be well developed, the
inland (Tragea) is a completely different story. It is a
paradise for hikers Here you can still experience traditional
Greek culture. The villages are still relatively untouched.
In most places they have some basic rooms to rent and
needless to say a lot cheaper than near the coast. Tragea
offers loads of nature and tranquillity. Highlight for most
is the ascent to Naxos' (and the Cyclades islands) highest
mountain the Zas. The view is stunning.
A small but rather nice place to stay is Apollonas in the north. It has a quiet beach, a perfect place to chill out. The bus trip alone worth's the visit. It is a two hour ride through some of the most spectacular parts of the island.
Naxos has a pretty
decent public transport system. From Naxos City there are
busses to more or less every village on the island. To more
important places like Apollonas busses go frequent. The
beaches in the south have a regular bus connection. During
the season the bus goes every 30 minutes. Off season there
are fewer busses but even then a regular bus connection is
An interesting detail is that the small airport on Naxos doesn't have a bus stop. You can walk to the main road where the busses from Agia Anna stop but it is inconvenient. The taxi drivers are well aware of that and introduced a little airport charge. A taxi from there cost easily 15 Euro although it is only 5 kilometres. There is nothing you can do about it so don't waste your time getting upset about it.
Popular things to
do on Naxos are horse riding and all kinds of water sports.
South of Naxos City in Agios Georgos is the best spot if you
are interested in wind and kite surfing, sailing and other
activities like hiking and mountain biking. Best check
Flisvos homepage (http://www.flisvos-sportclub.com/).
Last update 04/2008