Naxos is the largest, most fertile and autonomous island of the Cyclades. It is an island with a long
history and a strong presence in the creation of Greek culture. It has unique sights, hospitable people and delicious food.
According to tradition, the first inhabitants of the island were the Thracians and the Pelasgians.
Later came the Kares, led by Naxos, from whom is given the name of the island. Zeus, the father of the gods of the ancient Greeks, was born in Crete but raised in Naxos and gave his name to the highest mountain of the island, Za (1004 m).
Dionysus, the god of wine, merged Naxos with Ariadne, the goddess of fertility. Their union endowed the island with rich vineyards and fertile land. It was the center of archaic Cycladic civilization.
Naxos has the cosmopolitan air of a modern tourist resort and at the same time retains its traditional color and folk culture. Together with the four small islands, Iraklia, Schinoussa, Koufonissia and Donoussa, they comprise the Municipality of Naxos and the Small Cyclades, hence the title “Five islands. A destination. “
Naxos Island Sightseeing
In Naxos Town you will see the imposing signs left by the ancient Greeks. Visit the gigantic Portara, the huge marble door, of a never-completed Apollo temple and walk through the small streets of the medieval castle.
The giant kouroi (Kouros of Apollonas)
In the seaside village of Apollo, you will find one of the most important archaeological sights of Naxos and all of Greece, Kouros of Apollo.
They are the most popular sight on the island. A half-finished male statue, 10.45 meters high, lying on the ground, as it was never detached from it. Kouros dates back to the early 6th century BC.
Scattered inside the island you will find many Venetian towers, which are an basic part of the island’s architecture. They are built of stones, with reliefs on their surface and perfectly match the natural environment.
Apeiranthos is built in the heart of mountainous Naxos at the foot of Fanari Mountain. It’s also known as the “Marble village” It has been over 10 centuries, leaving its homes,small streets, the way its inhabitants speak, their habits and daily life. It has kept its architectural form intact since the Venetian age. At the village’s cafes and taverns do not miss to try the unique, famous wine of mountain Naxos.
The mountain of Zeus – Zas
The highest mountain of the Cyclades and one of the names of Zeus. In a cave of Za they say that the father of the ancient gods was born. Start at Filoti and follow the cobbled path. Jupiter Mountain will give you one of the most beautiful experiences on the island.
Naxos Museums & Churches
Archaeological Museum of Naxos
The archaeological museum is located in Chora, in the area of the castle. It is housed in a preserved Venetian building of the 17th century and has huge architectural interest.
The museum exhibits works of art, which came to light after during the continuous excavations after the 2nd World War. The findings date from the Late Neolithic to the Early Christian years (5300 BC – 5th century AD). Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic ages are represented by typical specimens of pottery and ceramic benches. In addition, the museum houses pottery and a collection of glass vessels from the Roman era.
Beyond the interior of the museum, the visitor can admire the mosaic flooring on the roof of the building that shows a female figure riding a sea monster.
Geological Museum of Apeiranthos
It functioned as a collection of minerals and ores from 1964 at the Elementary School of Apeiranthos, then moved to the site of the current Museum of Natural History and then to its present location on the ground floor of the Cultural Center.
The museum attracts many visitors from all over the world as it exposes rocks from all over the island, dominated by the emery, the famous dark marble of Naxos. The museum also exhibits rocks from other Cycladic islands such as Milos and Santorini but also from around the world.
Important exhibits are small pieces of meteorites from distant Brazil. The fossilized bones of the dwarf elephant that lived on the island of Naxos until nearly 70,000 years ago are particularly impressive.
Folklore Museum of Apeiranthos
The Museum is located in a traditional house of 3 rooms and a beautiful, picturesque yard.
Its exhibits demonstrate the traditional way of life of the locals, as they consist of household items, textiles and embroidery, agricultural tools.
Museum of Natural History of Apeiranthos
The Eco-Sky – a non-profit association – based in Apiranthos Naxos, founded the Natural History Museum in 1996, whose operation is based solely on the voluntary contributions of its members.
Its purpose is to research, observe and record Naxos ecosystems and to inform the public, for harmonious coexistence in the surrounding area.
More than 500 churches adorn the hillsides and valleys of Naxos.
Some of these are:
Church of St. Mama
Although Saint Mamas is a lesser known saint of our church, there are several churches in various parts of Greece dedicated to his grace. One of them is located in Naxos, between the mountain of Za and the mountains of Koronos.
In a magnificent landscape stands the majestic temple of St. Mamas, the patron saint of the shepherds. The type of the Temple is cruciform with remarkable sculptures and frescoes.
The church is located near the village of Moni, in the area of Tragaias Naxos. It is an early Christian, domed tricochan temple. The temple may have originally been a Catholic monastery. On the north side there are three single-aisled chapels. The interior surfaces of the church are decorated with frescoes of various events.
The church of Panagia Prototroni is located in the village of Halki in the Tragai region. It is one of the oldest churches and dates back to the 9th century, while architecturally surviving parts of the temple prove that the church was originally of royal construction.
The church is decorated with frescoes and 5 layers of paintings dating from the pre-Christian, Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods.
Naxos Traditional Products
Naxos produces some of the country’s famous and delicious products.
Some of them are :
Olives and oil are one of the main agricultural products of Naxos with more than 270,000 olive trees cultivated on the island. In many villages, mainly in the mountains, there are modern oil mills.
Another product that Naxos can be proud of for its quality,is honey. Honey of Naxos owes its refined aroma to thyme which is very popular on the island.
One of the most quality and tasty products grown in Naxos and especially in plain Livadi is the famous Naxos potato.
The potato of Naxos holds a special place in the central vegetable markets of the country and is a Product of Protected Geographical Indication.
Another very famous product of Naxos is the famous liqueur called Citron, an aperitif made of a fruit of the same name, resembling the lemon but with a stronger and slightly different taste.
The citrus is made by distilling the leaves of the citrus and is available in three versions, the green version being sweeter and less alcohol, the yellow version being the strongest and having the least sugar and pure citron which is an intermediate, and is mainly recommended to new consumers to try it.
Naxos citrus is cooled in a small glass of liqueur and has digestive properties. Because of its mild taste, people who do not like very strong drinks also prefer it.
Most of the food specialties of Naxos are made with a wide variety of delicious cheese produced on the island. Some of the famous cheeses of Naxos are the graviera, which is a quite hard cheese with an intense taste, the mytzithra, a hard cheese mostly used on pastas and meat dishes, the manouri, a soft cheese with a light taste, the xynotyri, which is a soft cheese with an intense and a bit acid taste, and the anthotyro, a delicious soft cheese.
Try to taste them all !!
Naxos Folklore Festivals and Cultural Events
Religious Feast & Festivals
In Naxos, the friendly and hospitable locals welcome the visitor with their traditions, habits and customs.
Once a year, every village celebrates its patron saint with religious events, followed by a feast of local traditional music, dancing and eating until the morning! The feasts are set up in the village square, also called “platsa” , and in the nearby taverns.
August, the holiest month because of the Feast of the Virgin Mary, and gives the opportunity, to the visitors of the island to celebrate with the locals!
In this custom, the boys of the village a few days before the Holy Week gather thick woods and stack them on the roadside where the Epitaph will pass on Good Friday.
In the villages there are still surviving elements of the Dionysian cult, which are particularly evident during the Halloween. The “Koudounati” appear on the streets and they are young people with masks, wearing a hooded kappa, having a series of hanging bells around their waist and chest and dancing thereby causing intense noise. The locals, according to the custom, give them eggs.
On Clean Monday(also known as Pure Monday) we see “foustanellatous”, young people, without masks, playing violins.
At the end of September, the process of distillation of raki (known as rakitzo)begins. The preparation of raki is an important event for the people of the island , when gather and dance under the sounds of live traditional music.
The Wine Festival
A unique opportunity to drink local wine, taste delicacies and delicacies, feast and dance in a traditional feast of Naxos music and artists. The celebration also includes grape press in a traditional winery..
The Traditional Oil Export Festival
In Naxos even today, every year in late January to early February at the beautiful site of the renovated Damala oil mill, the oil extraction process takes the form of a celebration where everyone can take part. Local delicacies and wine are then accompanied by traditional music.
Also, every year in Naxos there are many cultural events related to music, cinema, theater, dance, photography, poetry and many other activities.
It is very famous, organized by the Municipality of Drymalia and by the Cultural Organization “AION”, in cooperation with the Museum Benaki and most of the events are hosted at the Tower Mpazaiou.
Axia Music Festival
The Axia Music Festival is a lovely event organized annually in Halki and is highly appreciated by Greek classical music lovers.
They take place every September and include concerts, plays, art exhibitions, and, among many others, lots of wine, in honor of God Dionysus.
Naxos is the largest, greenest and most fertile island of the Cyclades. It is an island that offers many choices and naturally beautiful beaches. There are so many beaches in Naxos that you can hardly choose the best. So it’s sure that everyone will be amazed.
Some of these are:
Agios Prokopios beach is the most famous beach of Naxos. It is organized with sun beds, umbrellas and many shops. The waters are clear, blue and the beach is covered with coarse sand. At the edge of the beach is the chapel of Agios Prokopios, from which it took its name.
The popular beach of Agia Anna, a natural continuation of Agios Prokopios, is one of the most famous beaches of Naxos. Light sandy beach, cool, clear, turquoise waters and forest with rare cedars growing in the hot sand.
Adding to the landscape is the fishing shelter on the edge of the beach where you can find fresh fish through the boats early in the morning.
As we know from its former name it was an observatory for the danger of pirates in Naxos. Basically there are 2 beaches, that are separated by an impressive hill.
Virgo Beach is a meeting place for kitesurfing and windsurfing friends where the weather is ideal for these sports.
What is special here is that while one beach can have strong winds, on the other beach the visitor can enjoy the bath without any air.
One beach is organized while the other is not. It is sandy and the sea shallow and the rocks create a very beautiful backdrop.
Light white sand with large sand dunes create a magnificent place. Next to the sea there are taverns and rooms to let with view to the endless blue. Plaka is one of the first favorite destinations in Naxos in recent years and we believe not unjustly! It overlooks Glaronissia and Paros.
Between Plaka and Mikri Vigla is Orkos Beach. Basically it is a series of small beaches with sand and crystal clear waters. It is not organized and is an ideal choice for those who want peace.
Next to Naxos Town we find the beach of Agios Georgios, a sandy and lively beach with shallow waters, protected from the winds. Is ideal for families and water sports. Around you will find bars and taverns for all tastes.
The largest beach of Naxos (3 km long) with white fine sand and clear blue waters. Kastraki is a long and wide beach of soft sand, characterized that looks like Sahara. The beach is ideal for tranquility and relaxation or for fishing or swimming.
It is a small, windless beach surrounded by cedars. It is a landscape of rare natural beauty, that make you feel like you are in an exotic destination. The area is protected and not organized.
It got its name from the hill there and was an observatory for pirates (as in Vigla).
It is a long and beautiful beach with fine sand and crystal clear waters. It overlooks Heraklia and Ios. It is not very touristy and therefore ideal for those seeking peace. The waters deepen sharply.
Another sandy beach, shallow water and a serene landscape with endless blue. It is worth visiting and swimming in its crystal clear waters especially if you are tired of the hustle and bustle of popular beaches.