The lush island of Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades group, and one of the most fertile, with green valleys filled with olive groves and orchards. It is mountainous too, with Mt Zas in the south of the island rising to 1003m (3291ft).
Naxos has lots of excellent beaches, many of them deserted even at the height of the summer, and yet despite these attractions it has not yet been over-run with tourist development in the way some of the other Cycladic islands have
Naxos was one of the main centres of the Cycladic civilisation when it started to flourish from about 2800 BC onwards, and was one of the first islands to use marble for sculpture and architecture.
Naxian marble has been used in some of the finest kouros statues found, including several on display in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, and for the Lion Terrace on Delos. It was subsequently conquered by the Venetians and later the Turks, both of them leaving their mark on the island.
Naxos Town is busy port and a lively town, with bars and good restaurants both down round the harbour and up through the various neighborhoods to the Venetian kastro, which looks down on the town from behind its high walls. Below in the district known as Bourgos is the impressive 18th century cathedral of Zoödochou Pigis, which was actually built by using stone from older churches and an even older temple.
One of the oldest and most impressive sights in Naxos Town is the Portara Gateway, situated on the islet of Palatia, connected to the town by a causeway. This huge gateway was going to be the entrance to a Temple of Apollo, which was begun in 522BC but never completed. It is now frequently used as a symbol for the town and the island, and gives visitors arriving by ferry a dramatic greeting.
There is an extensive collection of the island’s remains in the fascinating Archaeological Museum, which naturally includes a good number of the graceful carvings made during the Cycladic civilisation. The museum is also of interest for the building that houses it, a palace that was built in 1627 and later became the French School, one of whose pupils was the Cretan novelist Nikos Kazantzakis.
The Portara Gateway
Naxos is large enough to reward a long stay, allowing time to explore its natural charms such as the Livadi Valley, where the best Naxian marble was mined, the Melanes Valley, which contains some of the distinctive Venetian watchtowers, and the Tragaia Valley, with wonderful mountain villages and excellent walking country.
Of the resorts, Apollon is one of the most popular, not least for its choice of good fish restaurants. Another major attraction, though, is an unfinished statue, though to represent the god Apollo, which has been lying abandoned in the marble quarries on a hillside outside the village since about 600BC It is over 10m long and an imposing sight, also slightly sinister and strangely moving.
Getting to Naxos
Flights to Naxos
In summer there are 1-2 daily flights from Athens to Naxos on Olympic Air with a journey time of about 45 mins. There are also many direct charter flights in summer to Naxos from various European countries.
Ferries to Naxos
There are daily ferries between the Athens port of Piraeus and Naxos, with a journey time of 5hrs 30mins. There are regular ferries between Naxos and the other islands in the Cyclades, including Santorini (journey time about 2 hrs).
Ferries in Greece
Ferries in Greece has an excellent and very thorough website where, in addition to checking ferry schedules and times, you can also book tickets and get lots of useful information about travelling by ferry in Greece.
Where to Stay on Naxos
Other Cyclades pages
You can get from Mykonos to Santorini, and of course from Santorini to Mykonos, by ferry, by plane (sort-of) or even by helicopter.
The island of Paros in the Cyclades is famous for its marble, and on this page you can also see information about flights and ferries to Paros.
The island of Tinos in the Cyclades has several daily ferry connections from Rafina on the Greek mainland and is most famous for the Feast of the Assumption.
There are plenty of things to do on Mykonos, one of the most popular Greek islands, such as nightlife, beaches, churches and visiting the ancient site of Delos.
Syros is in the Cyclades islands, with Ermoupoli as its main town and some good beaches, described here on the Greece Travel Secrets website.
Surrounded by bigger and better-known Cyclades islands such as Ios, Naxos and Santorini, Sikinos is a delightfully untouristy island.
Sifnos is one of the smaller islands in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea.
Serifos is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, a rugged and mountainous island with a small population.
This is the first travel guide to Schinoussa and Iraklia, two tiny islands in the Cyclades, published by Real Greek Experiences.
Mykonos in the Cyclades islands in Greece has cheap and luxury hotel accommodation, car rental, ferries from Athens, Santorini, Crete and other Greek islands.
The island of Milos in the Cyclades in Greece is noted for its museums and beaches, and read about flights and ferries to Milos.
Kimolos is in the Cyclades islands of Greece, close to Milos.
Kythnos is a small island in the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, with easy access from Athens and popular with Athenians on summer weekends.
Kea is in the Cyclades group of Greek islands and this page from Greece Travel Secrets shows how to get there by ferry and what to do when you've arrived.
The island of Ios in the Cyclades group of islands in Greece is noted for its nightlife in summer, as well as its beaches, churches and the grave of Homer.
Travel information from Greece Travel Secrets about Folegandros in the southern Cyclades, close to Sikinos, with flight and ferry information.
The island of Delos in the Cyclades islands is a unique archaeological site, taking up the whole island, and a popular day trip from nearby Mykonos.
Travel information about the Cyclades group of Greek islands including Mykonos, Santorini (Thira), Naxos, Paros, Delos, Tinos, Siros, Milos, Amorgos.
The best time to visit Mykonos depends on if you want crowds or quiet, heat or cooler temperatures, all of which affect when is the best time to visit Mykonos.
Travel information about Antiparos near Paros in the Cyclades Islands of Greece from the Greece Travel Secrets website.
The island of Andros in the Cyclades has fast ferries from Rafina. There are some good beaches and the main town has two interesting museums.
Travel advice and information on Anafi in the Greek Cyclades islands with good beaches, walking, accommodation, tavernas.
Travel advice and information on Amorgos in the Cyclades, a dramatic and growing holiday destination with ferries from Athens and other Greek islands
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