The best way to see more of the island is to hire a car and head off into the Tragaia valley with its little towns and wonderful views. Chalki is a pictureque little place with Ventetian. architecture. It is worth a short stop to wander through the little streets. In the centre is the old Byzantine Fragopoulis tower.
Getting to Naxos Island
Various shipping lines operate ferries to Naxos and they can and do change from summer to summer. The travel time is between six and eight hours. Boats leave from two ports, the well known Piraeus and the lesser known Rafina which is, in fact, closer to the new airport. There is also a catamaran - the High Speed - which, in theory, cuts the sailing time to Naxos to about three and a half hours.
Under normal circumstances, there is at least one ferry every morning leaving Piraeus at 8 am. arriving at Naxos between 2 pm and 3pm. There is then, usually, one or two in the evening departing between 5 pm and 8 pm and arriving, therefore, between 11 pm and 2 am. This gives a good general guide to times but should never be taken on trust - always try to check and double check these times. By Plane: Small planes fly to and from Naxos operated by Olympic Airways. At peak times there should be two flights a day, leaving Athens at about 9 am and 4.30 pm.
For the holidaymakers who can drag themselves away from the glorious beaches, Naxos provides a wealth of ancient Greek remains as well as plenty of Byzantine and Venetian history. The islanda??s capital, also called Naxos, has a Venetian fortress as well as an ancient Greek temple to Apollo.
This temple is usually the first thing that a tourist sees when visiting Naxos by ferry because it stands proudly on the tip of the island, marking the way into the busy ferry port. The temple dates back to 522 BC but its ruinous appearance is not because much of it has been lost to the passage of time, but rather because the ancients never finished building it.
Naxos town is very picturesque port with a maze of whitewashed streets and alleyways, designed with the frequent invasions from Aegean pirates in mind. Its typically Cycladic architecture blends with the Venetian and every turning invites the visitor to explore.
With such romantic charm and mystique, it is little wonder that Naxos has long been popular with writers and artists. Lord Byron visited in his youth and never forgot the experience, referring to it in his writings as the a??Dream Islanda?? and often saying that he would love to return some day.
Naxos has 41 villages and most are worth exploring. They are found in the green fertile, valleys that are sandwiched between the rugged, arid mountains. Many of these are over 2000 feet high and the highest, Mount Zeus is 3,200 feet.
Naxos enjoys the economic rewards of being a tourist island but it does not depend on them for its prosperity. A great deal of farming takes place in its rich valleys and the cultivation of lemons is especially successful. In addition to lemons, Naxos produces cherries, pomegranates and other fresh fruit. It also produces olives, nuts and potatoes whilst its grapes make some of the best of Greek wines.
The "Portara" is arguably the most recognisable sight on the island of Naxos.
This large marble gate (the only remaining part of a temple dedicated to Apollo, and built in the 6th Century BC) stands on a small island (which is connected to the main island) by the ferry port in Naxos Town.
As you approach the island by ferry, it is likely to be the first thing that you recognise.
The island upon which the Portara sits is very rocky and it is quite a steep climb up to the top. Thankfully, steps up to the Portara have been built to accommodate the hordes of tourists that venture up to see it.
If you stand "behind" the Portara (ie closest to the sea and furthest from the town), the Portara acts like a photo frame framing the view of Naxos Town.
INTERIOR OF THE ISLAND
The west coast of Naxos, where Naxos Town and the beautiful beaches are located, is only the tip of the iceberg. Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades Islands and has a lot to offer in its mountainous interior as well.
By far the best way to visit the interior of the island is to rent a car. Then take a scenic loop beginning in Naxos Town and heading out southeast to Filoti, then northeast to Apirathos and Apollon, and finally head back to Naxos Town along the highway that follows the north coast.
PANAGIA DROSIANI NAXOS
This Early Christian church lies near the village of Moni.
The interior wall surfaces have wall paintings of various phases; from the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 7th centuries.
Apirathos is known as the White City because nearly everything there is built from white marble from the island's famous quarries. Even the gravel on Naxos is crushed white marble! Apirathos is on a hill and has narrow winding paths that are fun to navigate. The town was colonised in the 17th and 18th centuries by Crtean refugees trying to get away from Turkish oppression. It really is a wonderful mountain village with marble paved climbing streets which are so easy to get lost in, and 14th century towers which were built by the Venetian Crispi family.
Local Cuisine Local Products
Naxos Island Greece produces a wide variety of products. The most popular souvenir is a bottle of citron liqueur, which is made from citron leaves. Other Naxos products include hand-made woven fabrics, pottery, hand-made leather goods and jewelry, specially the "Naxos Eye", which is said to bring luck.
Naxos Local Festivals
In contrast to the many clubs and music halls, Naxos Greece also hosts plenty of festivals, fairs and events. While in Naxos Town during the summer months, you can take part in the "Dionysia" Festival, which is a mixture of cultural and athletic events. The summer cultural festival that takes place in the Bazeos Castle is simply wonderful, offering a variety of activities to participants. Other Naxos festivals take place on the name day of the patron saints of each village. Some of the popular festivals: Agios Prokopios on July 8 and Agia Anna on July 25 in their respective villages, the Virgin Mary on August 15 and Agios Ioannis on August 29 in Apiranthos, Agia Marina on July 17th in Koronos and the Virgin Mary 3-day festival in mid-August in Filoti.
Naxos Greece is an extremely well-developed island with many entertainment venues, offering visitors a lot of different options. Along the beachfront drive and in the small side streets of Naxos Town (Chora) there are hundreds of cafes, bars, clubs and live music halls, some of the most exciting Naxos nightlife. The seaside resorts of Plaka, Agios Prokopis, Stelida and Agia Anna, located just south of Naxos Town (Chora), also provide a wide selection of nightlife venues. Apollonas village, situated on the northeastern side of the island, is a favourite place to enjoy a delicious meal and to relax with a cool drink while gazing at the small fishing port.