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Cyclades Islands | Naxos

Naxos: Touring the Countryside and the Beaches

Naxos has been blessed with some of the best beaches to be found in the Cyclades, most of which are long sandy stretches, with beautifully clear and clean water.  Just a few of the finest on the island are Ai. Georgis, just south of Naxos Town and within walking distance from it; Ai. Prokopis, further south and accessible by bus; Ag. Anna, the next beach south and practically contiguous to Prokopios, as is Plaka beyond, which is popular with nudists.  Continuing southward is the lovely beach of Parthenos, followed immediately by Mikri Vigla, a fine beach for windsurfing and with a windsurf center.  All of these beaches have a variety of accommodation to choose from, chiefly hotels and self-catering bungalows.  If you wish to venture further south, you can visit some amazing beaches, such as Kastraki, Pirgaki, Aliko for windsurfing, and Agiasos, the most southerly beach on the west coast.
There are also some excellent beaches to be found north of Naxos Town, the nearest being Grotta, within easy walking distance.  With public bus or private transport, you can continue northward to Amitis, which is small and quiet, and to Amprami, nearly to the northern tip of the island.  The most northerly beach on the east coast of Naxos is Apollonas.  This is a good stop if you’re on a grand tour of the island and are looking for a nice beach with a lovely atmosphere.  Further south along the east coast, you can see a varied coastline with beaches of intermittent sand and rocks.  Lionas Beach, south of Apollonas, is a very rocky beach, but with crystal clear water and excellent swimming.  Further south is Moutsouna, a mix of sand and shingle, where some small boats cross over to the nearby island of Donoussa.
The backbone of Naxos, as is true of neighboring Tinos as well, is village life.  Unlike the more commercial main towns of these two islands, the villages are the true representation of the islands’ essence and spirit, the keepers of the old ways, and home to the farmers so closely tied to the land.  Incredibly, on both islands, every village has its own unique character and way of life, and all have the most panoramic and sumptuous views of the countryside and the sea.  Villages on Naxos are fewer in number than on Tinos, but are more widely dispersed as the island is so much larger.  There are more than twenty notable villages on the island, all worthy of exploration.  Some of them include Keramoti in the north, surrounded by rugged, dramatic scenery; nearby Koronos, with the emery caves excavated for centuries on the island; and Komiaki, slightly further north and known for its local wine.  In the center of the island, make a visit to Chalki, home to many local artists, and having very interesting village architecture and some lovely churches; to Potamia with its nearby Venetian fortress and Mycenaean tombs; Moni with the 6th century monastery of Panagia Drossiani, and its outstanding views of the countryside and the Tragea valley; and to the large village of Filoti situated on the slopes of Mount Zas, the highest mountain in the Cyclades at 1000 meters.  Not far from Filoti and to the north of it, higher up Mount Zas, is the unusual village of Apiranthos, settled by inhabitants from Crete, and recently transformed from an arid place into a fertile green area, thanks to the implementation of a very successful water management system pilot plan.  Southwest, and moving back toward Naxos Town, a visit to the twin villages of Sangri offers a glimpse of ancient temples and towers, and the lovely village atmosphere, especially in the upper village; and Glinado and Galando, both in the west and not far from Naxos Town, have fortified mansions, an unusual combined Orthodox and Catholic church in Galando, and lovely countryside views from both.
If Naxos hasn’t exhausted you quite yet, then you have the opportunity to visit the nearby islands of Donoussa, Iraklia, Schinoussa, and Koufonissia.  These smaller islands are known as the Lesser Cyclades, as they are the smallest inhabited islands in the group.  Each offers a limited selection of accommodation, a few tavernas, and many lovely beaches.  They are great destinations for people looking for something different and out of the way, and you won’t find any deluxe hotel resorts here!  If you would like to combine them with your main visit to Naxos, just let us know, and we’ll arrange all of the details for you.