What to See and Do in Naxos Island

Naxos is the largest island of Cyclades. It is famous for its long sandy beaches, the delicious local food scene, the unique culture and authenticity and the wonderful, traditional mountain villages. Naxos is an ideal choice for families, active travellers, as well as honeymooners who love food, sailing and amazing day travel experiences.

We asked one of our favourite local guides in Naxos to give us her favourite list of what to see and do in Naxos island. This list of the best travel experiences in  Naxos island will help you take the best of what this beautiful Greek island has to offer.

According to Eleni ” If paradise was a place on earth, it would be Naxos island“. Read more to discover why Naxos should be on your bucket list!

 

 

 

The local cheese of Naxos
Best Experiences in Naxos

What is the place you go to hide from the world when you need to and to recharge?

With various beaches, mountains, gorges, rivers and waterfalls, Naxos offers so many natural hideaways that it takes some serious thought to answer this question.
I guess that growing up so close to the sea, inevitably turns you into more of a beach than a mountain person, so my quiet place is most often some beach setting. It’s not a specific one, though. Depending on how far I wish to drive and most importantly on where the wind is blowing from, I’ll find my safe haven for the day.
Naxos is blessed with a beautiful coastline near and far. One can find beautiful, golden sand beaches that stretch for kilometers, just 10 minutes away from Town while if you’re willing to drive a little longer, you’ll find some hidden gems to make you richer in experience, awe and gratitude. Secluded bays are waiting to be discovered on every corner and provide the perfect hideaway every now and then.
And when I don’t have much time to spare, my childhood’s memories setting or my “neighborhood beach” as I like to call it (aka St. George Beach) will always be a great choice for some quick relaxation and recharge fix.

If Naxos had a taste, what would it be?

It would be impossible to choose just one! Being a lush, farming island, Naxos boasts a variety of flavors and quality products in so many different categories.
Kitron, the local liqueur made from the leaves of the kitron trees, is one of the Naxian trademarks for almost two centuries now. Wine making is a long-standing tradition, dating back to the ancient times when, according to the myth, god Dionysus taught Naxians all the secrets of vine growing and wine making, thus making their wine so delicious. Olive trees, some young and some of thousands of years of age, are found virtually all over the island and produce many different kinds of olives and olive oil of exceptional quality. Our fertile soils and the farmers’ mastery are responsible for some of the tastiest fruits and vegetables I’ve ever had. But I guess that if I had to choose one representative taste, it would be cheese. Be it arseniko, xinotiro, anthotiro, or even the now famous graviera of Naxos, I can never say no to a slice or two of some homemade, artisanal cheese.
We are so spoiled by the quality of produce that I had to leave Naxos after finishing school to realize how well we actually eat back home.
In fact, long before Naxos attracted international interest in such a large scale, it was always famous among Greek tourists for two things: the beaches and the food. And you know you can trust the Greeks when they talk about good food.

You haven’t met the real side of Naxos if you haven’t…(continue the sentence based on the 3 things you believe everyone should experience in Naxos)

You haven’t met the real side of Naxos, if you haven’t visited one of the hidden villages in the mainland, wandered around its narrow streets, randomly running into a local, that will wish you a heartfelt “Kalimera” and will most probably offer you something delicious to eat or drink!

You haven’t met the real side of Naxos, if you haven’t seen people dance to the upbeat music of violins! “Nisiotika (=music of the islands) is a category of Cycladic folk music, very well-known within Greece. Naxos boasts the fact that many famous artists of this type of music come from here. With every village having its own songs and dancing style, it’s no wonder why Naxians seem to be born with an innate talent for music and dance. And, for a next level experience, by all means, join in and dance with them! No need to worry if you don’t know the steps, the locals will be happy to teach you.

You haven’t met the real side of Naxos, if you haven’t hiked in the mainland, where you’ll witness the island’s history, diversity and abundance first hand. While hiking or trekking around Naxos you’re bound to stumble upon precious findings scattered all over the island: ancient temples and ruins, farmlands, early Christian and Byzantine churches, olive groves, Venetian towers and castles and much more, under the ever-watching eyes of Zeus, who invites you to the peak of his very own mountain where you can watch the sun rise or set over the Cyclades.

You haven’t met the real side of Naxos, if you haven’t made cheese alongside a local farmer and then tasted it, still hot from the cauldron!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unique Experiences in Naxos Island

Delicious local food in Naxos
Naxos Island Greece

What is your favorite time of the year in Naxos?

Naxos is a staggering beauty all year round, with different things to show for in every season. But if I had to pick, I would say it is both Spring and Autumn. Spring because you can see, smell and feel Nature slowly waking up again after the long winter. The landscape is turning green and everything is brightly coloured, bringing the promise of a fresh beginning. The island is not packed yet, so you can enjoy your favourite spots all to yourself – what a treat! Autumn has this calmness in the atmosphere and somehow makes for the most beautiful sunsets. It also means that winter will arrive shortly and us working in the tourism industry will finally be able to enjoy our loved ones, our homes and a few more hours of sleep!

 

What do you think would be the next day of travel after the lock down? What would you change to make tourism better?

Although the global tourism industry was suffered a serious hit, the world can’t wait to resume travelling and thus I do believe we will somehow overcome this sooner than later. However, going back to our former “normal” state is appearing to be obsolete or even dangerous. There are many things to be reconsidered in order for humanity to travel the world responsibly; taking into account all the new modifications that will ensure health safety as well as some new considerations regarding our impact on the environment, as well as local life and traditions going extinct due to over-modernised service provision that is based on “what sells” rather than “what WE have to show for”.

Personally speaking, the environment is definitely my biggest concern. Although climate change is nothing but new as a problem, we are steadily moving further away from its solution.
Climate change and the impact of tourism on our ecosystems is something that should be on everyone’s mind if we wish to be able to travel the world and witness its beauties for the years to come. Environmental responsibility doesn’t stop at the measures local businesses are or should be taking to protect the environment they depend on, in order to continue “selling” its beauty to tourists. It also involves travelers’ conscious choices to investigate and support places, businesses as well as practices that do promote this way of thinking.

Business owners should really invest on sustainable ways to perform, making sure they are offering services that are really promoting the safekeeping of all aspects of their place of activity, rather than offer something just because it is in demand or in fashion, destroying or polluting the environment as well as the social fabric in the process.

Travellers should try and make the least impact possible to the places they are visiting, respecting their holiday destination as they would their own home. After all, the Earth is home to us all and tourism should be more proactive in protecting it. It is a powerful global industry indeed, based on our human need for exploration and discovery. Tourism has the ability to perform some really in-depth changes, so long as we add mindfulness and respect to the equation.

 

 

Why Greece is an Unforgettable Destination

Wine tasting in Naxos
Best things to do in Naxos Greece

 

What is the stereotype you wish you could change about Greece?

Oh, this is a no brainer. It’s definitely the said “laziness”!
There is a rumor that Greeks just sip ouzo or coffee and play tavli (backgammon) all day long while basking in the sun but we are actually among the hardest working people in Europe and in the world! Don’t just take my word for it, you can look it up in various studies conducted by the OECD.
This stereotype is actually quite strong and it hit me back in 2011 when I spent a year abroad, studying in a European country (right when the Eurozone crisis was off the roof).
I will never forget how many times my professors tried to embarrass me in the classroom for being Greek, insinuating that our laziness will cause the whole EU structure to fall to its demise. As if a country of 11 million people would even have that power!
The truth is far from it, though. We do work long hours and we work hard. And I don’t see anything wrong in enjoying our beautifully sunny country on every occasion possible!

Why should someone visit Naxos? 

Due to its diversity, for me Naxos is the whole of Greece in a micro scale. Simply put, it has everything!
And, in the words of the famous Greek author, Nikos Kazantzakis, when he visited Naxos:
“If paradise were a place on earth, it would be here”.
Enough said!

 

What makes Greece Unforgettable ?

The alluring simplicity. The landscapes, the sea, the people, the traditions, the food, the history. The authenticity. The essence of life. The feeling of going back to one’s roots. A feeling that speaks to everyone’s heart and is now more important than ever.

 

If you want to have a look on private tours to Naxos check our private tour pages

 

Honey Making in Naxos Greece
Eleni Kontopidi Naxos

Eleni Κontopidi is a Naxos native, who – like so many small town children – eagerly took off the island at the age of 18 to study and discover the world, only to realise there is literally no place like home. A former conference interpreter/translator, she spent many years in Athens and other parts of Greece as well as some time abroad.

As a way to support herself financially during the difficult period of the Greek economy crisis, she started to return to Naxos in the summers to work as a seasonal tourist guide for the island’s biggest travel agency. That was the turning point in her life as she started to rediscover and re-appreciate her birthplace through the eyes of the excited visitors she was showing it to. After having debunked the big city life myth, she ultimately decided to return to Naxos and start her own tour business.

In an effort to differentiate from the mass tourism services she hates and to showcase the authentic side of her birthplace, her tours focus on food, wine, culture and traditions and her connections grant visitors exclusive access to many off-limits destinations. She still thinks going back is the best decision she ever made.

 

To book a tour with Elena contact our team of Greek Travel Experts to suggest the best experience for you

Have a look at our Taste and See Cyclades Private Tour

Experiences in Greece

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