Νάξος – Cyclades
Naxos is one of the best connected and also most touristed of the Cycladic islands. It is a major package tour destination as well as an island that each and every island hopper seems to arrive at sooner or later… It is fortunate that it so easily swallows up great hordes of people without loosing its dignity, as this is a place you just GOT to visit, interested in walking in the mountains or not! It is also a good island to choose for a trip a bit out-of-season, there will always be some life here. E.g entire May should be absolutely excellent, and very early in that month I have had reports that the island was even surprisingly nice and quiet.
An extremely charming main town (the BEST of any major island port, if you ask me, e.g by far surpassing the dusty, windswept, crowded and generally overrated Mykonos town), fabulous beaches, and a just great mountainscape are the main attractions of Naxos.
The beaches are some of the best in all of Greece. Also excellent for nudism. Hike alongside the beaches southward from Agia Anna, and you may discover your own private spot (was that a joke?). You will probably never reach the end, the beaches continues on and on, although the sand may not always be of the best quality further south than Mikri Vigla. A lot of debris may also be polluting the less visited beaches. But all the beaches from and including Prokopis (some of this one is occupied by water sports however) down to and including all of Plaka are among the best there is. The Naxos town beach of Agios Georgios is also decent, even if crowded. And it’s so shallow that it really is best suited for kids.
The mountains and hills of Naxos are an incredible sight when you get close enough to really be able to appreciate them. It is unfortunate that the fairly bad bus connections make the hills and the picturesque hill villages more inaccessible than necessary. Even in low season the few buses are crowded with tourists and you will be wise to arrive early to get a seat. But some things are improving, the condition of the roads is reportedly better now than it used to be. Be advised however, that some people might be driving like crazy on these roads. And not necessarily sober. On my last visit I had promise the hotel manager where I stayed that I would not drive any vehicle on these roads. He did not want to see more casualties…
Cheap rooms are more than abundant, but if you would like a hotel, the “Helmos” is a low budget option. For something really good try the “Asteria” at the Ag. Georgios beach. Very nice and spacious. Many nice places to eat too, but the little place left on the “Old Market Street” (as if almost in a cave) hits bullseye, both for food and atmosphere. I cannot remember the name of the place, but it’s an old family taverna. Be early (usually opens at seven), it has few tables and reservations may block half of them. “O Nikos” is probably the ultimate for fish though. Scirocco, at the little plaza, is also recommended.
Selected walks: For walks on Naxos take a look in Trekking in Greece by Marc Dubin, Walking the Aegean Islands by Dieter Graf (referred to below as “/Graf/”), Naxos and the Small Cyclades by Dieter Graf and Christian Ucke and the newer Amorgos, Naxos, Paros and the Eastern & Northern Cyclades by Dieter Graf (referred to below as “/Graf2/”), which is more up-to-date. On the web visit Walking, hiking and trekking on NAXOS by Raymond Verdoolaege, Greek Island of Naxos Holiday, Travel and Walking Guides, Drives and Pictures for Naxos Greece by Foxy’s Island Walks and Eva’s hikes in Greece – Naxos by Eva Hadjaki. See also A guide to Naxos by greekbackpack.com and Naxos information and links by Christian Ucke. Ucke has also written “Walking Tours on Naxos”, an out-of-print book that was available at least locally (now replaced by the book co-written with Graf).
•1 THE BEACHES: Hike alongside the beaches southward from Agia Anna (or wherever you prefer to start) for as long as you want, as described in the main text above…
•2 FILOTI – ZAS – FILOTI (my total time 3h15): This is the short version of Walk 24 in /Graf/. Walk 15 in /Graf2/ now shows a different, more demanding route. At 1001m, Zas (or Mount Zeus) is the highest peak in the Cyclades and should not be missed, as this small trip up and down from Filoti is not very strenuous.
Not much trouble in route finding, most was well marked. The best way up to Agia Maria is however slightly unclear. This is now the first part of walk 16 in /Graf2/. The book(s) says you should keep right at the fork and continue up to the road, but there were actually TWO forks at my visit. Keeping right at the first and left at the second at least brought me to the road. But unsure if I was at the right spot I took the alternative route of following the road all the way up to the chapel. Although longer, it should not take a lot more time, and it will give you the opportunity of stretching your legs a little bit. Do not try to scramble up the hillside if you are in doubt about where to go, there were many walls (and fences!) clearly visible. /Graf2/ (still on walk 16) sheds updated light on the situation. Maybe better luck with this?
Hopefully the weather will be nice and clear on your visit, because what a panorama it can be from the top! Careful about the edges, sheer drops on several sides of the mountain!
2004 Updates: I have been fortunate enough to receive updates for many of the walks in /Graf/ from a keen walker, see Notes on Walking in the Aegean.
• Good starting points: • Naxos town – although the bus connections needed for walking are bad, the only frequent buses are those running to main beaches…
• How to get there: • By ferry from other islands • By ferry from the mainland • By air (domestic)
• More info: • NaxosNet • goNaxos • Naxos information and links by Christian Ucke • Naxos 2002 – more info about walks, as well as many pictures! • Naxos Island Guide by Ikaros Studios • Walking, hiking and trekking on NAXOS by Raymond Verdoolaege • Greek Island of Naxos Holiday, Travel and Walking Guides, Drives and Pictures for Naxos Greece by Foxy’s Island Walks
This page was last modified at April 21, 2009.