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Naxos - Cyclades - Greece



Naxos Island

Naxos is one of the Greek Cyclades Islands located in the Aegean Sea 200 kilometres south east of Athens . It's the biggest and most fertile of all the Cyclades and offers fine beaches, a lively nightlife and some beautiful countryside to explore.

You can fly to the island with Olympic Airways from Athens or take the six-hour ferry trip from the mainland port of Piraeus . A hydrofoil journey from Piraeus will cut your journey time almost by half. Naxos also has plentiful ferry and hydrofoil connections with the other main islands in the archipelago.

The first thing that will strike you if you arrive by boat is the huge 6th century BC Portara (meaning great door) on the causeway - all that remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo. The door faces towards the island of Delos which, according to Greek mythology, was the birthplace of the god Apollo.

It's impossible to escape the fantastical myths and legends which permeate Greek culture no matter which island you visit. The Naxians are particularly sweet on Dionysos, the god of wine, as he allegedly swooped to the aid of jilted Ariadne, the daughter of Crete 's King Minos, after she helped Theseus slay the minotaur and find his way out of the labyrinth. Theseus promised to marry her but jilted her in Naxos . Dionysos descended in his chariot to marry the distraught Ariadne whose beautiful crown was placed in the sky after her death and became known as the Corona Borealis "Northern Crown" constellation.

If you're into Greek gods you'll want to join the many tourists who head for the northern tip of the island to see the giant kouros (nude male statue) dating back to the 7 th century BC. Some archaeologists believe the 10-metre statue was meant to represent Apollo whilst othesr say it's the island's favourite, Dionysos. Two other kouri can be seen in the Melanes Valley in the centre of the island.

Naxos Town (also known as Hora) is the busiest spot on the island - the ferries arrive here and many tourists never get much further as the place is awash with tavernas, shops, late night venues and quaint old streets to explore. The long sandy Agios Georgios Beach is immediately south of the town and this is where you'll find much of the island's tourist accommodation.

But take the time to travel further afield and you'll discover some lovely unspoilt beaches, traditional mountain villages and beautiful countryside peppered with ancient Byzantine churches and Venetian watch towers.

When the sun goes down Naxos may not have the exuberant party scene of Mykonos or Santorini but there are enough music bars and discos to keep those with a strong constitution partying till dawn.


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