While most people have heard of Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes, few have heard of Naxos and that’s definitely a good thing. As beautiful as Mykonos and Santorini are they’re also expensive and very touristic.
Naxos, in comparison, is much cheaper than most of the major islands – often 50% or more so. There are also much fewer touristic, which is ideal for those that want to escape the resorts and have a more authentic experience of Greek island life.
Interestingly Naxos is actually the largest of the islands, and so there’s plenty to see and do here.
The Portara, or Great Door, is situated just a couple of minutes walk from Naxos Town Center. It looks like a doorway that goes nowhere, and that’s essentially what it is.
Around 530 B.C, the ruler Lygdamis decided that a temple should be built on Naxos. This temple was to be grander and more beautiful than any of the other temples.
Unfortunately, war broke out with Samos just as he gave the order and the workers only got as far as creating the doorway that you see today.
Visit the island’s many beaches
Like all Greek islands, Naxos has some fantastic beaches that are begging to be explored. While there is a beach just outside of Naxos Town Centre, the beaches to the South West of the island like Plaka are worth making a special pilgrimage to.
According to Greek mythology, Zeus grew up on Naxos and found shelter in a cave while hiding from his father Kronus. It was here that he was given the lightening that he’s often pictured holding and, in honour of this monumental moment in his life, the Naxians named the mountain and cave after him. It’s a steep climb to the top, but it’s fun and it provides some great views over the island.
Try the local booze
There’s nothing quite like a midday drink when you’re on vacation and, since it’s a local liqueur, it’s cultural as well. Kitron is a local citron liqueur that’s made from the fruit and leaves of the citron tree, similar to a lemon but with a slightly stronger taste.
At one point Kitron was actually pretty fashionable but, due to a lack of Citron trees, it’s now hard to get it outside of Naxos. This, of course, means that you have to try it.
There are three different varieties to choose from, differentiated by their colours: the green is the sweetest and contains the least alcohol, the yellow is less sweet and is much more alcoholic, and the clear version is somewhere between the other two.
Join the locals at the outdoor cinema
Going to the cinema abroad, particularly if it’s inside a shopping mall, can seem like a waste you’re in abroad. In Naxos, however, the cinema is outside. This means you still get to enjoy being outside on a warm summers evening, but you can also join the locals and watch the latest Hollywood Blockbuster.
You can get an up-to-date list of what’s showing at cinenaxos.com