The villages, the beaches and the food of Naxos (part 2)

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The story of Eva Doncheva about the Naxos Island continues

There are more than 30 villages on Naxos and many of them are attracting a lot of tourists in the past few years. Each one of them has its own spirit and atmosphere. We visited two of the most famous ones and below I’ll tell you some things about them.

Map of Naxos taken from here

Apeiranthos

One of the oldest villages of Naxos also known as ‘the gem of Naxos’.

A souvenir shop in Apeiranthos

It has preserved its authentic look and you can feel it everywhere. It’s 25 km away from the capital city and is located on the slopes of Fanari Mountain. The local people proudly say that here you don’t feel like being on an island.

Stone houses in Apeiranthos

And we really felt like being on the mainland Greece rather than on a Cycladic island. It is mostly because of the rich architecture and the endless stone houses but also due to the fact that the village is located in the form of an amphitheater, on 600 meters above sea level. Thanks to this you can enjoy so many beautiful views! You can enjoy them sitting at a café or a restaurant or walking on the marble-paved streets.

A café in Apeiranthos – enjoy doing nothing

After we took off the bus we decided to have a cup of Greek coffee at a nice open café and to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. We have to admit that we started to dream what it would be like to live at such a place – away from the noise, the vanity and the stress of the big city, as if you were living in another time. After that we started exploring the village. It was so nice to walk around the small squares, to have a look at the souvenir shops, the houses, the flowers… And there were beautiful spots everywhere – orchard gardens, fertile valleys, magnificent hills. And in the air you can feel the amazing mix of aromas coming from fig trees, pines and herbs.

The Zevgoli Tower near Apeiranthos

Near the entrance of the village is located the Zevgoli Tower built on a rock in 17th century. Apeiranthos is one of the biggest villages on the island and its inhabitants are descendants of immigrants from Crete and Asia Minor who were trying to escape from the Otoman yoke. The women here still wear traditional clothes and the locals speak Crete dialect. The Church of Agia Kiriaki here is one of the most important Christian monuments on the Balkans. And the village has not only one but five museums!

Filoti

It’s one of the most beautiful and famous villages located on the slopes of the Zas Mountain on 400 meters above sea. It’s about 18 km away from the capital.

The time has stopped

Our bus stopped at the main square named Gefira (in Greek it means ‘bridge’). We noticed a lot of sycamores there whose shadows for sure help in the summer heat. The square is surrounded by nice cafes (or ‘cafenia’ in Greek), taverns and shops.

The Filoti Square

We didn’t miss the chance to take a seat at the cafes together with the elder men and to taste the portokalopita with a cup of Greek coffee.

The streets of Filoti

Filoti is probably the biggest village not only on Naxos but also on the Cycladic Islands, with 1800 inhabitants. In the summer many tourists visit it. The traditions here are well-preserved. The village hosts the most important holiday of Naxos – Assumption of Mary, starting from 15 August and continuing for 3 days. The livestock breeding is well-developed here, many sheep are grown and there is a big variety of local products and cheese.

A cheese shop

We had a great walk on the steep streets with white, flat-roof houses. In the summer, the people usually use these roofs as terraces. Near Filoti you can find some interesting places to visit: the Zas Cave, the Arion Fountain, and the Kimaros Tower. We decided to visit them some next time.

I’ll tell you a bit for the other villages we were not able to visit this time but for sure we’d like to see them one day. Halki is located in the Tragea Valley and is the administrative center of the Drimalia District. There you can see neoclassical houses, Byzantine churches, Venetian towers and olive gardens. You can also find the Kitron tree from which the famous Kitron liquor is made.

The Kitron liquor – this traditional liquor is made of the leaves and the fruits of the Kitron tree. It is offered in three types: white, green and yellow, with different content of alcohol per volume and sugar. The liquor is protected according to the EU legislation and is PDO certified (Protected Designation of Origin)

In the center of the village you can find the Vallindra Kitron distillery which you can visit it for free. There you’ll have the chance to learn some interesting facts about the liquor and to taste the famous ouzo.

The historical village of Moni, well-known for its textile industry, is also located at the center of Naxos. The village is 500 meters above the sea level and from there you can even see the sea if the weather is nice. Its Panagia Drosiani Church was built in the 6th century and is one of the oldest churches on the Balkans.

Moutsouna is the largest village on the East coast and near it you can find the only natural harbor of Naxos. There are plenty of fish taverns along the coast of the village.

The beaches of Naxos

Can we even talk about a holiday on a Greek island without mentioning the beaches? There are more than 20 beaches on Naxos and there is something for each taste. Wild beach with less people around, windy beach or a peaceful one in a small bay, beach with dunes and cedars, with shallow and warm sea or with deep and cold waters – you can find absolutely everything! For sure you will be impressed by this diversity! The most famous ones are located on the west coast, south of Hora, but there are also beaches on the north-west, north-east and south-east coast as well. All you need is enough time to visit them!

Alyko beach (the photo is taken from here

Agios Georgios beach

It is located at the south-west part of the capital. Maybe this is the most famous beach, one-kilometer long, very nice for families with kids. The sea is very shallow; you could walk 50 meters into the sea before it gets deeper. Of course, the water is very pure and the sand is golden yellow.

Sand dunes on Agios Georgiosbeach

Agios Georgios has a few beach bars with sunbeds and umbrellas but there is also quite a big zone where you can have more privacy and you can enjoy the sand dunes and the cedars shadow. We walked through the entire beach and on its south part we found a small bay with a lot of surfers.

The big beach of Agios Georgios

Agios Prokopios beach

It’s 1,2 km long and is located 5 km away from the capital. This is one of the most famous beaches of Naxos and, according to many bloggers, is among the top 10 beaches of Greece.

Agios Prokopios Beach (the photo is taken from the Fotis tavern

The sea here is deeper and sand is a bit coarse. Agios Prokopios is a well-developed beach, with a lot of beach bars, umbrellas and sunbeds, but there is also a large free zone.

Agia Anna

Very picturesque beach with fine sand, about 0ne-kilometer long, with peaceful and crystal clear sea.

Agia Anna Beach

It is located on 6 km from Hora and is like a natural continuation of Agios Prokopios. There is a small fish harbor. Among the yellow rocks you can find lovely small beaches.

Arrangements for a romantic wedding on the beach

And if you’re walking on the south part of the beach you’ll notice the Agios Nikolaos Church surrounded by a cedar wood. One of the attractions here is a rock in the form of a shark. We also visited the nearby sea resort with a lot of lovely taverns and hotels.

Agia Ana village

Plaka

For us this is one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen, not only on Naxos but in whole Greece! The sea is deep blue and the sandy beach seems endless! In fact, the beach is very long indeed – about 4 km.

The Plaka Beach and the Island of Paros in the distance

You can see here and there a beach bar with no more than 10 umbrellas but as a whole the free zones are much more and actually this makes Plaka quite a wild beach. We were very glad to spend the whole day in privacy accompanied only by the blue sky, the endless sea and the sound of the waves! All you can see around are the small houses of the resort in the distance and nothing more! No buildings, no glass and concrete. The natural beauty of this place is completely preserved! In cases like this we always think of the state of our beaches in Bulgaria but that’s another topic for discussion. Apparently in Greece even if you have a lot of money you’re not allowed to make buildings on the beach. If you go to Naxos, don’t miss the Plaka Beach I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Greetings from Plaka

These are the beaches we’ve managed to see but there are a lot of left for our next visit. For example, Mikri Vigla with its white beach, located on 11 km from the capital, Aliko with its beautiful sunsets or Orkos, known as ‘the pearl of Naxos’, Psili Amos whose name means ‘fine sand’ in Greek… There are so many that I think I’ll start planning our next trip to this magnificent island very soon!

The islands near Naxos – the map is taken from here

The food of Naxos

It’s more than clear that a holiday in Greece means not only sea, sun and fun but also FOOD!

Octopuses

The delicious Mediterranean cuisine can make you fall in love with this country. And Naxos is among the top destinations when it comes to food. Probably the reason for that is the well-developed agriculture here and the fertile land offering great variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs. The smell coming from the local taverns will blow you away! And what about the cheese? Graviera is the most famous one, hard cheese made of 80 % cow milk and 20 % goat milk. Xinomizithra is a creamy cheese made mainly of goat milk which must be consumed just a few days after it has been manufactured: it expires very quickly due to the fact that it has no preservatives. Kafaloturi, or Arseniko, is another type of hard cheese made of sheep milk. In short, when it comes to gourmet kitchen you’re at the right place! The locals love and cherish their food and they know how important it is for the tourism on the island.

Delicious dishes at Boulamatsis Tavern

If you prefer the traditional cuisine I recommend you to visit the family tavern Boulamatsis in the capital where you can find moussaka, fava and fresh sea fruits. It’s near the harbor and if you take a table by the window you could enjoy a beautiful view of the sea. The service is good and the prices are reasonable. We really liked it there so we decided to go back again and have a dinner. If you want to visit it, keep in mind that it’s quite popular and it’s better to make a reservation first. YaSouvlaki on the coastline street was also really nice, the food was delicious and cheap, exactly what we needed after a long day!

Veal stuffed with cheese, zucchini balls and fava at Yasouvlaki

On Saturday evening the tavern was full of Greeks and for us this was a good sign – it’s always better to eat at the places where the locals go. We were very happy with our choice!

Portokalopita (pastry from oranges) and walnut pie

I hope that this article was interesting for you and that I have convinced you that Naxos has so much to offer! And last but not least I’d like to mention that Naxos is also very suitable for the so-called ‘island hopping’ so you can spend your holiday on 2-3 different islands. We took the ferryboat to Paros Island which is nearby. We managed to get there for less than an hour.

I hope that this information will be useful for everyone who have decided to visit this piece of paradise. I wish you unforgettable and exciting stay in Greece!

Naxos Guide in English

 

Author and photographer: Eva Doncheva
Editor: Georgi Grancharov
Translated from Bulgarian by Dessislava Stamenova
Facebook group: Travel Tips for Greece
Facebook Page: Guidegr
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