Chora or Naxos City is the capital of Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades group of islands in the blue Aegean Sea off mainland Greece. It's a laid-back tourist paradise, with a history to discover that begins in mythical times, beautiful beaches to savor and picturesque towns and villages to wander through. The island's rich agricultural lands and a varied landscape that includes mountains and forests fuel a delectable local cuisine, including wines and spirits that are worthy of the most demanding foodie.
Relax and enjoy the sun, clear waters and soft sands that characterize the beaches of the island, including popular sites like the Agios Prokopios, Mikri Vigla and Plaka beaches.
Naxos offers world-class windsurfing along the western shore and superb offshore diving, allowing you to explore in the Aegean waters surrounding the island, including caves, shipwrecks and more.
In Greek mythology, Naxos is where the god Zeus was born, and the island has been inhabited since the Neolithic era. There are thousands of years of history to discover, from monuments like the iconic 6th century Portara marble gate to museums, ruins, medieval churches and more.
Naxos is known for its agriculture and earns as much from this as from tourism, resulting in a rich, classic Greek cuisine based on locally raised meats, fish and other seafood, along with olives, figs, herbs and other fruits and vegetables.
The island is home to charming villages like Apiranthos, with the area's characteristic whitewashed buildings that are set in a mountainous area with lush woods for hiking and picnics.
Portara, as the Great Door is known in Greek, is an enormous marble doorway near the port of Naxos on the isle of Palatia. The entrance was originally part of a larger project that was never completed. In 530 BC, the ruler of Naxos, Lygdamis, commissioned a temple to be built, though after he was overthrown in 506 BC construction stopped. All that remains is Portara, which some say honors Apollo, the god of music and poets. Others, however, claim that it was built to pay tribute to Dionysus, the god of wine, as well as the patron god of Naxos. Now, a symbol of the great city, the doorway, which nowadays consists of three remaining columns, is a sight to behold when the sun descends on the horizon.
The Naxos Archaeological Museum, in the central square atop the Kastro, is housed in a breathtaking 17th century Venetian building. Consisting of five floors, which once served as a school for Jesuits, the museum was established in 1973. Showcasing all of the archaeological finds in Naxos, the gallery displays artifacts dating back to the late Neolithic period, including a collection of white marble Cycladic statues, gold jewelry, ceramics, tools and funeral offerings. The museum also hosts a collection of Mycenaean pottery, as well as statues from the Bronze Age, the Archaic period, the Classical era, the Roman Era and the Hellenistic period. A must-see for those who want to witness Greek artistry in all its glory.
The Castle of Naxos, built in 1207 by Markos II Sanoudos, a Venetian conqueror, is a pentagonal fortress with three separate gates. Situated a hill, 30 meters above sea level, the castle was constructed with local resources over the ruins of the ancient acropolis. The rounded Glezos tower near the northwestern gate has four floors that have been exquisitely preserved. The entrance to the tower displays the coat-of arms of the Crispi family, who once inhabited the fortress. Though restoration is ongoing, visitors are invited to visit the museum, which is expected become the leading Byzantine museum in Cyclades when the work is completed.
The Agios Prokopios beach is regarded as one of the most beautiful shorelines in all of Europe. Extending for approximately a mile, the sandy beach is encircled by dunes, which protect the crystalline coastline from the strong winds on the island. Visitors can enjoy the beach's lounge chairs, umbrellas and water sports facilities, or simply relax on the expanse of unspoiled sand surrounding the service area. Behind the dunes, tourists will find a variety of hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars. Three miles from town, Agios Prokopios can be accessed by bus service, which runs throughout the day from the town of Naxos.
The Temple of Demeter, near the village of Sangri, is constructed in local marble and dates back to the 6th century BC. The temple honors Demeter, the ancient goddess of grain, because the surrounding area is extremely fertile. Built in 530 BC in a classical architectural style, the building was turned into a Christian church following the advent of Christianity. Though ruined during the Arab invasion in the 6th century AD, the temple was rebuilt in 1977 following the excavation of the area, which uncovered the original shrine. Visitors can access the temple, which lies six miles from town, by car.
Naxos is a year-round destination with mild winters, that only dip to about 55°F, and warm summers that hover around 80°F between June and August.
Naxos Island National Airport (JNX) is a regional airport, located about 1.2 miles from Chora. While international flights are not available, there are daily flights to Athens, with connections worldwide. A taxi from the airport to Naxos City costs about EUR35.
There is no train service to the island.
A combination of car and ferry service is available to Naxos from a variety of centers, including Mykonos and Santorini.
There is no bus service to Naxos. However, it is possible to take a bus to Thessaloniki and then get a ferry connection to the island.
Stay in a convenient location with modern convenience at the Xenia hotel in Naxos Town, close to the beach and historic sites like the Venetian Castle. Aeolis Naxos puts you right at the Saint George beach in contemporary luxury.
Kastro - this is the oldest part of Chora, with winding cobblestone streets and protected by walls made under the Venetian rulers during the Middle Ages.
Saint George Beach - this is the main beach area just southwest of Chora, with its own scene of casual cafes and restaurants and still within walking distance of the town itself.
Plaka Beach - this area to the south of Naxos City is where you'll find a string of beaches and enchanting villages that are within biking distance, meaning you can reach them even if you don't have access to a car.
Bus service on the island is provided by a company called KTEL, with routes that crisscross Naxos. Fares vary by destination.
Taxis are reasonably plentiful on the island and must be reserved in advance. A trip from Chora to Agios Prokopios, south of the city along the beach, costs about EUR12.
A car rental is a good way to explore the island. Car rentals from the airport are available starting at about EUR50.
Kastro, the old walled city in Chora, is where you will find many charming shops with local goods and souvenirs. You'll also find small local shopping areas in most towns along the beach, such as in Agios Prokopios and Plaka.
Atlantik, Vidalis and Koutelieris are the three largest supermarkets in Naxos City. A gallon of milk costs about EUR3.80 and a dozen eggs about EUR2.
Eat local organic goodness and classic Mediterranean dishes at Axiotissa, located on the road from Naxos City to Alyko, where a three-course menu starts at EUR23. Enjoy traditional meat platters at Sto Ladoharto near the Chora port, where main dishes start at EUR16.