Naxos is a Greek island in the South Aegean, the largest of the Cyclades island group. Its fertile landscape spans mountain villages, ancient ruins and long stretches of beach. The namesake capital (also called Hora or Chora) is a port town filled with whitewashed, cube-shaped houses and medieval Venetian mansions. Kastro, a hilltop castle dating to the 13th century, houses an archaeological museum.
The largest and loftiest (at 1,001m/3,284ft elevation) of the Cyclades archipelago, rugged Náxos is one of the few Greek islands besides Crete that could feed itself – you see flocks of sheep, goats and cattle everywhere, along with all manner of market gardens. The local small potatoes are renowned, commanding a price premium, as do a range of island cheeses. All of this, of course, finds its way onto the menus of the better local restaurants.
The main town, specifically its hilly old quarter known as the Kástro, was the seat of the Venetian Duchy of Náxos, who ruled most of the Cyclades from this fortress after 1204.
The steep lanes of Kástro and its downhill continuation Boúrgos provide many an atmospheric wander, while out in the countryside loom the tower-mansions of the Venetians and their descendants, Byzantine country churches, and a few very ancient monuments.
Náxos attracts a rather different clientele than neighbouring Páros or Mýkonos: folk willing to accept the occasional rough-and-ready-ness of the island, and able to look after themselves. While the main town’s medieval Boúrgos and Kástro districts have ample interest, the real USP is the Naxian backcountry, especially its mountain villages, hidden monuments and southwest coast beaches.