If paradise was on Earth, it would be here,” is how Nikos Kazantzakis, Greece’s foremost 20th century writer and author of Zorba the Greek, described Naxos; and indeed the largest, greenest and loftiest (at 1,004m elevation) of the Cyclades archipelago is so much more than just another favourable destination for sun-seekers.
Spreading to a grand total of 429km2, this is one of the few Greek islands to have a vast and complex hinterland that consists of mountains and hidden valleys, waterfalls and ravines, forests and “remote” authentic villages, crowned by amazing old monasteries, churches and antiquity monuments. And yes, Naxos also has the longest accessible coastline in the Cyclades, with its long and sandy beaches – Agia Anna, Agios Prokopios, Plaka and Alyko in particular – considered among the best, if not the best, in Greece.
Yet, the real USP here is the diversity of experiences: the opportunity to find yourself swimming under the Routsouna waterfall or walking through the oh-so-green Alyko juniper forest at one time and just half an hour later sunbathing on one of the characteristically desert-like beaches of the southwest coast.
The largest, greenest and loftiest of the Cyclades archipelago