Naxos Town (Chora)
The approach to Naxos Town, or Chora as one also says, is extremely beautiful, the eye-catching Portara rises like a monolith from space where it stands on its tiny peninsula. Naxos Town has just over 7,000 permanent inhabitants, and many work in the tourism industry. Although Naxos Town is a major tourist resort, there is also a noticeable Greek everyday life. And maybe it's the mix of touristy and genuine that makes the readers of Kalimera (the Swedish version of Kalispera) for several times to choose Naxos Town as the best Greek village.
The cozy waterfront promenade in one direction.
Naxos Town is, like many other Greek port towns, built like an amphitheatre. At the top is the old district where the old Kastro gazes down towards the town and out over the sea. The view from here is breathtaking. The Kastro was built in the thirteenth century as a defence against invaders, today it's one of Naxos' most visited attractions. A labyrinth of alleys, many covered with old arches, leads up from the waterfront to the Kastro.
The waterfront promenade in the other direction.
While you're visiting the Kastro I can recommend a visit to the Archaeological Museum which is housed in a beautiful Venetian building from the 17th century. The museum has several interesting objects, including a large number of Cycladic marble figurines, only the National Archaeological Museum in Athens have a larger collection in number.
These figurines were common between 2,900-2,400 BC. The majority of the figurines are female with triangular heads, arms folded, legs straight and knees slightly bent. The few male figurines are usually musicians or warriors. One of the most famous male figurine is the Harp Player, found on the island of Keros outside Amorgos and is today on display in Athens. Copies of the figurines are available for purchase everywhere on Naxos.
Naxos Town. The port is on the left and Kastro is in the middle of the picture.
The cosy port esplanade has its beginning just before the breakwater leading to the Portara and extends along the entire port basin. Along the port esplanade lies a varied collection of tavernas, bars, cafes and ouzeries. The quality of the tavernas varies greatly, some are very good, others are tourist traps. A minus is the barkers, many tavernas have refrigerated displays on the street where the menu is displayed, the barkers are asking you to look in the "shop window" and points with his arm toward his tables.
Naxos town seen from Portara. Grotta beach to the left.
Personally, I prefer one of the cosy ouzeries (serves small dishes as you usually drink ouzo to), especially Ouzeri Valetta located quite close to the bus station. Valetta serves tasty small dishes, ouzo and wine at good prices. Their grilled octopus is absolutely fantastic and the staff is friendly and they really gives of themselves. Valetta is mainly popular with Greeks. Other good tavernas can be found in the alleys in the Old Market behind the port esplanade. The best tavernas in the Old Market is Metaxi Mas and Apostolis.
The waterfront promenade is lined with tavernas, ouzerias and cafes.
The waterfront is not only a centre for food and entertainment, you also have the opportunity to shop till you drop. There are plenty of shops, primarily souvenir shops, but also jewellers, photo shops, supermarkets and clothing stores.
There are also several travel agencies, banks and ATMs - and a huge bakery. Newspapers and paperbacks are available for purchase at Zoom. In one of the supermarkets you can buy cheese and wine produced on Naxos. And the cheese is superb. There are also a couple of shops selling Kitron, you can taste this noble liqueur and maybe buy a few bottles home. Read more about Kitron here »
Their is a small beach at the wave breaker before Portara.
There are no good beaches in Naxos Town, the nearest nice beach is Agios Georgios (Saint George), which is within walking distance. Grotta beach lies a few hundred metres east of the main port, below the part of Naxos Town called Grotta. Pebbly Grotta beach is really nothing to write home about, in the far end is a small beach pocket where there is a little better.
Above the beach are many hotels and pensions with a tantalizing view of the Temple of Apollo (Portara). When the sun goes down, you understand why some choose to stay in Grotta instead of in Naxos Town. You can also swim along the breakwater that leads to the Portara.
ACCOMMODATION IN NAXOS TOWN
If there is one place in the Greek archipelago that has a wide range of hotels and pensions, it is Naxos Town, if you include Agios Georgios since most hotels are located there.
READ MORE ABOUT NAXOS
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