A spot of white in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, the island of Naxos is a unique blend of ancient ruins and beach culture. The largest of the Cycladic Islands, Naxos is the childhood home of none other than Zeus, king of the gods. Upon arrival in Naxos, hike over a causeway to Palatia, where the Portara, a stone gateway to an ancient temple that no longer exists, stands alone, the symbol of the island. At sunset, the views of the island, and the sea beyond, are breathtaking.
It was on Naxos that an ungrateful Theseus is said to have abandoned Ariadne after she helped him escape the Cretan labyrinth. In keeping with even mythic soap opera, she didnít pine long, and was soon entwined with Dionysos, the god of wine and ecstasy and the islandís favourite deity. Naxian wine has long been considered a fine antidote for a broken heart.
The island was a cultural centre of classical Greece and of Byzantium. Venetian and Frankish influences have left their mark.
Naxos is more fertile than most of the other islands and produces olives, grapes, figs, citrus fruit, corn and potatoes. Mountain Zeus (1004m; also known as Mt Zas or Zefs) is the Cycladesí highest peak and is the central focus of the islandís mountainous interior, in which you find enchanting villages such as Halki and Apiranthos. There are numerous fine beaches and the island is a wonderful place to explore on foot, as many old paths between villages, churches and other sights still survive.