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A Different Experience in Cyclades – by Helen Marakis

A quieter and less crowded alternative to Mykonos and Santorini is Naxos island, another Cycladic gem. This multifaceted island offers a diverse array of experiences. Join us as we uncover what sets Naxos apart from the rest of the Cycladic islands, guided by the expertise of native expat Helen Marakis. With her insider knowledge and deep roots in Naxos, Helen offers a perspective like no other, catering to travelers seeking a unique experience of barefoot luxury and experiential travel off the beaten path.

Naxos: Where Every Essence of Greece Unfolds in One Place, a Microcosm of Local Life

In this comprehensive guide here, we will take you beyond the tourist hotspots to reveal the true essence of Naxos – from the daily rhythms of local life to the vibrant tapestry of culture that defines this microcosm of Greece. Discover the secrets of the locals, immerse yourself in their lifestyle, and experience the real flavors of life that make Naxos a destination like no other.

Life balance is essential, and Naxos provides the perfect setting to achieve it. As the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus believed, true happiness comes from living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends, free from worry. Here on Naxos, you’ll find the balance you seek – between chaos and order, work and leisure, and everything in between.

Living in the Moment: Embracing Naxos’ Joyful Philosophy:

Why it is important Not to skip Naxos Island in your next Greek holiday

Naxos is an enchanting blend of myths, history, tradition, and spirituality, where the very air seems to hum with ancient energies from the moment you set foot on its soil.

While savoring mojitos on a pristine sandy beach or luxuriating in the comforts of a five-star hotel can certainly be delightful, Naxos offers a different kind of luxury – one that transcends mere opulence. Here, luxury is found in the simple joys of connecting with each other, with new people and immersing oneself in the local way of life.

The people of Naxos live in the present moment, embracing the philosophy that life is too short not to savor every day to its fullest. Whether it’s summer or winter, day or night, the spirit of joy and celebration permeates every corner of the island.

If you’re captivated by culture, history, and society, and you immerse yourself in the authentic life of the places you visit for a genuine experience, then your journey to Naxos will reward you in countless ways.

Here are a few tips:

A self-sustained culture rare in the globalized world

Experience the Naxos destination firsthand by exploring the mainland either by car or on foot. Venture into the Naxian hinterland to uncover its hidden treasures, immersing yourself in local life, connecting with the spirit of the natural world, and delving into the island’s cultural and agricultural abundance. Here, you’ll encounter the authentic essence of Naxos – from its remarkable sights and captivating smells to its mesmerizing sounds.

Why it is important Not to skip Naxos Island in your next Greek holiday

This self-sufficient island boasts a rich bounty, producing a wide array of goods that not only sustain its own populace but also supply neighboring Cycladic islands. Its industrious people take great pride in their work, with every household engaged in the production of essential items such as oil, meat, vegetables, fruits, poultry, cheese, raki, and wine. Visitors can partake in this unique experience by joining locals in the fields, hand-picking seasonal delights straight from the source.

Exploring the local villages offers a tantalizing journey through diverse culinary traditions, each village offering its own array of special delicacies and sweets. From farm-fresh produce to artisanal cheeses, every item on your dinner plate is locally sourced and lovingly prepared. Naxos stands out in the Cycladic archipelago for its abundance of fresh water and fertile soil, ensuring that everything served is organically grown and bursting with flavor.

Why it is important Not to skip Naxos Island in your next Greek holiday

The Locals’ Philosophy of Life:

Naxians cherish a philosophy of embracing life’s simple pleasures with a deep reverence for family, nature, and the bonds of friendship, both old and new. With its vibrant culture and untamed landscapes teeming with diversity, Naxos is a spirited island that beckons travelers to discover their own slice of “pura vida.”

No visit to Naxos is complete without experiencing the warm hospitality of its locals, who welcome visitors with open arms and genuine warmth. Whether you’re sampling the complimentary “kerasma of raki” at a local tavern or engaging in lively conversations at a traditional kafeneio (village hangout), you’ll find yourself immersed in laughter and camaraderie. Locals delight in sharing jokes and stories, creating an atmosphere of joy and connection that leaves visitors feeling right at home.

Happiness thrives in communal spaces where individuals uplift and inspire one another in their pursuit of joy. Naxians embody this spirit wholeheartedly, with a cultural DNA that fosters unity and support among like-minded individuals. As you explore the island’s mountainous villages, you’ll encounter a diverse tapestry of local life, characterized by remarkable people whose warmth and hospitality enhance every step of your journey.

Indigineous Culture – Local Villages

Upon reaching the Drymalia/Traghea area, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking sight: over four hundred thousand olive trees, some of which are over a millennium old. This region remains steeped in the remnants of indigenous culture, infusing it with a distinct personality that sets it apart from the rest of the island.

Venturing further to Chalkio and its surrounding area, often referred to as the Byzantine Mystras of the Aegean due to its abundance of stunning churches, feels like entering a world of its own. These villages—Chalkio, Moni, Kinidaros, Filoti, Apeirathos, and Koronos—beckon nature enthusiasts with their diverse offerings. From hiking trails to marble quarries, from natural springs to emery mines, and from olive groves to citrus orchards, this region is a haven for outdoor exploration.

Chalkio village, in particular, stands out as a veritable treasure trove of history, culture, and art. Its historic district boasts striking neoclassical architecture and imposing Venetian towers, alongside numerous galleries, taverns, cafes, boutiques, local delicatessens, and loom weaving shops-cum-exhibitions. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply seeking an authentic cultural experience, Chalkio promises to captivate and enchant at every turn.

Why it is important Not to skip Naxos Island in your next Greek holiday

The Naxian hinterland beckons visitors with the rare opportunity to immerse themselves in untamed nature, whether by foot or by car, promising a day filled with fulfillment and wonder.

As you journey along the road from Potamia to Chalkio, the imposing silhouette of the Upper Castle emerges, capturing the imagination much like the famed Sarakiniko in Milos. Here, the landscape takes on an otherworldly quality, with towering rocks sculpted into mesmerizing shapes that seem to belong to a lunar landscape.

Nestled between the villages of Ano Potamia and Melanes lies the magnificent “Kalamitsia” – The Jesuit Palace, an architectural marvel that demands exploration from every angle.

With vibrant cultural experiences, thrilling eco-adventures, and tantalizing local organic cuisine awaiting at every turn, Naxos stands as the ultimate destination for those seeking their own slice of “pura vida.” Scaling Mountain Zeus, the highest peak in the Cyclades reaching 1004 meters, offers a captivating journey with panoramic views of the entire archipelago. Standing atop its summit feels akin to conquering the world itself.

And no visit to the island would be complete without a pilgrimage to the Great Door of the Cyclades, the iconic Portara. Perched majestically overlooking the archipelago, it exudes a timeless allure, perhaps serving as a portal to another realm for those with a touch of imagination. Watching the sunset from the hill of Portara is an experience of unparalleled beauty, etching unforgettable memories in the hearts of all who witness it.

Life in Naxos goes slowly in everything. Here you don’t just see the people but you meet the people.

Naxos, with its expansive landscapes and diverse offerings, warrants at least a week’s exploration to truly grasp its essence. What sets this island apart is the remarkable variety it presents – from its breathtaking landscapes to its rich cultural tapestry, vibrant local personalities, and delectable cuisine. However, the true essence of Naxos lies in its people. Warm and hospitable, locals readily welcome visitors into their homes, inviting them to share in meals, drinks, and laughter. Embracing this invitation opens the door to an authentic village experience, steeped in beauty and tranquility, that lingers in memory long after departure.

Catering to a wide array of travelers, Naxos appeals to families, couples, honeymooners, photographers, artists, yoga enthusiasts, writers, adventurers, and solo explorers alike. While the coastline boasts stunning sandy beaches and crystalline waters, the mainland holds the true treasures for those seeking respite from the ordinary and a taste of the extraordinary. With its designation as a Natural Holiday Destination, Naxos embodies serenity and tranquility, offering solace to those who appreciate ethical living amidst nature’s embrace. Explorers are rewarded with hidden gems and untouched landscapes, waiting to be discovered by those who tread off the beaten path.

Why it is important Not to skip Naxos Island in your next Greek holiday


Location is key when exploring Naxos, and ELaiolithos boasts an ideal position for discovering all the island has to offer. Conveniently situated, the hotel is just a 20 to 30-minute drive from even the most remote beaches, making it the perfect base for your adventures. Plus, with renowned villages like Chalkio, Filoti, Apeiranthos, Kinidharos, Damarionas, and Koronos all within close proximity – some just a short drive away – you’ll have easy access to the heart of Naxos’s cultural charm.

Major attractions are also nearby, with Panagia Drosiani just a 5-minute walk away, the marble quarries a quick 5-minute drive, and the Upper Castle and Fotodotis reachable within 20 minutes. Even the Aria Spring in Zeus Mountain is just a 10-minute drive away.

ELaiolithos serves as your gateway to authentic Naxos Island, offering a one-of-a-kind experience tailored to travelers seeking something truly extraordinary. With a blend of comfort, charm, and genuine hospitality, every guest feels at home while immersing themselves in the authentic essence of Greek island life.


In November, the raki-making process on Naxos is akin to a magical ritual, offering a unique glimpse into local culture. For an authentic experience, seek out a local gathering in Moni or Kinidharos village and immerse yourself in this centuries-old tradition. Moni village further celebrates this tradition with its annual “Raki Festival” event, featuring live music and open to all. Here, locals and visitors alike come together to partake in raki-making, indulging in freshly barbecued meats and lively dancing that lasts well into the night.

During the Apokries (Halloween) festivities, heralding the start of carnival season in Greece, Naxos truly comes alive. Spanning two weeks leading up to the 40-day Lenten period before Easter, each village boasts its own unique traditions and celebrations, offering a non-stop extravaganza of merriment. With a vibrant local music scene boasting numerous folk musicians, traditional festivals on Naxos are a spectacle unto themselves, with locals and visitors alike reveling in the joyous atmosphere that extends into the early hours of the morning.

Why it is important Not to skip Naxos Island in your next Greek holiday

Naxos truly stands out among Greek islands, boasting reliable transportation links not only to Piraeus but also to numerous other islands, ensuring daily access year-round by both boat and plane. Renowned for its safety, Naxos offers visitors a sense of complete relaxation and freedom, allowing them to explore without fear. Here, worries dissipate as you immerse yourself in the island’s serene atmosphere. Embrace the leisurely pace of life, adopt the rhythm of the locals, and experience the inner tranquility and joy that Naxos exudes, providing the perfect environment for complete enjoyment and relaxation.

Naxos – an exciting, enlightening, enriching and safe experience…..

One Inseparable Whole!

Article written by Copyright © Helen Marakis . All rights reserved