Highlight hiking routes in Naxos
Skado – Komiaki – Apollon Bay
The scenery changes as you set out from Skado village in the north, with low vegetation gradually being replaced by oak and walnut trees and other greenery. Eventually, you reach Komiaki (or Koronida), built at 650m on the slopes of Mt Koronos. Look out for the stone shepherd’s huts (known as mitata) and the vaulted Mycenaean tomb dating from the 15th century BC, as you leave. The biggest treat comes as you approach Apollon Bay, with views of the Aegean Sea. On the way down, you encounter the Kouros of Apollonas, one of Naxos’ famous half-finished ancient kouri statues, weighing 80 tonnes and lying a full 10m long on the hillside in what was once a marble quarry. After a challenging 4.5hr walk, lunch and a swim await at Apollo beach.
Filoti – Cave of Zeus – Mt Zas summit
Before setting out, enjoy the atmosphere of a classic Cycladic village, with a picturesque main square, whitewashed houses & flower-potted courtyards. Centrally located Filoti is Naxos’ largest settlement and your goal is to reach the island’s tallest peak, Mt Zas. The scenery matches the challenge, with only the occasional sheep and goat herd to accompany you. In the middle of the route, you pass the Cave of Zeus, with stalagmites and stalactites and, according to Greek mythology, where the king of the gods spent his childhood hidden from his father, Kronos. A nearby ancient Greek inscription reads OROS DIOS MILOSIOU (translating as Mountain of Zeus, Protector of Sheep). From the 1km-high summit (known as ‘the nose of Zeus’), you’ll gasp at the panoramic views of the Aegean Sea and surrounding islands. Rest as long as you like before the return journey, completing a hike of around 9.2km. For a shorter walk, head back at the Cave of Zeus.
Keramoti – Routsouna Waterfalls
From Keramoti (a village of small stone houses, narrow alleyways and a watermill that is surrounded by mountains and greenery in the heart of Naxos), you follow a well-marked stone path that takes you through a valley towards Routsouna Waterfalls. The impressive 20m-tall falls (around 2.2km from Keramoti) are the result of two streams that run north and south of Keramoti, on Mt Koronos and Fanari respectively. Especially in the summer months, the pool at the base of the waterfall is a favourite place for a dip.
Tip: Visiting the waterfalls in spring or early summer reduces the chances of the waterfall being dry.
Melanes – Mili – Kouros of Flerio
Another hike in the hilly centre of Naxos that includes a couple of traditional mountain villages and a cultural bonus. Semi-mountainous Melanes is one of the oldest settlements on Naxos, famous for its ancient aqueduct which transported water from the nearby springs to Hora (the main town). Make sure to have a good look around before heading out from the lower part of the village in the direction of Mili. After a short walk, you pick up a cobbled path through fertile fields with wildflowers and past impressive old houses. Crossing tiny Mili, follow the marked path "No.6" which takes you to the spot where the Kouros of Flerio is located in the shade of a rural garden. It is smaller than the Kouros of Apollonas (5m) and appears to have been abandoned in this spot in antiquity. The route is easy for the whole family, around 3km in each direction.
Tsikalario – Chimarros – Sangri – Temple of Demeter
This route starts from the village of Tsikalario and neighbouring Chimarros (famous as a large area of cultivation in the centre of the island) and takes you to the Temple of Demeter. It is a long walk (around 7.2km to the temple) but there are plenty of highlights on the way, including four churches (Agios Artemios and the church complex of Agii Anargyri) as well as the 17th-century Paleologos Tower (a refurbished three-storey Venetian-era fortification). Continuing to Sangri, whose name derives from the French Saint Croix and which is made up of Upper (Ano) and Lower (Kato) parts. Around 2km further on, you reach the Temple of Demeter, the 6th-century BC sanctuary dedicated to the goddess of harvest and fertility. It is perhaps the best representation of Naxian marble and was a forerunner of the Parthenon temple in Athens. When you get there, you can also visit the Archaeological Museum of Gyroulas, just below the temple.
Marvel at the ancient Temple of Demeter
The chapel of Agia Marina – Fotodotis Monastery – Apiranthos
Setting out from the chapel of Agia Marina just outside Filoti (not to be confused with other Agia Marina churches on Naxos), you follow a path to the fortified Monastery of Fotodotis. Built in around 1600, it looks more like a castle than a monastery and inside, you can admire the unique Katholikon architecture as well as a marble iconostasis and remains of old Byzantine icons and frescoes. There are also panoramic views across eastern Naxos. The path continues from here to Apiranthos, completing a 9km route. One of Naxos’ most memorable villages, with Venetian arches and towers, Apiranthos is known locally as the ‘Marble Village’ because of its intricate stonework. There are a handful of interesting museums (Archaeological, Natural and Folklore) in the village. If you join a guided tour (highly recommended), you will be transported back to Hora from here.