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Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades. Its west coast is an almost continuous line of sandy beaches with a fair amount of development near the town at the northern end, but increasingly virginal as you head south. The east coast, an hourís drive away, is as yet almost undiscovered and offers a succession of enticing sandy bays running south from Moutsouna. There is, currently, no road connecting the east and west coasts round the southernmost tip, which perhaps indicates the size and wildness of the island. The green and mountainous interior has some small archaeological sites, monasteries, countless churches, some post-classical statues (kouroi), caves, pretty hill villages and lots of paths and mule tracks. And the odd signpost.
Naxos town is not only the capital but, like its near neighbour, Paros, a cross-roads for the main ferry services connecting the Cyclades to Piraeus and on across to the Dodecanese. The long harbour-front is one long al fresco dining room with boats on one side and busy shops on the other, making it a splendid people-watching venue. Overlooking it is the impressive Castro which contrasts with the harbour-front by being eerily quiet. Up here you wander through narrow arches into small squares, past historic houses, a cathedral, a Venetian castle and extensive ramparts, whence there are wonderful views over the harbour across to Paros. The area below the Castro is the Labyrinth, a warren of tiny alleys, steep stepped paths and dozens of tiny restaurants and shops.
There is now considerable development in terms of accommodation and commercial activity on the immediate outskirts of the town. Here is where small hotels are featured by some international tour operators, but the lack of an airport capable of taking charters ensures it remains defiantly Greek and relatively unspoilt. The beaches which run from Agios Prokopios southwards (reached by bus or caique) are gradually spawning hotels with glorious sands on the door step and there are plenty of watersporting opportunities, especially at Mikri Vigla. The beaches continue south until you round the tip and reach the vast expanse of sand at Psili Ammos.
There are historic villages in the hills, Apeiranthus perhaps the most notable, but others have similar charm. Using the buses you can indulge in [predominantly downhill!] walks, several culminating at the charming village of Halki where there is a splendid taverna for some R&R and a bus service back to town.
Naxos has a small airport for domestic flights, but is copiously served by ferries and fast catamarans. It is easily combined with any of the Lesser Cyclades to its SE and with Mykonos, Paros and Santorini.