NAXOS

NAXOS

The ancients believed Naxos (pop. 18,500), the largest of the Cyclades, was the home of Dionysus. Olive groves, wineries, small villages, and chalky white ruins fill its interior, while sandy beaches line its shores. Naxos Town, the capital, is crowned by the Kastro, a Venetian castle now home to two museums. The liVene- tian Museum features evening concerts with traditional Greek music, dancing, and shadow theater. (Open daily 10am-4pm and 7-1 lpm. ‚5, students and seniors ‚3.) The Archaeological Museum occupies the former College Frangais, which educated Nikos Kazantzakis, author of The Last Temptation of Christ and Zorba the Greek. (Open Su and Tu-Sa 8:30am-2pm. ‚3, students ‚2.) The Mitropolis Museum, next to the Orthodox Church, is an architectural achievement in itself, built around the excavated site of a 13th-century BC settlement. (Open Su and Tu-Sa 8:30am-3pm. Free.) The 6th-century BC Portara archway, visible from the waterfront, is one of the few archaeological sites in Greece where you can actually climb all over the ruins. To experience the island fully, it’s essential to escape Naxos Town. A bus goes from the port to the beaches of Agia Georgios, Agios Proko- pios, Agia Anna, and Plaka (every 30min. ‚1.20). Buses also run from Naxos Town to Apiranthos, a beautiful village with narrow, marble paths (lhr. ‚2.10). To get to the Tragea highland valley, an enormous, peaceful olive grove, take a bus from Naxos Town to Halki (30min. 6 per day, ‚1.20).

Ferries go from Naxos Town to: Athens (6V6hr. 2 per day, ‚17); Ios (lhr. daily, ‚8.20); Kos (7hr. 1 per week, ‚16); Mykonos (3hr. daily, ‚9); Paros (lhr. 4 per day, ‚5.50); Rhodes (13hr. 1 per week, ‚20); Santorini (3hr. 3 per day, ‚13); and Thessaloniki (14hr. 1 per week, ‚30). The tourist office is 300m up from the dock, by the bus station. (22850 24 358. Open daily 8am-llpm.) Irene’s Pension 0, about 100m from Ag. Giorgios, is near the center of the town, (s 22850 23 169. All rooms with AC. Call ahead. Singles ‚15; doubles ‚20-30; triples ‚25-35; 5- person apartments ‚40-50.) Panorama 0, in Old Naxos, has rooms with fans and fridges. ( 22850 22 330. Doubles from ‚25.) Naxos has three camping options along the beach; look for representatives along the dock. (‚5 per person, plus a small tent fee.) Postal Code: 84300.

IOS (log 22860

Ios (pop. 2,000) has everything your mother warned you about swimming less than 30 minutes after a meal, dancing in the streets, and drinking games all day long on the beach. The port (Yialos) is at one end of the island’s sole paved road; the village (Hora) sits above it on a hill; but the beaches are the place to be. Most spend their days at Mylopotas Beach, a 20min. walk downhill from Ios town or a bus ride from the port or village (every 10-20min. 7:20am-midnight, ‚ 1). Sunning is typically followed by drinking; Dubliner, near the basketball courts, is a good place to start. On Thursday nights, ‚24 buys you pizza, a drink, and cover immunity at five bars that comprise the ultimate pub crawl. Head up from the plateia to reach the Slammer Bar for tequila slammers (‚3), then run with the pack to Red Bull for shots (‚2.40). Grind to techno at Scorpion Disco, the, island’s largest club, as you stumble your way back to the beach. (Cover after lam.) Only a few hours later, crowds begin to gather at the beach, where Mylopotas Water Sports Center offers rental and lessons for windsurfing, water-skiing, and snorkeling (‚14-40).

Ferries go to: Naxos (l%hr. at least 3 per day, ‚8.20) and Santorini (lVShr. 3 per day, ‚6.20). The main tourist office is next to the bus stop. ( 22860 91 343. Open daily 8am-midnight.) In the village, take the uphill steps to the left in the plateia and take the first left to reach ElFrancesco’s , where you’ll find spectacular harbor views and a terrace bar. ( 22860 91 706; www.francescos.net. Dorms ‚8-14; doubles ‚10-25.) On the end of Mylopotas Beach, liFar Out Camping has a pool, plenty of tents, parties, and activities, including bungee jumping. ( 22860 92 301. Open Apr.-Oct. Tent rental ‚4-7.50; small cabins from ‚5; bungalows ‚7-18.) iiAli Baba’s , next to Ios Gym, offers delicious pad thai (‚8.50) and burgers (‚5.50). On a narrow street off the main church’s plateia, Lord Byron’s serves a unique blend of Greek and Smimiki food. (Entrees ‚9-15.) Postal Code: 84001.

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