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The Big Daddy of the Cyclades

Naxos, Greece

Náxos is a big fish in a little pond, the largest of the Cyclades (4.48 sq km), and the highest, thanks to Mount Zas at 1,004m (3,295ft). It’s the only one in the archipelago that’s so fertile it’s self sufficient, with cows grazing in coastal pastures and valleys that remain a refreshing green even at the height of the sizzling summer.

The location of Mount Zas in the centre of the island has blessed Naxos with its unique climate and a remarkable range of Mediterranean biotopes: wetlands, wild cedar groves on its dunes, spring-fed valleys and fertile plateaus. Rare monk seals and loggerhead turtles shelter along the east coast; griffon vultures wheel against an indigo sky; endangered crested larks warble in the groves. Pick up the Anávasi map marking the island’s 32 monopatia (footpaths), check bus schedules (or arrange a ride with a taxi driver), and explore.

Náxos makes excellent wine, as well as Kítron, a fragrant liqueur distilled from citron leaves; but seed potatoes are the main export. Over 30 beaches link its shores; the west coast is almost one uninterrupted stretch of silvery sands.

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Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Bgabel, Jan M, John Winder, Marco Verch, Moonshadow~commonswiki on Wikimedia Commons, Navin75, Olaf Tausch, Templar52 at Greek Wikipedia., Tilemahos Efthimiadis, Zde