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Naxos has a wonderfully diverse landscape that ranges from the severe beauty of marble mountains and deep, Eden-like valleys to perfect and deserted beaches. It is Greece in microcosm, where walkers explore an infinite network of traditional paths and experience classic Greek countryside, coastlines and culture.
Because of the island’s size (about 750 sq km – the size of the Isle of Wight, for UK readers), soil, and plentiful water, it is self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy produce, and produces its own wine, liqueurs, and olive oil. The seasonal rhythm of farming life evokes a sense of peace and continuity as you walk through tiny villages bordered by market garden terraces and citrus orchards, beside channels of sparkling water.
The island’s eventful past reaches far back to the myths of ancient Greece. Minotaur-slayer Theseus abandoned the Cretan princess Ariadne here. Some say that the wine god Dionysos was born in a cave high above the island’s north-east coast, and that the Olympian god Zeus grew to manhood on the slopes of Mount Zas.
You see history around you as you walk, in the shaping of the land and in its art and architecture, or a pre-Classical temple commanding a broad valley of golden fields. Mysterious grave circles are set in a granite moonscape at the foot of a weathered tor – which is topped by the ruins of a fortified palace built by Venetian occupiers.
The walks take you to magical parts of the island that you would never discover on your own, along marble-paved mule-tracks and hidden valley paths, past the crumbling ruins of a vaulted monastery in a luxuriant, wild garden or a remote Byzantine chapel with rare frescoes.
Donoussa is a little hikers’ paradise where the original Cycladic charm remains for the most part intact. Join us in a memorable walking holiday that combines one of the biggest and most appealing island of the Cyclades with the uncut jewel of the Minor Cyclades, Donoussa. Together, we will walk into amazing landscapes, from scenic, faraway beaches with emerald waters to rugged mountain tops with breathtaking views, visit traditional Cycladic villages, old chapels, and monasteries, and seek the traces of Ancient Greece and the Byzantium in renowned (as well as little-known) historic sights. You will also enjoy fantastic picnics in beautiful locations, and savour the life and the taste of the Cyclades in traditional cafes & tavernas with local specialties. Based on our local knowledge, versatility, and experience, our exclusive Naxos & Donoussa programme is designed to offer a rich & varied experience in itineraries you simply cannot find elsewhere.
Arrival on Naxos. You and your party are met at the port or airport and taken to either the Gilly’s Garden Villa (800 m from Pyrgaki beach in the island’s south) or a hotel in Naxos Town. Welcome dinner at a local taverna with your guide.
Explore a deep valley with abandoned mill-races, a ruined monastery and church, and streams and pools where we may spot iridescent dragonflies, freshwater crabs, and turtles.
Climb to a fortified monastery with a prospect of sea and the islands of the Minor Cyclades. A dazzling white, marble path leads to a village in a deep-cleft valley, from which you head gradually uphill to Mount Zas (1004m), the highest point in the Cyclades, with breathtaking views from the summit.
Walk along the most unspoilt coastline of Naxos, from sandy bay to golden strand, past lagoons and over a protected headland, taking a dip in the Aegean blue whenever you fancy.
Start with sweeping views of a plain silver-green with olives and studded with Venetian tower houses, and continue through maze-like lanes of two prosperous villages, one with a finely restored olive press. Then walk through a wide valley flanked by limestone crags where eagles fly before reaching a broad vale that has been farmed for millennia, crowned by the marble of the early-Classical Temple of Demeter. Late-night departure to Donoussa by ferry.
Wake up at Donoussa (permanent population 180) and savor the relaxed, truly Cycladic ambiance! We stay in rooms overlooking the open sea and after breakfast, we start on a walk by the water to a rocky marble-white cape, following the lace-like coastline over spectacular cliffs and down to scenic, faraway beaches.
Walk on centuries-old footpaths on the terraced hillsides to hamlets, springs and ruined windmills with amazing sea views, descending to a string of pristine golden-sanded beaches for a dip in Donoussa’s extraordinary emerald-blue waters.
We take the early morning ferry back to Paros or Piraeus the next day, passing by the long lumpy outline of Naxos.