Naxos: A country ‘in a nutshell’

«Sensational diversity and accessible diversity» was how Gilly summed up Greece, in explanation of what led her and Robin to pick the country, out of many, for their walking tours company. France was dismissed as being too developed, walking-wise. A visit to Naxos in 2002 persuaded them to pick the Cyclades’ largest island as their base. They were not the first to appreciate the island’s advantages. The god Dionysus, reputedly born on Naxos, was so happy with Ariadne there that he bestowed on it his blessing. With the earliest known vine cultivation and domestic use of the olive (some of the trees date back to Venetian times), Naxos is the greenest island in the Cyclades and is famed for its agricultural produce, especially its cheese and wine. It is also exceptionally rich in cultural artifacts and history and has more Byzantine murals than any other island, including the only example of a bird depicted in wall paintings. It’s «Greece in a nutshell,» as the Cameron Coopers put it. It is this variety that their walks attempt to distill. A UK-based company, Walking Plus can be contacted at [email protected] or (0044)20.8835.8303 (website At present, tours are either eight or 10 days’ long (with options for locals), with the 10-day holiday including two nights in Athens and a chance to explore the city with a self-guided tour. Standard prices (for the eight-day tour) include the cost of accommodation, food and drink, but not air fares or transport to Naxos. Next year, Walking Plus hopes to offer self-guided tours on Naxos, with transportation of walkers or heavy baggage and accommodation all arranged; all guests have to do is walk.