Hiking on Naxos, Iraklia and Amorgos: Highlights
Explore an infinite network of traditional marble-paved mule-tracks and hidden valley paths
Visit monasteries, Byzantine chapels with rare frescoes, ancient monuments
Refresh by swimming at remote solitary beaches with crystal-clear Aegean waters
Walk to Mount Zas – the highest mountain of the Cyclades and legendary home to Olympian god Zeus
Delightful walks in the rural countryside where life is still very traditional
Barren landscapes contrasting with pretty white-washed houses and the endless deep blue of the Aegean sea… an ancient network of paths… traditional villages… gorgeous sandy beaches… solitary bays… picturesque fishing ports… friendly and hospitable islanders… delicious food… folk music… are a few examples of what you will experience on this self-guided walking holiday around the Cycladic islands.
The most famous island group in the Aegean Sea, the Cyclades is a cluster of 24 inhabited islands that forms an imaginary circle (the name in English means: “circular islands”) around the sacred island of Delos. The islands are actually just the tips of submerged mountain ridges.
You will first explore the stunning island of Naxos, the largest and greenest of the Cycladic islands. You will walk along ancient trails, through quaint mountain villages, past Venetian towers and ancient temples, through olive groves and incredible natural landscapes. Visit the old fortified ‘Kastro’ reservation and experience the unique Greek hospitality and island culture. Finish off with a walk at the top of Mt. Zas, the highest peak of the Cyclades, where Zeus is said to have been given the thunder to conquer Mt. Olympus.
Continue South of Naxos and explore Amorgos & Iraklia, part of a group called the Small Cyclades. Until recently, these islands were very isolated so they still remain unspoilt… a small haven of peace, tranquility and traditional Greek hospitality.
|11 DAY TOUR||From €855 per person sharing*
*A high season supplement will apply during the busy summer months.
|ACCOMMODATION||10 nights accommodation traditional family run guesthouses on a bed and breakfast basis. All offer a warm welcome to walkers. All rooms are en-suite.
The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. If a hotel is fully booked, we book a similar alternative for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
|AVAILABILITY||We organise self-guided walking holidays all year round but we recommend the following periods:
This trip is graded easy to moderate overall. Though previous experience is not necessary, a basic fitness level is required. You will walk mainly on paths of moderate gradient with ascents of up to 500 m in a day. Being predominately limestone, parts of the paths are quite rough and stoney. A good pair of hiking boots is needed and walking poles may also be useful.
Day 1: Arrival in Naxos
Get settled at your accommodation at the old quarter of picturesque Naxos town with its medieval atmosphere, narrow alleys & archways. We’ll guide you around the old town which was divided into the Bourgos neighborhood, where the Greeks lived, and the Kastro, the medieval fortress where the Venetian Catholics lived and was the base around which the city of Naxos was developed from the year 1207, when Marco Sanudo made it the capital of the Duchy of the Aegean.
You’ll continue your walk to Mitropolis square – where ruins from Naxos’s Mycenaean capital have been excavated, dating from 1300 BC – and end the walk north of the port at the islet of Palatia and the unfinished Temple of Apollo (6th century BC). This is the best place on the island to watch the sunset!
Have supper at one of our favourite taverns and try some of Naxos’ famous local agricultural products.
Day 2: Explore the traditional villages of Naxos - looped walk
Distance: 9 km | Walking time: 3 hrs approx. | Difficulty: Easy to moderate
This hike starts from the beautiful village of Apiranthos, at the foot of Mt. Fanari. After a short walk to explore the village, you’ll follow the trail to the summit of Fanari to admire the stunning panoramic views of Naxos island and the surrounding Cycladic islands.
The path continues through impressive landscapes and rock formations towards the remote rustic village of Moni, where we recommend stopping at the village’s kafenio for lunch and a drink to immerse yourself in the slow pace of traditional island life as well as the delicious dishes of the day prepared with fresh local ingredients. You will then take the beautiful ‘Byzantine’ path (so-called because of the number of Byzantine churches on the way) towards Chalki, one of the island’s most picturesque villages, situated in an area lush with olive, plane and oak trees, well-known for its pretty houses and especially for the beautiful rare flowers growing in their courtyards.
End the day with a visit to the local distillery and get a taste of local liqueurs and raki!
Day 3: Walk to Mount Zas
Distance: 10 km | Walking time: 3 hrs approx. | Difficulty: Moderate
Start your walk from the village of Filoti and walk to the highest peak of the Cyclades, Mt. Zas, which stands at an impressive 1,004m. The magnificent Zas mountain takes its name from the ancient Greek God Zeus – the father of all the other Gods – who supposedly spent his early life on Naxos. You will enjoy stunning, panoramic views of the rugged surrounding landscape, contrasted with the deep blue of the Aegean Sea.
You’ll first reach a shady spot by the famous water source of Argion, an ideal spot to enjoy the peace and tranquility of your surroundings and rest before starting the ascent. Stop on the way to explore the biggest cave on the island which boasts some impressive stalagmite structures.
From the summit of Zas, on clear days, you will have a panoramic view of all the surrounding Cycladic islands. Zas is also an important hideout and nesting place for many migratory and resident birds such as the Griffon vulture which we hope you will have the chance to observe!
Take the downhill path at the other side of the mountain to reach the village of Filoti where you can have lunch at its picturesque square.
Day 4: The verdant villages of Naxos
Distance: 8 km | Walking time: 3 hrs approx. | Difficulty: Easy
Take the short path towards to the Byzantine church of Agios Mamas – patron saint of shepherds – and admire its extraordinary architecture. The church is one of the oldest on the island, dating from the 9th century. Continue towards the rustic, verdant villages of Potamia – ‘Potami’ means ‘river’ and refers to the river that links the villages and, along with the springs and ruined watermills, irrigates this verdant oasis throughout the year.
You’ll next explore an area of great archaeological significance, boasting historical treasures such as the old aqueduct of Flerio, the abandoned ancient Kouroi (male statues) and the ancient marble quarries. This is the ideal place to stop for a rest and a snack.
Finally, take the path towards the village of Myloi – surrounded by fertile land with groves of lemon, orange, almond and olives – and then continue to the village of Kouronohori, one of the island’s most picturesque villages whose main attraction is the Tower of Fragopoulos.
Your walk ends at the village of Melanes, one of the oldest villages in Naxos which got its name from the dark colour of the soil.
Day 5: Koronos to Lionas beach
Distance: 7.5 km | Walking time: 2½ hrs approx. | Difficulty: Easy
Our recommended hike today starts from the most remote village of Koronos, one of the ’emery’ villages as they were known due to the nearby emery mines. Explore the village of Koronos and stop for a drink to mingle with the hospitable villagers. Leaving the village, you will walk through a remote area of the island, with stunning rural and mountain landscapes. The fragrant smell of local herbs will accompany you and – depending on the season – you’ll be able to gather thyme, oregano, lavender, sage to name a few. In springtime the countryside abounds with rare species of wild flowers and orchids.
The path will finally lead you to the beautiful beach of Lionas, with its multi-coloured pebbles. Reward yourself with a refreshing dip in its crystal clear waters, followed by a delicious lunch at one of the most traditional taverns on the island.
Day 6: Explore the unspoilt island of Iraklia
Distance: 5 km | Walking time: 1½ hrs approx. | Difficulty: Easy
Today you will take a ferry to Iraklia; the most unspoilt island of the Small Cyclades, with a population of just 80 people who are renowned for their hospitality. You will arrive at the fishing port of Ag. Georgios with its colourful fishing boats. Your guesthouse is just a few minutes’ walk from the beach.
Today you can enjoy a short walk to the highest peak of the island, which is also a breeding place for Griffon vultures. Descend towards the main village where you can enjoy a snack and a drink at Maria’s place. Time to get a feel of daily life at a remote Cycladic island!
Day 7: Exploration of Ioannis Cave
Distance: 9 km | Walking time: 3 hrs approx. | Difficulty: Moderate
Take the ancient path that crosses the island’s interior, passing the deserted village of Ag. Athanasios to reach the largest cave in the Cyclades; Ag. Ioannis Cave. You’ll be surprised by the strangely-shaped stalactites, stalagmites and column formations inside, as well as a rare ‘kind of stalagmitic substance dubbed “cave-milk”. The first chamber of the cave is adorned with candles from the religious ceremonies that take place inside the cave every year.
Along the way, you can stop at a solitary bay with a wonderful beach that can only be reached by boat or on foot. Enjoy a refreshing swim, relax by the beach and enjoy a picnic. In the evening, a visit the local tavern of “Akathi” is a must to sample fresh fish caught locally and other delicious local dishes!
Day 8: Island-hopping to Amorgos
Ferry to the pirate island of Amorgos, made famous by Luc Besson’s movie Big Blue. On the way, the ferry island hops to the rest of the Small Cyclades; Schinoussa, Koufonisia, Donousa before finally reaching Amorgos.
You’ll stay at the stunning bay of Aegiali, known for its long sandy beaches and picturesque fishing port, which is surrounded by four traditional hilltop villages overlooking the bay from the surrounding hills.
Tonight you can enjoy a delicious meal at one of our recommended taverns.
Day 9: Amorgos looped walk on the ancient ‘kalderimi’
Distance: 9 km | Walking time: 3 hrs approx. | Difficulty: Easy
Starting from the beach, you take an ancient kalderimi (cobbled or flagstone paths dating back to Byzantine times) around the villages of Tholaria, Stroumbos and Langada. The paths are covered with various endemic and local herbs and flowers.
You will have the opportunity to stop at the villages to experience the hospitality of the islanders and explore the medieval Cycladic architecture. Don’t be surprised if you have to make way for the occasional passing donkey!
The hike encircles the bay below offering the most magnificent panoramic views.
We recommend having lunch at the local ‘kafeneio’, where you can taste delicious local dishes of goat and seasonal vegetable dishes made with fresh local produce.
Day 10: Walking the spine of Amorgos
Distance: 11 km | Walking time: 4 hrs approx. | Difficulty: Moderate
Today you’ll visit one of the most scenic “horas” (island capitals) in the Aegean. You’ll walk its narrow streets and admire its numerous chapels, windmills, and picturesque white-washed houses. You’ll then follow the trail towards the famous monastery of Hozoviotissa, built to protect a virgin Mary icon believed to have arrived from Palestine. Built into the face of a cliff, it provides a breathtaking view of the sparkling deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea. It is, with no doubt, the pride of Amorgos.
This hike continues along the spine of the island, passing medieval hotels and deserted villages and offering breathtaking landscapes all the way until you finally reach the bay of Aegiali… our favourite walk in the island!
You will be rewarded with a delicious supper at one of the oldest taverns of the island.
Day 11: Departure
Return to Naxos by morning ferry. Arrival at Naxos at 9.00am. (Please note that the same ferry continues to Athens and arrives at 15.00pm).