What Greek Island has the best hiking?

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Santorini is the best Greek island for hiking. The volcanic island of Santorini offers the most exciting hike of the Greek islands, with breathtaking views from the crater rim 300 metres down the steep walls to the sea. The hike along the crater rim from Santorini’s whitewashed capital Firá to Oía on the northwestern tip of the island is just under 10.5 km long, takes between 3 and 5 hours and is the best hike you can ever do in your life.

Greek Tavern on the Beach
Greek Tavern on the Beach of Piso Livadi on the Cycladic Island of Paros © Brigitte Pamperl

The Cycladic Islands

There are many Greek islands that invite you to go hiking. The most popular are the Cyclades. The sacred island of Delos, the legendary birthplace of Artemis and her brother Apollo, was one of the most important places of worship in Greece in ancient times. The islands lying around it in a circle were called Cyclades, “enclosing islands”. The Cyclades are a group of about 30 islands located in the southern Aegean Sea.

Islands in the Southern Aegean Sea
Islands in the Southern Aegean Sea © Brigitte Pamperl

The Aegean Sea

The Aegean Sea is the northeastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by mainland Greece to the west and north and by Turkey to the east. The Aegean islands acted as a bridge connecting Europe with Asia.

The islands of the Cyclades are the peaks of mountain ranges that were submerged about three million years ago after the subduction of the African plate under the Eurasian plate caused the initially single island of the Cyclades Massif to break apart and subsequently being flooded. 

the circular Santorini island group
The Circular Santorini Island Group © Brigitte Pamperl

In the period around 5000 BC to 1600 BC, the Cyclades were the center of a Bronze Age society, the Cycladic culture. Akrotiri one of the most important sites in the Aegean was a Cycladic Bronze Age settlement that was covered by volcanic ash in the 17th century BC following one of the largest volcanic eruptions on Earth in human history.

Akrotiri
The Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri was buried in volcanic ash in the 17th century BC which preserved the remains of many objects. © Brigitte Pamperl

Over time, the Cyclades came under the rule of virtually all the powers in the region, including the Crusaders, who ceded the islands to the Republic of Venice in 1204. The Venetians founded the Duchy of the Aegean Sea with Naxos as the capital. In the capital Chora they built a fortified castle with circuit towers using materials from the ancient city.

Naxos Portara
Naxos Portara, a massive marble doorway of a temple dedicated to Apollo built in the 6th century BC. © Brigitte Pamperl

Cyclades

While hiking in the Cyclades, you can explore several islands at once, such as Santorini, Naxos and Paros. 

Santorini

Santorini is the southernmost island of the Cyclades with Firá it’s capital. Geologically, Santorini is the remaining eastern half of an exploded volcano. Its bow-shaped rim and the remnant isles of Thirasía and Aspronísi form the edge of an open lagoon, a caldera flooded by the sea with volcanic cliffs rising to almost a 1,000 feet (300 metres). The cliffs of Santorini face west. To the east, the terrain slopes gently down to sea level with beautiful beaches for swimming in the sea, such as Kamari and Perissa. On top of the cliffs there is a walk from Firá to Oía a coastal town on the northwestern tip of Santorini.

Volcanic Cliffs of Santorini with Skaros Rock, Imerovigli and Oía on the Northwestern Tip
Volcanic Cliffs of Santorini with Skaros Rock, Imerovigli and Oía on the Northwestern Tip © Brigitte Pamperl

Naxos

Naxos, the largest island of the Cyclades, is located approximately in the middle of the Aegean Sea, south of Mykonos and east of Paros. The relief of Naxos is mountainous. The island is crossed south of the center by a north-south running mountain range, whose highest peak is Mount Zas (1,003 m). The eastern slopes of the range are steep, while the western slopes slope gently down to an area of farmland, where the plain of Plaka extends to the south and the plain of Livadi to the north, at the northwestern end of which and on the beach is the town of Naxos (Chora).

The Tragea Plateau near Rachi on Naxos Island
The Tragea Plateau near Rachi on Naxos Island. © Brigitte Pamperl

Tragea Plateau

The highland valley in the center of the island of Naxos is called Tragaia or more commonly Tragea. The Tragea plateau is surrounded by the mountains “Koronos” and “Fanari” in the north, as well as mount “Zas” in the southeast. The region of Tragaia is the principal olive cultivation area of the Cyclades that is also known as the “Byzantine Mystras” since most of the churches of Naxos are built there of which you come along on a walk from Chalki to Moni. Chalki used to be the capital of the island and Moni at an altitude of 500 m rewards the visitor with great views of the central Tragea plateau.

The Church of Saint George Diasoritis
The Church of Saint George Diasoritis near Chalki on the Tragea Plateau of Naxos Island. © Brigitte Pamperl

Paros

Paros the third largest and one of the most popular island of the Cyclades lies west of Naxos, from which it is separated by a channel about 8 kilometres (5 miles) wide. The island is of a round, plump-pear shape, formed by rolling hills and in the center with a single mountain, Agioi Pantes, (724 m (2,375 ft)) that slopes evenly down on all sides to a maritime plain with flat coastal areas and easily accessible beaches considered to be some of the best in the Cyclades which invite you to take coastal walks.

Molos Beach on the East Coast of Paros
Molos Beach facing Naxos on the East Coast of Paros. © Brigitte Pamperl

Historically, Paros was known for its fine white marble. Some of the masterpieces of ancient Greek sculpture were made with this pure white, translucent material. For example the statue of Venus de Milo representing the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite ( Venus to the Romans) that is on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Paros nearest neighbor is the smaller sister island of Antiparos, which lies to its southwest. The channel between the two islands is less than 2 km (1 mi) wide.

Parikia Bay Paros
Parikia Bay with Antiparos in the Background. © Brigitte Pamperl

Parikia

The capital of Paros, Parikia, is situated on a bay on the north-west side of the island. Above the central stretch of the seafront road, there is a picturesque neighborhood named “kastro” with remains of a tower that used to be part of the medieval castle, that was built by the Venetians in 1260, when Paros belonged to the Duchy of Naxos. Almost the entire Venetian tower was built with marble remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo.

Venetian Tower in Parikia
The Venetian Tower in Parikia. © Brigitte Pamperl

Travel offer "Hiking on the Greek Islands"

Travel time: October 14 to October 21, 2023

Itinerary

Arrival

On day 1 there is the arrival in Santorini to Hotel Santellini in Kamari which is on the east side of the Island south of the airport.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

Upon arrival, you can enjoy the beach at Kamari or take your first hike up Mésa Vounó, the rugged, rocky 354-metre mountain rising steeply from sea level that borders Kamari to the south.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

In the evening we gather for the first greek meal in a typical tavern.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

After breakfast we take the bus to Firá, the capital of Santorini which lies on the edge of the volcanic cliffs. From Firá we walk along the crater rim to Oía on the northwestern tip of Santorini where we have a typical greek dish for example Moussaka in a nice tavern before we head back to Kamari by bus.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

As you can see on the map, we initially climb from an altitude of about 200 m above sea level to an altitude of about 350 m at the village of Imerovigli. Then we go downhill twice and uphill again before we finally descend after about 10 km to an altitude of about 55 m in Oía.

We will take about half a day for this beautiful, panoramic hike. You can move along the route with the curser in the inset.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

After breakfast we are transferred to the ferry port of Athinios on the west side of Santorini island. There we have a chance to view the steep rising cliffs of the island from below. The seajets ferry to Naxos departs at 12:00. After a short journey through the south aegean sea we arrive in Naxos at 13:20. There we move into our Hotel Chateau Zivgoli, which is situated in the labyrinths of the old town that rise from the harbor all the way up the Castro hill. 

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

After dining together in a typical greek tavern  you can explore the old town of Chora, the capital of Naxos that is full of narrow stone paths where you coud get lost.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

On day 4 we take the bus to Filoti from where we hike up mount Zas which is with about 1000 m the highest mountain of the Cyclades. Zas, the chief deity in ancient Greek religion was a sky and weather god who was called the father of both gods and men. Zas was regarded as the sender of thunder and lightning and his traditional weapon was the thunderbolt. Zas grew up on Naxos and gave his name to the highest mountain on Naxos.

As you can see on the map, we initially climb from an altitude of about 370 m above sea level in Filoti to an altitude of about 1000 m at the peak of Mount Zas. After the descent we reach Filoti again. The total length of this hike is about 10 km. We will plan all day for this tour that offers a view over the Cycladic islands. You can move along the route with the curser in the inset.

Before returning to Chora on day 4 we have a traditional meal, i.e. lamb in lemon sauce in a greek tavern, i.e. Ambrosía in Filoti.

Greek Tavern in Filoti
Greek Tavern in Filoti. © Brian Scantlebury

On day 5 we take the bus from Chora to Chalki from where we do a circular walk in the Tragea plateau to Moni and back to Chalki. The highland valley in the center of the island of Naxos is called Tragaia or more commonly Tragea. The region of Tragea is the principal olive cultivation area of the Cyclades.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

Also most of the churches of Naxos are built on the Tragea plateau the oldest probably being a church (circa 6th century) in Halki at the bus stop. You come along the churches of the Tragea plateau on a circular walk from Halki to Moni and back. Halki used to be the capital of the island and Moni at an altitude of 500 m rewards the visitor with great views of the central Tragea plateau.

We take all morning for this circular 7,4 km walk on the Tragea plateau from a height of about 270 m in Halki to about 450 m in Moni. You can move along the route with the curser in the inset of the map.

However, before returning to Chora by bus, we have a meal in a tavern in Halki where we can eat for dessert, for example, Galaktomboureko, a semolina pudding baked in very thin layers of dough.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

On day 6 in the morning at 9:30 we take the ferry from Naxos to Parikia the capital of the neighbouring island of Paros. Since Paros is very close to Naxos the ferry ride only takes 45 minutes. From Parikia we take the bus to Alyki in the south of the island. After a meal in a Greek taverna, we set off on a leisurely walk along the south-west coast of Paros, where there are sandy beaches inviting you to swim in the dark blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

Antiparos is a volcanic rock 1.5 km southwest of Paros. The port and historical center of the main settlement lies at the northeastern tip of Antiparos, opposite Pounta.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

This walk from Alyki to Pounta along the beaches of Makrya Myti, Voutakos and Pounta offers great views of Alyki bay, Antiparos and the little islets in the Strait of Antiparos.

The distance of this comfortable walk is 8 km, the elevation 25 m. You can move along the route with the curser in the inset of the map.

On day 7 we visit Antiparos the smaller sister island of Paros for a walk along it’s north Coast.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

The northern coast of Antiparos offers a scenic view of Paros across the Strait of Antiparos. Our trail follows the waterline on rugged ground and sanded beaches.

Distance 5 km, elevation 17 m. You can move along the route with the curser in the inset of the map.

There is a taverna meal in Antiparos town at the end of the walk with for example a variety of appetizers including calamari fried, traditional Greek salad, chicken souvlaki, fried zucchini chips, fried zucchini balls and tzatziki.

Come with Otto and Brigitte walking on Greek Islands in October 2023

Departure

On day 8 there is the departure from the island of Paros either by ferry or by plane

7 nights in 3* hotels with breakfast

7 full greek taverna meals

2 tour guides (Otto and Brigitte)

Local guides for 4 of the 5 hikes

Ferry crossing from Santorini to Naxos on the first high-speed seajets vessel of the day

Ferry crossing from Naxos to Paros with Blue Star Ferries

Transfer from the airport or ferry port to the hotel in Santorini on arrival

Transfer from the hotel in Santorini to the ferry port

All bus transfers to the walks and hikes

Transfer to the airport or ferry port in Paros on departure 

  • On this tour you will get to know the 4 Cycladic islands of Santorini, Naxos, Paros and Antiparos while hiking in a small group, with 4 of the 5 hikes being accompanied by local guides.

    You will climb the highest mountain in the Cyclades, Mount Zas, on Naxos.

    Each hike ends with a full meal in a Greek taverna.

Arrival details

You will be picked up upon arrival at the airport or ferry port in Santorini and brought to the hotel.

Departure details

You will be transferred to the airport or ferry port in Paros on departure.

This tour is not wheelchair accessible.

  • Booking is done by sending a booking request.
  • Bookings are confirmed after a deposit has been transferred to our account.
    The balance is due 20 days before the start of the journey.
  • Number of participants: min. 8, max. 12. 
  • Registration deadline is 3 weeks before the start of the journey.
  • Price per person double room occupancy: € 2.180,00

  • Single room supplement: 210 €
  • The cancellation conditions are: 

    Up to 60 days before 14 Oct. 2023 10% of the price

    59th to 27th day before 14 Oct. 2023 30% of the price

    28th to 15th day before 14 Oct. 2023 50% of the price

    14th to 6th day before 14 Oct. 2023 75% of the price

    5th to 1st day before 14 Oct. 2023 90% of the price

    No-show 100% of the price

  • If you have questions about this walking holiday just call +43 680 301 7720. All calls go straight to Otto Schlappack, the organiser of the walking holiday.

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