Naxos, Iraklia & Amorgos self-guided walking

SELF-GUIDED WALKING HOLIDAY AT NAXOS, IRAKLIA & AMORGOS, SMALL CYCLADES

 

PICTURE THIS!

Explore the stunning island of Naxos at a relaxed pace. Walk along ancient trails, through mountainous quaint villages, venetian towers, olive groves and incredible landscapes. Visit the old fortified ‘Kastro’ reservation, ancient temples, abandoned kouros statues and experience the unique Greek hospitality and island culture. Finish with a walk at the top of Mt. Zas, the highest peak of the Cyclades, where Zeus was given the thunder to conquer Mt. Olympus.

HIGHLIGHTS

images Walk the ancient paths of the largest, richest and most diverse Cycladic island,
images Experience traditional island life and unique customs and cultural happenings,
images Stroll through picturesque mountainous villages,
images Explore the Venetian Castles and towers scattered around the island,
images Discover Naxos’ unique nature by walking through its fertile valleys, springs and rivers,
images Hike to the highest peak of the Cyclades to enjoy spectacular views to the Aegean sea,
images Walk along a protected juniper forest and the longest sandy coastline in the Cyclades,
images Taste organic home made food,
images Experience the unique hospitality of the locals,
images Learn all about the Cycladic wild flowers and collect herbs!

KEY INFORMATION

Tour Duration: 7, 10 or 14 days (flexible)
Season: March – November
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Low season Per Person Price: 7-day package: from 474 Euro
High season Per Person Price: 7-day package: from 549 Euro

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVAL AND WELCOME AT NAXOS
Get settled at your accommodation at the old quarter of picturesque Naxos town with its medieval atmosphere, narrow alleys, archways and old houses. We’ll guide you around the old town which was divided into the Bourgos neighbourhood, 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 since 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 in the island to watch the sunset! Have supper at one of our favourite taverns and try Naxos’ famous local agricultural products.

DAY 2: CIRCULAR WALK AROUND NAXOS MOST TRADITIONAL VILLAGES

This hike starts from the beautiful village of Apiranthos built at the foot of Mt. Fanari. After a short walk to explore its venetian towers, pretty old two-story houses, marble paved alleys with arches and picturesque squares, you’ll take the trail to the summit of Fanari to admire the stunning panoramic view 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 to stop at the village’s kafenio for a drink and lunch to suck in the slow pace of traditional island life as well as the delicious day dishes prepared with local ingredients. You will take the beautiful ‘Byzantine’ path as it is often called due to the number of Byzantine churches on the way towards Chalki, one of the most picturesque villages, situated in an area lush with olive, plane and oak trees, well-known for its pretty houses and especially for the rare flowers in their courtyards. End the day with a visit to the local distillery and get a taste of local liquers and raki!

DAY 3: WALK TO THE TOP OF ZAS, THE HIGHEST PEAK OF THE CYCLADES

Start your walk from the village of Filoti and walk at 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 surrounding land and 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 quiet of nature and rest before starting the ascend. Stop on the way to explore the biggest cave on the island which will impress you with its stalagmite structures.

While at the top, in clear days, you can see all the Cycladic islands that surround Naxos. Zas is 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…

Distance: 8.8 km, 2.50h walking time, 5-6h actual walking time with stops to rest and lunch. Easy to moderate.

DAY 4: Walk through verdant villages with springs
Take the short path towards to the Byzantine church of Agios Mamas, patron saint of shepherds and one of the oldest on the island, dating from the 9th century to admire its extraordinary architecture. Continue towards the rustic, verdant villages of Potamia. ‘Potami’ means ‘river’ and refers to the river that crosses the villages and composes along with the springs and ruined watermills this verdant oasis throughout the year.

You’ll next explore an area of great archaeological significance because of 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.

Take the path towards the village of Myloi enjoying a remarkable fertile land, full of lemon trees, orange trees, almond and olive trees, basins with water and then continue to the village of Kouronohori, one of the most picturesque villages whose main attraction is the Tower of Fragopoulos and the colourful courtyards. End the walk at the village of Melanes, one of the oldest villages in Naxos which got its name by the dark color of the soil.

DAY 5: ANCIENT 'EMERY' PATH LEADING TO REMOTE BEACH
Our recommended hike today starts from the most remote villages of Skados and Koronos or the ’emery’ villages as they used to call them as local people settled there in order to work at the emery mines. Take the agricultural path from the tranquil village of Skados to Koronos observing the daily work at the orchards and farms. Explore the village of Koronos and stop for a drink to mingle with the hospitable villagers. Leaving the village walk through a very solitary area of the island, with stunning nature and mountain landscapes. The 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. Around April and May wild flowers including rare species and orchids are abound.

The path will lead you to the beautiful beach of Lionas with its multi-coloured pebbles. Reward yourself with a refreshing swim at its crystal clear waters followed by a delicious supper at one of the most traditional taverns of the island.

Distance: 7.5 km, 2.50h walking time, 5-6h actual walking time with stops to rest and lunch. Easy.

DAY 6: WALK AND EXPLORE THE UNSPOILT ISLAND OF IRAKLIA
Relax in the morning and ferry to the unspoilt island of the Small Cyclades; Iraklia and the fishing port of Ag. Georgios with its colorful fishing boats. Iraklia has a population of 80 people who are known for their hospitality. We’ll walk towards the highest peak of the island, one of the few places that the Griffon vulture lives and breeds. We’ll descend towards the main village where we’ll enjoy home made food at Maria’s place. You’ll be surprised by the quality of the food and ingredients from Maria’s garden.

DAY 7: HIKE TO THE LARGEST UNSPOILT CAVE OF THE CYCLADES
We’ll take the ancient path that crosses the island inland, passes the deserted village of Ag. Athanasios till we reach the largest cave in the Cyclades, Ag. Ioannis cave. You’ll be surprised by the stalactite formations inside.

After exploring the cave we’ll continue towards a solitary bay with a wonderful beach that you can only reach by boat or on foot. We’ll have a swim, relax by the beach and enjoy a picnic. In the evening we’ll continue around the island towards the fishing port. Supper at our favourite fish tavern of the island where you’ll enjoy fresh fish caught by the owner.

DAY 8: FERRY TO AMORGOS
Today you’ll have the opportunity to rest in the morning or walk and swim at a nearby solitary beach. You’ll catch the afternoon ferry to Amorgos and the picturesque bay of Aegiali.

In the evening you can explore one of the surrounding villages to have dinner.

DAY 9: CIRCULAR ANCIENT PATH CONNECTING UNSPOILT VILLAGES IN AMORGOS

The perfect circular walk to get you warmed up and acquainted with this corner of Amorgos. The villages of Aegiali, Lagada, Stroumbos and Tholaria were once only linked by ancient kalderimi and this walk takes a step back in time as you revisit traditional ways of life. You will see mules going about their business (under the watchful eye of their muleteers) in Lagada and the friendly islanders will be sure to make you feel welcome. The small detour to the church of Panagia Epanochoriani gives you the opportunity to picnic on a very pleasant spot.

The walk encircles the bay below and at times it’s easy to believe that you have the best seats in the amphitheatre whilst enjoying the Aegialis Show, accompanied only by the soundtrack of nature.

The route is graded as easy though the terrain is stoney in parts. Departure altitude: 0m. Arrival altitude: 376m

Actual walking time with stops can reach 4 hours. 

DAY 10: DAY 6: WALK ALONG THE SPINE OF AMORGOS

This mighty walk follows the spine of the island, connecting the capital Chora with Aegiali. Wander around the picturesque Chora, one of the most beautiful villages in the Cyclades, before descending to the astonishing monastery of Hozoviotissa, clinging like a limpet to the sea-cliff.

After the visit your view-laden path climbs up to the ridge and then contours along one side of the spine or the other to the hamlet of Asfodilitis. Have a look at the restored cisterns here before continuing as the views of Aegiali open out from the balcony path – a fine ending and time for a drink in one of the bars on the front. The longest hike in the island and one of our favourite ones because of the dramatic landscapes.

It is considered a moderate hike. This is a long day though not particularly difficult with regard to ascents and descents or navigation. The real problem lies in the underfoot conditions – loose stones can be tiring on the ankles and a pair of well fitting boots with good ankle support is essential, as are poles. Even with these you need to keep your eye on the path, particularly in the first two thirds of the day. There is a short section of scree slope early on which may cause some discomfort to vertigo sufferers.

Departure altitude: 400m. Highest point: 800m. Arrival altitude: 0m

Actual walking time with stops can reach 6-7 hours.

Our walks during this self-guided walking holiday in Naxos  & the Small Cyclades are graded as moderate. Flexible itineraries and options for longer or shorter walks are available based on the needs and wishes of our guests. You will walk mainly on paths of moderate gradient with ascents of up to 500m in a day. Being predominately limestone some parts of our paths can be quite rough and stoney.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

This holiday is available throughout the year but the best time for walking is spring and autumn as the weather is cooler. Please contact our team for clarification and advice on the period you wish to travel.

We have chosen for you a lovely authentic family-run guesthouses at a very central location. The owners are very hospitable and helpful and are known to provide the most delicious breakfasts. We’ll send you full details.