Cyclades Hiking: Folegandros, Kea, Kythnos, Milos, Naxos

Are you thinking of Cyclades Hiking on your next trip to Greece? Maybe you are wondering what is the best Greek Island for hiking and if you can combine it with some sightseeing. If yes, then you will find this post very useful especially if you are thinking about walking the Cyclades.

The Cyclades group of Greek islands (and the Argo Saronic islands) is the most popular island group and the closest one to Athens. The Cyclades, besides their beautiful beaches, have also many ancient donkey trails that invite you to explore them.

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Evgenia hiking in Athens Parnitha mountain, standing in fornt of a stream.

In this post, you will find information on the Cyclades hiking and specifically on the following Greek islands:

  • Folegandros
  • Kea
  • Kythnos
  • Milos, and
  • Naxos

My Latest Video on Hiking in Greece

Parnitha is the largest mountain in Athens with hundreds of trails of all levels and landscapes. From rugged terrain to deeply fir, pine, and plane forests, with caves and streams, with amazing views of Athens, the Aegean Sea, and Marathon Lake, depending on which area of the mountain you are hiking!

Why Cyclades Hiking is an Amazing Experience?

Greek Island hiking Salamina on a mountain ridge
Hiking on a ridge on a Greek Island
  • Because 80% of Greece’s surface is covered by mountains, the most famous of them being Olympus Mt, at 2918 m. Cyclades islands have also mountainous morphology offering stunning vistas of the Aegean sea
  • Walking the Cyclades brings you to a great geological variety such as valleys, volcanoes, streams, rivers, caves, gorges, rocks/minerals, and botanical biodiversity of indigenous species
Milos Island
  • Because of the crystal clear blue, green, and warm Mediterranean sea waters with beautiful beaches, often so secluded that only hikers can swim in
  • Because of the unexpected sightseeing at every turn of the trails: archaeological sites, remote churches & monasteries, windmills, mines, dovecotes, and abandoned villages, to mention some of them

Cyclades Hiking

Folegandros Island: The Wild Thing

Folegandros Chora

As the ferry approaches Folegandros island, you become overwhelmed by the barren beauty of its rocky cliffs. Folegandros is one of the best Greek islands for hiking. A wild place with deep valleys and cliffs, untouched by mass tourism and ideal for the free spirit adventurous people.

As the island is quite far from Piraeus port, you better take the fast ferry reaching Folegandros in 4.5 hours whereas the conventional boats need about 8-10 hours. Info for ferries: FerryScanner.

What is hiking in Folegandros like?

Greek Island hiking, Folegandros island mountains and remote church
Folegandros Ano Meria Hiking

The highest mountain on Folegandros island is Agios Eleftherios with a peak of 455 m, an ideal spot to watch the impressive sunset after an exhilarating hike. The coasts are generally steep, exposed to the northern winds of the Aegean Sea.

Folegandros is a small island, shaped by centuries of agriculture. It has a modest hiking network of 30 km of well-preserved trails.

Folegandros rugged terrain

The most interesting trails are:

  1. Chora – Petousis – Livadi – Katergo – Camping Livadi, partly signposted, 10,6 km, max elevation 276, one way – hard. Not suitable if you have a fear of heights
  2. Chora-Christos-Fyra-Angali-Agios Nikolaos-Giorgi to Aga-Agia Paraskevi-Chora, 8,9km -fully signposted – trail 5 loop – goes to a few remote beaches, very scenic with sea views, moderate difficulty
  3. Ano Meria (Taxiarhis) – Livadaki beach – Aspropounta Lighthouse – Ano Meria (Windmills) – 5.5 km a well-signed posted trail – easy

Folegandros is one of the best islands to choose for your Cyclades Hiking!

Kea Island: The Lion Roar

Walking on Ioulis, Kea island's main town

Kea or Tzia island, despite its proximity to Athens, is still a low-key vacation island and a fantastic Greek island for hiking. It has managed to retain its traditional character, visible to every village that you set foot on.

The island can be mainly reached by Lavrio port in Athens. Check FerryScanner for ferries to Kea. Lavrio port is right after Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon, at the end of the Athens Riviera.

What is hiking in Kea like?

Evgenia hiking on Kea island
Hiking on Kea Island

Kea island has a mountainous terrain with the peak being Profitis Ilias Mt at 568m, some caves, and many fertile valleys between the hills and the mountains with fruit and oak trees. Kea is fantastic for Greek island hiking for any level of hiking experience.

The important archaeological site of Karthea, with remains of an ancient temple to Apollo, is a very popular hike that usually ends up with a swim to the nearby beach. Other Apollo Temples in Greece can be found in Delphi and in Bassae.

Kea island alley with bougainvillea
Chora Ioulida Kea Island

Kea has a well-preserved network of 81km of trails, with wooden posts and red-white signs, most of them stone-paved. There are 12 official trails, the majority of which hikes begin in Ioulida, the Chora (main) town. The trails are part of an ancient road network that in the 7th – 6th century BCE connected all the villages on Kea island. Here you can find my dedicated travel guide on the Best Things to Do on Kea Island.

My favorite trails on Kea Island are:

Greek Island hiking, Kea island
Hiking on Kea Island
  1. Ioulida – Leon (ancient lion statue) – Dosonari(under trees area) – Diaselli – Otzias village and beach: trail name ‘Leon’ – Length: 5.100 m, easy
  2. Ioulida – Messaria springs and village – Profitis Ilias Mt peak – Astra village – Ellinika area – Aghios Symeon – Karthaia (Temple of Apollo and Beach): trail name ‘Aristeos’, stone-paved, passes through oak woods – Length 11.850 m, mid-hard
  3. Where Best to Stay on Kea Island: La Maison Vert Amand.

Related Post: Hiking Trail 1 on Kea Island

Kythnos Island: The Art of Simplicity

Greek Island hiking , Kythnos Island
Kyhtnos Terrain with Chapel of Agios Ioannis Eleimon at the edge

Kythnos or Kithnos is a tranquil stunning Cycladic island that offers wonderful opportunities as it is one of the best Greek islands for hiking and low-key vacations.

Famous Kolona Beach in Kythnos

Kythnos is a dry and mostly barren Greek island and its most beautiful natural landmark is the Kolona beach, a narrow strip of golden sand that connects Kythnos with the islet of St. Loukas, creating two beautiful bays.

What is hiking in Kythnos like?

Kythnos Rugged Hills

Kythnos, like all the Cycladic islands, is mountainous and rocky but it doesn’t reach great heights. Profitis Ilias is the highest peak of Kakovolo mountain at just 365 m, the union of two ridges that offer panoramic views of the island.

There are 15 trails but not all of them are signposted.

Hiking Kythnos with Kolona beach on the top right – Photo: Discover Greece

One of the most popular hikes is on Vryokastro, the ancient capital of Kythnos. It is an 8 km round trip to the Castle of Oria, inhabited from the 10th-7th centuries AD. The hikers pass by the remains of the ancient temples of Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, and Demeter and enjoy the great view of the beach of Kolona.

You may also enjoy: Best Things to Do in Kythnos Greece

You can also not make the circular trail but continue to Kolona Beach and finish your hike with a dive into the warm waters of picturesque Kolona. Nearby are also taverns and cafes if you prefer to have a meal.

Best Hotel to Stay in Kythnos: Simousi Villas.

Milos Island: Cyclades Hiking in Volcanic Beauty

Sarakiniko Beach

Milos island, along with Santorini, Nisyros, Kos & Methana are included in the active Greek volcanoes today. Don’t worry too much about it though, as the last volcanic eruption on Milos took place in 90,000 BCE.

In brief, Milos is a spectacular island, of multi-colored volcanic rocks, and stunning beaches all wrapped up in a Cycladic atmosphere and hospitality. And ideal for your Greek islands hiking tour.

What is hiking in Milos like?

What to Do on Milos Island hiking signs

Milos as part of the Hellenic volcanic arc has strong hydrothermal activity, caused by the subduction of the African under the Aegean plate.

There is the Fyriplaka volcano, in the central and southern part of Milos, which has an impressive crater of 1700 m and a height of around 220 m and is a must-visit hike. There is a second but smaller volcano, Trachila, in the northwest, only a small part of it still exists today.

What to Do on Milos Island volcanic fyriplaka
Fyriplaka crater

Milos island is being mined extensively as it has a rich production of baryte, silver, perlite, kaolin, and bentonite and this is visible almost everywhere inland of the island.

Generally speaking, there are not many ancient donkey trails that we find on other islands. However, Milos’ volcanic landscape offers elaborate formations and wild rocks that are unique and most visible at its breathtaking coastline. Milos is one of the most impressive islands to choose for your Cyclades Hiking!

Mandrakia village

Some of my favorite hikes on Milos are:

  1. Kleftiko Beach Caves. To get there follow the road signs that say Kleftiko. A 4.67 km, moderately challenging route, with 230 m elevation gain, 40 minutes each way, no shade, and bring plenty of water and food. Bring swimming and snorkel gear to chill out on the rocks.
  2. Sarakiniko Lunar Beach – Mandrakia beautiful village. 4.2 km easy, 78 elevation gain.
  3. Related Post: Milos beaches and the best things to do.
  4. Best Hotel in Milos: Vista Mare Milos.

Naxos: The Island of Zeus

Naxos is the biggest island in the Cyclades and is in the top five best Greek islands to hike.

It is the most fertile island in the Cyclades, hosting the largest cedar forest in Greece (Forest of Alykos), the Routsouna waterfalls, wetlands, raki Festivals, windsurfing beaches, and Greek food trademarks like Graviera cheese and Naxos notorious potatoes.

Greek Island hiking, Naxos island in Portara area at night
Naxos Chora

According to Greek mythology, baby Zeus, the king of all Greek ancient gods, was raised in the Zas Mt Cave. There was a sanctuary dedicated to Zeus at the start of the hiking trail and today hikers can see 2 identical inscriptions that indicate the exact location of the sanctuary.

What is hiking in Naxos like?

Naxos Mountain Zas

Naxos is one of the best top islands for Cyclades hiking! It has Mount Zas, the highest mountain in the Cyclades, standing at 1,004 m where you can also hike to the famous Cave of Zas. The island is full of springs, rivers, ancient settlements, plains, valleys, and orange, lemon, and olive groves.

Greek Island hiking, A group of hikers on Naxos island and a hiking sign
The trail to the Zas Cave

A popular yet challenging trail on Naxos is a well-marked 12.8 km loop starting from the largest village of Naxos, Filoti, a picturesque little place. The first half of the trail is well-signed until you reach the cave. After the cave of Zas, you will have to be aware of the beaten footpath which at times can be steep.

Views from Zas Mt – Photo: sight being

It’s worth the steepness because you will be compensated with marvelous panoramic sea views.

Greek Island hiking , Naxos island ancient spots on remote area
Ancient Threshing Floor in Naxos trails

The second popular hike on Naxos is the 7-km circular easy hike from Chalki to Moni and back. This hike offers the opportunity to visit many landmarks, churches, and monasteries of the Naxos.

If you’re looking for deeper information, check out my in-depth Naxos island travel guide for a ton of details on the best things to do on the island!

How Best to Hike Greece

During the summer, I hear about hiking accidents, sometimes fatal, that happen to hikers from all over the world. The usual cause is extreme heatstroke as people from colder climates are not familiar with Greek summer temperatures, and barren Cycladic landscapes and can suffer from that.

That’s why I have created this post that addresses hiking/traveling in Greece, potential dangers, and how best to deal with them. The majority of them are from my own experience as I love hiking and I hike at least once a week.

Plan My Trip to Greece

Do you need a custom travel itinerary or a transfer within Greece? Are you traveling solo, with your family or friends and need a tailor-made multi-day tour or a transfer?

If yes, please visit my dedicated Plan My Trip Page for a free itinerary!

How to Get to Athens Port (Piraeus) from the Airport

Bus X96 Peiraias Port to Athens Airport
Airport Bus
  • Bus: If you are arriving at Athens International Airport you can travel straight to the port by taking the X96 express bus (€5.5, children <6 yo, free entrance), which departs every 40 minutes and the average trip lasts 1 hour – runs 24/7.
  • Metro: (€9) is easily found across airport arrivals (blue line – M3) going directly to Piraeus port. The average trip to Piraeus lasts 1 hour.
  • Taxis are available in front of the airport (around €40 to Athens, €55-60 to Piraeus (depending on the traffic in Kifisos), and take up to 3 or 4 people with small luggage)
  • Rent a car with Discover Cars for reliable, new cars at affordable prices
  • You don’t like driving but love hassle-free solutions? Book a Private transfer with an English-speaking driver from Athens International Airport to Piraeus Ferries, or anywhere else in Greece
  • Are you looking for domestic flights in Greece? Check out the official Aegean Airlines Website.

Essential Travel Resources for Greece

About the author
Evgenia Mataragka
Hi! I am an Athens-based Greek obsessed with exploring Greece and bringing you the best travel experience ever!

2 thoughts on “Cyclades Hiking: Folegandros, Kea, Kythnos, Milos, Naxos”

  1. Great post! I know all these islands pretty well but I learned of new places to see from reading your blog. Your assessment of the hiking situation on each of the islands is spot on! You found some good links to several hiking sites that I will be looking at again – never saw them before now.

    Reply
  2. Thank you, Fred and I am very happy that the post offered valuable info for your next hikes in Greece. Yes, there is some good hiking links on the web and I am always trying to share them with people interested in hiking and touring the Greek Islands!

    Reply

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