Greek Island Hiking Guide: The Cyclades Islands I

posted in: Greek Islands, Hiking | 0

Updated September 5th, 2021 by Travel the Greek Way

The Greek islands are well-known for their endless sandy beaches, the clear green-blue waters, the amazing vistas, the friendly locals, and the delicious Greek food.

But, did you know that the Greek islands are also amazing hiking destinations? Actually, hiking the Greek Islands and their endless trails is the best way to see real Greece and its well-hidden secrets behind every mountain, hill, or valley.

Which islands belong to the Cyclades?

Greek Islands Map. Credit: CycladesTickets

The Cyclades Greek islands are an island cluster, including the likes of Mykonos and Santorini and another 220 islands (approx).

The largest ones of them are Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos & Paros, Delos & Mykonos, Folegandros, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Kithnos, Milos, Naxos, Serifos, Sifnos, Sikinos, Syros, Tinos, and Thira or Santoríni.

There are also smaller Cycladic islands, an island cluster within a cluster, the so-called “Small Cyclades” favored by the more adventurous-minded hikers.

The Small Cyclades include equally beautiful and unique islands such as Donousa, Eschati, Gyaros, Irakleia, Koufonisia, and Schoinousa.

All capital towns in Greek islands are called Chora and they are all bougainvillea-draped villages.

The general morphology of Cyclades Islands (with few exceptions) is rocky and barren ground, with low or no vegetation and limited water/springs – you must carry your own, ample, water supply at all times when visiting the Cyclades.

Which Greek islands are the best for hiking?

All the Greek islands provide excellent hiking choices as they have high mountains with hiking trails crossing them. The same trails often end up in majestic seasides, pass by classic archaeological sites, abandoned medieval towers and churches, deserted villages and so much more. A surprise view in every turn you take!

Those trails are the old paths the islanders used to take to go about their businesses, mostly on horses, mules, or donkeys, and to visit neighboring villages. Today, most of the old “donkey” trails, have been cleared out, signposted, and are used mainly by nature lovers and hikers.

What is the best time to visit Cyclades Islands for hiking?

I would say, all year round but taking into serious consideration that in winter it can get too windy so you risk falling off the ridges and in summers it is too hot (at least during most of the day).

Read here more extensively about hiking dangers in Greece.

In this post, I will provide information on hiking 9 of the Cycladic Islands, specifically a hiking and general tourist info guide on Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos & Paros, Ios, Mykonos & Delos, and Santorini.

This Greek island hiking guide acts as a useful guide to choose the Greek islands for hiking that suits you best.

So, let’s start hiking on the Greek islands!

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Amorgos, the Island of Colours

Amorgos is one of the best Greek Islands for hiking and nature. It is a long and narrow island of the Aegean Sea, famous for its amazing variety of herbs and wild birds, with minimal Cycladic architecture.

A very beautiful island in all, with high mountains, perfect for hiking. Amorgos is an island for the people who seek privacy and tranquillity and contact with the wild nature of the Cycladic Islands.

What is hiking in Amorgos like?

The local guides call the Amorgos trails “Blue Paths” because they all have stunning sea views. There are 7 spectacular hikes (altitude: 300-821 m) for all levels which have been used since antiquity.

The locals still use them to move around the island. Some of them are quite challenging (the peak is Krokellos at 821m) and would require a lot of mountainous hiking experience.

Some trails follow exposed ridgelines where the winds can be so fierce that they can actually blow you off the path. Be careful if the winds and use wisely your walking sticks.

For full details of all 7 trails visit the Official Amorgos Island Website

What else can I see on Amorgos Island?

  • 5 Archaeological sites, 4 Museums & remains of a Venetian Castle
  • The hanging on the cliffs Monastery of Hozoviotissa (can be visited by hiking – the sunset is awe-inspiring from the spot) and another 10 Byzantine churches and monasteries
  • All kinds of outdoor activities (scuba, diving, yoga)
  • 22 Beaches (some very secluded ) & 9 villages to visit, explore and enjoy
  • Kafe “Naftilia” of Prekas. A traditional family-ran cafe in Katapola working since 1944!

Interesting facts about Amorgos, Greece:

  • Luc Besson’s movie “The big blue” was filmed here
  • It is an unspoiled Greek Island – no cruise ships or sushi bars here, no sophisticated tourist facilities
  •  Very close to Kalotaritissa Beach lies the Shipwreck of Amorgos, allegedly belonged to modern pirates. Sank in 1980.
  • The boat needs 8-9 hours if you take a Blue Star Ferries or about 6 hours with a SeaJet
  • On Amorgos is produced exquisite thyme honey, and local Psimmeni Raki (alcoholic drink). Drink wisely and in small doses!
  • You need a car to move to all the places

Where to Stay in Amorgos

  • Kaerati Apartments: Located in a beautifull hill overlooking Katapola village,  with big, new, fully equipped and spotlessly clean rooms and with a garden perfect for breakfast, you will have an amazing stay. Check for prices and availability in Booking. com
  • Amorgos Pearls : With a fantastic garden overlooking the Amorgos stunning sunsets, minutes far from Katapola, modern decorated rooms with sea views, you will have a memorable stay. Check for prices and availability in Booking.com
  • Amorgi Studios. Located in Aegiali, this unpretentious hotel is a real gem. It is close to the beach to enjoy every bit of sandy Aegiali beach, with rooms were clean and spacious. Check for prices and availability in Booking. com

If you are going to hike remote areas in the Cyclades take with you Garmin inReach Explorer+ Satellite: you can send and receive messages anywhere in the world even when out of mobile range, Call for emergency assistance anywhere in the world with the SOS function and most importantly Keep friends, family, and colleagues informed of your whereabouts with global tracking via the Iridium satellite network.

Anafi, the Small Volcanic Island

Anafi Greek Island is one of its kind island, unspoiled from mass tourism, a gorgeous, wild and remote island offering absolute peacefulness and connection with nature.

Anafi is situated east of Santorini, and its most impressive feature is a gigantic and scary rock, Kalamos, only second to size to Gibraltar rock. As it is 460 m high, it is a very popular climbing spot.

The brave who climb or hike to Kalamos rock, have also the pleasure to visit Panagia Kalamiotissa church, a beautiful whitewashed chapel, built in 1715, right on the top of Kalamos. From there you can enjoy one of the best sunsets in the Mediterranean.

What is hiking in Anafi like?

Rocky terrain, volcanic-ash granite, and limestone from the Santorini volcanic eruption paths, steep cliffs and cove-scalloped morphology. Barren of trees or large plants. The peak is Vigla at 582 m.

There are a few paths to choose from the 18km trail very old network and well-signposted, but if you had to choose one it could be:

Chora – Ancient Kastelli – Kalamos peninsula all the way to the top to Panagia Kalamiotissa church (around 7 km)

Check here for Hiking Trails of Anafi from Wikiloc

Find here free e-book of Anafi’s Trails (pdf, 130 pages), only available in Greek

What else can I see on Anafi Island?

  • Chora (the capital town) is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in the whole Cyclades
  • 3 Archaeological sites and a Museum
  • Too many to choose from, sandy secluded, crystal clear, emerald, turquoise, and blue water beaches

Interesting facts about Anafi, Greece

  • Mouth-watering thyme honey, strofilia wine, local cheese
  • Bring cash with you, there is only 1 ATM in Chora
  • The trip from Pireaus lasts 9-13 hours. Alternatively, go to Santorini with a highspeed (4 hours) or fly from Athens and from Santorini take the 2-hour boat connection to Anafi
  • Anafi used to be an exile island for the Greek communists
  • Anafiotika area in Athens Plaka was built by Anafi workers back in the 19th century

Where to Stay in Anafi


Andros, the Captains’ Island

Andros island is the second-largest island of the Cyclades, only 2 hours away from Athen’s smaller port of Rafina. It took the “Captains Island” name from the many rich Greek ship-owners that come from the island. It has a low touristic development, which is surprising considering its proximity to Athens and its beautiful Cycladic characteristics.

It differs from the other barren Cycladic islands as it has a lot of water and consequently a much greener environment. There are 7 mineral water springs on Andros with the most famous in Greece being Sariza, which is bottled and sold in supermarkets.

What is hiking in Andros like?

Generally speaking, there is a high level of a walking culture on Andros island and this is reflected in the well-signposted paths of the island.

There is a well signed and maintained a network of over 170 km of waymarked and some of them cobblestoned paths. 100 km of them are signposted trails that connect the north with the south part of Andros and forms the Andros Routes.

In 2015, Andros Routes was rewarded by the European Ramblers Association (ERA), an organization guiding some three million hikers in 38 countries. Andros trails received the award of the special quality certificate of “Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe”.

Andros has a rich landscape, compiled by 4 main mountains, offering magnificent sea views and some challenging uphills, with Kouvaras to be the highest at 1000 m.

The island also features 4 small rivers that have created fertile valleys with a variety of lovely figs, pines, apple, and plane trees. Gorgeous paths lead to the Cave of Foros, a rich in Stalagmite formations cave, the ravines of Pithara, rivers, abandoned towers, secluded picturesque villages, and springs in every turn.

If you had to choose one, then an exciting trail can be the 10 km circuit route from Chora along the Pythara ravine, across a medieval stone bridge to the Pythara waterfalls.

Find detailed info on Andros trails in the links below:

What else can I see on Andros Island?

  • Classy and elegant Chora town, with a mixture of neoclassical buildings and Cycladic whitewashed houses
  • 3 Archaeological Sites, 2 Castles, 4 Monasteries
  • 6 Museums (Archaeological, Folkore, Nautical, wonderful Goulandris Museum of Modern Art)
  • Many soft, golden sand beaches like Chryssi Ammos or Tis Grias to Pidima Beach, where the characteristic rock on one side
  • Tower of Agios Petros (There is a hiking trail up to the tower)
  • Tourlitis Lighthouse

Interesting facts about Andros Island, Greece

  • Try Fourtalia, a traditional dish made of potatoes, omelette and cheese
  • Sweet choices: nougatines, local marzipan sweet, Kaltsounia made with honey, walnuts and pin nuts and patsitsakia, made of roasted almonds
  • Andros is connected by boat to many Cycladic islands

Where to Stay in Andros

  • Aegean Castle Andros (luxury): Splendid mansion with amazing views, very friendly and attentive welcome, delicious food, in a secluded green area of Agia Eleousa in Andros for a really unforgettable experience! Check availability and pirces on Booking.com
  • Blue Bay Resort Village (mid-range): Located in a stunning location in Batsi Andros, the Blue Bay Resort offers a heartwarming hospitality with fine decorated rooms and classy environtment. Check availability and prices on Booking.com

Egli Hotel (mid-range) in Chora Andros is a real gem of a hotel. Very centrally located, elegant in its neoclassic style decoration and architecture with extra friendly and helpful staff. Mouthwatering breakfast with traditional local dishes.

Check here for prices and availability on Booking

Villa George (budget) in Batzi Andros is perfectly located in front of the sea with a fantastic beach to swim in, quiet, super clean with friendly and helpful staff. Batsi village is just 5 mins walking. Check availability and prices in Booking.com


Paros & Antiparos, the Sisters

The two islands are very close and Antiparos – Paros ferry boat trip duration is about 7 minutes. It is usual to pop to Antiparos for a day tour if you are already in Paros.

Paros is a very popular holiday island amongst Greeks and famous for its beaches and its simple lines as a place. Antiparos is less crowded than Paros and really worth visiting just for its stunning beaches.

Paros was one of the first Cycladic islands I visited back in my early twenty’s and the only thing I remember doing was staying on the beach all day and clubbing all night. No hiking back then!

What is hiking in Paros – Antiparos like?

Paros Island is formed by a single mountain, Profitis Ilias (724 m peak), which ends up in small hills around the seaside of the island. Paros has a hiking trail network of approximately 35 km, not all of them well-marked.

While hiking in Paros you can come across numerous old houses, olive groves, windmills, watermills, cisterns, and pigeon houses. The island has no forests but mostly low trees and bushes.

Find here Paros & Antiparos Hikes with details and photos of the trails.

What else is on Paros Island?

  • Byzantine Monastery of Ekatontapyliani, a church with 100 doors
  • Naoussa, Lefkes, and Parikia most picturesque towns
  • The (very) popular beaches: Kolymbithres, Golden Beach, New Golden Beach, and Santa Maria
  • The Ancient Quarries, Cave of Nymphs & Aghios Minas Monastery
  • Archaeological, Byzantine, Folklore & Wine Museums
  • Sanctuary of Asklepios, Mycenaean Acropolis, Ancient Cemetery

Interesting facts about Paros Island, Greece

  • Paros is a favoured windsurfing location
  • It is surrounded by a few islets biggest being its sister-island Antiparos
  • There is the valley of Butterflies or Petaloudes, where Tiger Moth butterflies gather in large numbers in June
  • It is a very fertile island producing world-famous excellent wine with varieties like Mavrotragano, Mandilaria, Savvatiano

Where to Stay in Paros


Ios, the Youth Island

Ios is a  medium-sized island, located between Naxos and Santorini.
Although the busy nightlife in Chora and on the beach of Mylopotas has somewhat harmed the reputation of Ios, it is a very beautiful Cycladic island.

Why the “youth island”?  Because of its bustling nightlife, it attracts a lot of younger population.

So, if you are looking for quiet nights and secluded areas, Ios might not be the best island for you. On the other hand, we are young only 3 or 4 times in our lifetime, so it might be a good idea to visit Ios!

What is hiking on Ios island like?

Terrain: rocky, barren landscape with most hikes to be demanding and require experience on similar ground. Its highest mountain peak is Pyrgos (704m) with Profitis Ilias at 514m and Vouni at 409m.

There are 9 marked trails crossing most of this Ios island. You can find more information on the trails on the Cycladen.be

Interesting facts about Ios Island, Greece

  • Chora’s architecture is dominated by Classic Cycladic whitewashed houses with thick walls, made of stone in order to protect from heat and cold
  • 35 km of sandy beaches
  • Must try its local cheeses, like Xino, Skotyri and Myzithra and the Mizithropites (Mizithra pies) and the watermelon pies, yummy!

What else is there?

  • Tiny Archaeological Museum: mainly exhibits from the Bronze Age
  • The Prehistoric Settlement of Skarkos
  • Tomb of Homer (allegedly)
  • 365 churches (including the Ios landmark church of Virgin Mary Gremiotissa
  • 12 windmills, remains of a Venetian castle and numerous bars!

Where to stay in Ios

Mykonos and Delos, the Famous and the Sacred

Mykonos island lacks the donkey paths the other islands have, it is a quite flat Greek island and most of it is touristically developed, so that leaves you with very few hiking options.

In any way, there are other reasons to visit Mykonos besides hiking and one of them is to go to Delos, the small Sacred island which is only 30′ away.

What is hiking in Mykonos island like?

The island’s highest summit is the Profítis Ilias hill at 372m, it features no rivers, but numerous seasonal streams.

The terrain is very rocky with many areas eroded by the strong winds.  There are some places in the inner part of Mykonos that may have some walking interest.

Interesting facts about Mykonos

  • Mykonos was a flourishing centre during the Cycladic (2000 – 1600 B.C.) and the Mycenean (1400 – 1200 B.C.) civilisation
  • It is centrally located among the Cyclades and that makes it a good base for island-hopping
  • Jacqueline Kennedy visited Mykonos in 1961 that kick-started the Mykonos boom. For the last few decades, Mykonos has been the must-visit island if you are a Jet Set member
  • Best time to visit Mykonos is in May when all the places are covered in colourful wildflowers and September when all the mass tourism is gone and you are left with a still very warm sea but in a much quieter environment
  • It is an expensive island

What else is there?

  • Mykonos Chora boasts one of the most picturesque harbours of the Cyclades and the labyrinth of alleys offers stunning views to the sea or to hidden authentic Cycladic architecture.
  • Beautiful but super – busy sandy beaches. Bustling nightlife.
  • 3 Pelicans, Irene, Petros & Nicolas, Mykonos’ official mascot since 1958
  • Church Panagia Paraportiani, built in the 1500s and a great place to view the sunset
  • The 7 windmills in Chora which you can admire while having lunch at the “little Venice” seaside
  • Archaeological, Nautical and Folklore Museums
  • Kafenio of Bakogias: one of the most (and one of the last) authentic places to have a really traditional meal in Mykonos since 1970, small family place. Find it in Gialos area

Delos Island

Delos (or Dilos) island, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, is the birthplace of twins Apollo and Artemis gods and houses a large sanctuary that was built to honor them. Delos is the most important archaeological center of the Cycladic islands.

Delos’ highest hill is Kythnos at 112m, south of the archaeological site which offers a hiking opportunity and a sweeping panoramic view of the islands around. On top, you can rest on the broken stones of the once foundations of Zeus Sanctuary.

This is an interesting, yet short hike as the lower slopes of the hill are covered in ancient ruins. You can go uphill by using the stone stairs past the Temple of Isis.

Where to stay in Mykonos

I have a Complete Guide on Mykonos and a 3-day Itinerary which you can read here

Santorini, the Super-Star Island

You can read essential tips on Santorini Greek island, a 3-day itinerary, and the Caldera – Oia trail which is very impressive on my post here: The Best Things to do in Santorini.

Hiking Dangers in Greece

I have collected information from my own experience and from American friends who have hiked extensively – more than I have! – in Greek islands and have compiled a useful list for you:

Read here important information on Hiking Safely in Greece

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More Inspirational Reading on Hiking in Greece

Not Sure where to Go to Mainland Greece?

Grab below your free 5-Day classic itinerary in mainland Greece. It includes sites, relative informative posts, and hotel recommendations!

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