The Ultimate Greek Island Hiking Guide: The Cyclades I

posted in: Greek Islands, Hiking | 0

Updated January 11th, 2022 by Travel the Greek Way

The Greek islands are well-known for their endless sandy and rocky 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?

Cyclades Map
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 Santorini.

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 such as Andros) 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 hike Cyclades Islands?

kleisidi beach Anafi

All year round is great to hike in the Cyclades.

However, during the winter it can get too windy so you risk falling off the ridges while in summers it is too hot to hike and risk getting heatstroke. If you really would like to hike in the summer, you should start off at the earliest possible.

My favorite months to hike in Greece is October (warm but not too much) and April (everything has blossomed).

Read here more extensively about hiking dangers in Greece where I have collected all possible problems that you may encounter while hiking or doing other outdoor activities 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!

*Some of the links below are affiliate links. That means I may make a commission if you click and buy. The commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please see my full disclosure policy for more information*

In a hurry? Check out this Greece Quick reference:

Where to stay in Athens: Ancient Agora Apartments (mid-range)

Heading to the Greek Islands from Athens? Book your ferry tickets in advance with no-hidden-fees FerryScanner or FerryHopper

Amorgos, the Island of Colors

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 and trails, that criss-cross Amorgos, just perfect for hiking. Amorgos is also an island for the people who seek privacy, tranquillity, and contact with the wild nature of the Cycladic Islands.

What is hiking in Amorgos like?

hiking in Amorgos island

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 of 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 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, which 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!

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

Related Post: Amorgos Island, an Authentic Experience in the Aegean

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 intimidating rock, Kalamos, only second in size to Gibraltar rock. As it is 460 m high, it is a very popular climbing spot.

The brave ones 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 beaches to choose from: all with sandy or pebbled, some secluded, crystal clear, emerald, turquoise, and blue water

Interesting facts about Anafi, Greece

  • Mouth-watering thyme honey, strofilia wine, local cheese
  • There are 2 ATM in Agios Nikolaos Port and 1 in Chora
  • The trip from Pireaus lasts 9-11 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. Once a week there is a ferry leaving from Lavrio in Athens
  • 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

hotel Anafi Island sea view
Maki House balcony view
  • Maki House: Offering unlimited views of the Aegean Sea, Maki House, is a typical whitewashed Cycladic house

Related Article: The Complete Guide to Anafi Island

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 form the Andros Routes.

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, apples, 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)
Woman hiking to Chryssi Akti in Andros
Hiking to Chryssi Ammos
  • 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, omelet, and cheese.

Sweet choices: nougatines, local marzipan sweet, Kaltsounia made with honey, walnuts, pin nuts, and patsitsakia, made of roasted almonds.

Andros is connected by boat to many Cycladic islands.

Related Article: Amazing things to Do on Andros Island

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 prices on Booking.com

Blue Bay Resort Village (mid-range): Located in a stunning location in Batsi Andros, the Blue Bay Resort offers heartwarming hospitality with finely decorated rooms and a classy environment. 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 Sister Islands

The two islands are very close and there is a 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 4th Century Byzantine Masterpiece
  • 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 Party 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?

Ios Island 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 on Ios Island?

  • 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

Hotel terrace and swimming pool on a Greek Island in summer
Hide Out Suites

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 Profitis 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 on Mykonos?

  • 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.

Delos Greek Island ancient site terrace of lions
Delos Island

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

Hotel terrace on a Greek Island in summer
Nissaki Boutique Hotel

Related Article: Complete Guide on Mykonos Island

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 in Greek islands and I have compiled a useful list for you:

Read here important information on Hiking Safely in Greece

Where to Stay in Athens

Looking for the Best Hotels near old Athens Plaka and Acropolis Parthenon?

Or you would like to stay at a beachfront hotel?

Perhaps you are more in-budget hotels interested?

Whichever your preferences I have collected the best options for your staying in Athens below:

How to Get to Greece

Greek dog looking at the sea

Like most visitors to Greece, you will probably have to fly to Athens or Thessaloniki International Airports to get to your final destinations.

For the Cheapest, Fastest, Best Worldwide Flights, I highly recommend the Skyscanner search engine site.

Message from Evgenia

I hope you have enjoyed my post on hiking the Cyclades! If you need local help with organizing your visit, please send me an email at info@travelthegreekway.com and I will get back to you with ideas. Until then stay safe and travel the world!
Evgenia
Travel the Greek Way

Some of my Favorite Travel Resources for Greece

  • Airflights: Cheap/Fast/Best Worldwide Flights from KAYAK or SkyScanner search engine site
  • Map of Athens Metro
  • Booking.com: I use Booking.com because I can get the best deals, have info on hotels and Airbnb’s alike, with breakfast or not, free cancellations, and great prices!
  • Ferries to the Greek Islands: Book your ferry transfer with FerryScanner or FerryHopper, and get the best prices in the market with no hidden fees
  • World Nomads Insurance: I feel insecure traveling to another country without having even the most basic of insurances. Insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations
  • Best car rental prices – Guaranteed. RentalCars.com
  • Get Your Guide: For all your day or multi-day tours and city guide needs, I use Get Your Guide
  • iVisa: For any questions, you may have about your documents, passport if you need a visa, a new photo, or any visa-related matter, iVisa is your man (or woman!)
  • Emergency Numbers Anywhere in Greece: AMBULANCE 166 – FIRE 199 – POLICE 100EMERGENCY NUMBER 112

More Inspirational Reading on Hiking in Greece

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