Greece: The Cycladic Islands of Naxos and Amorgos
Island hopping in the emerald AegeanBack to Routes
Aegiali beach, Amorgos
Chozoviotiza Monastery, Amorgos
The Aegiali valley, Amorgos
Lionas beach, Naxos
The temple of Demeter, Naxos
The Portara in the temple of Apollo, Naxos harbour
Aegiali Bay, Amorgos
Tuesday 20th February | Posted by On Foot Staffview article
"As we've come to expect from On Foot, the service was first rate." October 2019more testimonials
This was our first time to Greece and we were very happy with both the destination and our holiday arrangements. We loved the old-fashioned nature of these two islands, the lovely food, stunning scenery, history and beautiful beaches.
The walks were very well described and we would have done much more but for the high heat and lack of shade en route. August is probably not the best month for walking but we are very glad we experienced these beautiful places.
Janice Wallace, Chiddingstone, UK - August 2019
Great to see the 'real' islands, and walking makes it easy.
Loved the freedom of doing what you like when you want to.
Andre van der Merwe, Johannesburg, South Africa - June 2019
The sea, the beaches, the friendliness of everyone we met! The lovely, interesting and healthy food, especially in Amorgos. Loved the villages, the wild flowers and the farming and the way the islanders were so proud of their produce. Both islands made fantastic sheep and goat cheeses! We loved the seafront atmosphere in Naxos. We really loved the relaxed atmosphere on the ferries - efficient but very easy going.
On day two, Mick said "I'm not sure if I can take much more of this perfection!"
Rebecca Allen, Sheffield, UK - April 2018
We really liked everything! Our weather was so perfect, so we could take our time on all the walks, enjoying the locals and the scenery (which was spectacular). We love the hike up Mt Zas and sitting on top for an hour or so was a "high" for all of us.
Taking taxis was a bit cumbersome, but the plus was returning each night to our hotel without having to pack up and leave every day. Our taxi drivers were so reliable and prompt. Loved it all!
Cathy Bergeron, Vermont, USA - October 2017
I never knew Greek food could be so good!
We discovered a little restaurant in Naxos town that we made our home. It had an open fire and the lamb was roasted on it! The smell of herbs wafting through the restaurant AND the excellent (and very cheap) white wine was a special experience. More please, On Foot!
Mary O'Keefe, Dublin, Ireland
November in Naxos.
Once we had managed to get there (the winter ferry schedules are a little scanty!) the sun shone and the farmers were out farming, the hoteliers sprucing up for next season, and the local restaurants (the tourist ones had closed) doing great business. I thoroughly recommend Naxos for a late season walk.
Jonny Wrench, Cambridge
At a glance
7 nights (4 on Naxos, 3 Amorgos). The full route. You can extend your stays on either island, 6-night option available subject to 3-nights minimum per island, or go for a one-island holiday (minimum 4 nights).
How much walking?
Full days: Naxos 9-12 km per day, 3-4 hrs walking, Amorgos 8-15 km per day, 2½-5 hrs walking.
Using shortening options: None, but you decide each day whether to choose an easy walk or a harder, or even opt out and go to the beach!
Sparkling seas, sun-washed villages, and ancient statues
This two-island route offers some fine walking on two contrasting islands, each with its own special flavour. The scenery in both is splendid and the walking very fine; while the larger island of Naxos has a great variety of sights and walks, its smaller cousin Amorgos reminds one of earlier times when tourism in the Aegean was far less developed. The sea, with its swimming opportunities, is always at hand, and we help you to find the best.
On Naxos you are based in or near Naxos Old Town, whose Venetian heritage is clear in the Kastro dominating the labyrinthine alleys, a cornucopia of little blue-and-white shops and restaurants. Courtesy of our enthusiastic taxi man Giannis (taxis to and from the Naxos walks are included in the basic holiday price), the best walking on the island is available to you. Visit the half-finished, ancient statues (Kouros) lying in a farmer’s field, the pretty villages of the interior (Apiranthos, Filoti and Chalki), and the beach at Lionas, where you can be royally lunched, and sleep the afternoon away after home-made honey raki and a swim. Walk to the temple of Demeter or ascend Mt Zas, the highest mountain in the Cyclades at 1000m, and get back in time for delicious filo pastries in the village bars.
Amorgos is quite another matter. Lonely and far less developed, the walking embraces the authentic culture of the island while giving some thrilling views and experiences – notably the Monastery of Chozoviotiza, clinging limpet-like to its cliff, followed by a walk along the spine of the island back to your pension in quiet Aegiali. Two further walks will take you through the villages of the northern end of the island, and to a windy outpost, accessible only by a cliff path.
Standard option (see “itinerary”): 7 nights (4 Naxos, 3 Amorgos), but you can choose to stay longer on each island, and hire a car locally if you wish to explore each more fully.
Single island options also available (recommended for shorter stays). Minimum stays on each island: Naxos 3 nights (July/August 4), Amorgos 2 (July/August 3). Minimum total stay 5 nights.
Note that ferry transfers between the two islands are lengthy (2-4 hours) and that access to Naxos is either by ferry from Santorini (2 hrs), Mykonos (1½ hrs) or Piraeus (6 hrs), or by daily flight from Athens only. Flight and ferry times may mean an overnight near the airport on either the outward or return journey. We advise you to discuss your flight plans with On Foot Holidays first before settling on the shape of the holiday.
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon, Mary, Harriet and Fi
REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews of this route submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit AITO.com.
TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to Greece, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.
(filmed by Richard and Sarah Madden, using a Panasonic Lumix GH5 camera)
- The old town of Naxos and the Venetian Kastro
- The hill villages of the interior
- The temple of Demeter
- Lionas beach and honey Raki
- The ascent of Mt Zas and 360º views of the Aegean Islands
- The monastery of Chozoviotiza on its cliff
- Walking the spine of the island along the ridge
- The Aegiali bowl and its villages
- The cliff walk to the chapel of Stavros
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Coast, Villages and farms, Archaeology, History
Staying on and hiring a car to explore the rest of Naxos and the southern part of Amorgos (including its archaeological sites) - or just lying on the beaches, swimming in clear blue sea and enjoying local food and wines.
Linking this route with our other Cyclades route, Andros (transfer via Mykonos - ask us for advice)
How much Walking?
Using shortening options: None, but you decide each day whether to choose an easy walk or a harder, or even opt out and go to the beach!
Generally well marked paths, though careful attention to our written route directions required. Remember you can opt out of walking any day, but shortening is less easy.
NAXOS: Easy-medium: Easy gradients except Mt Zas (1000m). Some narrow paths. Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 400m (200m – 800m) per day.
AMORGOS: Medium: Easy gradients, some scree in small sections. Average CUSs 500m (400m – 800m) per day.
GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for all walking days.
Important note: Times given for each day are walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.
When to go?
The best months to walk: April, May and September
Other possible months: June, July, August and October
April is the beginning of our season on these islands, and it extends to the end of October (warm seas, normally calm weather), but remember July and August can be searingly hot. The locals say May is the best for the flowers, while we fancy a late October break when you really need one (although the islands are beginning to close down for the winter so can be very quiet, with a limited choice of restaurants and other facilities). Please note though that before May you have to transfer via Athens, as Santorini and Mykonos close to international flights. In the summer months the heat may dictate that you may spend more time on the beach than on the trails, but you should be able to get some walking in, if you take care (hats/sunscreen etc). Naxos is also available in March but this cannot be combined with Amorgos as the ferry service renders it impossible.
Temperature and rainfall chart for Naxos
Day 1 - Arrival day
Listed below is a menu of walks available on each island. We hope to add to these as time goes by. The walks can be done in any order.
Arrival and departure details are not listed, and you should bear in mind that transfers by ferry can be quite lengthy and that overnighting near an airport may be necessary. See "Travel Information) for more details.
Day 2 - Agias Mamas to Chalki
A wonderful day’s walk that crosses Naxos’s most water-filled central part. After Pano (Upper) Potamia, you can decide whether to detour to Kouros to visit the ancient quarries and see the lasting remains of sculptures that didn’t quite make it. Continue to Chalki, enjoying amazing vistas to the sea and a dramatic, boulder-filled landscape as you pass around Kastro Castle, perched high on the peak above. It’s more bucolic as you head towards Tsikalario and beyond, with terraced farms and olive groves… Chalki, with its bars and cafés is journey’s end. Verdant, plentiful wild flowers and drama. A day of true contrasts. (Medium: 4½ hrs, 12½ km, CUSs 650m)
Day 3 - Koronos to Lionas Beach
Starting in the small village of Koronos and its labyrinth of alleys, this walk heads down to the remote beach at Lionas, following the course of the valley below. The ancient path leads you to a lonely, yet verdant part of Naxos, offering wonderful views of the mountains and their lunar-like landscapes. Be prepared to take longer than you plan as the friendly locals are sure to want to chat and show you the way. And Lionas Beach – journey’s end! Swim in the crystal clear waters before rewarding yourselves with a meal at the family-run Delfinaki restaurant where nearly everything you will consume will have been produced locally, including the honey raki. (Easy: 3 hrs, 7½km, CUSs 200m)
Day 4 - a choice of two further walks
Mount Zas circuit: A breathtaking ascent of the highest mountain in the Cyclades (at a modest 1001m). The views from the top are spectacular and 360 degree, taking in seven islands, if the weather is clear. Do not attempt in bad weather or cloud, as the navigation near the top depends on good visibility. It’s a big climb but over in a couple of hours, and the descent is a pretty contouring path all the way back to Filoti for lunch. (Medium: 4 hrs, 10km, 800m)
Apiranthos to Chalki. For GPS users only as some paths are indistinct. A day of three villages and some extraordinary engineering. The “Kalderimia”, or paved mule tracks, which linked the villages to each other and to their upland pastures and terraces from the 18th century to the 20th must have taken decades of labour to build, and have now fallen into disuse with the advent of the motor car. But we can still use them, and the Naxiots are slowly clearing them and renovating a few for our recreation. Today we “link” Apiranthos, Moni and Chalki by such routes, over a dramatic ridge top between the first two and down a beautiful valley for the second half. (Medium: 4 hrs, 9km, CUSs 600m).
Day 5 - The temple of Demeter walk, then transfer to Amorgos
A short morning walk through a green and fertile valley to discover the ancient 6th century BC site of Apollo and Demeter, together with its tiny Byzantine church. Retrace your steps to Ano Sagri (a listed and protected village due to its architecture) and then spoil yourself with a meal at Jonny’s, allegedly the island’s best taverna. (Easy: 2 hrs, 4km, CUSs 200m). Bus or taxi to start and return.
Transfer to Amorgos from Naxos by ferry (normally 14:00, arriving 17:20). You will be met at the port by your host (transfer to accommodation from Aegialis is free, from Katapola €5 pp pay locally).
Day 6 - Two possible walks from the hotel
The Aegialis circuit: The perfect walk to get you warmed up and aquainted with this corner of Amorgos. The villages of Aegiali, Langada, Stroumbos and Tholaria were once only linked by ancient calderimia 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 Langada and the friendly islanders will be sure to make you feel welcome. 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 Aegiali Show, accompanied only by the soundtrack of nature. (Easy-medium: 3 hrs, 7 km, CUSs 390m)
Aegialis to Stavros: A walk into the hills, to the church of Aghios Theologos, on its saddle between the mountains of Skoros and Kroukeros. Now all but abandoned, this church had its own self-contained community based on the fertile lands on the saddle. The real destination is, however, the tiny chapel of Stavros, perched on the edge of the cliff on the forgotten eastern limits of the island. The final kilometre of the walk is on a narrow path across a 45 degree slope which some walkers may find daunting. We suggest you go and have a look, and then decide. The view from the decision point is worth it in its own right. (Medium-hard: 5 hrs, 16km, CUSs 740m)
Day 7 - Chora and the Chozoviotiza Monastery to Aegialis
This mighty walk follows the spine of the island, connecting the capital Chora with Aegialis. Starting with a 25 minute transfer to the capital Chora, have a wander around this particularly pretty town, before descending to the astonishing monastery of Chozoviotiza, clinging like a limpet to the sea-cliff. With luck there will be a monk to show you round. 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 Aegialis open out from the balcony path – a fine ending and time for a drink in one of the bars on the front. (Medium-hard: 5 hrs, 15km, CUSs 800m)
Depart for home (could be an early start) or stay longer on the island, and maybe hire a car locally to explore the southern end.
ARRIVING BY AIR
The best “local” airport is Naxos (flights from Athens only), followed by Santorini and Mykonos (2-3 hr ferries to Naxos). Intercontinental flights use Athens – followed either by a 5 hr ferry or a 30 minute flight to Naxos. Note that with the exception of Athens and Naxos, flights tend to start in May and end in October. Outside this period walkers will have to go via Athens.
Morning arrivals at any airport should link up with an afternoon ferry, but it is important to check ferry timetables and transfer arrangements with On Foot before formulating the structure of the holiday, which may involve an overnight stay on one of the islands or in Athens. This is even more likely on the return from Amorgos (if staying there). It is best to build enough time into your holiday schedule to allow for this, then agree plans with On Foot.
Remember that a ferry journey, even a long one, can be seen as part of the holiday – the sight of Amorgos in the morning mist or the sunset over Naxos is memorable.
Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.
For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.
Getting to the start of the walk
The “normal” order is Naxos followed by Amorgos, but it is vital to discuss your travel plans with On Foot first. Please note that Amorgos is accessed by ferry only (none on Sundays).
It is not strictly necessary to pre-book ferries as there are ticket offices in every port. However, we have found pre-booking can really help with the ever-changing schedules as the companies will send regular updates by text. Schedules can be checked on www.zastravel.com or at www.gtp.gr but pre-book tickets with the ferry company directly so they can send updates.
All return journeys from Amorgos involve a change of ferry on Naxos (1-2 daily (not Sunday), 2-3 hrs), except for Piraeus (Athens) (see below).
The airport is located a short local taxi ride from the town and port.
Taxis are normally available at the airport or can be called on arrival. Journey time to port approximately 20 minutes (around €30). Ferries to/from Naxos 3-6 daily, 1¼ hrs- 2¼hrs. Return from Amorgos via Naxos.
Taxis are normally available at the airport or can be called on arrival. Journey time to port approximately 20 minutes (around €30). Ferries to/from Naxos 2-3 daily, 1 hr – 1½ hrs.
Metro to Piraeus port (one change) or direct bus, 1½ hrs, c. €12. Ferries to/from Naxos 2-5 daily, 3½ hrs – 5½ hrs. Return to Piraeus direct from Amorgos 1-2 daily (not Sunday), 8-9 hrs.
OR bus or local taxi to Rafina port 40 mins; high season ferries and hydrofoils to/from Naxos.
On arrival at Naxos port you may be met (Venetiko Apartments) and walked to the hotel, or local taxis are available from the rank (max fare €15).
On Amorgos, transfers from either Aegiali or Katapola ports are included in the basic holiday price.
Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack.
Where You'll Stay
The standard accommodation on the two islands is homely and authentic, family run. Our standard hotel on Naxos, ANIXIS, is in the heart of the old town, and most rooms have a balcony. Nearby Hotel Grotta offers a good upgrade experience.
On Amorgos there is a choice of three very different accommodations. Askas provides a real family experience and is excellent value (they also do evening meals if you can’t drag yourself into the village!). Filoxenia is a professionally-run, modern hotel with lovely sea views. For those wanting a full upgrade experience, consider Yperia, with all the modern comforts you could need.
Naxos Town – Hotel Anixis (B&B)
Hotel in the heart of the old town, with sea views from the breakfast area - most rooms with balcony.Website
Naxos Town – Hotel Grotta (B&B)
A cheerful and welcoming hotel with views of the town and Temple of Apollo, and great breakfasts!Website
Amorgos (Aegialis) – Hotel Filoxenia (B&B)
Modern hotel overlooking the bay, within walking distance of the village. Small supplement for this mid-range upgrade.Website
Amorgos (Aegialis) – Yperia Hotel (B&B)
Spacious and comfortable, with balconies, a pool and views across the bay.Website
Total 7 nights in double/twin room, with 7 breakfasts; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support. Taxis to and from walks on Naxos. Transfers to and between islands, local buses and taxis not specified in the itinerary are excluded.
All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.
Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £135
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £185
Large Party Saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £25 per person.
Maximum party size: 10
Shorter breaks – prices available on request.
Additional nights in any accommodation, and upgrade hotels on Naxos: Contact On Foot Holidays
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK and Ireland: £10-£40 (per pack, location dependent)
Route designed by:
Annie was born in Athens and started her career in the world of marketing and publishing, but soon her love for the outdoors brought her together with a team of sailors, divers, environmentalists and hikers.