Cyclades walking holiday, Greece

“Walk for hours without spotting a single sole and discover the rare plants, coastal birds and neoclassical architecture of Syros, one of the Greek islands hidden gems.”

Highlights

Syros Island | UNESCO site of Ermoupolis | Katri acropolis | Birdwatching | Snorkelling | Medieval town of Ano Syros | Varvaroussa Beach | Chroussa village | Eating in local tavernas | Scenic inland and coastal walks

Description of Cyclades walking holiday, Greece

Some people want to hop from one island to another when they go on a Cyclades walking holiday, but this week long trip is perfect for those who want to stop and explore one of its beauties in depth. And the island of Syros, the capital of the Cyclades, certainly is a beauty. Your accommodation is based in the picturesque, historical coastal town of Ermoupolis, an 18th century family run guesthouse that was the former French embassy. Thanks to the fact that this town was the most commercial port in the east Med in the 19th century.

Every day will bring walks along deserted ancient paths and trails, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy stunning mountain views across the Cyclades Islands and their dramatic coastal scenery. As well as remote, solitary beaches and coves with crystal clear waters. Syros has both cultural and natural highlights, with ancient archaeological sites at Kastri, the Venetian castle reservation of Ano Syros as well as the elegant neo-classical main town of Ermoupolis. The island is rich in varied terrain from Apano Meria, a mountainous, rugged area of the north, a NATURA 2000 protected area due to its prolific flora and fauna, to the forested and quiet, abandoned village of Chroussa in the south. With Aegean views to die for at every stop, remote beaches at the end of every trail, and waterside tavernas to delight at the end of each day.

This holiday can be combined with a walking holiday at neighbouring islands such as Tinos, Paros or Naxos, adapting your itinerary from 7 to 10 or 14 days. We always aspire to be flexible with our itineraries according to our guests’ needs and interests. What we can’t be flexible with, however, is the weather, which is just too hot for walking in July and August, so we don’t offer trips during these times. We think that the best time for a Cyclades walking holiday is:

*March when the tree blossoms are blooming
*April to mid-June when the wild flowers are bursting, and temperatures are not too hot. We also recommend Easter on Syros, as it is a wonderful time to experience Greece’s culture, with traditional feasts and celebrations going on all over the island
* September until the end of November: the seas are still warm, the temperatures balmy and the grape and olive harvest take place, with more local festivities to enjoy.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:We start this Cyclades walking holiday, on the island of Syros, at our favourite locally owned family guesthouse in the coastal gem of Ermoupolis town. After a brief introduction to Syros and familiarisation of our itinerary for the week, we will have time to explore the town, which is a deserved UNESCO World Heritage Site, brimming with beautiful Venetian and neoclassical buildings. A stunning start to the week, which we can toast during dinner at one of the town’s best tavernas.
Day 2:Today’s coastal hike starts just outside the town of Ermoupolis, takes in the remote north east coast of the island, with beautiful traditional reservations to stop off at en route, such as Platy Vouni and Richopo. The smell of the sea segues with that of wild herbs and flowers, particularly fragrant and fecund around April and May, when orchids abound. Our picnic lunch stop off, and swim for water lovers, will be at the gorgeously quiet beach of Glysoura. The walk’s finale is at the ancient akropolis of Kastri, dating back to 3200-2000 B.C., and is undoubtedly one of the most important Cycladic archaeological sites. We'll end our walk at the settlement of Chalandriani.
Day 3:Today we head to the island’s remote and dramatically rocky northern tip of Cape Dhiapori and the far out beaches of Gria Spilia and Grammata. This trail that takes us through the Kambos Valley, a birdwatcher’s delight, with birds such as hoopoe, Sicilian warblers, Cory’s shearwater as well as Eleonora’s falcon and Bonelli’s eagle, depending on the season. Further along the coast from the Cape calmer waters await at Grammata beach, perfect for snorkelling and swimming, and beyond that Gria Spilia beach is also a perfect shady spot for lunch. Our day finishes in St. Michelle village, with another delicious supper, sea and hopefully a clear sunset, as this is one of the best spots to watch the day come to a close on the island.
Day 4:Today we will discover the island’s main town of Ermoupolis fully, with its narrow alleys, marble square, cobbled streets, Vaporia quarter and wonderful mixture of elegant mansions and traditional Cycladic houses. With its hillside coastal location, we head up to Dili where the Orthodox Anastasi church awaits, with views over to Ano Syros hill with the Roman Catholic St. George church atop. A place of harmony that makes for the perfect picnic spot. From here we continue to the Venetian castle reservation of Ano Syros, an aesthetic treat with a maze of steps climbing and descending through snaking streets, flanked by white washed, traditional houses, all overlooked by the basilica of San Giorgio at the top of the hill. Where views of the town and surrounding islands bring the perfect day to a close. As does dinner at one of the island’s oldest tavernas.
Day 5:Rest day. A day for you to choose a beach to chill at, a town to explore or a trail to trek. Happy to guide you in whichever direction you choose.
Day 6:Another day, another ancient trail, this time taking in the ancient settlement of Papouri a spot that is brimming with wild flowers in spring. From here onto the bluer than blue waters at Varvaroussa beach. A secluded spot just perfect for snorkelling, where our guide knows all the best rocky spots to seek out Syros’ underwater biodiverse beauties. The afternoon brings another coastal trek to Delfini beach, with the ancient settlement of Kini another must see on Syros’ cultural trail. Dinner again at a local taverna.
Day 7:For our final day on Syros, we head south to the village of Chroussa, a curious place of mansions and shipping magnate’s millions, but now a ghost town in many ways. Unlike the rest of the island, this area is forested and shady, making for a lovely picnic lunch under the pine trees from an elevated site with views over to Naxos and Paros. The day ends with our now traditional supper and swim in the Bay of Vari.
Day 8:Breakfast and departure.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Check dates

2016: 1 Oct, 8 Oct, 15 Oct, 22 Oct, 29 Oct, 5 Nov
Our top tip:
Although tours take place outside 'peak season' they still experience daytime heat and, conversely, evening chills. Pack layers for peeling off or putting on.
Trip type:
Small group and tailor made tours. Max 6 people.
Activity level:
Moderate. Daily walks taking 5 hours or more with ascents up to 500 metres.
Accomm:
Family-run 18th century guest house in Ermoupolis.
Included:
Local tour guides: Annie and Dimitris, and accommodation.
Meals:
All breakfasts, daily picnics using local produce and evening meals at local restaurants.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cyclades walking holiday, Greece

Environment

We are dedicated to encouraging low-impact activity holidays, such as walking, and minimising our negative impact on the environment and people.

This walking trail holiday in the island of Syros, Greece, has an eco focus. We will inform our guests about the unique flora and endemic and common species they will encounter while walking or swimming around the island of Syros. We give guidelines on where to look for them, how to approach them in order not to scare them and disrupt their life, how to observe their behaviours or even capture a unique picture showing to the rest of the world their magic. Guests leave aware of the environmental dangers faced and what they can do to minimise them.

We encourage our guests to behave in an environmentally responsible manner. We walk on designated paths and make sure no litter is left behind. We often arrange clean ups of paths and beaches during the week. We report on paths that are falling out of use and help to clear them.

We encourage our guests and the owners of the accommodations we use to be aware of the threats to the environment (i.e. water waste, plastic bags and bottles) and suggest ways in which they can minimise their negative footprint. We explain our guests the need for water conservation in the Greek islands and advise them on how to minimise their water waste. We encourage our guests to bring refillable water bottles and/or recycle them in designated areas. All our business waste is recycled. All communication is done electronically where possible, saving on paper.

We organise our walking holidays in Greece only for small groups of up to 6 people, outside the high season months of July-August. We thus try as much as we can to reduce negative impacts to the environment and its people and to benefit the local community.

Community

We have the greatest respect for the local people and their customs and are anxious to share our knowledge of Cycladic island lifestyle with our guests. In order to limit the social impact of tourism all are guests are introduced to the local customs, religion, politics and history during our walks. We take our clients to local festivals, artists' workshops, and other locals celebrations trying to get them to experience the local way of life. We encourage our guests to mix and interact with the local people which are particularly friendly and hospitable.

Through our walking trail holidays in Greece we support small businesses by supporting locally owned shops, guesthouses, mini-markets, bakeries and taverns. As our holidays take place in spring, early summer and autumn, we bring customers and income to establishments which would otherwise only have visitors in high summer. Guests are advised to visit the local market and purchase locally-produced and home-made products such olive oil, wine, honey, capers and herbs, sun dried fruits and tomatoes, “louza” the local proscuito and other goods.

We buy food for our picnics from the local markets and prefer items locally grown according to the season, thus supporting the local agricultural community. Evening meals are taken in typical Greek restaurants serving local dishes.

Our guests stay at local, family owned guesthouses, staffed by locals with their food being sourced locally. These accommodations have been restored by local workers and retained their unique local character whilst providing all necessary comforts. The guesthouses recently installed solar panels which provide hot water for all rooms all year round.

Syros has a unique network of traditional walking paths and Annie and Dimitris who will be your guides know them very well. They live and work in Syros. They are passionate about promoting Syros as a walking holiday destination, about the survival and conservation of the paths and local wildlife and sustainable tourism in general.

In general, with all walking holidays in Greece, we’re trying through our activities to encourage travellers to approach places they visits with greater understanding and respect.

Reviews of Cyclades walking holiday, Greece

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 21 May 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Climbing to the top of Mount Zas (Zeus) on a beautifully warm sunny day.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Book early so that you can get a direct flight to Naxos itself, rather than having to fly to Mykonos or Santorini and then use the ferry.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Local people were very friendly and hospitable. I should like to think they benefitted from our presence. Certainly the hotel and restaurants all seemed to be owned by local people, rather than global brands. Some of the tavernas in remote villages were glad to welcome half a dozen hungry and thirsty walkers

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A marvellous and memorable week, with a nice mix of walking, relaxation and (my weakness) eating.

Reviewed on 11 May 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The cliff walks with wild flowers and herbs along the way. Stunning.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared to buy your own breakfast every day. Be flexible as the itinerary may change.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes I'm sure it did. Local people - hotels and restaurants used. An emphasis on respecting the environment and not creating litter.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This holiday fulfilled my expectations in providing amazing walks off the beaten track and the opportunity to see rural places not visited by most tourists. Annie is a knowledgeable guide.

Reviewed on 24 May 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The generosity of the Greek people throughout the trip. Annie our guide was able to speak to everyone and we were welcomed and given fruit, honey, drinks, desserts, and wine. Our a accommodation owner gave us a tour of his orange farm and marmalade. The island, villages, and ocean were beautiful.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pay attention to predicted temperatures. Our week had perfect temperatures for walking. I went April 23 for seven days. The next week temperature was 90 degrees on Santorini.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes - we ate in local taverns-often breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We stayed in town in beautiful accommodations - Venitika apartments in the old part of Chora(nice indoor and outdoor space in the beautiful old part of town). We also used local taxis and buses when needed. Loved every minute!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Totally enjoyable walking tour. Annie is a wonderful guide. Beautiful island with mixed vegetation and beautiful beaches. People very hospitable and delicious food and good company. Thanks for the recommendation and thank you Annie and Evaggalus for a wonderful experience.

Reviewed on 25 Apr 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Walking in Syros & seeing the beautiful scenery & wealth of wild herbs & flowers. Also Annie was a great guide and very attentive to us, and helped the group in many ways.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go for it! It's a very relaxing way of getting to know the islands & meeting the local people. It was great to have a local guide who helped with communication, travel & chose some excellent resturants.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Probably mainly financially, I think. While we were careful of the environment & hopefully did no damage, we did not add to it as such. Our guide Annie noted that her company regularly organise or take part in cleanups.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good. The island was really beautiful & we saw most of it, & both guide & local people were friendly and helpful.

Reviewed on 14 Apr 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The scenery, food, culture and company were all fantastic

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you have good walking boots ad poles for the uneven terrain. If you go in the spring take some warm things for the evenings, it can get very cold at night. Bedrooms can be very cold.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes most definitely.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A fantastic introduction to Greece. I will be going back to explore some of the other 1000 islands!

Reviewed on 04 May 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Walking along tracks and hidden footpaths over rugged hills filled with wild flowers and fragrant herbs, down to secluded beaches.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pack a good pair of walking shoes and perhaps a walking pole to protect your knees.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent.

Reviewed on 08 May 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


There were a few, being out in the wonderful fresh air, beautiful scenery, small plants and scents, and nobody around. We felt very peaceful, and relaxed.

Annie prepared us some lovely picnics that we ate on the beach, and once in a small chapel.

We enjoyed delicious food in a mixture of places, once in a small fisherman's café, delicious fresh fish, and a few times at the end of our hikes we ended up in family run places, where the food was their own produce. What could be better.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Annie walks are well prepared, all you need is good hiking shoes !

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we stayed in a wonderful family run B&B, and ate in local restaurants, and walked

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very enjoyable, it’s the first hiking holiday we have done, mainly we opt for cycling holidays. We have recommended this holiday to our friends and would certainly try more hiking holidays.

Our guide Annie is great, she will adapt the walks to you and is very informative on the plants and flowers, you will see many.

I recommend this holiday to all.-

Reviewed on 23 Oct 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Arriving at a sunny beach with a great blue sea after a walk across barren land.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Sun cream is needed!The Django ice-cream parlour is great.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Definitely impacted local people - every place we stayed or had food was owned and managed by local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very relaxing and enjoyable. People were very friendly and nice. Great food.

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