Andros and Tinos walking holiday, Greece

“A ten day walking holiday up in the northernmost idylls of the Cycladic islands, guided by experts around the islands of Tinos and Andros. ”

Highlights

Andros| Pythara and Sariza springs | Gialia | Dipotamata River valley | Kochilou | Vourkoti | St. Nicolaos Monastery | Tinos | Steni | Volax | Xombourgo Mountain | Livadha Valley | Pyrghos

Description of Andros and Tinos walking holiday, Greece

This ten day guided walking holiday takes you to Greece’s northernmost tip of the Cyclades archipelago and two of its greenest islands: Tinos and Andros. Both relatively unknown islands on the tourism gamut of Greek gorgeousness, these Cyclades islands are wild, walking wonderlands. Andros is mountainous, with challenging ridges, vertiginous valleys and enchanting gorges where it feels like life springs eternal, with omnipresent rivers and waterfalls to cool off that famous Cycladic climate. The only European island to have been awarded the European Ramblers’ Association “Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe” certification, it is a little bit of hiking heaven.

Tinos, just a little further south, is a land of deserted ancient wonders, which you will discover as you hike along paths where pilgrims attended the numerous churches of old and through beautiful traditional villages where people worked the fields and where windmills and farmlands still remain. Alongside this ancient Cycladic cultural heritage, flora and fauna thrive on both Andros and Tinos, protected by leading designations such as Natura 2000, Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). The islands are, therefore, idylls for endemics and rarities such as Eleonora's Falcon and Cretzschmar's bunting. But it is the eclectic variety of wildflowers and ancient trees that stops most hikers in their tracks, as they inhale the aromas of wild thyme or oregano, or admire magnificent oak, walnut or cypress trees along their daily walking trails.

Our hikes are not too challenging, walking for five to six hours a day (including stops), with climbs to no more than 500m. And with so many beauty spots en route, we won’t be rushing past the Byzantine monasteries, ancient windmills or glistening beaches. We can be very flexible with our itineraries, catering for group experience, abilities and interests. We can’t, however, be flexible with the weather, which is sizzling in August, and so we don’t guide groups during this time. We highly recommend spring and autumn hiking, however, when flowers blossom, temperatures are kind and the water is warm enough for swimming. Below is a sample itinerary to give you a flavour of this dual island walking holiday in the Cyclades.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:Starting on the island of Andros, check into our guesthouse in the capital of the island, Chora. Perched on a pretty peninsula, buildings cling to cliffs, narrow alleys lead down to the water front, and tavernas beckon, giving the perfect setting for our welcome meal and orientation for your ten day holiday.
Day 2:Today you get a flavour of how green this island is, thanks to its proliferation of springs, which we will discover on our hike from Apoikia, where the famous Pythara and Sariza springs flow. We also pass Pythara’s waterfalls, where we climb up past ancient slopes covered in oaks and olive trees. With a history of maritime wealth, we pass aristocratic architecture that were well served in their day by elegant bridges and water mills, all adding to the historic highlights of this trail. And because we like to end every hike at a beach, when possible, Gialia ticks all the boxes for a perfect picnic and pick me up swim.
Day 3:Today we hike along ancient farming paths that linked the island’s two castles and then on to the sea, where trading also took place. Passing through Sineti village, a stunning rural mountain spot leads to the Dipotamata River valley, where the island’s flora and fauna thrive. And, in its day, water mills did too, with twenty two of them still visible along this exquisite elevated trail. Following the river to the sea, we arrive at the traditional maritime village of Kochilou, with unbeatable Aegean views, topped only by a stunning beach at Korthi for lunch and a swim.
Day 4:Starting from the picturesque, elevated village of Vourkoti, we see more of Andros’ verdant landscapes following the River Achla, crossing ancient stone bridges to the island’s protected wetland, home to a bevy of beautiful birdlife. This hike also includes a visit to the wonderful old St. Nicolaos Monastery, as well as our obligatory daily trip to yet another stunning beach, this time at Achla where, if you pack a snorkel in your backpack, you can explore the marine life around its waterside caves.
Day 5:Today we explore the Byzantine beauties of Andros, with highlights that include the ancient Messaria villages and the now deserted Petrias. Menites is another magnificent spot, a village that is named after maenads, or Dionysus’ nymphs. As god of the grape harvest, his nymphs had no shortage of water to produce the wine, as we hike past many water fountains, ancient river bridges and, finally, the Livadia River valley, giving this an emerald isle feel rather than a Greek island one. You really will feel like you are walking in another ancient Greek world here. But a world that still feels like you are in the lap of the gods.
Day 6:Take your own free time today, either to rest on one of Andros’ beaches or explore a trail, as recommended by our guides. Tonight we transfer to our second island of the trip, another magical treat of Tinos.
Day 7:On Tinos, we hike from Steni, with its typical narrow streets, white houses and views of the Aegean, to an array of hamlets, each as beautiful as the next. With evocative Greek names such Dyo Choria, Tzadros, Kehros, Triandaros, Arnados and Falatados, the proffer a trail through ancient Cycladic architecture, where village squares have springs that have provided the island with life giving force for generations, terraces that have been farmed for centuries, and olive groves that have borne fruit forever. Our day’s hike finishes in Volax, with its unique geological phenomenon of boulders scattered all around the dwellings. A bouldering lover’s heaven, it is simply a site to behold for all visitors. Enjoy dinner at this ancient village’s oldest tavernas, with fine local food.
Day 8:Today we hike from Tarampados, famous for its beautiful medieval dovecotes where local people bred pigeons for meat and fertilizer, as they farmed these rich valleys, farms and olive groves. Aiming for the peak of Xombourgo mountain, we hike through several other stunningly beautiful island villages, such as Kambos and Koumaros, as well as the remains of the 13th century St Helen’s or Aghia Eleni Castle. Founded by the Ghizi dynasty, and surviving into Venetian times, this is our chosen picnic spot for the day, with magnificent views out across the island.
Day 9:More idyllic, ancient hiking paths are to be discovered today, this time starting from Falatados and traversing the Livadha valley, where the eponymous river feeds forests of oak and plane trees, as well as providing a vital source of water mills that lined the river front. And just to add to the Hellenic heavenliness of it all, Livadha also has a remote, unknown beach, for our daily picnic and swim. Walk off lunch on a superb coastal walk out to the island’s lighthouse, where a plethora of seabirds follow your trail, swerve in and out of coves and cliffs that are migratory homes to many fine species.
Day 10:Our final day’s hike begins in Platia village and finishes in the marble magnificence of Pyrghos. En route to this elegant Cycladic finale, we follow remote paths to villages such as Karabousa, where the perfect rest stop awaits at the chapel of Ag. Paraskevi. The coast calls after lunch, with littoral loveliness at every stop along the way, with a pick of beaches such as Voula or Kavalorko. Enjoy dinner in style in the Pyrghos central square, where you can visit marble artists, or just sit and cool down by its marble spring.

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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
This walking trail holiday in the island of Andros & Tinos, has a primary eco-focus. We are dedicated to encouraging low-impact activity holidays, such as walking, and minimising our negative impact on the environment and people. This is mainly done by respecting the natural environment of the places we visit and by concentrating on an alternative way of travelling, mostly out of the heavy burdened touristic summer season.

We try to support the No Footprint idea by exploring in small group numbers and as much as possible getting around on foot or by public transport. Our walking holidays after all, leave nothing but footprints behind! We walk on designated paths and make sure no litter is left behind, while we also gather up any that we see on our way. We often arrange clean ups of paths and beaches during the week, or tree planting initiatives in these dry and arid Greek islands. We report on paths that are falling out of use and help to clear or shape them back.

Most of our paths are part of larger protected areas or National parks and Natural reserves, such as the vast Natura 2000 network. This way, we encourage our guests to behave in an environmentally responsible manner. We inform our guests about the unique flora and endemic and common species they will encounter while walking or swimming around the islands of Andros &Tinos. We find it to be important to encourage and develop a passion for wildlife and wild places amongst our customers. We give guidelines on where to look for them, how to observe them or even capture a unique picture showing to the rest of the world their magic. Of course, it is important to emphasize that all wildlife sightings are a bonus; none are guaranteed! We practice Responsible Wildlife Viewing principles by not disturbing or threatening the behaviour of any wild animal by no means. We ask our guests to never remove a specimen – whether plant, seed or animal – from its natural environment. Guests leave aware of the environmental dangers faced and what they can do themselves to minimise 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 to 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 communication is done electronically where possible, saving on paper
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

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. Your guides are all local, sharing with you their ideas and love for their land. 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 local 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 the high touristic summer months. In many villages, we visit local craftswomen who make their own handmade traditional products and by selling them, support their families.

All the products used in our picnics are bought locally, by small family-owned shops, supporting a low carbon diet and respecting the seasonal produces, thus supporting the local agricultural community. Evening meals are taken in typical Greek restaurants serving local, Greek and Mediterranean dishes, usually with products from their own personal gardens.

We opt for local, family owned guesthouses, staffed by locals. 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.

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

Climate

3 Reviews of Andros and Tinos walking holiday, Greece

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 02 May 2019 by

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


The contrasts between the different islands in terms of landscapes, settlements and even food was something very unexpected that made this a memorable trip. Although the water was cool in April, swimming during a walk was very refreshing. Being in Greece for the Orthodox Easter was an added bonus. The local celebrations, which featured fireworks, were loud, colorful and great fun to observe.

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


If you can, fly into an island as rough seas can make a long ferry journey most unpleasant.

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


Yes, all of the hotels were locally run and the very good restaurants recommended by the guides were run by locals too. This gave you the feeling that you were helping the local economy by using these and other services such as taxis and buses. It was also a wonderful way to sample the varied local cuisine.

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


This is and excellent walking tour. The guides are welcoming, know the islands and very friendly. The accommodations are all comfortable, with great breakfasts. Walking the beautiful trails and swimming in the turquoise sea with wonderful fellow travelers was a fantastic experience. There is so much to see in these beautiful islands that I feel sure I will be back to see other islands by booking walking tours.

Reviewed on 23 Sep 2018 by

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


The views

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


Be aware of the number of stairs involved in the walks. Check where your accommodation is situated.

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


Hopefully benefited local people.

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


Great.

Reviewed on 14 May 2017 by

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


The evening walk to the fortress at Exomvourgo on Tinos with views of the surrounding villages and the sun setting across the sea. Also the walk to visit the monastery on Andros, meeting the monks and eating lunch prepared by the abbott was very special. The profusion of wild flowers on the old stone paths, the landscape of stone walls and terraces.

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


Go in May- warm enough to swim, not too hot for walking. Feeling of places getting geared up for the summer but not yet busy.

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


Yes. We stayed in family owned hotels, ate in small restaurants and tavernas.

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


Wonderful, exceeded my expectations. The local guides were superb, every day was well planned and varied, we did a huge amount in one week, but the pace was relaxed with time to appreciate everything.

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