Self guided walking holiday in Santorini and Naxos, Greece

“A week long self-guided walking holiday on Cyclades’ most stunning islands of Santorini & Naxos. A dormant volcanic island that is an explosion of natural and cultural wonders”

Highlights

Santorini | Fira | Oia | Profitis Ilias | Emborio | Perissa beach | Akrotiri village | Pyrgos | Red beach | Naxos

Description of Self guided walking holiday in Santorini and Naxos, Greece

This week long self-guided walking holiday in Santorini & Naxos will fascinate you. Santorini is one of Greece’s finest volcanic islands, part of a group of islands of the same name, overlooking a sapphire blue submerged caldera, visible from different viewpoints during our recommended walks. Walking with a carefully crafted itinerary, created by our local experts, you will take on magnificent hikes. Such as hiking along the rim of the caldera to the village of Oia. Sauntering through ancient villages with Venetian influences and traditionally Cycladic narrow streets and stone houses. Hiking through volcanic terrain, you will come across a town that was uncovered from the ashes of the past, you will drink wine made from grapes grown in the ashes of the present, and you will bathe at black and red sand beaches, the volcanic rock eroded by years of these crystal clear waters lapping onto the island’s shores.

You'll then contintue to Naxos, the largest and most mulfi-faceted island in the Cyclades which offers ancient trails, through mountainous quaint villages, venetian towers, olive groves and incredible landscapes. Walk and explore the old fortified ‘Kastro’ reservation, ancient temples, abandoned kouros statues, solitary bays and experience the unique Greek hospitality and island culture. Finish with a walk at the top of Mt. Zas, the highest peak of the Cyclades, where Zeus was given the thunder to conquer Mt. Olympus.

Our information package not only gives details of wonderful walks, but also cultural and natural heritage sites to see en route, some perfect places to rest your feet as well as our favourite tavernas and cafes. Although some spots in Santorini and Naxos can be busy in July and August, it is always possible to get off the beaten track, although they are the warmest months. If you hike here in spring or autumn, however, you will have the trails and tracks to yourself, the temperatures will be perfect and the local people will be delighted to welcome you.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Vouchers
Accepted

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 islands of Santorini & Naxos, 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 Santorini & Naxos. 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

6 Reviews of Self guided walking holiday in Santorini and Naxos, Greece

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Reviewed on 18 May 2019 by

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


Visiting the ancient site of Akrotiri and the archaeological museum of Thera.

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


Be prepared for some very rough (underfoot) walking.

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


Not overtly.

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


Santorini excellent 2 nights. Naxos - not too well supported as a single walker.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Robert, thank you for taking the time to explain to us in more detail how we could have offered you better support as a single walker. We understand that you were not happy with the support over the phone your received in Naxos and you wanted someone to meet you and answer your questions in person. We will take this into account of course and make sure our future guests get face to face support when they need it. We are glad to hear you enjoyed the support you received and your walks in Santorini and hope you have good memories of Naxos as well. Thank you for your feedback.

Reviewed on 22 Oct 2018 by

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


The hike from Fira to Oia is very nice. It's a well used path, so no directions are necessary. It follows the ocean and is beautiful. We even made some new friends along the way. We met lots of nice people on this trip. Some were tourists and others were from Greece. The food was very good too. The Anixis hotel on Naxos was very nice. They have a great breakfast and wonderful ocean views. We could even hear the ocean. Even though we originally signed up for the independent walking tour, we were able to join an existing guided tour for several days of hiking on Naxos. This turned out to be very convenient since the island is so slow in October. Plus, Annie, our guide was great and the the other four travelers were nice to spend time with while hiking. On the Santorini Pyrgos trail, we needed the app in order to follow the trail. We were nervous about the trails in Naxos after that. So, joining the group was very helpful. The timing just turned out great. I think that some printed handouts of just the trail directions in a format easy to carry around while hiking would be very useful. The phone gps apps use a lot of power and that made us nervous.

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


There are still a lot of tourists on Santorini in the middle of October. While this has it's downside, it also means that there are lots of buses traveling the island. So, getting around on your own is very easy. Naxos, however, is very quite in October. There are very few buses this time of year. This makes traveling the island for hiking more difficult. Taxis transfers may be necessary for hiking the island.

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


The people in Greece seem to need the tourist dollar a lot, so I hope our presence helped them. We met several collage educated people working in hotels and restaurants because there aren't enough jobs available.

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


We had a very nice time. This was our first time using Responsible Travel. We now have another company to use for trips in the future.

Reviewed on 01 Oct 2018 by

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


I enjoyed exploring the island on ancient trails that have been used for centuries by local people but have never been written down on a paper map until this
century.

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


Tell Niko what you hope to do and he will listen to your preferences and guide you to options to choose from. He was very receptive to developing an itinerary
that was flexible and adaptable to my time and adventure preferences.

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?


I very much enjoyed the balance between independent travel and supported travel that this trip gave me. I am a solo traveler and Nikos built a trip for me ... he adapted his regular itinerary for group and gave me suggestions, hotel support and guide books as well as phone and email support while I was there. I was able to explore trails and places by myself that I would her never found alone and on my own ... but I was able to explore them alone and on my own (which I enjoy... solo time is healthy and important for me) with the confidence of a guide in my pocket. This was fantastic for my needs and travel style! Thank you Nikos!

Reviewed on 23 May 2018 by

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


The culture and people of Naxos

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


Meet the local people on the walks they are very friendly and happy to help.

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


Yes stayed in local hotels and walked through the villages. Eating a small family ran cafe.e

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


Excellent holiday highly recommended.

Reviewed on 23 Sep 2018 by

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


We much preferred Naxos to Santorini much more relaxed. Best walks were Mount Zas and Caldera rim walk from Fira to Oia, both fabulous views.

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


Spend more time in Naxos and less time in Santorini. If only using public transport be prepared for restricted bus operating times on Naxos/ Santorini and very crowded buses. Some of the walks we were unable to do due to lack of public transport on the return journey. Some bus journey's are split having to
change buses half way which does not tell you on the bus timetable. The bus station on Santorini is very chaotic. We found the Islands are quite expensive for everything. The port in Santorini is also very busy and chaotic with little to no guidance. The ferries were late on every transfer by 45 minutes. The luggage storage below deck on the ferry is swamped with everybody's belongings make sure your luggage is easy identified as you do not get very long to find it prior to departing the ferry. Santorini airport is very small and very overcrowded. It struggles to cope with every aspect.

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


Yes as we ate a local family tarvernas and used public transport everywhere.

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


The holiday company were absolutely super. Good communication prior to holiday, everything was booked perfectly and went without a hitch. Lots of texts from holiday reps confirming their availability for help and questions.

Reviewed on 06 Nov 2016 by

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


The personal challenge of completing the hikes myself, the isolated walks in a rugged yet serene environment, arriving at key sites all tired, hot and sweaty whilst other tourists were in pristine condition (must be those air conditioned vehicles), the locals friendliness and hospitality, the local cuisine (the wines are must-have) and of course picturesque Santorini itself with its churches and caldera. Ooops, I just couldn't choose one!

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


A few things to consider:
1. As well as the weather, do check the tides/swell of the sea especially when planning the 'Caldera to Akrotiri and Vlychada trail'. There are two parts on this trail which are on the rocky beach (the beach is narrow) and if the tide is in then your path is blocked.
2. Expect many of the remote churches to be closed...it's just how it is!
3. The app provided by nofootprint was great but make sure you keep a battery charger with you in case your mobile decides to give up. To use the app you need to have your location enabled and in my case this used up my phone battery quite quickly.

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


Absolutely. Walking through local towns/villages was great as you get to meet the locals and eat/drink in local establishments thus contributing to the local economy. The trails were a mix of well-trodden paths and 'figure-it-out yourself' paths but no flora was damaged in the process. The bus system on the island is excellent, frequent and cheap...really good local infrastructure.

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


Ah just amazing and the perfect trip...a different way to see such a beautiful island and all it has to offer! Loved it!

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