Naxos and the small Cyclades walking holiday, Greece
7, 10, 14 day options including Santorini & single supplements are available.
Fee includes guided walks, accommodation, ferries, transfers, VAT, info on local history, culture, flora & fauna.
Description of Naxos and the small Cyclades walking holiday, Greece
This ten day walking holiday starts on the island of Naxos, the largest of Greece’s Cyclades islands, and one that is worthy of our first four days of hiking and exploring. A mountainous terrain, Naxos boasts the highest peak in the Cyclades with Mount Zas (1003m) where Olympian god Zeus spent his time. The mountains are dotted with exquisite elevated villages proffering splendid views out over the Aegean. Byzantine chapels, Venetian citadels and olive groves line ancient walking trails that take you up through the island’s luscious valleys, fed by springs, rivers and waterfalls. All of which seem to lead down to prolific and beyond pretty coves and bays.
From here to the Small Cyclades, which are much more isolated and relatively undiscovered. From Amorgos, famous for being the stunning location for film director Luc Besson’s iconic film, Big Blue, to Iraklia with its 30km coastline of pure littoral loveliness. They may be small, but they are all pretty packages when it comes to walking holiday delights, Greece never letting you down in terms of traditional culture and fine natural heritage.
Read our sample itinerary below, although we are always flexible according to group needs and interests. This trip can be shortened to seven days or extended to a fourteen day walking holiday, with a recommended four days in Santorini, another world of dramatic volcanic terrain, a fine addition to this walking holiday.
|Day 1:||Arrive at Naxos where you will be met at the harbour and then onwards to your family run guesthouse. Taking time to chill out at the beach after your journey, we will have a briefing session about the walking holiday itinerary, followed by dinner at one of our favourite Naxos tavernas.|
|Day 2:||We start on a high, walking to the summit of Mt. Fanari today, starting off at one of the island’s prettiest villages, Apiranthos, located in its shadow. A traditional village crammed with historical influences that can be seen in the elegant marble alleyways, the Venetian forts and lookouts, and traditional white washed houses. From here, we hike up through magnificent rocky countryside, discovering two more stunning villages en route. Kaloxylos is adorned not only with olive and oak trees, but also flowers everywhere from courtyards to squares. And Chalki village, which is where we rest our feet at the end of the day and reward ourselves with a fine organic dinner, with restaurateurs who pride themselves on growing their own produce. This really is food from terrace to taverna.|
|Day 3:||Setting off from Filoti village, today’s hike takes us to the top, into the lap of the gods at Mount Zas, named after Zeus who is said to have spent his childhood on this splendid island. Hard to see why he wouldn’t, when you look out at the magnificent views out across this land that is like a heaven for hiking, the azure Aegean, islands and the Cycladic archipelago scattered all around. This remote spot is also a safe habitat for a bevy of birdlife, including griffon vultures, which soar serenely around the summit. So bring your binoculars. On our descent we will stop at the famous and impressive Zas Cave which, as well as having superb stalagmites and stalagtites, has chambers pushing over 10m in length. We complete our day on the mountain in the shade enjoying the cooling waters of Argion, a historic source for the island.|
|Day 4:||Our final day of walking on Naxos, we start in Koronos, a remote village set perfectly into the hillside 30km from Naxos town. Following one of many stepped trails through the village we hike a trail that emanates the aroma of wild herbs just about everywhere. Add wild orchids and other native flowers to oregano, thyme or lavender, and you have quite a heady mix. Such a stunning trail should only lead to an equally stunning beach, and our final stop at the waterside in Lionas will not disappoint. Nor will its superb fish restaurant where we dine tonight.|
|Day 5:||Leaving Naxos, we head to the island of Amorgos, known as the pirate island because it was vulnerable to attacks over the centuries, leaving its magnificent monasteries, churches and castle deserted over several different periods of time. This cultural heritage is one of its biggest pulls for visitors now and, on today’s hike we will take on a ancient path that loops its way through traditional villages of Langada, Tholaria and Stroumbos. Basing ourselves in the exquisite Aegiali Bay, you will be able to see why film director Luc Besson located his film, Big Blue, here. Dinner at a local mezedopolio where traditional music is often to be heard.|
|Day 6:||Exploring Amorgos’ famous ‘hora’, with ancient churches, white stone houses and maze of alleyways, we continue along an ancient trail that leads to one of the island’s most magnificent site: the Hozoviotissa monastery. Built right into the cliff face overlooking the Aegean, this white washed architectural marvel is said to have been constructed to give safe haven to a statue of the Virgin Mary, which had come all the way from Palestine. Our hike continues all the way to Aegiali Bay, with never ending views out past the island’s deserted villages, steep cliffs and across the Aegean. Finishing our day in Aegiali Bay again, our day of walking through the heart of the island will be toasted and celebrated at one of the oldest restaurants on Amorgos.|
|Day 7:||Today we head to another of the Small Cyclades islands, this time Koufonisi, most celebrated for its gamut of gorgeous blues, turquoise and crystalline waters at a collection of perfect beaches. Helped by the fact that it actually made up of two islands, namely Pano or Upper Koufonisi and Kato or Lower Koufonisi. Both knockouts.|
|Day 8:||Probably one of the most untouched by tourism in the Small Cyclades, today we take a boat to Iraklia, where we arrive into its main fishing village of Ag. Georgios, with multi-coloured fishing boats welcoming us like pretty glistening lanterns. Our hike today is to its beckoning peak, where vultures soar and views astound. As will dinner at one of Iraklia’s favourite and most characterful spots, Maria’s Place, who grows her own and prepares every ingredient with skill and love|
|Day 9:||A second day of walking on Iraklia takes us along ancient Cycladic trails through deserted sites such as the village Ag. Athanasios. We also have time to explore a huge cave at Ag. Ioannis. With a small entrance, it opens up into a vast cavern or hall where, every year, villagers hold a celebration. We celebrate the eve of this wonderful walking holiday in Greece with a swim and picnic at a remote bay, only accessible by foot. And, after one more coastal hike, have dinner at a top fish tavern, where catch of the day is guaranteed to be local. The owner is the fisherman.|
|Day 10:||Return ferry to Naxos for those who are finishing their trip here or to Santorini if you choose to extend your walking trip to this neighbouring volcanic virtuosity. On Naxos you will hopefully have time for some beach bliss, or a wander around Naxos’ atmospheric, ancient town centre. And farewell in our traditional style, with a wonderful dinner at a top tavern.|
27 Reviews of Naxos and the small Cyclades walking holiday, Greece
Reviewed on 05 Nov 2019 by Caroline MacdonaldI cant think of a particular part of the holiday that was better than the rest. It was all so good. Very well organised without being too restrictive and everybody catered for. Read full review
Reviewed on 24 Sep 2019 by Philippa HullAll of it was memorable! Our guide Annie Antonatou was absolutely wonderful in every respect, a real professional and delightful company Read full review
Reviewed on 14 Sep 2019 by Ann TectorMy holiday with has to be one of the most memorable holidays I have ever had Read full review
Reviewed on 24 Oct 2018 by rena alekperovaExcellent Read full review
Reviewed on 21 Oct 2018 by Victoria TaylorExcellent and well organised and choosing walks bearing in mind everyone's walking ability Read full review
Reviewed on 16 Jun 2018 by Alexander KartashovSuperb....Everything was exciting: the weather, scenery, local food and drinks were marvellous (well, I don't think there's an appropriate adjective to describe the kind of emotions the environment provokes). Read full review
Reviewed on 15 Apr 2018 by Jocelyn WesslingEnjoying nature and the small villages - I loved the local food we had when the taverna wasn't even open yet. Read full review
Reviewed on 23 Jun 2018 by Zahava SeewaldHaving a good meal after a long walk in a restaurant of the different villages we went through with water from the well, local wine, local food and a marvellous view on the landscape! Read full review
Reviewed on 11 May 2017 by Joy FieldThere were many memorable moments. The variety of walks and the stark differences of the three Islands. The abundance of Spring flowers and herbs along the trails - beautiful! The thrill of reaching the top of Mt Zeus, and the many delicious meals shared in small village Tavernas. Read full review
Reviewed on 14 May 2017 by Jamie JohnsonThe highlight was the views from the top of Mount Zas on Naxos and the tranquillity of Iraklia. Read full review
Reviewed on 07 Nov 2016 by Joanne DavidsonThis was the best organised walking holiday we've been on and that was totally down to the Guide - nothing was too much trouble and she went out of her way to help us. Read full review
Reviewed on 29 May 2016 by Susan LeedsI loved every minute of it. I'm already thinking about when I can come back again. Read full review
Reviewed on 15 May 2016 by Anne WardPretty much everything was memorable, fabulous scenery, beautiful ancient paths and villages, swimming off lovely secluded beaches, meeting local people and eating delicious food. Read full review
Reviewed on 02 Apr 2016 by Alice ByramExcellent mix of relaxing and walking in stunning scenery. Extremely well organised-no need to think about anything. I will be back... Read full review
Reviewed on 21 May 2016 by Laurence CopelandA marvellous and memorable week, with a nice mix of walking, relaxation and (my weakness) eating. Read full review
Reviewed on 07 May 2016 by Elaine BlatchfordOne of our best ever holidays. Annie is a superb guide and we had a wonderful introduction to the quieter Cyclades Islands. Read full review
Reviewed on 21 Jul 2015 by Sarita ChitrapuI came back loaded with an experience of a lifetime and made friends for a lifetime! I didn’t just come back from a holiday, but I came back with an experience that echoed – ‘I lived in Greece, like a true local and experienced life in Greece in its truest sense' Read full review
Reviewed on 24 Jun 2015 by ERIK SvanesI had a fantastic holiday. Ten out of ten possible. Annie the guide was large part of that. Very professional and with a big heart. Read full review
Reviewed on 17 Apr 2015 by Steve GatteyI enjoyed eating island food, including greens picked from the wild and boiled hyacinth bulbs (the place was alive with tasselled hyacinths in bloom) and of course lots of raki on Amorgos in a rustic restaurant that was really our hosts' home was something I will never forget. Read full review
Reviewed on 27 Oct 2015 by Charlie CahnEverything about it was excellent - the organisation, the type and variety of hikes, the accommodation, the helpfulness and knowledge of the guides, the local cuisine - and even the weather. Read full review
Reviewed on 27 Oct 2015 by Carrie JackBoth guides were really helpful and knowledgeable and were able to tell us lots about the islands. It was a very enjoyable week. Read full review
Reviewed on 16 Oct 2015 by Maureen OWould definitely take similar holiday again. Read full review
Reviewed on 10 Oct 2015 by Lisa LazuliA feast for the senses! Read full review
Reviewed on 08 Oct 2015 by Monica WenThe holiday was very enjoyable, a great blend of nature and history. Read full review
Reviewed on 07 Oct 2015 by Eimear FitzgeraldWe would rate it v highly and have recommended it to friends. Read full review
Reviewed on 29 Sep 2015 by Cliodhna Foley-NolanMarvellous! Read full review
Reviewed on 15 May 2015 by Esteve MarieLate April is a wonderful time, still off high season: almost deserted beaches where you can already swim - although water is still a bit on the chilly side, and wonderful spring blossoms on every trail. Very relaxing, a real Greek "hanami", guided by an enthusiastic and friendly Greek woman! Read full review
PlanetThis walking trail holiday in the island of Naxos & the Small Cyclades in Greece, 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. 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 Naxos, Amorgos, Iraklia, Donousa, Koufonisia. 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.
PeopleWe 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.