Apollonía - Profítis Ilías and back

Evaluation: This is a not too long and beautiful hike, that climbs the Profítis Ilías, with its 692 meters the highest peak of the island, with stunning views. The monastery is no longer inhabited, but it is still possible to spend the night - a very special experience, with as a reward a beautiful sunset and sunrise. A walk with ***.
[Update by Raymond on April 4th 2012 and on July the 7th 2019.]

[The translation of this walk was made with the help of Google translate - so, please, do not mind the mistakes...]

Estimated time: The start of the walk along the main path to Vathý takes about 40 minutes and the climbing of the Profítis Ilías requires a little over one hour. The way out is 4,06 km long.
the descent we count less time, so the return to Apollonia requires a little bit more than one hour and a half. The total actual walking time (AWT) mounts up to about 3h20 - we walked from 11am to 5pm, with a long break on top.

Route description: [The bus from Kamáres stops in the center of Apollonía on the Platia Iroöon (Square of Heroes), where you can find the Folk Museum (closed on Sunday mornings), the war monument and the post office.
The recent hiking poles with information about the walks [7], [3] and [5] and [6] are been found on the left side of the little square.

The new hiking poles on the platía of Apollonía.

(0h00) For the hikes to the Profítis Ilías, to Vathý or Agia Marína, you take the very picturesque street to Katavatí, in between a bar and the upper square, just opposite the Piraeus Bank. After some ten metres this street curves to the right ([5], [6] and =) and it continues past the beautiful churches of Stavrós and Taxiárchoon on the right side, and of Agios Athanásios on the left side. About five minutes later you get to the Mitrópoli, the main church.


The chapel of Stavrós and a very picturesque spot, on your way to Katavatí.

You then go straight, up the long staircase, and after another five minutes you get to the gymnásio, the secondary school. You continue up this street, you walk on the right hand side of a curve in the asphalt road for a couple of metres, going further towards Katavatí (sign-post). You pass the last pantopolío of Maria Sardi and, on the right, the street which leads to a church with a white dome - and here you veer to the left. You walk past the hotel Galíni and continue always straight, while you pass another street off the right. You pass another little white church with a white dome, the Panagía Angeloktisti – there is a beautiful sarcophagus in front of this church. The street goes further down for a little while, but then you have to take a street off the right with a sign-post to the Profítis Ilías (=) – some 18 minutes after your departure.

(0h18) You thus follow the broad concrete path. You pass a little concrete road on the left, you veer to the right and a little further to the left, where you pass an earth path on the right. The concrete path runs in between walls, veers to the right and after a couple of minutes it reaches the bypass around Apollonía. You cross this road, slightly going to the right, and there you will find the beautiful monopati with a big sign to the Profítis Ilías and Mávro Chorió -  just opposite you find a hiking pole (for walk [5] to Taxiárchis 40' / Panagía tou Iliou 1h20 / Vathy 3h10 and for walk [6] to the Profítis Ilías 1h50 and Tóso Neró 2h55.  The stretch until the bifurcation to the Profítis Ilías is thus signposted with [5] and [6].

The beginning of the path for the hikes [5] et [6].

(0h23) You take this path, which first goes up along a marvellous paved staircase for about five minutes – you just have to ignore the little side roads. Afterwards, the trail continues rather flatly. After another 4 minutes you pass a path which goes up to the left to Agii Anárgyri (hiking picket to Agios Andréas 25' / 1,1 km).

(0h32) You now continue straight on the main trail and after another 6 minutes - you are already right into the magnificent interior Sífnos – you get to the path which goes up to the right towards the Profítis Ilías. At this point you cannot yet see the monastery on the top of the mountain (metal sign Profítis Ilías and hiking picket [5] Vathý 2h50 / 6,1 km and [6] Tóso Neró 2h35 / 6 km - Profítis Ilías 1h30 / 2,7 km).

The bifurcation of the paths to the Profítis Ilías and to Vathý.

[The main path goes straight to a.o. Vathý and Agios Andréas.]

(0h38) You are here at an altitude of 240 meters and you thus take a right. The following climb up is quite strenuous; sometimes you walk over loose stones and sometimes the trail consists of concrete or steps. On the left-hand side you get a great view on Agios Eustáthios.

(0h59) After about 21 minutes and 400 steps, you pass a kind of shelter and a bit further you can finally catch sight of the massive monastery of the Profítis Ilías. About 6 minutes later, you pass a heavy wall and a little further there is a bifurcation: the path to the left continues to Agia Márina and Tóso Neró. After again almost 400 steps, you arrive near a second hut. The stony path continues, later there are still some steps and for the last 15 minutes you continue in a straight line – all the time you have a beautiful view on the large monastery.


The monopáti to the Profítis Ilías.  

(1h42) After again some 380 steps and two bends you reach the 692m-high-top.

The monastery looks like a fortress and inside there is an interesting church, an impressive, vaulted dining hall and about eight closed cells. On the 18th and 19th of July a big festival takes place here. From the summit you have a fantastic view on the entire island: towards the north, even further away, you can distinguish the monastery of Agios Elefthérios; you can also see the villages of Artemónas, Exámbela and Kástro. Towards the other side there is Agios Eustáthios, the acropolis of Agios Andréas and all the way to the right you can even see the bay of Vathý. This is a great spot to have a picnic.

The impressive monastery of Profítis Ilías.

[You can eat and even sleep in the main dining room, but of course you have to carry with you your own sleeping bag and mat. There is even a sign that you can put coffee, so there is coffee, water and a little fire. For the rest you'll have to bring up everything.]

Sunrise on the Profítis Ilías!

Panoramic view from the Profítis Ilías.

(1h42) You
descend while following at first the two bends, then the straight staircase, always with a beautiful view of Agios Andréas, then comes the zigzag part. After 32 minutes you arrive against the heavy wall, where there is the pretty vague path on your right towards Agia Marina (big cairn). You continue on the main path and go down into the valley: after another 400 steps, you get next to the second hut, then the steps are almost always paved and so you reach the three-forked path and thus the main path to Apollonía.

(2h39) You take a left of course and the rest of the way is easy and gives you the opportunity to fully enjoy the beautifully laid out path. You first climb for 4 minutes, more and more churches and white domes appear before you, and you walk now 5 minutes with one of the most beautiful Cycladic views one could dream of.

The marvellous path that returns to Apollonía.

Looking back...

Finally you descend a little less than 5 minutes without paying attention to the side tracks, until you reach the bypass.

(2h54) You go to the right, but just past the kiosk with information on the Natural Area of European interest, you have to take the path on the left (on the left of a blue gate). The concrete path runs next to olive trees, it meanders left and right and continues up until you arrive at the main street of Katavatí, which you follow to the left. You walk alongside the bend in the asphalt road, but you continue on the main street. Past the school and the main church you thus get to the square of Apollonía. (3h18)









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