Walking, hiking and trekking in the Cyclades

General information
Hiking is definitely not the first idea that comes to one’s mind when planning to go to Greece. Nevertheless, hiking is a wonderful way to discover the country, the landscape and the villages, and to get to know the people.

There is still a long way to go in order to make hiking in Greece really attractive for ordinary tourists. Although there is a wealth of ancient trails in Greece, and although the infrastructure of the century- old-paths has not been destroyed by modern roads in many places, we do have to admit that even the Greeks themselves have often not yet recognized the tourism value of these trails. Therefore, tourist offices and some maps can still only give you very scant advice concerning nice hiking trails. Often hikes are only  indicated with (partly disappeared) coloured  dots or lines, and even this is not always reliable. In addition, most locals do often not understand that people want to walk on the ancient paths, and this definitely not in de Summer heat. Instead, the Greeks rather show you the way to some asphalt  or gravel roads, and that is definitely not what we actually want to.

Some things do have changed in the last couple of years: new maps are being published - with hiking trails - (see further). On certain islands, great efforts have been put in to restore the cultural inheritance, also of the hiking trails. On the island of Amorgos a number of trails are marked by means of signs with numbers. On the island of Tinos and especially at Andros you can find hikes with trails markers. It is no coincidence that exactly on these three islands you can buy some beautiful brochures on "Footpaths of historical and cultural interest" (sometimes this brochure is only available in Greek, sometimes also in French and English) – they are published by the cultural association Archipelagos.
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The marvellous descent from Apíkia to Chóra on Andros.

 

The path to Sinetí on Andros.

BELVILLA

You can find any further information about a holiday in Greece on http://www.belvilla.co.uk/holiday-cottage-greece 

HOLIDAY HOUSES
See the website http://www.casamundo.co.uk/greece/ 
  



The beautiful path to Léfkes on Páros.

The  monopáti to the Profítis Ilías on Kýthnos.


Guide Evasion Îles grecques : les Cyclades

A couple of publications on hiking in Greece

There are not so many decent publications available on hiking in Greece:

* Marc Dubin, “Trekking in Greece”: very comprehensive with regard to the whole of Greece, but rather old and not enough details on the islands we are interested in. The indications are often too short as well. Still, this is an interesting book!

* “Walking the Aegean Islands”, Graf Editions (translated from the German title: “Wandern auf den Kykladen”): beautifully edited, with many interesting maps. Maybe, certain hikes run along regular roads too often, or there is not even a trail you can follow. But still, this is a very interesting little book.

From the same author you can also find the nicely published "Naxos and the Small Cyclades", with 30 hikes.

In May 2006 the same author published "Western & Southern Cyclades", with 51 walks.

* Dans les Montagnes de Grèce, Editions Olizane, Genève: this French publication only contains two short contributions on the Cycladic isles and these descriptions are very general. For the rest of Greece this book might be useful.

* For people who can read Greek, there is a nicely illustrated guide on the Cycladic isles, "Kykládes", published by Explorer, Fidíou 18, 106 78 Athens. When talking about the islands of Amorgos, Andros and Tinos attention is also paid to hikes.
The English version appeared in the year 2004, under the title "Cyclades. A complete travel guide." The three sections on hiking do no longer appear in this edition.

NEW!! In March 2009 the first real good travel guide, solely devoted to the Cycladic isles, appeared, in the series of Evasion, by the publishing house of Hachette. This French travel guide is put together by the French journalist Maud Vidal-Naquet and is entitled "Iles grecques. Les Cyclades".
The guidebook is expertly written and it shows great admiration for the islands. In addition to a short chapter on Athens, it contains nearly all of the inhabited Cyclades. The author gives very clear surveys of the places of interest on each of the islands, with often very correct personal appreciations (with symbols such as little stars and little hearts for “places that touch your heart’).
In the second part of the guide, each island is discussed separately, this time on a practical level – a lot of interesting websites and addresses are given, with some real good addresses for accommodation and restaurants; often, also useful facts are mentioned on hiking, diving, horseback- and donkey-riding, windsurfing, etc.
There is also a short part called "Repères", with an overview of the history of the Cyclades, a couple of pages devoted to Cycladic art and some pages with interesting books, films and music.
Finally, there is a small chapter on the practical organisation of your trip, with - again - many interesting addresses and suggestions.
This guidebook is nicely illustrated and it contains some nice maps – there is only one word to describe it: a must!

 

A couple of other publications

If you would like to read an old description of the Cycladic isles, there is the truly interesting "The Cyclades" by J. Theodore Bent. This is a great travel book from 1885 which was re-published in the year 2002

A lot of details about Amorgós and the small Cycladics are to be found in "Amorgós und kleine Ostkykladen" by Dirk Schönrock.

Kéa, Kýthnos, Sérifos, Sífnos, Kímolos and Mílos are elaborately described in "West-Kykladen" by Christian Geith 

 




The path to the Profítis Ilías on Sífnos

The path to the monastery of Panachrántou on Andros.

Websites

There are not really a lot of decent websites on hiking on the Cycladic isles.

We do recommend, though, to have a look at the elaborate site "Walking the Greek Islands", the website of Harald Haughli, 
and on the site "Eva's Hikes in Greece".

For Tínos, there is the excellent site of Karolos Merlin, see http://www.tinos.tv 

 

Hiking maps

* Since 2002 some very beautiful maps are being published in the series Topo; the publisher is Anavasi, 34, Orminiou  GR - 11 528 Greece. You can buy these maps on the islands and on the airport.
In Belgium they are for sale in, amongst others, the map stores of Atlas en Zanzibar in Antwerp and Ghent.
For other countries, see
also www.mountains.gr 
 Many monopatia are indicated on these maps and they are therefore rather indispensable. The ones that have been published so far deal with the islands of Sérifos, Sífnos, Amorgós, Síkinos, Kéa, Andros, Sýros and Náxos - Páros and Santoríni are less successful, especially when it comes to the indications of the hiking trails.

* In the course of spring 2009 a lot of new maps appeared in the series of Skaï-maps. These maps are also very detailed, with sometimes more recent inofrmation than the Anávasi-maps.
See also the shop of Skaï.   

* At the Road Bookshop, Ippokratous 39, Athens, another interesting series of maps is being published. These maps give also some indication of certain monopatia. Andros, Mílos, Santoríni, Folégandros, Kéa, Páros, Náxos, Kímolos and Mílos, etc. are already for sale.

* In 2001 the local authorities of Amorgós have published a beautiful guide in Greek and in English; the title of this edition is "A Travelogue of Amorgos. Footpaths of historical and cultural interest." It is a marvellous little book with great pictures and with very good maps of the 6 official hikes. For now, this guide is only available at the town hall of Chóra. 

* For Andros and Tínos another hiking brochure has been published in the same series, without the large maps though. The brochure on Andros is only to be found in Greek; the one on Tínos also in English and French.

 



The start of the monopáti to Langáda on Amorgós.

 

The walk from Chóra to Egiáli on Amorgós.

 

The marvellous kalderími to Chóra on Sérifos

 

 



The path from Firá to Ia on Santoríni

Some advice before departure

* If possible, never hike all by yourself – or take a cell phone with you. You can also leave some information on where you go to at the reception of the hotel or with the people you stay with.

* Always take enough to drink.

* Preferably, you should wear long trousers (against the thorny bushes) and some decent, closed shoes with strong soles. Respectful clothes are appreciated by the Greeks, especially in churches, chapels and sacred places.

If the indications for these hikes are not sufficient, and if you do get lost in one way or another, these suggestions might be able to keep you on the right track:

1. Many Greek farmers tend to close off their own paths by means of a fence or some thorn bushes – in general you should never cross these blockings, as these paths usually come to an end on a field.

2. When you do get to one of those fields, never try to climb over the stone walls: this is not a good idea and in the end you will definitely have to turn back.

3. The tracks of donkey dung are usually very good guidelines: there are always a lot of these tracks (fresh or dry) on often-used, so good trails. This means that if you hesitate at a junction you always have to choose the path with most donkey tracks.

 

Hiking time

The hiking time I give is always the actual walking time (AWT). When calculating this time, no attention has been paid to pauses to rest, short stops to take pictures, visits, picnics, etc.

It is obvious that the total walking time (TWT) is always considerably longer; our experience tells us that the TWT is usual double the AWT. If you decide to stay on a beach for a couple of hours, or if your pauses are really long, then the TWT can even be extended.



Monopáti near Potamiá on Náxos