Iraklia: Agios Geórgios - cave of Agios Ioánnis - Panagiá - Agios Geórgios

Evaluation: Irakliá is mostly a peaceful island. You can cross it in a few hours with as goal of the walk the cave of Agios Ioánnis. During the first part of the walk you can follow large paths between walls, beyond Agios Athanásios there are beautiful trails up to the cave; the return passes by Panagiá, the other village.
If you opt for an excursion of one day starting from Amorgós, the crossing with the Express Skopelitis is already an event in itself. We give this walk ***.

[Update by Raymond on September the 27th, 2015.]
[The translation of this walk was made with some help of Google translate - so, please, do not mind the mistakes...]

Estimated time
: In order to have enough time during this four-hour-hike (AWT), it is preferable to lodge on Irakliá. If you prefer a one-day-excursion from Amorgós,  you have to leave very early – you can take the Express Skopelítis, which leaves Katápola every day, except on Sunday, at 6am or 7am. Via Koufoníssi and Schinoússa this boat takes you to Irakliá in a little over four hours. It is very likely that you will then be able to take the boat back to Amorgós at about 3h30pm on that same day. This means that the available time is fairly limited. Therefore, it is ideal if you can take the very fast Blue Star at 6.00am (three times a week from Katápola). The Blue Star sails to Irakliá in about 2 hours, on its way to Náxos and the Piraeus. However, do also take a return ticket for the Skopelítis, in Katápola on the day before your departure. In this way you are sure about the hours of the boat…and this will give you plenty of time to enjoy your hike in a relaxed way. You can buy a rudimentary map of the island of Irakliá in the "supermarket" To Perigiáli, behind the tavern with the same name – but the map of Anávasi or Terrain Maps is much more useful.

Route description: (0h00) From the pier of Agios Geórgios (or Káto Chorió ), you go in the direction of the small harbor – you follow the "promenade" next to the water and below the asphalt road. You go to the right, you walk for a few moments on the beach, then you go through the tamarisks to the left towards the concrete road. You follow it for a while to the right, then you go left into the village. The street is paved and passes to the right of the taverna / minimarket To Perigiáli .
You thus follow the main street and near the bifurcation (with crèperie To Pérasma), you should take the LEFT street in the direction of the church with the blue dome.

While following the concrete road to the church, you see the first signposting [7]. You continue beyond the church Taxiárchis, where you keep to the right.

(0h10) You keep to the left at the next bifurcation (road sign "Agios Athanasios / Panagía / Cave + [7] on a pole). The gravel road is sometimes covered with concrete and arrives after 2-3 minutes near the chapel of Agios Ioánnis - just before the chapel, there is a trail to the right to Voriní Spiliá [8]  - see the walk Agios geórgios – Voriní Spiliá and back.
You continue straight on and pass a path that goes up to the left – and you still go straight (hiking sign). Soon your road becomes sandy, but here and there you still see the old pavement.


The nice path to Agios Athanásios.

(0h17) Another 4-5 minutes later, there is a short stretch of concrete, where you continue straight [7]. A little further on, there is again a bifurcation, where the road sign Cave / Panagía / Agios Athanásios sends you to the left - the trail that continues straight also leads to Agios Athanásios: this route is a little shorter, but the left trail is nicer.

(0h21) So you go diagonally to the left and your road becomes very quickly a real rocky trail between walls. You climb a slope and the pavement of the staircase-path is sometimes beautiful – later it becomes rocky and stony again. At the top, you enjoy a nice view behind you over the village and on the island of Náxos. You now descend, straight to the blue dome of Panagía (or Páno Chorió).

The crossroads next to a watering place.

(0h34) After 13 very nice minutes, you get to an important crossroads, located in a gentle valley - there is a well and a watering place. On the left, the path leads to Panagía, you should follow the road sign and [7] to the right. The trail is wide and continues between walls and in the middle of a lot of vegetation. After another 8 minutes, you reach a T-junction: the road on the right is the road you did not take at point (0h21) above - in front of you, you see the beautiful coast and Náxos. You take a left, in the direction of Agios Athanásios (road sign).

(0h42) Agios Athanásios is now just ahead of you and already after 3-4 minutes, you arrive at a short concrete stretch – but after a few minutes, you leave the concrete that goes up to the right [7], because you see in front of you the overgrown remains of a rocky kalderími, to the left of a chapel. You thus continue in the direction of the few houses of Agios Athanásios and you avoid in this way a long stretch of concrete - the trail is not on the map and so you do NOT follow the trail marker [7]. Near the first ruin, you do go to the right up to the gravel road and you now follow again route [7], along some electricity poles.

(0h53) You pass a road sign and next to a house, you go down to the left for a while and then up again to the right. You arrive next to the sign “Spíleo” and in front of a small gate with the inscription "close the door ". A clear path continues straight ahead, to the right of a wall.
Shortly after , there is a bifurcation: your trail continues straight on, between a wall and a large cairn with a [4] on it.


The continuation of the walk to the cave, now marked with [4].

[To the right, another trail leads to Vourkariá – there is a big cairn with a [6]. See the walk Irakliá: Agios Geórgios - Agios Athanásios - bay of Vourkariá and back.]

(0h55) The nice monopáti will from now on be signposted with the trail markers [4]. For a while, the path is very stony and brownish, then it continues a bit further from the wall, but later on it runs clearer in between two walls [4]; this trail is fairly difficult though, because of the loose stones. Some minutes later you describe a sharp curve left towards the south east (with a beautiful view on Agios Geórgios and Agios Athanásios) and after another 3 minutes there is a curve to the right.

(1h02) After 8 nice minutes, you pass through a little breach and you go down in a valley (big cairn) – and you can see how the path continues to go up to the left of a wall. It remains clear, also when it runs away from the wall to the left, because of the big and little cairns, the markers [4] and some blue arrows.

(1h11) Nine minutes later, you describe a curve to the left and to the right (big cairn), with a beautiful view, then you continue to go up, to the right of another wall. The brownish path goes up for 7 minutes, during the last end without walls next to it and past six big cairns + [4].

(1h18) You arrive in this way in front of a cross-wall and a lot of hiking signs. The sign to the cave (Spíleo) points straight ahead and a clear brownish trail descends next to a big cairn + [3], straight to the tip of Ios. You see how the trail continues next to a wall and you go down quickly during 6 minutes; then you get to a paved path to the left of a wall (the date on the wall is “May 2008”).

The path to the cave.

(1h29) After 5 minutes, the pavement ends, but the trail remains clear and rather easy – after 2 minutes however, it becomes very stony. You go down for another 7 minutes, but then the path becomes almost flat; you pass the last sign “Spíleo” and you continue straight where a side-path goes down to the right [3].

(1h43) At the end, you go up to the left ([3] and sign) and you arrive in this way next to the two caves: it is easy to enter in the first cave, the entrance to the cave to the right however is very low, but later on the cave broadens to a large hall with an altar and thick stalagmites. Every year, on the 28th August, a big celebration takes place in this large hall – it is hard to imagine that both the priest and all the villagers then have to worm their way through this low entrance…


The entrance to the cave and the altar inside.


Raymond worms his way outside.

(1h46) You retrace your steps and you go down until you arrive next to the sign at the junction of the main trail. You take a right and you go up slowly, later on a steep trail for about half an hour.

[Here you should choose your way: either you return by the same way, by taking the path down to Agios Athanásios; it is not difficult to keep the right direction because you see in front of you the houses of Agios Athanásios, your goal. Or you go to the right, to Panag – you see already its blue dome.]

(2h15) We opt for the latter option and so you go through the breach in the right wall (hiking sign, cairn and [3]).

The beginning of the path to Panagiá.

The brownish path continues to the right of a wall - and you see Panagiá already in front of you. You meander to the right and left and you still describe four shorter turns, right and left, during which you always come back against the wall, on the reddish, rocky trail. There are cairns, large and small, and you see the continuation of the nice path between walls.

The path continues between walls far in front of you...

(2h26) After 11 minutes, you arrive in a valley, you pass through a breach [3] and you continue to the left on a beautiful trail between walls – an easy stretch of about 11 minutes, while you cross a gate made of pallets and you descend into a valley.

(2h37) Towards the end, you arrive on a rocky slope, you descend to the right into a valley and you finally go up for 4 minutes until you get to a side street to the right of the church of Panagiá.

(2h44) You take a left in the "main street" and pass by the church and the pantopolío / restaurant To Stéki, which however is closed most of the time. You cross in this way the village and you get to the asphalt road, just beyond a chapel.

(2h50) You follow the road to the left for 8 minutes; BEFORE you arrive in a right turn and next to a bench, you can go down straight on a beautiful wide staircase (cairn). This staircase winds down until it gets again to the road, and so you have cut a large bend. You pass a small bridge, but then you immediately take a LEFT onto a small gravel road that rises slowly (sign) and that starts to the left of an electricity pole. This rocky, then sandy road rises gradually and reaches after 7 minutes the T-junction next to the well, where you passed this morning.

(3h10) You take of course a right: at first, you go up slowly, then you go down on a stony or rocky path, later on nice paved steps. After 13 beautiful minutes, you reach the road that comes from Agios Athanásios. After another 8 minutes, you pass the trail of walk [8]. You thus reach the village, you keep to the left near the church and you continue straight to the edge of the water. (3h38)

[The café / restaurant To Perigiáli is often open) - you can wait here for the boat of 3h30.]


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