The Cyclades contain some of the most popular islands in Greece – including Santorini and Mykonos. At Shearwater Travel we focus on the lesser known gems with lovely walking and where traditional Greek life is still in evidence.
Close to Naxos and therefore ideal for a twin centre holiday, the impressive and wild geography of Amorgos makes for a great destination for walkers. There are fine sandy beaches backed by towering cliffs and the main town of Chora is a charming village of whitewashed houses and Cycladic windmills. This is a very traditional island with many village festivals in the summer and walking is the major attraction. Accommodation is in simple apartments or there are a couple of nice boutique hotels with magnificent views, one of which even has a spa. There are hiking trails for all abilities and the seven main paths are signposted. The trails are known as the Blue Paths because whichever trail you walk on you have fantastic views of the blue Aegean Sea. A decent map showing walking paths exists and can be bought before you go.
Andros is just a ninety minute hydrofoil journey from Athens. Largely due to its numerous underground springs, the countryside is lush and green and a paradise for walkers. Over 170km of routes and paths have been restored and are signposted. And for the really energetic, the Andros Route is a 100km route divided into 10 day sections. Separated by four towering mountain ranges the landscape varies from gushing waterfalls to rugged mountains to sandy beaches. Every village has a communal marble washbasin fed by mountain water and the mineral water from one of the springs on the island, at Sariza, is supposed to be a miracle cure for kidney stones. Accommodation comprises self-catered apartments and cottages and some 3 * hotels. The island has some fine sandy beaches but resorts are low key and the atmosphere remains authentically Greek. There is a decent map of the island showing walking and cycling routes and a walking guide book which you can buy on the island or download as an ebook before you go.
Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades and has beautiful sandy beaches, lovely Venetian architecture and dramatic inland scenery. Tourism has developed here over the past decade but away from lovely Naxos town the slower Greek pace of life can still be found. You can hire a car to explore the island but the local bus network is also pretty good. There is some lovely walking inland and whilst good maps of the island showing the footpaths can be bought it is also possible to arrange a guide to show you routes. There is also a walking guidebook for the Cyclades which has over ten walks on Naxos. There is a wide variety of accommodation on Naxos including some really lovely stylish boutique hotels either on the coast or further inland and luxury villas as well as smaller family run hotels and apartments. Naxos combines well with Amorgos and Santorini.
Sifnos is a beautiful island with uncrowded beaches and crystal clear water. Classic Cycladic villages of whitewashed buildings are dotted all over the island. There are over 220 churches on the island and a number of pottery shops due to the island’s longstanding pottery tradition and clay earth. There are a couple of really stylish boutique hotels on the island as well as some lovely family run hotels and self catering options. There is a well marked network of trails all over the island developed by the municipality. With a good map available there are a number of day walks varying between 3 and 15km. Some of these follow coastal trails. Others take you to the interior of the island.
Despite being a near neighbour of Mykonos, none of the glitz and glamour of the Cyclades’ well known island have transferred across the blue sea to Tinos. It remains little visited by international tourists although popular with domestic tourists and in August there is a well known pilgrimage for Greek pilgrims which makes the island pretty busy. Tinos has pretty villages, lovely windmills, beautiful beaches and good walking in its hilly interior. It combines well with Andros and Syros. There is a network of over 150km trails through varied scenery from gentle hills, to striking granite boulders, past windmills and along the coast. A decent map is available showing the walking paths. Accommodation is low key in small hotels, bed and breakfasts and apartments and rooms.