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Best Greek Island for Hiking

May 12, 2024 | Travel Tips

Scattered like jewels across the cerulean waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas, the Greek Islands have lured travelers to its beautiful beaches, iconic whitewashed villages perched atop cliffs, and dazzling sunsets. However, across the many island groups that belong to Greece, there are many natural wonders to explore, where ancient myths intertwine with breathtaking gorges and mountain trails. Many of the islands offer fantastic hiking, so when you’re not hanging out on the beach or knocking back the ouzo, the question is – which one to choose?  

Join us as we explore the Greek Islands and discover some of the best for hiking. It is impossible to list all of the many islands – Greece has more than 200 inhabited islands after all – so we’ve listed some that we think are the best for hikers.

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samaria gorge crete

Crete – the largest of the Greek Islands, Crete offers a diverse landscape with stunning gorges, rugged mountains, and coastal trails. The Samaria Gorge is one of the most famous hiking destinations in Europe, but there are also many other trails throughout the island catering to different skill levels. These areas include the White Mountains (Lefka Ori), Idi range, Dikti Mountains, Imbros Gorge, and the E4 Trail. There are some great resources for hiking in Crete including the Cicerone guide: The High Mountains of Crete – https://amzn.to/3JY2P16

zakynthos greece

Ionian Islands

The lone group of Greek islands sitting off the west coast of Greece, in the Ionian Sea.

Corfu – the best known of the Ionian Islands, Corfu is a beautiful island with plenty of day hikes to explore as well as the Corfu Trail. Spanning about 220 km, the long-distance footpath takes you from the rugged west coast to the serene east. Use the Cicerone Guide to the Corfu Trail and 22 day day hikes – https://amzn.to/4bAfwek

Zakynthos – there are plenty of walking trails on Zakynthos, and if you need help figuring out where to hike, check out Sunflower’s Guide to walking on Zakynthos, featuring 22 walks – https://amzn.to/4agutky

Kefalonia – while it can be hard to drag yourself away from the beaches, Kefalonia boasts the fir-covered Mount Ainos National Park (one of the few national parks on the Greek islands). The national park features many trails, including the one up to Mount Ainos, the highest peak of the Ionian Islands.

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Cyclades

Sitting in the Aegean, the Cyclades are known for the islands of Santorini (which does have some great hiking) and Mykonos, but there are many others that offer up hiking adventures.

Andros – the 2nd largest of the Cyclades, Andros is known as a walker’s paradise. There is a network of well-marked hiking trails, including the famous Andros Route (also known as the “Andros Trail”), which traverses the island from north to south. Hikers can explore the island’s rich natural and cultural heritage along this route. A handy resource is Anavasi’s Andros Hiking and Road Map – https://amzn.to/3QGMLEI

Naxos – Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades islands and boasts a variety of hiking trails, from coastal paths to mountain routes. You can hike up Mount Zas (Zeus), the highest peak in the Cyclades, or explore the scenic interior villages and valleys. Also, you can hike the 52 km the Naxos Strada.

Sifnos – there are 200 km of hiking trails on the small island of Sifnos, such as the beautiful Firogia to Profitis Ilias trail.

Tinos – there are over 150 km of hiking trails on the island of Tinos, one of the most popular being the hike up Exomvourgo Hill.

Amorgos – the small island of Amorgos has hiking trails known as Blue Paths because you always have a view of the sea. Check out Terrain’s Amorgos map which features hiking trails – https://amzn.to/4byXaKB

Serifos – there are about 80 km of paths to explore on the island of Serifos.

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Dodecanese Islands

These islands are in the eastern part of the Aegean, sitting very close to Turkey.

Kalymnos – The island of Kalymnos attracts hikers (as well as climbers) for its many trails but particularly for the 100 km Kalymnos Trail which circles the island. Going through beautiful, diverse scenery, you will go from sea to mountaintop and along cliffs and by ancient ruins. Terrain’s Kalymnos Trail guide is a good resource – https://amzn.to/3JVWDXp

Karpathos – has excellent high mountain hiking, with trails covering the whole island. One of the most popular is the Olymbos to Profitis Ilias summit.

Kos – There are plenty of trails to choose from on this Dodecanese island, including the Palio Pyli hike and up to the summit of Mount Dikaios

Nisyros – There are over 40 trails to explore on the island of Nisyros, such as the highest peak, Profitis Elias, at almost 700 m altitude, as well as to Stefanos crater where you can see and hear geothermal fluid.

Samos – there are mountains up to almost 1500 m on Samos, one of the best islands for hiking with 40 well-marked route. The island’s diverse terrain offers something for hikers of all levels.

Ikaria – the mountainous island of Ikaria beckons hikers, but you will need to be of the adventurous sort, as paths are not as well-marked as on other islands or hiking regions. There is a small hiking club and guides available to help you.

Lesvos – Greece’s third largest island, Lesvos has a plethora of hiking trails to explore, including up to Mount Olympos. There are guides available, such as Sunflower’s guide outlining 65 short and long walks on the island – https://amzn.to/44GkZOh

serifos greece

North Aegean Islands

These islands sit in the North Aegean close to the Thessaloniki region of mainland Greece.

Thasos – a little known gem of the North Aegean islands, there are many hiking routes on Thasos (or Thassos), including from Limenaria to the Acropolis.

Samothraki – an island steeped in myth and natural splendor, Samothraki is the third highest island after Crete and Evia. Hike to the top of Mamaras Peak, as well as the surrounding mountains.

hydra greece

Other Islands

Hydra – is one of the Saronic Gulf islands, sitting just south of the Peloponnese Peninsula. Hydra is a car free island with a  mountainous interior. There are several marked trails across the island including up to the island’s highest peak at 588 m (Mt Eros)

Evia and the Sporades – the large island of Evia offers up many hiking opportunities such as Mount Dirfys, Evia’s highest mountain at 1743 m, as well as Dimosari Gorge, Mount Ohi, and Boublia Peak.  Alonnisos island, one of the Sporades, has more than a dozen waymarked trails to explore.

Resources

Most of the Greek islands are great to hike from April to October. Many of them are much more pleasant in the spring and early autumn as summer can be too hot.

A great general resource for hiking on these islands is: Walking on the Greek Islands: The Cyclades: Naxos and the 50km Naxos Strada, Paros, Amorgos, Santorini, Cicerone Guide, by Gilly Cameron-Cooper, 2020, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3VQxoNt.

There are lots of great resources on the Greece page including guidebooks, websites, maps and apps. Happy hiking!

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