With Naxos Trekking, you’ll definitely be on your way to discovering spectacular Mediterranean landscapes. Traditional footpaths weave themselves through lush mountains, farmlands and rocky landscapes – often with a magnificent view to the Aegean Sea – opening up to any visitor the true beauty of unspoiled Mediterranean landscapes and lifestyle.
These hiking trips are conducted by two passionate people in the field, physicist Tassos Marioglou and geologist Yiota Margariti. Tassos is a high-school teacher in Naxos with a true passion for nature and the island’s traditional way of life. He considers this his “dream island” and remains in awe by the many surprises that the island keeps unveiling even after having lived here for over 10 years. Yiota was raised on Naxos and returned to her native island after studying in Athens and travelling around the world. Also a teacher, she adores hiking, admiring the biodiversity, and teasing out the island’s geological secrets. Both Tassos and Yiota have a vision of sustainability and a profound respect for nature. They have already blessed hundreds of travelers and hikers with their insights about the island and its natural riches. It is worth noting that the online reviews regarding their tours have been very positive!
Here are some of the hikes that Naxos Trekking recommends:
KINIDAROS VILLAGE – AGIOS ARTEMIOS – EGGARES VILLAGE
Tucked idyllically in a hillside, outside the quaint white-washed village of Kindaros about 14 km away from Naxos town is the perfect starting point to hike through one of the island’s fabulous gorges. Walk along a stream and trickling water to the hauntingly old church of Saint Artemios (Agios Artemios) with island-style domes and remains of intriguing mural paintings. Walk along age-old trails with traditional watermills, admire the biodiversity in the gorge and finish the hike at the little pretty village of Eggares.
Moderate/challenging hike, 10.5 km, 4.5 hours
KOUROS QUARRY – POTAMIA – AGIOS MAMAS
The verdant central part of the island lies in the mountains and offers cooler hiking opportunities in summer. From the local gorgeous village of Myli pass by a millennia-old aqueduct that was renovated in Roman times, carrying water from the high, resource-rich interiors of the island to lower areas and coastal regions. The whole region is called Potamia (meaning rivers), a rarity in the Cyclades Islands. The hike also takes an ancient quarry site where two large marble statues or Kouroi (plural of Kouros) from classical times will impress you.
A walk through orchards and olive groves, under the shade of many trees, will walk you by the river to admire the biodiversity. The region is called Potamia (meaning riverside), a rarity in the Cyclades Islands. Small village houses, towers and churches litter the landscape, with the most notable being the magnificent 10th-century church of Agios Mamas (this used to be a Catholic church of Theoskepasti nearby the old summer home of the island’s catholic archbishop).
MOUNT ZAS – LONG ROUTE
(FILOTI – SUMMIT ZAS CAVE – ARION SPRING – FILOTI)
Hikers who like a good climb will love heading 662 meters uphill towards the peak of the highest mountain in the Cyclades islands, named Zas after the god Zeus (it actually snows here in winter). The hike starts from the gorgeous village of Filoti and climbs up through changing landscapes. Setting the mood along the way is an ancient Greek inscription that reads ΟΡΟΣ ΔΙΟΣ ΜΗΛΩΣΙΟΥ, which translates to Mountain of Zeus, Protector of Sheep.
The hike offers great views of the Mediterranean and nearby islands, and it’s also a treat to hikers who like to spot the different fauna and flora of the region, including medicinal herbs, rare flowers. The trail takes you from the Cave of Zas (or Zeus) to a natural spring called Arion where you can drink the mountain water and rest under the shade of a large plane tree, before the return trip down to the village of Filoti.
Challenging hike, 9 km, 4 hours
MOUNT ZAS – SHORT ROUTE
Get ready to climb to the summit of the highest mountain peak in the Cyclades islands. Mount Zas stands tall at 1004 meters and offers a moderate challenge to fit hikers. As you climb one of the time-tested footpaths on the mountain, you’ll be surprised to see an ancient inscription in Greek “ΟΡΟΣ ΔΙΟΣ ΜΗΛΩΣΙΟΥ”, which translates to Mount of Zeus, Protector of Sheep. The footpath takes you from the small chapel of Agia Marina to the mountain peak, unveiling along the way an impressive variety of Mediterranean fauna and flora – including some rare species. One of the best features of this trail is of course the magnificent views of the Aegean Sea and the surrounding islands, offering breathtaking opportunities to take some great photos.
Moderate hike, 5.6 km, 2.5 hours
BYZANTINE PARK HIKE
Here’s a gorgeous and easy four-hour walk that’s suitable for most people. This cyclical hike starts from the central little town of Halki, known for its traditional stone buildings and houses. The area is dotted with historic Byzantine churches, each with a story to tell. The trail takes you around the central area of Tragea (which means ‘important land’), named so because this was the commercial center of the island and was a marketplace for the different local products that were brought here from different parts of Naxos. Tragea was also the ideal hub because it was settled in the heart of the island.
This heavenly walk across the lush valley of Tragea will pass not only by fascinating churches, but also the old community of Monitsa and the idyllic village of Kaloxilos. It was designed to enchant every hiker.
Easy hike, 8 km, 4 hours
APEIRANTHOS – AGIA KYRIAKI
Begin hiking from the amazing stone-built village of Apeiranthos down a traditional path used by mules to reach the old emery mines that Naxos was once known for. Pass through oak and maple forests to reach two important churches of the area. One of these is St John the Theologian (Agios Ioannis Theologos) with its notable byzantine design. The other is Saint ‘Sunday’ (Agia Kyriaki), considered one of the most important Byzantine churches of Southeast Europe with intriguingly rare frescoes. The hike towards lower elevations yields a change in landscapes, with a rougher landscape dotted with olive trees and vines.
The area is also interesting both archeologically and geologically, while the stone-built village of Apeiranthos is a gorgeous must-see attraction in itself. The hike is highly recommended.
The picturesque village of Danakos is one of Naxos’ first inland communities dotted with fountains and springs. Lying at the foothills of Mount Zas, it offers the perfect starting point for a hike which begins on a cobblestone path that takes you to reach the monastery of Christos Photodotis (Christ the Light-giver), an impressive monument with unique interior. The trail then continues to the church of Agia Marina, taking a trail that runs beside a verdant gorge through forestland littered with plane trees and oak trees. The hike finishes at a lovely spring under the shade of a magnificent plane tree.
Moderate hike, 4.5 km, 2.5-3 hours
APANO KASTRO AND SURROUNDING VILLAGES
Another fabulous hike in the island’s heartland, this route starts from the pretty village of Halki, once the island’s main buzzing commercial town, in the green valley of Tragea. The hike takes you west to Apano Kastro (meaning Upper Castle) and surprises you with the changing landscape. It shifts from verdant greenery to a surprising rocky environment with a special geological character. You then arrive to the mystical remains of a former medieval castle or citadel on a hilltop that affords breathtaking views. Centuries ago, the island’s Venetian rulers used to reside here.
On the way down you’ll see remains of an ancient cemetery or Necropolis, along with a large Menhir that alludes to a settlement from prehistoric times. Old footpaths then take you through the colorful villages of Heimaros, Damalas and Damarionas, passing by many awe-inspiring churches along the way, before reaching Halki again.
Moderate/demanding hike, 9.2 km, 4 hours
HALKI – MONI
The town of Halki features on many of these hikes for two reasons: it’s in a green area right in the middle of the island with access to many different places, and it’s a gorgeous little town in itself that’s definitely worth seeing. This particular hike through the central green valley of Tragea will take you to visit many notable churches from the byzantine era, featuring many outstanding frescoes that are worth seeing. The trail leads to one of the most important churches in the whole Cycladic region, Panagia Drosiani. Hiking through an oak forest under the shade will lead you to the village of Moni (which means Monastery) walking through olive groves, fruit orchards and woods with oak and plane trees. The hike also passes through the villages of Akadimi and Kaloxilos to take in some of the local color.
Moderate hike 6.5 km, 4 hours
TEMPLE OF DEMETER
Sagri, a name derived from the French Saint Croix, is a small picturesque little village that represents the perfect starting point for this easy hike. You’ll pass by remains of an ancient Temple of Demeter, dedicated to the goddess of harvest and agriculture, which inspired the Parthenon on Athens’ Acropolis. A well-designed museum close by is also worth a visit. The trail also passes by several historic churches from the Byzantine era, as well as the historically important Bazeos Tower which now hosts different art exhibitions. The tower was once a monastery, adding to the layers of history and mystique that surround this place. It’s a pleasant cyclical route that leads back to Sagri village.
Easy hike, 8.5 km, 4 hours