Adventure of the Week, Macs Adventure, Walking

Adventure of the Week: Island Hopping – Naxos and Santorini

4 Jul , 2018  

Whatever we think we know, the Greeks knew it first. While they may not have had twitter, or cheese in a tube, they had pretty much everything else going on for them.  Their strength of mind and views on society are still entirely relevant to our modern society, over 2000 years later.  The Greeks were pretty amazing. With this enlightened way of thinking came their joy in the aesthetic side of life, creating beautiful art and architecture.  Add to this the sheer natural beauty of their location, and there is pretty much no reason why you wouldn’t want to go Island Hopping on Naxos and Santorini.

Mt Zas, Naxos

Climbing Mt Zas

In a Nutshell

Distance: 66km over five days walking. And if you don’t fancy the full 66km, you can cut it down dramatically.  There are shorter walks on some days and because you are based in one location on each island, if you just want to take a full day to relax by the pool/sea, or do some museums, then you are more than welcome to do so.

Grading: We have graded this trip Moderate. This is an average over the whole trip because some days are pretty easy going and others can be tough.  As mentioned above, there are easy versions of most daily routes, so you can tailor the difficulty to suit you.  The climb up Mt Zas is a toughie, but well worth it, and there are a few exposed sections on one of the walks on Santorini, so if you suffer from vertigo, you can miss this bit out.  But, this trips diversity is one of its major attractions, so dive in, do what you feel is right for you and enjoy!

Portara

Portara on Santorini, history at every turn

Where is it?

Naxos and Santorini are two tiny islands in the Aegean Sea, south-east of Athens and part of a collection of islands called the Cyclades.  Both are top-rated tourist destinations, simply because they are so beautiful.  On this trip, you will fly into Santorini, and then take a ferry up to Naxos to spend your first night. Naxos is the more lush and green of the two islands, so for the first few days you will delve into its interior, walk through the shade of the ancient olive groves, happen upon ancient sites and climb mountains full of myth. Then after three days walking here, you will take the ferry back down to Santorini.  Santorini is all stunning beauty, vineyards and views.  Again, you will be based at one location on Santorini and will have time to explore its wonders, both natural and manmade.

Why walk it?

Overall, the Cyclades are just a magical place to visit.  There is always something unique about exploring islands by foot; the culture is always a little more laid back and so different from how things go on the mainland.  Both of these islands are fringed by white, sandy beaches, gently nibbled at by calm, crystal seas. There is a sense of peace on these islands that you can absolutely drink in, and it is the fantastic contrast between the hustle and bustle of the main tourist towns and the quiet walking trails that makes this peace tangible.

Naxos was a centre for Classical Greek and Byzantine culture, so while on the face of it, it looks like tourist heaven, there is a lot of weighty history to discover on the island.  And while history is a massive part of visiting Greece, their mythology is also rich and fascinating, so you get to experience a good bit of that too.  On the first day of your walk in Naxos, you will walk along cobbled paths, through thousand-year-old olive groves, past fortresses and into an ancient quarry, where you will find an unfinished 10m high statue that dates back to around 600 B.C.

On day three on Naxos, you can opt to climb Mt Zas. (Mt Zeus) While Zeus was born on Crete, he was brought up on Naxos, and it was atop this mountain that an eagle gave him the power over thunder, which enabled him to become the ruler of Mt Olympus.  Adding the mythology to the stunning views makes this a climb that you will never forget.  In between and on these walks, you have to look forward to tranquil trails, cooling off in tiny Tabernas where the food and wines are fresh and local and definitely revitalising.

Oia Santorini

The stunning village of Oia, Santorini

Santorini is all drama and beauty. With white Cycladic villages clinging to multi-coloured cliffs, pouring their way down to sparkling turquoise waters you will be left in awe after a few days here. The white villages grasp the sunsets like nowhere else on earth, reflecting the colours and seeming to glow themselves.  You have walks to the ancient Minoan site of Akrotiri, before spending the end of your trip purely focused on the beauty of the island.

Your last day gives you time to explore the winding streets of the beautiful Fira, home to one the best Museums of Greek History in the country.  The contrast of the cool white buildings against the flashes of sea between the houses is simply amazing.  Then you take to the paths to the picture-perfect village of Ora.  This is Greek Tourist Board heaven, something you will have undoubtedly seen before without knowing that you saw it. The walk is breathtaking with views of the caldera that forms the island and the drama of the sheer cliffs dropping off to the lagoon.

Planning and preparation

If you want to do some Island Hopping on Naxos and Santorini, it couldn’t be simpler.  Flights to Santorini are available from all over Europe at a low cost.  From Santorini, we will pick you up and transfer you to the ferry and transfer you back to the airport at the end, so you just need to arrive and relax.

If you have any questions about walking in Greece, get in touch with our team on  [email protected], and they will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Ewan By
A member of Macs Adventure's amazing marketing team, my passion in life is Snowboarding (apart from my family of course, should they happen to read this!) and have taken up mountain biking to fill the seasonal gap and keep me fit enough to spend as much time on the slopes as I can, come winter.