12 Best Greek Islands for Hiking and Nature to Visit in 2024

Greek islands are known across the world for their natural beauty and gorgeous beaches. But which are the best Greek islands for hiking and nature?

There are hundreds of Greek islands to choose from so choosing the best place to travel can be overwhelming. The islands are set across six different island groups and each area has its own distinct culture, gastronomy, and landscape. 

Whether your idea of a perfect hike involves a multi-day trek through valleys and gorges, short donkey trails to traditional hilltop villages and sweeping vistas, or easy coastal walks, you will find what you are looking for in Greece. The hiking opportunities in the country are massively understated. 

There is something for everyone here regardless of age, fitness level, and hiking ability. Better yet? The best Greek islands for hiking are accessible all year round. 

Many of these trails are just as pleasant in the spring and autumn months as they are in the summer. (Arguably even more so as you don’t have to contend with the heat and humidity). 

Traveling to Greece out of season is cheaper and less crowded too. So there are additional benefits to planning a shoulder season trip that revolves around hiking and walking. 

This guide has been written by a British Travel Writer based in Greece that has traveled across the Greek islands extensively. It will run through the best Greek islands for hiking and nature, as well as any practical considerations you need to make before you go. 

Best Greek Islands for Hiking in 2024

There are several Greek islands that stand out for their hiking trails and the opportunities they offer to get back to nature. Crete and Corfu are two of the largest islands to consider.

They both offer long cross-island trails that are perfectly suited for a multi-day trekking adventure. (Namely, the Corfu trial in Corfu and the Samaria Gorge in Crete). 

You could conquer these in a similar way to the Camino de Santiago in Spain, camping or stopping in different villages as you go. For smaller, more rugged islands, consider Folegandros, Kea, Donoussa, Skopelos, or Samothraki.

Some of the best Greek islands for hiking and the trails that they offer are detailed below. 

Samothraki 

Samothraki sits in the North Aegean sea, close to the border with Turkey. Along with Paxos and some of the smaller islands in the Cyclades, it is considered as being one of the least commercial Greek islands. 

Its terrain is mountainous. It is characterised by areas of rolling green hills, secluded beaches, forests, rivers, and waterfalls. 

Mount Saos (also referred to as “Fengari”) is the highest peak on Samothraki. It reaches 1,611 meters at its highest point and incredible views across the Aegean can be enjoyed from its peak. 

You can hire a local guide to help you make your way all the way to the top, or you can try one of the shorter trails that weave through the foothills. 

Donoussa 

Donoussa is a small island in the Cyclades that is often overlooked in favor of its more popular neighbors. It is undoubtedly one of the best Greek islands for hiking and a perfect choice for those wanting to get away from it all. 

Donoussa boasts gorgeous beaches with golden sands and translucent crystal waters, as well as several notable hiking trails for those seeking more adventure. Like many Greek islands, Donoussa has links to Greek mythology. 

The island was apparently named after Dionysus, the God of Wine who lived here with his wife, the Cretan princess Ariadne. You can find hiking trails of various different lengths and difficulty levels on Donoussa.

A popular choice is to follow an old dirt trail from the island’s main settlement (Stavros) to the quaint village of Kalotartissa. The trail is 4.4km each way.

So you can opt to stop for a traditional Greek lunch and a coffee in Kalotartissa before heading back. Another great option is the trail from Stavrós to the abandoned hamlet of Messariá, onwards to the village of Myrsíni, and finally, to the beach at Livádi. 

Folegandros 

Rugged Folegandros is one of the wilder and more undeveloped islands in the Cyclades group. Its location between Santorini and Paros makes it perfect as a stopping point on a wider Greek island-hopping adventure

Three main villages are scattered throughout the island. The “Chora” is the island’s capital. 

Ano Meria and Karavostasi are the other traditional villages. They are worth adding to your Folegandros radar as many walking paths depart from these points. 

Countless hiking trails weave throughout the countryside between these little settlements.  From the Chora, you can hike to the beautiful beaches around Angáli or to Katérgo and Karavostásis.

Angali is arguably the most naturally stunning beach on the island. From here, you can easily walk to the nearby beaches of Agios Nikólaos and Fyrá, both of which are seldom crowded.

There are also many worthwhile trails that depart from Ano Meria to the north-western or south-western coasts. 

Folegandros is also a pretty popular place for free camping. If you wanted to, you could consider embarking on a multi-day hike around the mountainous island. 

You can set up camp as you go. One particularly rewarding stretch is that between the Chora to Ano Meria via Asprópountas and Livadaki. 

Skopelos 

Best Greek islands for hiking: Skopelos
Best Greek islands for hiking: Skopelos

Skopelos is a beautiful island in the Sporades archipelago, just off the eastern coast of Volos. It remains largely under the radar. 

This is, in part, due to the fact that the island is so tricky to get to. Skopelos is globally renowned for acting as the real-life setting for the fictional island of Kalokairi in the movie Mamma Mia

However, locals keep the best secrets of the island to themselves. Skopelos is actually the greenest island in the entire Mediterranean.

It is nicknamed “the blue-green island” on account of its breathtaking natural beauty. The advantage of visiting the island is that it has not been overdeveloped or gentrified by tourism. 

Step outside Skopelos town and the main beach towns of Panormos, and Neo Klima, and you will find large swathes of vast nature and emptiness. The centre of the island is stunning yet frequently bypassed by tourists who stick to the coastal ring road as they beach hop. 

Here, you bypass rolling hills and valleys, forests home to secluded woodland churches, and dramatic mountains home to eerie pirate graveyards. It is possible to spend hours hiking in Skopelos and not encounter another soul.

Visit the island out of season and it will feel like your own personal hiking playground. Most businesses close, and islanders leave for the winter at the end of October. This is the Instagrammble season for hiking and sharing posts with hiking quotes.

Andros 

The gorgeous island of Andros in the Cyclades is, without hesitation, one of the best Greek islands for hiking. Andros has been inhabited for thousands of years and traveling here feels like something of a journey back in time.

Cars and vehicles have only been permitted on the island in the last 50-60 years. Prior to that, the only way to get around was on foot or by donkey!

As such, it makes sense that there are so many excellent, well-marked, and well-trodden trails around Andros. There is approximately 300km of narrow paths that are interconnected around the island. 

Many of these are old donkey trails and have been followed for thousands of years. Unless you are renting a car in Greece, you may wish to consider basing yourself in the Andros capital (“Chora”). 

From there, you can take local buses to the trailheads of each hike. One of the best trails on the island starts at Apikia Village and takes you to Gialia Beach.

It leads you past spectacular sunbleached ruins, ancient temples and alongside river beds, as you go.

Hikes that depart from the Chora are perhaps the most convenient. You can walk in a loop from the Chora, through the Livadia valley, and back to the Chora. 

If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can attempt the 100km Andros trail. This continuous trail departs from North to South and can be completed in as few as 10 days.

Pack your camping equipment or stay at a different Andros village hotel each night of your journey!

Skiathos 

Best Greek islands for hiking: Skiathos
Best Greek islands for hiking: Skiathos

Skiathos is the most popular island in the Sporades island group. During the summer months, it is one of Greece’s most sought-after package holiday destinations.

Charter flights travel to the island from various airports around the UK and Europe. 

In parts, Skiathos has become quite gentrified. Indeed, Troulos beach for example looks more like a British seaside town than a destination in Greece. 

Skiathos has also gained a reputation for its vibrant nightlife. But Skiathos offers much more than initially meets the eye. 

There are 26 hiking trails here, all combining to cover a total length of 200km. The island is small – covering a length of just 7 miles. 

This makes it perfect for a walking holiday. You can spend a week here and explore almost its entirety on foot. 

One rewarding route is the coastal path between leafy Kanapitsa, and the popular beach of Koukounaries. The latter is widely regarded as being not only the best beach in Skiathos but one of the best in the world! 

Similarly, from Koukounaries, you can hike to the little woodland monastery of Panagia Kounistra. This is one of the most important religious sites on the island. 

It is occupied by a sweet lady who dedicates her life to its upkeep and care. When you visit, the inhabitants are sure to greet you with a strong Greek coffee and a smile. 

Milos 

The island of Milos in the Cyclades Greek island group is home to some obscure and other-worldly looking landscapes. This is largely due to the island’s volcanic background. 

Milos was created by volcanic eruptions around 2-3 million years ago. Although the island is far from a mainstream Greek tourism destination, it has started gaining more attention in recent years. 

You might recognize the chalky white cliffs of its famous Sarakiniko beach from social media. The area resembles something that you would expect to see on the moon and is a great place to take photos.

There are a few notable trails to keep in mind here. 

You can walk from Adamas to Kilima and back to the town of Plaka in a circuit. Although this isn’t a designated trail per se, it is a pleasant walking route that leads you past some of the most important historic attractions on the island. (Including the Roman catacombs. 

The route includes plenty of places where you can stop to go swimming or admire sweeping vistas over the sea. The hikes to Kleftiko Caves Lookout and the loop from Plaka to Mandrakia and Sarakiniko are also well worth adding to your radar. 

The volcanic island combines so many different landscapes into one small area. Opting to hike here takes you to beaches and coves on the island that cannot be reached by car. 

There are countless hiking trails in Milos. If you spent a fortnight on this little island, you wouldn’t be able to complete them all! 

Corfu 

Lakones village is a stopping point on the Corfu Trail
Lakones village is a stopping point on the Corfu Trail

The Ionian island of Corfu (Kerkyra) is home to one of the best long-distance hiking trails in Greece – The Corfu trail. This trail was established in 2001 and connects many of the island’s smaller hiking routes. 

Officially, it spans a distance of 140km. However, it is possible to extend this and take detours along the way. The Spring and Autumn months are the best times for hiking in Greece, particularly in the Ionian where temperatures soar from late May. 

You could opt to conquer part of the Corfu Trail, or its entirety. If your schedule permits and you choose the latter, you can walk an amount every day, camping as you go. 

Alternatively, you can break up the journey with stays in local guesthouses in cute Corfiot villages. Much of the trail takes you to parts of the island that most tourists seldom get the chance to see. 

The trail starts just south of Kavos. It immediately takes you through dense olive groves, farmyards, and beautiful woodland scenery. 

It takes you past the ruined Monastery of Arkoudillas, past cliffs, lakes, villages, and mountain peaks. The route can be completed in 10 days. 

Of course, you have the option to break up the journey at the various towns and villages along the way. For instance, perhaps you’d like a few days’ respite swimming and snorkeling at the white-sand beaches of Paleokastritsa. 

Spetses

Best Greek islands for hiking
Best Greek islands for hiking

The little island of Spetses sits in the Argo-Saronic Gulf. It is the farthest island from Athens in the Saronic archipelago. However, it can be reached in less than 2.5 hours by boat. 

The upscale isle has been a weekend getaway destination for the Athenian jet set for centuries. Many affluent Greeks own vacation properties here. 

There is only one settlement on the island: Spetses town. The traditional tavernas and chic cocktail bars that overlook the harbor here are pleasant places to while away an afternoon while indulging in traditional Greek food

However, the main draw of Spetses is nature. Spetses town can be found in the eastern part of the island. 

Venture outside of this settlement and you are met with a vast expanse of woodland. The island is essentially just one big national park. 

There are hiking routes here to suit all ages and abilities. These range from long-distance routes to short coastal walks. 

One nice route to follow is the circuit from Spetses town to Vigla, Gouri, and Ligoneri, and then back to Spetses town. This takes approximately 3 hours and leads you to some vantage points from where you have spectacular panoramas of the Saronic.

Amorgos 

Amorgos is recognised across the globe for its dramatic nature, wilderness, and unique flora and fauna. It makes sense then, that such a place would be one of the best Greek islands for hiking. 

There are dozens of Amorgos trails, each more breathtaking than the last. The routes here are known as the ¨blue paths¨ on account of the fact that you can see the Aegean sea, in all its glory, from each of them. 

Amorgos trails vary in duration and difficulty. The ¨Old Strata” is an ancient route that leads you from the Chora to Langada. 

It passes the spectacular Monastery of Hozoviotissa whose imposing white-washed walls have been built into a dramatic cliff face. The structure dates back to the 11th century when the monastery was built in honour of the Virgin Mary.

From here, you pass Kapsala, the small monastery of St. John Chrysostom, the rural village of Asfontilitis, Oxo Meria,  Upper Potamos, and finally, Langada. 

Crete 

The most famous hiking trail in Crete is perhaps the Samaria Gorge. Indeed, thousands of tourists flock to Greeceś’s largest island every year in order to hike its length. 

However, Cretan trails go far beyond that. There are rewarding walks and trekking routes to be found in all corners of the island – from Heraklion to Chania and beyond. 

If you want to hike the infamous Samaria Gorge, there are several different approaches that you can take. Of course, the most popular is to ascend to the peak of Gigilos.

Ascending Gigilos peak is challenging and follows a steep incline. A lesser-known option is to hike from the Samaria Gorge entrance up to the white mountains and the Katsiveli shelter. 

Kefalonia  

Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian islands that sit off the west coast of mainland Greece. While Kefalonia is best known for its pristine beaches, there are a number of excellent walking trails here too.

They lead you past byzantine churches, picturesque villages, and wild landscapes. The route from Drapanitika to Assos is a popular one and leads you past a charming fishing village with a Venetian castle.

Meanwhile, the route from Antisamos to Poros bypasses secluded beaches and coves with crystal-clear waters and golden sand, and dense forests and olive groves.

Mount Ainos National Park can be found on Kefalonia too, and is home to Mount Ainos, the tallest peak in the Ionian islands. You can opt to do a short hike along the base of the mountain, or ascend to the summit of Megas Soros at 1628m.

FAQs about the Best Greek Islands for Hiking

Do you have any further questions or concerns about choosing the best Greek Islands for hiking? the answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic of detail below. hopefully, you’ll find the information that you’re looking for that. if not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. 

Which Greek island has the best hiking?

Crete, Corfu, Kea, Samothraki, Skopelos, and Skiathos are some of the best Greek islands for hiking. It would be tricky to choose one definitive island that is the absolute best. 

This is somewhat subjective.  If you enjoy challenging hikes that take several days, perhaps the Corfu trail on Corfu or the Samaria Gorge in Crete will be the best options for you.

If you want an island that has dozens of options for short, manageable hikes that take an hour or two, choose Skiathos or Kea. 

Which Greek island has the best mountains?

Naxos is the most mountainous Greek island. It is home to Mount Zas (also referred to as Mount Zeus) which is the tallest mountain in the Cyclades islands. 

Samothraki home to Mount Saos is relatively untapped and is also worth adding to your radar. 

Is Naxos or Paros better for hiking?

Both Naxos and Paros are gorgeous islands that offer a number of hiking trails. However, Naxos just has the edge.

There are more trails here on the whole. Not to mention, the presence of Mount Zas means that you can challenge yourself to climb one of the biggest mountains in the entire country. 

Final thoughts on the best Greek islands for hiking and nature

Best Greek islands for hiking

Have any further questions about the best Greek islands for hiking and nature lovers? Alternatively, do you have any other beautiful Greek islands that you’d like to add to the list? 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via the comment box below. I will get back to you ASAP. 

I have been an ex-pat in Greece since early 2017 and I’m always happy to answer any queries. Safe travels! 

Geia sou! Melissa xo 


highheelsandabackpack

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

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