There’s nothing quite like getting out into nature and taking in the fresh air. And Greece is the perfect place to do just that, with its stunning landscapes and beautiful hiking trails.
Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a challenging hike, there’s something for everyone in Greece. Here are some of the best hiking trails and destinations to explore:
Is Greece good for hiking?
Hiking in Greece is among the best the world has to offer. Greece is a mountains country especially in the northern region which shares its borders with the Balkan countries. The country’s highest peak is Mount Olympus at almost 3,000m. It’s not very high compared to the rest of the world, but the views and natural beauty you get with it are unrivaled.
Whether it’s the Vikos Aoos national park, or the Oia hike from Fira, or hiking through Olive groves in Zakynthos, or hiking through traditional stone villages in the Menalon mountain ranges, hiking Greece is surely something you won’t regret doing.
Again, hiking in Greece is not the most difficult in comparison to other countries in Europe, but it is definitely among the most rewarding.
Absolutely! Greece is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, making it a perfect destination for hiking. There are trails to suit all levels of ability, so everyone can enjoy the experience.
The Samaria Gorge, Crete
One of the most popular hiking trails in Greece, the Samaria Gorge is a must-do for any nature lover. The 16 kilometer trail takes you through the stunning gorge, with its towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters. The hike can be challenging at times, but it’s well worth it for the incredible views.
The rugged terrain of the Samaria Gorge makes it the best hiking destination and trail passes in Southern Greece. Along the way, you’ll be greeted with views of steep cliffs, mountain villages, white mountains, and beautiful views of the Mediterranean.
This trail is open for hiking between May and November. It’s best to avoid it during the high season months as it gets extremely busy. Samaria Gorge is located on the southwest coast of Crete and overlooks the Libyan ocean. Catch the earliest bus from Hania to Xyloskalo to beat the heat and midday crowds. This hike reminded me a lot of the Narrows Canyon hike in the Zion National Park as well as the Isalo National Park in Madagascar.
Overall, I still find the Vikos Canyon to be the more stunning canyon but if you’re already in Crete, a visit to the Samaria gorge is a must!
It wouldn’t be complete list without mentioning the Greece’s tallest mountain in Mount Olympus National Park. This mountain is literally the home of the mythical Greek Gods themselves which makes it one of the most popular destinations for hikers to visit. The summit offers incredible views of the surrounding countryside, and there are plenty of trails to explore on the way up.
Hiking up Mount Olympus National Park is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. The castle tour is a popular hiking trail that takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. You’ll get to see lush green fields, towering mountains, and pristine forests.
The castle itself is an impressive sight, and you’ll get to learn about its history and how it was built. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even hike to the top of the mountaintop for an unbeatable view but beware the steep inclines. Whatever your level of fitness, hiking Mount Olympus is a great way to spend a day in nature.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the three-day hike to the top? This is a very popular multi day tour from Thessaloniki and is great for experienced hikers. Novice hikers can definitely do this hike as well as there are established paths
Vikos Gorge and the Pindos Mountain Range
Without a doubt, one of the main attractions in this part of Northern Greece is the Vikos Gorge. It’s the second most deep canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon and among the best hiking in Greece that you can do. It’s sheer vertical walls extend for over 1,000m into the valley below allowing for absolutely stunning views.
This is probably one of the best hikes in Greece.
Vikos Gorge is very popular for hiking, mountain biking and the like. You’ll see many serious hikers coming from all over the world on its numerous scenic trails. It’s no wonder this is one of the best hikes in Greece.
What is a canyon without its viewpoints? Don’t worry, there are plenty of places to witness the magic here. Beloi and Oxya viewpoints are the best places to take pictures and soak in the views in my opinion.
They are located right next to each other but because of their points on the canyon, it is actually a 1h drive between the viewpoints. These aren’t much of a hiking trail but rather walking trails as they are just a few minutes from the parking area.
Oxya viewpoint is easily accessible by car and doesn’t require much of a walk. Beloi requires a short and easy 30 minute roundtrip hike to reach. Both viewpoints are stunning but if I had to pick, Beloi would be my winner. Closer to Papigo is the town of Vikos which also has an amazing viewpoint as you can see below!
After you’re done soaking up the views, enjoy an amazing traditional Greek dinner at the picturesque village of Papigo nearby that definitely melts hearts.
The Ursa Trail, Metsovo
40 miles per 1 day Metsavo stands high on pindus mountains. The town has long been favored by Greek romantics as an ideal getaway place to stay in the summer. However, Metsovo remains fairly hidden among international tourists. Metsovo’s culture is unique and quite different from other Greeks’s. Metosovo has Vlaach settlements. It’s worth taking a few days to explore Metskova, its various woodlands, vineyards and more.
Then take a trip to Ursa. It has been considered as one of the best hiking trips in Europe. The well-marked road leads through Karakota village. Way markers on the Ursa Trail are displayed on signs with bear pawprints.
The Sifnos Trail
The Sifnos Trail is absolutely incredible. It is the highest peak in Sifnos and starts at the village of Appolonia. This hike is moderate difficulty in my opinion and takes roughly seven hours to complete. I would highly recommend packing a lot of water and gear to attempt this hike.
The trail goes through steeper areas with decent elevation and you’ll pass protected natural reserves in the hillsides, beautiful flora, and some of the best views of the Aegean Sea. There’s also a beautiful ancient monastery for additional sightseeing along the way.
Prophet Elias Church hike
For something much simpler and for one of my all time favorite sunsets in the Cyclades, it has to be at the Prophet Elias Church near the port town of Kamares.
Upon checking into my guesthouse in Kamares, I was greeted with beautiful views of the bay and the towering mountains that surround the town. I immediately noticed that there were two white churches at the very top of these mountains that seemed like they would have epic views.
After renting my scooter, I asked the guys if those churches are possible to visit. Turns out they are! You simply need to drive up a very windy and steep road up to the top of the mountain that overlooks Kamares until you get to the starting point for the Prophet Elias Church, which is the one closest to the ocean.
The sun set directly in front of this church into the sea with perfect panoramic views of Sifnos and the surrounding islands. I made sure to bring a Mythos beer up to the church to enjoy the sunset. It was absolutely magical and one of my best sunsets in all the Cyclades.
I even flew my drone here which I was expecting epic photos. Sadly, the wind was so strong that my drone stood no chance at promptly got taken away and into the abyss. This is one of the easier experiences I had hiking in Greece but the views say it all.
The Menalon Trail
If you’re looking for some epic hiking in Greece this one is for you. This hike is a long one, but it is one of the best things to do in Greece! At 75km long, the Menalon Trail runs through the mountains of Gortynia in central Peloponnese. As far as scenery, you’re treated to a little bit of everything on this hike – from mountains and dry canyons to lush valleys.
The route is divided into eight parts, all ranging in difficulty, to ensure that some of the routes are accessible to even novices but not too boring for more seasoned hikers. No matter where you walk along this route, you’ll pass through beautiful landscapes and picturesque ancient villages.
The Corfu Trail, Corfu (Kerkyra)
Since the Corfu Trail was established in 2001, many people have walked its entire length. This route is 220 kilometers long, and goes through areas of the island that have not been touched by tourism.
There are many different types of scenery on this route, so walkers only spend an hour in any one place. In fact, every corner reveals a new and stunning view. The trail starts with beaches and juniper dunes in the south, goes through olive groves in the central countryside, and ends at the coast.
The Corfu Trail is marked with yellow signs that show the letters CT and a directional arrow. There are also yellow paint markers to confirm the route between the signs. The trail goes from south to north because the most dramatic scenery and biggest concentration of highlights are in the north of the island.
Fira to Oia, Santorini
If you want to mix up the Instagramming and upscale dining with some physical exercise (light of course) while in Santorini, look no further than the hike from Fira to Oia. This hiking path runs the length of Santorini’s beautiful rugged coastline and is one of the best hikes you can do in the Aegean sea.
I’m not sure I would really call this a real hiking trail but rather one of the many walking trails Santorini has to offer. It’s not very challenging as the terrain is novice and almost all of it is done on paved road. Nevertheless, if you want to get a good feel of what Santorini has to offer in terms of views and landscape, this easy hike from Fira to Oia is it.
Fira is located in the center of the island while Oia is located at the northwest tip. Doing this hike essentially means you’ve walked half of the island. Not only will you be able to see the breathtaking views Santorini is famous for, but you’ll also walk through some of the lesser known towns in Santorini (which are also very worthwhile).
The hike can be done at any time of the day as there is no entrance fee you need to pay. You simply start in Fira, Santorini’s capital, and walk along the edge of the town until you find the start of the footpath that goes towards Oia. You can see Oia from Fira so really if you’re just walking along the sea towards Oia, you’re going in the right direction. If all else fails, just ask someone!
I recommend starting from Fira because the hike towards Oia is slightly less of an incline than the other way around. Of course, you can hike from Oia to Fira as well but just be prepared for more uphill. The next two towns are Firostefani and Imerovigli which are almost like suburbs of Fira and are on this footpath (you can’t miss it). Both are much lower key than Fira and because they are not as easily accessible for the swarms of cruise ship tourists.
To return to your starting point, simply take the frequent bus that goes between the two towns. This bus leaves every half hour so you will never have to wait that long. Alternatively, if you’re staying in Oia, take the bus to Fira first, and then walk back home. I’d recommend doing this hike in the morning hours as the sun can be very unforgiving after 11am.
The hiking trail is approximately 10kms (6 miles) long and will take you through a variety of landscapes, picturesque villages, views of the Greek Islands, the Mediterranean sea, and more along the way. Make sure you set aside a decent amount of time to complete it so not to rush through it. Generally, it should take between 3-5 hours depending on fitness level, stops and the temperature.
The path changes terrain from everything such as loose scoria, concrete, sand and rocks. Good walking shoes with plenty of support is a must.
The Old Strata Route, Amorgos
These 20km (12 miles) Routes are arguably the longest on the Cycladic islands of Amorgos, and are also among the longest in Cyclade history. It follows an historic market route that crosses between Chora and Aegiali, passing along the unique Hozoviotissan monasteries along its way.
The whitewashed buildings with impenetrable walls and small windows are the most romantic places where one can sit for a good long splash of water looking out over the sparkling sea.
Seven Villages Trail, Naxos
There’s much more to hiking in Greece than just in the mainlands. The greek islands are a wonder trove of amazing hike trails. Naxos is one of my favorite islands in the Cyclades and offers some of the best hiking in Greece.
Look no further than the Seven villages trail which you guessed it, treks through seven of the most quaint villages in Naxos. This hiking trail starts in the town of Melanes and visits Kourounohori, Mili, Kouros statue, Potamia, Kalamitsia, and Jesuits monastery. It’s one of the best hikes in the Greek islands for beginners as the trail leads itself with properly marked signs everywhere. This can easily be done as a day hike from the Chora of Naxos as it is only 30 minutes away by scooter.
Skopos Trail, Zakynthos
The mountain of Skopos is on the SE side of Zakynthos and it is important because it has been in the history of the island for a long time. You can find a rebuilt temple at the top, which was where an ancient temple of Goddess Diana used to be. The path up the mountain is surrounded by vegetation that is typical of the Mediterranean and Maquis of the Ionian Islands. You will be fascinated by the panoramic view at every point on the route, and it ends with a descent to Laganas Bay.
We walk up the mountain in southeastern Zakynthos. We see amazing views and smell good herbs. We also see two old churches. We learn about the history of the island on our way up. The best view of the island is from the top of the mountain. We enjoy the views on our way down, including looking at Zakynthos town, the Vrahionas mountain, and mainland Greece.
Hiking in Meteora with the famous monasteries
Without a doubt, Meteora is one of the most beautiful places in Greece. It’s one of the best hikes I’ve ever done walking through these monasteries perched at the top of their rocks. Meteora can be done as a day trip or spread out through multiple days.
Those six monasteries, in which monks and nuns still live today, are open to visitors. The monasteries are closed again and again, but all on different days, so that some of them can certainly be visited during a visit.
If you are short on time and can’t (or don’t want to pay to) visit all the monasteries, here are my favorites in order.
- Holy Trinity
- Great Meteoron
- St Stephen’s
- Agios Nickolas
Of course these are just my opinions and you might feel differently. If you have the time, just go ahead and visit all of them and decide for yourself!
With an area of 60,000 square meters, Metamórphosis is now the largest monastery on the Meteora cliffs . The monastery, which was built in 1334, lives up to its name “Floating”, because until 1923 it could only be reached via rope ladders or a net that could be pulled up.
A stone staircase with 143 steps now leads into the interior of the monastery to make it easier to visit the founding monastery. The hermit cave of the monastery founder Athanasius can still be seen at the monastery entrance and in the monastery church you can admire ornate frescoes from 1552.
Agia Triáda – Holy Trinity Monastery
The spectacular Holy Trinity Monastery was built in the middle of the 15th century and, like the Megálo Metéoro, could only be reached via winches and rope ladders. Here, too, a staircase was built in 1925, which requires quite a bit of stamina.
In addition to the centuries-old frescoes , the main church of Agía Triáda is impressed by a silver- wrapped gospel from 1539. The real reason for the worldwide fame of the monastery, however, is its role in the James Bond film “On a Deadly Mission” as the fortress of the villain .
Agios Stéphanos – St Stephen’s Nunery
The first hermit allegedly lived on the spectacular cliff as early as 1192 and the monastery was founded around 1400. His nickname “The Royal” recalls the visit of Andronikos III, King of Byzantium, who was so enthusiastic about the hospitality of the monks that he made generous donations to them.
A monastery was built here in 1518 after a hermit had lived on the rock for many years. At that time, the place was not accessible to women. Today it is the second largest of the Meteora monasteries and the only monastery church with two domes. Remnants of the elevator, which consisted of rope and net, can still be seen.
Varlaam is probably my favorite monastery. It is the most beautiful in my opinion as the monastery grounds are superly maintained. To me, it’s the “poshest” monastery in Meteora with the most upscale decorations. You can definitely tell this monastery is well funded by the Orthodox church.
Agios Nikólaos Anapavás
The monastery merges directly into the rock and is one of the most impressive buildings on the Meteora cliffs. It can be reached via the nearby village of Kastraki. The complex is, so to speak, the crypt of the Meteora monasteries , because the skulls of former monks are kept in the Church of John the Baptist. The frescoes and paintings are also worth seeing.
It is not known exactly when the Rousánou Monastery was founded. Its peculiarities are also in the artistic wall paintings. The monastery was renovated in the 1950s and is now exclusively reserved for nuns. Rousánou offers a spectacular photo opportunity from a rock in the valley.
Most of the remaining monasteries have fallen into ruins. Also worth mentioning are Filakaé Monakón , according to tradition, a rock cave into which monks who did not obey the monastery rules were sent, and Moní Ypsilotéra , also called Kaligráfon because of the manuscripts he wrote there. The ascent to the uninhabited monastery ruins is very difficult and in some places dangerous. Entering the ruins is prohibited due to the risk of collapse.
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