Experience on Foot
Greece’s mild climate, varied terrain and diversity of scenery make it the quintessential walking destination. In addition to the spectacular scenery, rural Greece is a place where the past never seems too far from the present, and reminders of the country’s rich history exist everywhere.
The many paths and animal tracks that criss-cross the country are the same ones that have been used for hundreds and maybe thousands of years, and the present day landscape is little changed to the one which shepherds tending their flocks wandered through all those years ago.
Good walking routes can be found everywhere, on the islands and particularly on the mainland, where the countryside is wild and relatively undiscovered.
Thankfully, there are plenty of walking tour operators offering holiday itineraries that follow spectacular routes that are tried and tested and cater to all levels of fitness and walking experience.
It’s worth noting that many routes have no official paths marked. However, in many local areas there are local guides that also organise day walking excursions and some tourist information offices provide maps and literature with recommended walks.
Suggested walking areas/organisations
The wild, rugged countryside of Northern Greece with its high mountains, lakes and forests is prime walking country. The relatively wet climate provides for a lush environment and its unspoilt character is one of its bigger charms.
Epirus in the north-west is covered with thick vegetation and fir forests and features the natural marvels of the majestic Gamila and Smolikas mountains and the Vikos Gorge. The Olympus area boasts Mount Olympus, the highest of Greece’s peaks (and the mythical home of the gods), and also contains the oldest national park in Greece that is noted for its forests, clear rivers, and flower and plant varieties.
The Peloponnese is a great part of the country to walk for the simple reason that the area is so rich, not only in its natural habitat, but also in the prevalence of its archaeological history. The scenery covers fertile valleys and barren rocky ruggedness, and of course the sea is never very far away.
Many of the islands offer good walking terrain and varied routes too. Tinos in The Cyclades, is a firm favourite with walkers, and is the place where the Greek National Footpath Organisation was born. On Tinos traditional paths network through a countryside that seems as though it’s come straight from mythology, while its secret coves have a history of giving shelter to pilgrims and pirates over the years.
Amorgos (in the Cyclades) is another great walking location with a colourful history. The mountain spine that runs down its back and the troughs and valleys beneath provide some truly magnificent scenery.
Naxos is the largest island in the chain and also the greenest and its pace of life mirrors the seasonal rhythm of the farming culture that provides the island with its self-sufficiency. The other benefit of a walking holiday spent on Naxos is the quality the traditional food which uses locally produced fruits, vegetables, wines and cheeses.
The Ionian islands also offer some excellent walking spots. Corfu has a dedicated walking trail which is fully waymarked and 220 km in distance. The route is a diverse combination of scenes of natural beauty and manmade monuments of historic note, and can be traversed as a whole or in sections. Kefalonia and Ithaca also offer good walking routes.
Although close to Athens, Andros and Evia are two islands that have so far escaped mass tourism and offer easy walking routes that pass through terraced hillsides and mountain and coastal villages. Samos is another popular walking destination (for independent walkers as well as those on organised tours), as is Lesvos with its unrivalled variety of landscapes (from olive groves to volcanic rock formations) and birdlife.