Category: Greek Island hiking (page 1 of 2)

Quietly spectacular Skyros

Enjoy aerial views of some of the wonderful coastal, mountain, valley and village scenery on Skyros in this 5-minute film by TreeZone

 

Real deal: Want to visit an authentic Greek island that isn’t a mainstream tourist magnet like Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, or even its nearby neighbour, Skiathos? Then have a look at Skyros, the southernmost and largest island in the Sporades archipelago. Skyros has everything you would want and expect from a great Greek island holiday destination — impressive landscapes and coastal scenery, inviting beaches, picturesque villages, historic sites, good food, and age-old local traditions — without the massive crowds and commerciality of other islands that have become household names around the world.

Though it is becoming increasingly popular with visitors from around the world, and has an international airport that receives direct charter flights from several European cities during July and August, Skyros is a relatively low-profile destination that isn’t even on the radar for most tourists planning vacations in the Greek islands.

In fact, there were only 3 question-and-answer threads posted on TripAdvisor’s Skyros travel forum in all of 2015, and just 10 in total since 2010. The Skiathos forum, by comparison, had  more than 6,100 conversation threads as of mid-May 2016.

 

Booking.com

 

With so much going for the island, It’s rather surprising that Skyros doesn’t get more attention from travellers — especially considering that it gets good press whenever it’s mentioned in social and regular media.

For instance, Skyros was cited as the best destination for alternative travel and holistic holidays in The Telegraph’s January 2016 feature The 19 best Greek islands, and was included in a piece the Independent published about Holidays for single travellers. Also in January, The Irish Examiner published A letter from paradise on the Greek island of Skyros, a journalist’s account of her writing holiday. And in 2015, Thomas Cook Airlines named Skyros as best destination for “healthy lifestyle holidays” in its profile of Greece’s top 10 islands.

Perhaps it’s a good thing Skyros hasn’t become hugely popular — that means it will remain a unique and special place to charm and delight those travellers who do venture off the main tourist paths to pay it a visit. (And that’s one of the chief reasons why Skyros is on my bucket list of islands to see.)

Skyros photo from sail-la-vie.com

Built on the steep slopes of a craggy peak topped by a Byzantine fortress and a  monastery, Chora village is a striking sight on Skyros (Photo from the Municipality of Skyros travel guide)

 

Please continue reading on page 2, where you’ll find more pictures and videos along with links to more than a dozen different websites with Skyros travel information and photos.

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In the works: ‘Street views’ of Crete’s trekking trails

This 16-minute videoclip shows several popular hiking routes on Crete being photographed for Google Trekker — a version of the popular Street View feature on Google Maps

 

Crete on foot: Hiking enthusiasts may soon see what Crete’s trekking paths look like without having to take a single step on any of the trails.

The Region of Crete and Google are participating in a project to photograph some of Crete’s major hiking routes for Google Trekker, a version of the company’s popular Street View app that lets people take virtual tours of places from their computers and mobile devices. The Trekker program has an ambitious goal of mapping the world — including out-of-the-way and hard-to-reach places where camera-equipped vehicles can’t travel. Footpaths are filmed by hikers who walk the routes wearing a backpack equipped with Google Trekker photography equipment.

The video above was published on the Region of Crete YouTube page in January, and shows a hiker mapping trails in several areas across the island, including Agia Roumeli, Psiloritis, the Asterousia Mountains, the Lassithi Plateau, and Agios Nikolaos.

 

There were no notes accompanying the video to indicate when the various trails will be available for viewing on Google Maps, but the 16-minute film will be interesting to hikers planning trips to Crete since it shows what the terrain and scenery are like on some of the routes, and gives a good impression of the degree of difficulty on the different trails.

Sifnos, another Greek island that’s popular for trekkers and walkers, already has four of its scenic hiking routes available for viewing on Google Maps, as I reported in my recent post Sifnos: A Walker’s Paradise.

If you’d like to take a virtual trek along some of the Sifnos paths to see what the experience is like, and get an idea of what the Crete Trekker views will be like when they’re available,  click here

 

 

Considering Corfu?

Take a 3-minute aerial cruise above Corfu in this newly-released video, produced on behalf of the island’s port authority

 

Video vacation: I feel like I have just taken an extensive and exhausting (but in a good way) sightseeing trip to Corfu — even though I haven’t been there yet. And courtesy of several online videos I’ve been watching the past couple of days, it’s entirely possible that I may have just seen more of the island from here at home than I might have been able to see had I actually been on Corfu for the same period of time.

On March 14, a link to Corfu, the Garden of Gods (above) popped up in my social media news feeds, and I watched the film a few times.  The three-minute aerial video was shared by Vangelis Koulouris,  who said the short clip “was created for the Port Authority of Corfu with a view to highlight the unique environment and the multicultural history of Corfu island.”

The film features soaring views of Corfu’s lush landscapes, its picturesque coastlines and beaches, the island’s beautiful capital (also called Corfu), and cruise ships calling at its port. Corfu is, of course, one of the top Greek island destinations for cruise ships, so a video by its port authority just wouldn’t seem complete without at least a few passenger liners appearing in the picture.

 

 

As tends to happen whenever I find something interesting on social media, one thing led to another — and before long I had compiled a playlist of several more Corfu videos to view.  But except for Garden of the Gods, and another 3-minute clip, the other films weren’t as short and sweet — with run times ranging from 10 and 24 minutes to nearly two hours, they were the equivalent of watching a few evenings of TV programs. But I considered it “time well wasted,” as the saying goes.

It’s time some of you might wish to spend, too, should you be considering Corfu for an upcoming or future vacation — or should you simply want to see what the island is all about. To that end, I have posted some of the videos below. Four of the six films (including the one above) were  published just within the last several weeks, while two were released last year. What I appreciated most about the videos is that they either show or tell you the names of places you’re looking at — something all too many travel videos fail to do. 

If you manage to make it through all the clips, you’ll probably feel like you’ve just gone to the island, too — or attended a Corfu film festival!

 

My Corfu in 3 minutes is a quick-view highlight version of the considerably longer My Corfu, which is posted directly below.  Produced by Petros Kapsokavadis and the Oasis Hotel in Perama, it’s intended for viewers who don’t have enough time to watch the full-length clip.

 

This is the full 24-minute My Corfu video by Petros Kapsokavadis and the Oasis hotel. Most of the clip is aerial videography of places all around the island, but there is a segment showing part of the Corfu Mountain Trail footpath from Perama to Gastouri. 

 

Corfu — the island of eternal returns is a 10-minute film released just this month by the Mouzenidis Group of companies. A guide takes viewers on a tour of many of Corfu’s marvellous attractions, sights and scenery while describing highlights of the island’s history.

 

Corfu Coast Line is an aerial tour around the Corfu coast. The 48-minute film is a project of Corfu Benitses, the Association for Culture and Redevelopment of Benitses, a fishing village 12 km from Corfu city. 

 

The Corfu Vacation Travel Video Guide title says it all! Nearly 58 minutes long, the informative narrated film is a production of Exposa Travel.

 

My Movie Corfu Trail clocks in at 1 hour and 50 minutes but it is, after all, a video diary of a 10-day, 150-mile trek around the island that Tim Beal and a friend took last September.  “It is a fantastic walk and should be a tonic for all who like fine views, fine food and great people. Take two weeks out and walk Corfu… you will love it!” Tim says. If you don’t have the energy to attempt the walk yourself, simply sit back and watch Tim and his friend do it instead!

Sifnos: A walker’s paradise

You’ll wish you could head straight to Sifnos to take some scenic walks after watching this promotional film for the island’s network of footpaths

 

Trekker treat:  A video released just today has me aching to visit Sifnos to walk all over the island.

Sifnos Trails, hike on an authentic Greek Island! is a nearly 6-minute-long promotional film that spotlights the island’s vast network of professionally signposted hiking trails. With fabulous aerial and trail-level videography by Photo Kontos, the video is bound to inspire legions of trekking enthusiasts to visit Sifnos to explore some or all of the 19 different trails that extend more than 100 kilometers in total.

As you would expect,  the film features beautiful mountain, valley, village and coastal scenery. What’s also impressive is the expertly-developed way-marking system, shown in the video, that helps guide trekkers along the trails. Viewers also are informed of a free app for Android smartphones, and are directed to a Sifnos Trails website that provides extensive information about the island and its paths, downloadable route maps, and galleries of gorgeous island images by four photographers.

 

Giorgos Zampelis photo of Sifnos Trail 10A

The Sifnos Trails website includes photo galleries featuring beautiful images by Giorgos Zampelis and three other photographers. There are hundreds of photos on the Sifnos Trails Facebook page, too.

 

When we visited Sifnos in 2007, we knew that the island had an extensive network of footpaths, but they weren’t easy to find or follow. I bought a booklet that described more than two dozen hiking itineraries, but the directions for the first three walks that we attempted led us to dead ends (quite literally — we wound up in a cemetery on one hike!) We eventually gave up on the brochure and simply wandered around. It was good fun nonetheless, but signposts and directional markings would have helped us see far more of the island.

When I discovered the Sifnos Trails video today, I immediately wondered when the way-marking system had been implemented, since I had heard nothing about it. Turns out that the island municipality undertook the Sifnos Trails project in 2015, collaborating with Paths of Greece to improve the trail network to “help the island’s visitors explore its natural and cultural beauties in a pleasant way.” The project is funded and managed by the municipality of Sifnos.

Besides the website the Android app, there is a Sifnos Trails Facebook page with further information and hundreds of photos of hiking paths and stunning Sifnos scenery.

If you’re planning to visit Sifnos this summer, be sure to bookmark the website and Facebook pages so you can read up on the walking routes before going.

Happy trekking once you’re there!

[Editor’s Updates: The Greek edition of The Huffington Post published an interesting article about Sifnos Trails on March 5, which you can see by clicking here.  If you don’t understand Greek, you can use a program like Google Translate to read the article. And on March 10, Sifnos Trails added to its website Google Trekker digital tours of several of its walking routes.]

 

Sifnos Trails website

A screenshot of the home page for the Sifnos Trails website, which describes the island’s trail project and provides extensive information about the routes and the island in general.

 

Sifnos Trails information page for one of the 19 walking routes

The website provides detailed descriptions and maps for each of the 19 walking routes, along with helpful tips and advice. This is a screenshot of the information page for Trail 9 (Kambanario — Cherronisos). 

 

screenshot of waymarking page on Sifnos Trails website

Signposts and painted markings helpfully point the way along the island’s various walking routes

Focussing on Folegandros

Folegandros In Motion: Summer Timelapse & Dive! is a nearly 5-minute-long timelapse film showing beaches and many of the island’s top attractions, along with some undersea scenes from a scuba diving session

 

Photogenic island gem: I’m finding it hard to believe how quickly time has flown past since we spent a few days on Folegandros in 2007. It’s a charming little island we have always intended to revisit for a longer stay, but we just haven’t found a way to fit it into any of our island-hopping travel itineraries since — it’s off the main tourist ferry routes in the Cyclades, so it can be tricky to reach. And suddenly almost a decade has passed and a return trip isn’t on the immediate horizon for us. But I’m certain we will get to see it again. 

Fond memories of Folegandros came flooding back the other day when I found a fun short video that had recently been posted online. It’s about the passage of time, too, but in this instance it involves video timelapse photography of the island’s beaches and main attractions.

Produced by Indie Film Rebels filmmaking community, Folegandros In Motion: Summer Timelapse & Dive! opens with timelapse views of the Karavostasis ferry port, followed by four beaches — Agali, Galifos, Agios Nikolaos and Katergo — and the Chrysopigi monastery. The film then switches into real-time undersea footage from a scuba diving session with Folegandros Dive Center, then reverts to timelapse with views of Hora village, Church of Panagia, the seaside at Agios Georgios, Ampeli beach, a beautiful sunset, and a star-filled night sky observed from Livadi. There’s even a quick peek of the astounding views from the swimming pool at Provalma Studios.

 

Of course, as always happens whenever I find an interesting video about a Greek destination that fascinates me, I couldn’t just stop there — I had to hunt for more.

I found many, but the four I have posted below are the ones I enjoyed watching the most, since they took me right back to familiar sights and places that looked as if they haven’t changed since I saw them. If you’ve already been to the island, I’m sure you will recognize many if not most of the scenes in each clip. And if you haven’t been there yet, the films will give you a vivid visual feel for what it’s like to actually be on Folegandros. 

 

Folegandros 2015 is a 7.5-minute  video by YouTube contributor Xvijana.  It shows scenes from Hora, Pano Meria, the Panagia church, several beaches, the island’s bus, some hiking paths, and Ampelos Resort. If you like cats, you will love this clip — it features appearances by quite a few of the Folegandros felines.

 

This clip is an extended slide show of excellent Folegandros photographs shot in 2013  by ΠΑΝΑΓΙΩΤΟΥ ΧΡΗΣΤΟΣ

 

Folegandros 2015 features nearly four minutes of video vignettes filmed by Carlitos Iglesias

 

Although the narration for this film by Netherlands-based de Griekse Gids (Greek Guide) is in Dutch, you don’t have to understand the language to enjoy the 9-minute scenic tour in Eiland Folegandros

Milos recasts its magical spell

Tsigrado beach Milos

With dozens of unique beaches, like the cliff-enclosed Tsigrado cove 

 

Cape Vani on Milos

  an astounding array of natural scenery and rugged terrain, such as the Mars-like landscape at Cape Vani

 

Mandrakia village on Milos

 picturesque seaside fishing villages, like Mandrakia

 

Kleftiko coast at Milos

… spectacular coastal scenery, like the breathtaking cliffs and offshore rock formations at Kleftiko

 

Ageria mine site on Milos

 colourful mining sites, like the Ageria open pit operation 

 

O Xamos restaurant Milos

and superb Greek cuisine served at restaurants like O Xamos!, it’s easy to understand why travel blogger Dace was drawn to Milos two years in a row. (All of the photos in this post are by Dace and originally appeared on her website, Dace Travels. They are reposted here with her kind permission).

 

Well worth repeating: My regular readers know how much I enjoy Milos — I’ve published numerous posts about the island in the last several years, along with dozens of photographs we shot during two separate visits.  I’m always keen to hear and read what other travellers think of it, in particular to see if they had similarly delightful experiences (the feedback has been overwhelmingly laudatory, I’m happy to report). I also like to hear people’s impressions of places they managed to see in parts of Milos we haven’t yet explored ourselves since it gives us ideas about new places to check out next time we go back.

So when I discovered a Milos trip report link in a post on the TripAdvisor Milos forum, I was excited to read what the writer had to say, and to view her holiday photos. Clicking on the link actually was a double treat because it took me to not one but two separate trip reports for Milos, posted by Latvian writer Dace on her personal blog, Dace Travels.  

 

 

I was very pleased to find that both reports were packed with gorgeous photos and enticing descriptions of numerous Milos destinations that we haven’t yet seen (in large part because we haven’t rented a vehicle on either of our trips to the island, so we’ve been limited to what we could access by bus, taxi or walking, and couldn’t reach many of the remote areas that Dace drove to in her 4×4.)

In her first post, Greece: The beauty of Milos, Dace explains that she chose Milos after reading about it on a “hidden gem” list for Greece. 

“What a great choice it was!,” she wrote. “The island has 70 different beaches, it’s not overcrowded by tourists; the western part is more wild while the eastern part is more developed. We spent 6 days there but it was not enough.”  But in those six days, she saw a variety of places I’ve only read about in online travel guides — Thiafes beach, Tria Pighadia, Kolymbissionas, Amoudaraki and Manddrakia.

 

Spellbinding nature, beaches and good food

In her second report, Greece again. Yes to Milos!, Dace reveals why she returned to Milos for another holiday. “So why Milos again? It really got its spell on us, so much of beautiful nature and beaches and good food :),” she wrote.  (I totally understand; the exact same features drew us back to Milos for our own second visit.)

Once more, Dace posted lots of beautiful photos and descriptions of even more amazing places I haven’t seen, leaving me feeling a strong tinge of envy. Those spots included Cape Vani, Voudia Bay, Pollonia, and a slew of splendid beaches — Angathia, Agios Ioannis, Triades, Firiplaka, Paleochori, Plateina, Agio Kyriaki and Tsigrado. 

Both reports are fascinating and fun to read. Dace has a great sense of humour, so I chuckled at some of her stories (like the “quad people” they encountered at some beaches) and cringed at another (her account of a stomach-churning ferry ride to Milos).  And of course there’s dozens of photos of stunning Milos scenery that are bound to make you dream about going there yourself.

Click here to read Dace’s first report, and then click here to read about her return visit. (The second report includes photos and information about her stay in Athens, too, and elsewhere on her blog you can read about her trip to Santorini.)

A teasing glimpse of Korthi

Ormos Korthious photo from islandandros.com

Korthi Bay and the village of Ormos Korthiou are seen in a photo from the Andros travel and information website Island Andros.

 

Quick peek: Have you ever experienced that nagging feeling, while travelling from one scheduled holiday destination to the next, that you’re missing out on some really worthwhile sights and attractions you simply don’t have time to stop and visit along the way? We certainly did during our trip to Andros last spring.

After spending 3 nights in Andros Town at the beginning of our vacation, it was time to move on. Our friends had to return to Athens, and they agreed to drop us off at our next stop — a hotel near the resort area of Batsi, on the northwest coast of Andros — while they drove to Gavrio port to catch their ferry back to the mainland. 

So that we could all see a little more of Andros during the drive, we avoided the most direct highway route from Andros Town to Batsi and detoured to the south, following a highway that winds through the island’s Korthi region. The plan was to stop at the fishing harbour and seaside village of Ormos Korthiou to have a coffee before resuming the drive to Batsi.

Click here or on the link under the next photo to turn to page 2 of this post, where you can continue reading about Korthi and view more pictures of some of its top  attractions.

Grias Pidima beach Andros

One of the iconic sights we didn’t get to see in Korthi was Tis Grias to Pidima beach (also called Old Lady’s Leap), shown in this photo from airbnb.gr.  Pictures of the sandy beach and its towering stone pillar can be found on scores of postcards, websites and travel publications for Andros.

 

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Strolling around Stenies

Stenies village on Andros

Approaching the Stenies mountainside settlement on Andros island

 

Valley village:  There is much to see in the mountain and valley areas near Andros Town (also called Chora) on Andros Island. In fact, visitors could easily spend several days sightseeing and exploring the surrounding countryside by car or, if they prefer, by foot (the island boasts a network of nearly two dozen sign-posted walking and hiking trails, several of which start in or near Chora).

Unfortunately, we didn’t have that much exploration time at our disposal. During the first two days we stayed at Andros Town in late May, we spent much of our time in and around Chora itself. But on our third (and final) day, we ventured a little further off to do some hillside hiking in Stenies village and vicinity.

 

Stenies village on Andros

At Stenies, visitors can stroll past churches, red-roofed houses and palatial private villas nestled against verdant valley hillsides …

 

Bistis-Mouvelas Tower House on Andros

… and see historic ruins, including the crumbling Bistis-Mouvelas tower house, which dates from the 17th Century

 

Situated less than a 20-minute drive from Andros Town, Stenies is a residential settlement area that stretches across rolling hillsides in a mountain valley verdant with flowers, greenery and towering Cyprus trees. Blue-domed churches and large houses with red tile roofs rise from the leafy slopes,  while several sprawling estates with palatial private villas indicate that Stenies is a popular valley enclave for the affluent. Besides recently-built and still-under-construction stone mansions, the hillsides are home to some crumbling old buildings, including the Bistis-Mouvelas tower house, which was built in the 17th Century.  And on the coast at nearby Gialia Bay are two beaches — the pebbly Empros Gialia, and the sandy Piso Gialia, where travellers can stop for a meal on the seaview terrace at Gialia Restaurant and Snack Bar.

We spent several hours at Stenies, where we wandered along a series of paved paths and dirt trails that meandered up and down hills, past attractive homes, over mountain streams and across grassy fields, eventually making our way to and from the Bistis Tower. After working up hearty appetites hiking in warm temperatures under a mixed sky of sun and clouds, we drove to Drosia restaurant in the village of Menites for a midafternoon lunch break. (Staff at the Andros Town hotel where our travelling companions were staying had highly recommended we drop by Drosia for a meal. We enjoyed it as much as they had promised we would.)

 

Drosia Restaurant at Menites Andros

Part of Drosia restaurant’s very pleasant tree-shaded patio is seen in this photo from the Drosia Facebook page

 

Drosia’s outdoor terrace was as delightful as its delicious food — shaded by soaring trees, the patio is perched on the edge of a ravine through which streams cascade down the steep slopes. As we sat amidst thick vegetation, with the sound of water rushing in the creeks below us, it truly felt like we were in a lush island oasis — something we’ve never experienced on predominantly barren other islands in the Cyclades, like Mykonos, Ios or Santorini. 

It was just a short — but sweet — visit to Stenies and Menites, and we realized we had merely scratched the surface in terms of the multitude of things to see and do in both areas. We hope we get the chance to go back and  see more.

 

I shot this short video from the mountain road that took us to Stenies. It shows views of the mountainside settlement as well as nearby Gialia Bay. Click on the arrow to start the video.

 

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2 of this post, where you can read more about our day and view some of our photos of Stenies and Menites.  You can see full-size versions of the pictures, along with dozens more, in my Stenies and Menites album on Flickr.

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Walls along a footpath on Sifnos

footpath in Artemonas village Sifnos

A footpath winds between tall stone walls in Artemonas village on Sifnos.  We appreciated the walls while hiking because they offered some protection from the strong cool winds that buffeted the island for three full days during our visit in late September 2007. Sifnos has an extensive network of trails and footpaths that link villages and lead avid walkers and hikers to scores of scenic locations. Click here to access directions for nearly 50 different walk itineraries on Sifnos provided by the popular multilingual website Walking, hiking and trekking in Greece.

 

Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos

The centuries-old Portara monument greets visitors arriving at Naxos by sea

The enormous marble entrance for the never-completed Temple of Apollo greets visitors arriving by sea at Naxos island in the Cyclades.  Also known as the Portara, the monument is an internationally-recognized symbol of Naxos island.

 

Something for everyone: If you’re trying to find a Greek holiday destination that ticks practically every box on even the pickiest traveller’s checklist of “must have’s” and “must see’s,” take a closer look at Naxos.

The largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos is equally big on the number of activities and attractions it offers visitors of all ages and lifestyles. From beautiful beaches to mountain villages; a vibrant port town with an historic castle and Old Market district; monuments, ruins and museums; excellent dining and nightlife; accommodations to suit any budget; walking trails, water sports and mountain biking; stunning scenery and sunsets; plus sightseeing excursions and tours both on and off the island, Naxos has it all.

Whether you’re planning to visit for three days or three weeks, you’ll never run out of things to do — if anything, you’ll probably wind up wishing you had more time to spend on the island.

 

What’s more, Naxos is surprisingly easy on the pocketbook, with reasonable prices for food, accommodations and entertainment.

All those are precisely the reasons why we named Naxos as our Greek Holiday Destination of the Year for 2013 (see our December 31 2013 post for more about that).

Click on the link to page 2 of this post (under the photo below) to continue reading and to see dozens of photos illustrating our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos. (Note: The reasons are listed randomly; there is no special significance to the numerical order in which each item is presented.)

 

Naxos beach towel

A souvenir beach towel featuring a map of Naxos hangs outside a minimarket in the island’s popular Agios Prokopios resort area

 

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Pic of the day: Walking Santorini’s clifftop path

Santorini clifftop path

Tourists walk the clifftop path between Fira and Firostefani. The scenic path continues to Imerovigli village (left rear) and from there all the way to Oia at the northwest tip of the island. Hikers enjoy sensational scenery almost every step of the way, and can find countless spots along the path to watch the fabled Santorini sunsets.

 

 

Amorgos is a hiker’s paradise

Amorgos hiking path

You will feel like you’re on top of the world while hiking on Amorgos. This particular trail leads from Egali to Chora along what’s called “the spine of Amorgos”

 

 

Amorgos hiking path sign

Start points for many of the hiking routes on Amorgos are well-marked by signs. This one even shows the approximate walking times to the destinations indicated.

 

 

Wonderful walks: If you like to see vacation destinations on foot rather than through the windows of a rental car or tour bus, you can’t beat the Greek Islands. Most islands, especially those in the Cyclades, are ideal for walking and hiking. Some, like Sifnos and Amorgos, boast extensive networks of footpaths and donkey trails that take visitors to scenic parts of the island that can’t be reached by vehicles.

Amorgos is one of our favourite destinations for hiking.

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