What to see in Amorgos, the gem of the Cyclades

Who I am
Judit Llordés
@juditllordes
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Amorgos it is one of the lesser known Cyclades. Its charm has been overshadowed by the more famous neighboring towns such as Santorini and Naxos, but this has allowed it to remain an island with an authentic atmosphere where you can still breathe the Greece of 50 years ago. Amorgos is the easternmost of the Cyclades and is very close to the Turkish coast. I was lucky enough to go there for a week last October on the occasion of Yperia 2016, an event that promotes cultural and sustainable tourism on the island, and I literally fell in love with it.



It is a mountainous and quite small island (it is just over 30 km long and 6 wide) inhabited by about 1000 people and as many as 20000 goats. Always to stay on the numbers, Amorgos also has 370 churches! They can be seen everywhere, a few square meters, their small white dome can be seen emerging among the vegetation, between the rocks and the alleys of the villages. 

Amorgos is a wild island, to be experienced without haste, abandoning oneself to its rhythm and to the only road that crosses it from north to south. Suffice it to say that this road was paved only in the 90s, before there were only paths and mule tracks now converted into trekking paths. In addition to the sea and water sports, the island is also perfect for those who love walking. On the mountains that cross it there are 7 well-marked trails (with some variations) that allow you to cross the island far and wide and enjoy magnificent views of the sea and the mountains. It is a truly beautiful island, made up of perched villages, whipping wind, hidden beaches and rocks that fall into the absolute blue of the sea: it is impossible not to fall in love with it! I forgot, for apnea lovers, Amorgos is the island where Luc Besson shot the most beautiful scenes of the film “Le Gran Bleu”.





Health insurance is recommended

Being in Europe, as Spanish citizens we have the right to health care, but there are specific conditions and ceilings. My advice is to still take a classic medical-luggage insurance that can cover you during the trip, even for Covid-19. I am very happy with many insurance companies, a site that compares the policies of different companies and proposes the most convenient policy for that particular trip. To do this you will have to enter the data relating to your trip and they will send you an email with the best proposal that you can then buy directly online (!!!). All travel insurances also cover medical assistance in the event of a coronavirus infection, including testing if necessary. There is also coverage for the extension of the stay in the hotel due to the quarantine. Likewise, the trip cancellation guarantee includes coverage for illness or death of the traveler or a family member due to COVID-19.

How to get to Amorgos: only by ferry

Amorgos is not convenient to get to (there is no airport) but it takes the hours to get there ship from Piraeus (Athens) or from Naxos will be worth the trip. In Amorgos there are 2 ports, both on the west coast, Katapola e Aegiali; depending on the day of the week and the type of ferry they dock on one or the other port. It takes 6 to 9 hours by ship. It can also be reached from nearby islands such as Santorini, Naxos and Astipalea always by ship of course. 


The main company is Blue Star Ferries. Some ferries depart from Piraeus around 17/18 and arrive on the island in the middle of the night, but don't worry, hoteliers are used to welcoming tourists even at 3/4 at night.


When to go to Amorgos

Being very south, in Amorgos the climate is always mild and you can swim from April / May until October / November. Even in the middle of winter, temperatures never drop below 10 degrees and is also very suitable for an off-season holiday dedicated to sport and tranquility. 

How much does a holiday in Amorgos cost

As with other islands / tourist resorts in Greece, prices go up a lot in July and August. Outside of these months, however, you spend little: 60/70 euros per day for an apartment for 2, less than 20/25 euros per person for a dinner based on fresh fish and around 25 euros per day for the rental of a car. In Amorgos there is only one large and luxury hotel (the Aegialis Hotel & Spa in Aegiali), the rest of the tourist offer is made up of apartments, small hotels and b & bs. 

What to see in Amorgos

Chora: the capital

La capital of Amorgos it was built in the center of the island by its ancient inhabitants to hide it from the sight of pirates who came from the sea. The first thing that catches your eye when you get there is the Kastro, the "castle" that the Venetians built on a spur of rock overlooking the town. From here starts the maze of white alleys that make up the village. Chora is magical, by far the most beautiful town on the island to live in and get lost in. It gives its best towards sunset when it begins to populate with tourists returning from the sea, the lights of the restaurants, on the terraces and in the squares gradually come on and its lime walls with bougainvillea begin to shine with the sunset light. The most beautiful sunset on the island, in fact, can be enjoyed right from the hill above Chora, with the classics Cycladic mills that stand out on the horizon. If you want to live on the beach, Chora is not the most comfortable place to sleep because it is far from the sea, but it is perfect to come and have an aperitif at sunset or a dinner on the terraces of the various typical trattorias. End the evening with a shot of rakomelo (a kind of grappa) in one of the bars in the hidden squares like the Kath’Odon. If you feel like walking, you can also reach Chora with a beautiful 5 km long panoramic trail that starts from Katapola. 



The Chozoviotissa Monastery

When you search for Amorgos on the web, 3/4 of the photos will be of this monastery. The Chozoviotissa Monastery it is in fact the flagship of the island and they are working to make it recognized (rightly) by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This monastery was built in 812 and renovated about 200 years later by the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus. It is famous because it hangs on the rock and is located in an inaccessible area of ​​Mount Prophet Elia directly overlooking the sea. The building, with whitewashed walls, is practically invisible except from a boat or from the beginning of the long and steep access stairway that starts from the road that connects Chora to the Agia Anna beach. The monastery has incredibly integrated into the environment harmonizing with nature, the rooms that develop over 3 floors are very narrow: just think that in some places the building is just over half a meter wide! To enter you must have covered legs and arms (no tank tops), but if you don't have anything to cover yourself there are skirts and sarongs available. Do not forget to go up to the small terrace on the top floor which offers a magnificent view over the entire east coast of the island. 

If you are an early riser, I advise you to come and see the sunrise from here because it will take your breath away; you can then continue the day at the beach in the splendid and cozy cove of Agia Anna. 

Katapola

Katapola it is the main port of the island, but do not expect a metropolis eh, we are talking about a village of 500 inhabitants. Here you will find a handful of cafes overlooking the quay and some trattorias. The nicest part is definitely the neighborhood of Xylokeratidi, to the left of the port (looking at it from the sea). Here there are several taverns where you can enjoy excellent fresh fish with your feet almost in the water. On all, go by Akri Ouzo Taverna, a very nice little restaurant owned by a very kind young fisherman; the fish is very fresh and at zero kilometer. Katapola itself has nothing special, but being practically in the center of the island, it can be a good base for exploring it. In the evening there is little, but Chora is only 5 km away and can be reached in 10 minutes (without forgetting some trekking routes that start from here). 

Aegiali and the rural villages of Langada, Potamos and Tholaria

Aegiali it is the second port of the island and is located in the far north. The town is small but lively and is located on one side of the white beach of Ormos, which is the largest in Amorgos. The country, a former outpost of alternative tourism on the island, has now become one of the main destinations of Amorgos. Above the other end of Ormos beach there is in fact the only luxury hotel, theAegialis Hotel & Spa, which enjoys magnificent views across the bay and the mountains. The three rural villages that dominate the bay from above have not been touched by time. The closest is Langada, from which you can walk to the beautiful church of Epanochoriani and where you can visit the Vangelis Vassalos essential oil distillery. Vangelis is a very fascinating and well known character on the island, I would have been hours listening to his stories and his explanations on the aromatic herbs of Amorgos! The second is Potamos, divided into 2 districts, is a natural balcony from which to admire the bay, with the silhouette of Naxos on the horizon. In the end Tholaria, my favorite, which is right at the top of the mountain. Here I felt like I was taking a leap into the past, to Greece at the turn of the century. I loved its scenic taverns and the old traditions that still animate it; if you are lucky you can see the children dancing traditional dances. For an even more authentic experience, dine at Tavern "Panorama" or "Horevtis".  

A few kilometers from Aegiali, there is the Agios Pavlos beach, a strip of white sand that flows into the turquoise waters in front of the islet of Nikouria.

Arkesini and the south of Amorgos

The southern area of ​​the island of Amorgos is the least crowded, but no less beautiful. Starting from the villages of a few houses of Arkesini o Vroutsi you can make magnificent treks to reach, for example, Kastri (the old city of Arkesini) jutting out into the sea, or theancient tower of Agia Triada, the best preserved Hellenistic building on the island. Not far from Arkesini there is also the charming wreck of the Olympia ship stranded in the cove of Ormos Limeros. Proceeding towards the far south, you will find the beautiful ones sandy beaches of Paradisia and Kalotaritissa. On the opposite coast there is instead pebble beach of Mouros, with its beautiful rock formations that emerge from the bottom of turquoise water. Returning to Chora, the monastery of Agios Georgios Valsamitis worth a stop. After a long abandonment, this monastery is back active after 300 years thanks to the help of a nun who fell in love with it. After a life in marketing in Athens, this woman converted 6 years ago and started dedicating her life to the monastery and its renovation, but she will tell you this curious story herself in front of a great piece of cake and a coffee.

The most beautiful beaches of Amorgos

  • Agia Anna: a small cove located just below the Chozoviotissa monastery. Freediving lovers will immediately recognize the scenography where Enzo and Roberto happily rode with the legendary 500 in the film “Le Grand Bleu”.
  • Ormos: this white beach is located in Aegiali and is the largest in Amorgos, and it is also the only one equipped with umbrellas and deck chairs. Aegiali, from a former outpost of alternative tourism on the island, has now become one of the main destinations of Amorgos. Above the other end of Ormos beach is the only luxury hotel, the Aegialis Hotel & Spa. 
  • Agios Pavlos: not far from Aegiali there is also this strip of white sand that flows into the turquoise waters in front of the islet of Nikouria. From here you can also explore the islet's deserted coves by boat.  
  • Paradisia e Kalotaritissa: these beautiful white sand beaches are located on the north-west coast of the island, not far from Arkesini, and they are both very nice.
  • Moors: this pebble beach is located on the opposite coast from Paradisia and Kalotaritissa and has beautiful rock formations that emerge from the bottom of turquoise water.

Where to sleep in Amorgos

Aegialis Hotel & Spa (Aegiali): this magnificent 4-star resort has sweeping views over Aegiali bay and the mountains. From almost every room you can see the sea, it has a large outdoor swimming pool, an elegant spa and a thalassotherapy center. They also offer yoga classes. The staff is very kind and attentive.

Hotel Amorgion (Katapola): a small hotel with a newly built swimming pool located just above Katapola. They have both hotel rooms and studios and family apartments. 

Villa Le Gran Bleu (Katapola): this small residence is located 200 meters from the sea in the bay of Katapola. The apartments are very nice, all have a terrace overlooking the sea, there is wi and the possibility of using the bbq in the garden. The owners are very nice and they also have a seaside bar in Xylokeratidi (300 meters from there) where you can have breakfast.

Where to eat in Amorgos 

  • Minos Restaurant (Katapola): classic Greek tavern on the seafront. Good fish and excellent value for money (about 25 euros per person). 
  • Akri Ouzo Taverna (Katapola) : fish restaurant with tables almost on the water in the "neighborhood" of Xylokeratidi. Very fresh fish, caught directly by the owner. All excellent and he very kind (you spend less than € 25 per person)
  • Nissi Restaurant (Aegiali): open air restaurant on Olmos beach. Perfect for both lunch and dinner.
  • To Limani tis kyra katinas (Aegiali): this tavern is open all year round and is very popular with locals. In summer you can eat at the tables placed on the alley in front or on the terrace.
  • Taverna To Panorama (Tholaria): traditional tavern at the top of the village with tables under the pergola, where you can eat to the sound of traditional music and with the patron Nikos who tells stories and poems. Unmissable!
  • Taverna Santouraki (Tholaria): this tavern has a beautiful terrace overlooking the church square in the center of the town. You eat well and spend little.
  • Tsagaradiko (Chora): you eat outdoors in an open space between the old houses of Chora, with a small church in the background. Delicious appetizers, good fish and fish dishes, all the ingredients are fresh and local.

Car rental ad Amorgos

The best way to explore the island is to rent a moped or car. There are buses but they don't go everywhere and the service ends early. Ètoile de mer car rental is located in Katapola, has low prices and the manager is very helpful. If you go to Amorgos in high season, book your car before leaving!

Boat rental in Amorgos

Amorgos Rent a Boat: an alternative way to get to know the island is to rent a boat. Write to Dimitri Grigoratos ([email protected]) or call him (+306937442202) if you want to rent a small motor boat.

Diving in Amorgos

Amorgos is famous for diving and freediving, especially after Luc Besson came to shoot the film “Le Grand Bleu” here. There are many spots for diving / freediving and the most popular agency is there We Shell Sea.

You may also be interested in these other articles on Greece:

  • Mykonos (Greece): what to see and where to sleep
  • What to see in Hydra, the car-free island of the Peloponnese
  • A weekend in Athens: all the places not to be missed
  • The 8 least touristy and most beautiful Greek islands
  • Santorini: what to see in the most romantic island of the Cyclades
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