Welcome to my incredible journey to Amorgos – the island of great wild beauty. This island is located on the southeastern side of the Cyclades and seduces travellers with its stunning azure blue waters.
My name is Kostas Arkadinos and I am 25 years old. I was born and raised in the second largest city of Greece, Thessaloniki. When I was a child I was full of questions about the world around me – its history, religions and civilisations. This is why I choose to study archaeology at university.
Since I like discovering mysterious new paths, I can safely say that this passion led me to love travelling. Photography, on the other hand, came about in 2016 when I went to live in Italy for a semester through the student exchange Erasmus Programme.
Before I transferred to Italy, I bought a professional camera. My aim was to capture all the monuments, museum exhibitions and stained-glass churches that the country is famous for. It was there that I started my Instagram account @a_prima_vista_.
I continued to take photos when I came back to Greece because I wanted to keep a record of these indelible memories I was having. One of the places that really took my breath away recently was Amorgos. Let me tell you all about this amazing Greek island below.
Inspiration to Visit Amorgos: Movies & Archeology
As for my visit to Amorgos, I would like to declare first that I am a lover of all the Cyclades. This special island group in the Aegean Sea is home to stunning architecture and a unique natural beauty.
Amorgos is one of the main islands that are included in the Cyclades group. So it was only a matter of time before I visited this destination. I began looking at photos of the Cyclades and noticed the stunning natural landscapes of Amorgos that stood out to me.
Picturesque alleyways and splendid beaches with pure blue waters. It’s no coincidence that these waters inspired the name to the movie shot on Amorgos by French director Luc Besson: “The Big Blue”.
The biggest star of the movie – apart from Jean Reno – is the sparkling waters of Amorgos. As soon as someone watches the film they start packing their bags and booking tickets to this island.
The second reason why I wanted to visit Amorgos was because of its cultural history. My masters thesis at university was based on the ancient Greek sanctuaries of the goddess Athena in the Cyclades.
Through my studies, I realised that in Amorgos there are remnants of monuments not only from the ancient Greek period but also from the Byzantine years. For me, Amorgos was a destination that combined marvellous beaches with a rich archeological history.
It was my first visit to the island and I have a feeling that I will be back there again and again in the summer holidays. There are no words to describe the island because it’s just too beautiful.
Amorgos is quiet and serene. A place where people can go to relax and enjoy natural sounds and aromas. Like the peaceful sounds of waves washing up on shore or the scent of fresh flowers and traditional Greek food with a noticeably local flair.
Then there’s the nightlife which adds to the overall appeal of the island, especially to young people and backpackers. The island is equipped with fantastic bars, clubs and live music venues.
7-Day Itinerary on Amorgos Island
My sister and I decided to visit Amorgos in the last week of summer (25-31 August) so as to avoid crowds. Although, the locals told me that the island never “sinks” from tourists even in summer. We spent seven special days here. Let me tell you how we spent them below.
Day 1: Arriving at Amorgos from Thessaloniki
Due to the fact that there is no airport on Amorgos, we flew from Thessaloniki to Athens. Then we reached the Port of Piraeus and finally took the fast ferry on a six hour journey to Katapola – the main port of Amorgos located on the western side of the island.
When we arrived and took the road to our studio Villa Katapoliani located near the harbour, I immediately came in contact with the island’s atmosphere. The wonderful sea breeze, special Cycladic architecture and white houses with flowering bougainvillea.
The owner of the studios was very generous and hospitable, offering us a local drink and water and leading us to our room. Then we went swimming and took some rest at Maltezi Beach. This is a secluded and organised beach with a beach bar close to Katapola.
Day 2: Road Trip to the Chora of Amorgos
On our first full day we decided to rent a car to explore the island. There are many picturesque villages to see on Amorgos and its oblong shape doesn’t make public transport particularly viable. Hiring a car or scooter is the best way to see the island for sure.
Our first stop was the Chora (main town) of Amorgos which has a central location. There is no specific street planning here so it’s easy to get lost in the narrow stone-paved streets. Exploring the whitewashed houses and traditional taverns is a lot of fun.
All the souvenir shops are decorated with different types of colourful gems and bijou. This creates a unique atmosphere. One feature of this Chora which is different to other Cycladic settlements is that it has been developed around a high rock with a castle.
This castle was built in the early 13th century by the Venetian lords of the island. After ascending to the top, you can admire the panoramic view of the village and take in those stunning views of the big blue!
After enjoying a swim at the secluded Finikes Beach, we return to Chora to admire the lovely windmills which have a prominent position in the town and have stood for hundreds of years. I recommend visiting the windmills at sunset for a gorgeous view.
Day 3: Exploring the Northeast Side of the Island
The third day was about exploring the northeastern side of Amorgos where Aegiali is located. Aegiali is the second main harbour of the island. Your eyes will be delighted seeing the characteristic Cycladic houses full of bougainvillea and hibiscus trees in the courtyards.
Along Aegiali’s lively waterfront are many fantastic places to eat breakfast, have a coffee or immerse yourself in the serene nightlife. This waterfront offers magnificent views of the splendid bay with crystal-clear waters and soft sand along the beach.
Beyond Aegiale, there is another picturesque village named Tholaria. During our tour there, by chance, we saw that a festival was taking place at the yard of the small chapel of Saint Phanourios.
It was the day when the Orthodox honored his memory – 27th of August. Many ladies were offering prayers in the form of their own “phanouro-pita” which translates to “pie of Saint Phanourios”.
According to the Greek Orthodox religion, the 27th of August is the day when believers should bake a cake and dedicate it to Saint Phanourios. Then they should put a piece of that cake under their pillows and the Saint will reveal who they will marry in their dreams.
Day 4: The Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa
It was time for us to visit the most emblematic building of Amorgos and the most impressive ecclesiastic monument of the Aegean Sea. The monastery of Panaghia Hozoviotissa is carved into a steep rock. It has been standing there since 1088, when it was founded.
It is said that during the period of Iconoclasm, a woman from Hozova of Palestine threw the icon of Panagia into the sea, so it wouldn’t be destroyed. Miraculously this icon made its way to Amorgos.
The monastery is located at an altitude of about 300 meters above the sea. I recommend wearing a pair of comfortable shoes and taking plenty of water. Also, you have to take something to cover the nude parts of your body, such as arms or legs, before entering.
You can also wear some clothes that are offered outside the monastery. The monks will welcome you and offer you a “loukoumi” and a glass of cold water. From the balcony of the monastery you will have the chance to enjoy a stunning view of the sea.
After our pilgrimage we took the trekking path which leads to the beautiful and special beach of Agia Anna. It’s a small pebbly beach, full of rocks and caves. You have to be a bit careful due to the slippery landscape but its crystalline waters make this beach unique.
Then we went swimming at Agios Pavlos. This is a small and pebbly beach situated in the north of Amorgos. From there we took a boat and in about 10 minutes we arrived at the small uninhabited island of Nikouria. This island is home to two amazing sandy beaches.
Day 5: Relaxing at the Koufonisia Islands
The fifth day was dedicated to Koufonisia – a complex of two islands, “Αno” and “Kato” Koufonisi. Kato Koufonisi is more isolated and uninhabited. The settlement of Chora (the capital) on Ano Koufonisi is a typically beautiful example of Cycladic architecture.
Ano Koufonisi’s natural beauty and traditional charm, in combination with its exotic beaches with blue and green crystal waters, makes this island a special destination for a relaxing summer vacation.
Day 6: Ancient Minoa and Gramvousa Island
Our sixth day was a cultural one. We visited one of the three ancient cities of Amorgos, Minoa. It’s situated above the port of Katapola on the southern slope of the mountain. The oldest settlement in Minoa dates back to the late Neolithic period in the 4th millennium BC.
In addition, the first residential core of this ancient city dates back to the early historical times (around 11th century BC). You can admire many ruins of the ancient city, like parts of the ancient stadium, the gymnasium and the Temple of Dionysus.
After that we headed to the windless bay of Kalotaritissa. This beach is located on the west side of the island. From there we took a boat that makes daily trips to the opposite island of Gramvousa.
Travel tip: before moving to the golden beach of Gramvousa take with you your own cold bottle of water and snacks. This beach of Amorgos is home to sand, pebbles and clear, blue-green waters.
Finally, we spent our last night at Chora where plenty of restaurants and cosy bars are ready to satisfy every single customer. In one of them we heard Matoula Zamani singing. She is a great Greek singer who lives on Amorgos and enchants people with her voice.
Day 7: Final Farewell to the Amazing Amorgos
On our last day we made our last walk to Katapola. It’s another beautiful and picturesque settlement full of facilities for travellers. The owner of the studios said farewell to us with a shot of “psimeni raki” and then we took the return journey home.
My Favourite Place in Amorgos: The Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa
I think the most impressive sight for every visitor to Amorgos is the Byzantine monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa. This monastery is built entirely on the slopes of a high and steep rock. Its structure thrilled me and it’s something I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world.
It could be compared with the monasteries that are built on steep cliffs at Meteora in the mainland of Greece. However, I think it’s unique in all of Greece and maybe even the entire world.
After the ascent up a trekking path, I prayed to the icon of Virgin Mary Hozoviotissa who is the protector of the island. Then I bought a rosary (“komboskini” in the Orthodox Church) and enjoyed the amazing view of the sparkling waters of the deep blue sea.
The generous monks offered me a glass of traditional “psimeni raki” and a traditional sweet “loukoumi”. Also, I would like to remind people that close to this monastery is Agia Anna. It’s a special beach with caves.
The swimming available in these clear blue waters was the ultimate reward after climbing the steep path to the monastery.
10 Best Things To Do in Amorgos
Every year, especially in the spring/summer season, Amorgos opens its arms to receive visitors from all over Greece and all over the world. The island offers a wide array of unforgettable experiences. Here are my top 10 things you shouldn’t miss on this Cycladic island.
1. Watch a Gorgeous Sunset on the Beach
The most powerful weapon of Amorgos is its beaches. They are well known for their clear blue waters and small hiding places that create epic rock formations. Additionally, these waters can be turned into different shades of red/orange when the sun is sinking in the blue.
You can enjoy this unique spectacle at the Agia Anna Beach which gave the setting to the movie The Big Blue. Other beaches of the same beauty and grace are: the sandy beach of Aegiali, Maltezi Beach, Mouros Beach and Kalotaritissa Bay.
*Remember the windmills in Chora are another epic sunset spot!
2. Wander around the Charming Streets of Chora
Chora of Amorgos is one of the most beautiful capitals of the Cyclades. Wander through its alleys, enjoy your breakfast in the traditional cafes, buy souvenirs for yourself and your relatives, visit the castle and don’t forget to see the beautiful windmills!
3. Learn about the Fascinating History of Amorgos
Τhe Archaeological Museum of the island is hosted in the Tower of Gavras, a 16th century mansion in the center of Chora. There are many exposed findings from excavations in the three ancient cities of Amorgos too: Minoa, Arkesini and Aegiali.
4. Marvel at the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa
The most important religious monument of Amorgos is worth a visit. It’s a unique monastery not only in Greece but in the entire world. The Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa offers stunning views and also a special festival (21st of November) which honors Virgin Mary.
5. Discover the “Olympia” Shipwreck at Kato Meria
In the region of Kato Meria lies a mysterious attraction. The shipwreck of “Olympia” with a Cypriot flag is half-submerged on the shores of a quiet bay in southwestern Amorgos.
It sank in February 1980 when it was stuck in a heavy storm. The anchor broke and the sea water flooded the ship in Liveros Bay in the area of Kalotaritissa. The whole crew was saved by going ashore.
6. Enjoy the Beach Vibe and Nightlife of Aegiali
Aegiali is popular among young people and tourists because of its camping sites, splendid beaches and facilities. On its beautiful beach there are many options for coffee and food. The bars there will not let you sleep at night, if you give your consent.
7. Uncover the Ancient Civilisations of Amorgos
If you’re interested it would be great to take a look at the ancient civilizations of Amorgos. Archaeological excavations have revealed the ruins of ancient walls, sanctuaries and buildings on the island. You will have the opportunity to explore ancient cities.
8. Spend a Few Days at the Beautiful Katapola
Discover the wild beauty of another settlement with magical beaches, Katapola! Remember to visit Panagia Katapoliani. This is an ancient orthodox church with stunning Cycladic architecture. Also have a look at the elegantly decorated and full of colors gift shop.
9. Taste the Delicious Local Cuisine of Amorgos
There’s a real diversity of traditional Greek plates in the kitchens of Amorgos. They are waiting to satisfy even the most demanding palates. Make sure you try xerotigana (fried pies with white beet and fennel) and ladotyri (sheep’s milk cheese stored in olive oil).
One of the best places to enjoy a meal or drink is the beach bar “Disco the Que”. It’s open all day and night and you get the feeling when you’re there that the time literally stops. There are hammocks under trees, books to read and awesome sunset spots.
Also a great recommendation if you need a sugar hit is the famous pastry shop Kallisto in Chora. Here you can enjoy a variety of tasty homemade sweets. Have your drinks and sweets outside on the blue tables and people-watch with a nice Amorgian breeze.
10. Try a Shot of Local Raki on Amorgos
You can’t leave Amorgos without trying a shot of traditional raki. But try not to drink it right before you leave on a ferry ride. You might feel a bit dizzy! You will find this drink in all of the taverns and bars on Amorgos. Buying a bottle to take home is not a bad idea too.
Meeting the Soulful Locals of Amorgos
Amorgos is a typical Greek community with an open mind, a great soul and always welcoming hearts. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, the owner welcomed us with a drink and informed us about the highlights and hidden gems of Amorgos.
The locals we met were always happy to help us. Owners of hotels and waiters/waitresses at taverns would welcome us with warm hearts and big smiles. At the feast of Agios Phanourios in Tholaria, I had the chance to immerse myself in the local way of life.
The locals at this feast were all friendly and they offered us at least four pieces of different pies. We were invited to dinner at the courtyard of the chapel. During the dinner, they were telling us many stories from their childhood on Amorgos.
For example, they told us that in the 1960s no roads had been built on Amorgos and the children had to go to school on donkeys. Also, during the same period, there was no public lighting and the people were getting around with lanterns at night.
Today, many of them live in the mainland of Greece, mostly in Athens. Only a few families live on Amorgos right through winter.
Best Places to Stay in Amorgos
Wherever you decide to stay in Amorgos you will be satisfied. The atmosphere everywhere is amazing. You can stay in one of the three largest settlements: Chora, Katapola or Aegiali. There is a great number of beautiful and convenient places to stay.
I would like to point out that there are no big hotels in Chora, only smaller guesthouses. If you do not have a car, these three settlements are accessible by bus with frequent itineraries.
I decided to stay at Katapola because it is the main harbor of the island. Katapola has all the necessary tourist facilities and it’s just as charming as Chora. My accommodation was Villa Katapoliani – a perfect seaside studio equipped with a stunning view of the sea.
A Unique Experience with Matoula Zamani
One of my favorite experiences I had in Amorgos was the last night I spent in Chora. Although I do not often listen to music, I happened to be wandering down an alleyway which was flooded in artificial light.
I heard an enchanting voice coming out of the alleyway and from one particular nightclub. It was the voice of the singer Matoula Zamani. I confess that I didn’t know her but my sister told me that she lives there.
That nightclub was crowded and the people were even sitting outside the bar down on the stone-paved road. It was a pleasure for me to sit amongst them under the clear starry sky and to whisper with them the lyrics of the songs we were listening to.
It was like we were a big company who was enjoying a serene summer night. It was the first time on my vacations that I felt so close to strangers. I will remember that night for a long time.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Before you visit Amorgos you should definitely watch The Big Blue. This will give you a good look at those famous blue waters.
I believe Amorgos is the perfect holiday destination for nature lovers. Its unique landscapes are suitable for mountain hiking. There are seven main paths that have been marked out with the aim of providing visitors access to the most impressive natural sights.
Another useful travel tip is that Amorgos is the favorite island of those who love camping. There are three camping sites on the island and the most popular are located close to the beaches in Aegiali.
My last and most important tip that I can give is to just relax and enjoy your time. The most important thing to bring is a positive mood. Amorgos will take care of everything else with its wild beauty, rich cultural heritage, sparkling beaches and lovely sunsets.