The Aegean is a crown that has many jewels, and one of them is Amorgos island in the southern part of the Cyclades. It’s no accident that this is the island where the movie The Big Blue was filmed: at Amorgos, you will be surrounded by the gorgeous azure of the Aegean sea as you explore the island’s beautiful beaches, its picturesque villages and its breathtaking natural landscape, or sample its delectable local cuisine.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I will receive a small commission if you click on certain links and subsequently purchase a product.
- Where is Amorgos?
- How to get to Amorgos
- Where to stay in Amorgos
- A brief history of Amorgos
- Things to do in Amorgos
Exploring Amorgos is exploring a gorgeous island, a little bit of Aegean paradise, with lush history and natural beauty that will give you some of the best memories and unique vacations. To make the most of your time at beautiful Amorgos, read on to learn everything you need to know about it.
Where is Amorgos?
Amorgos is part of the Cyclades, situated on the southeast side of the island cluster, south of Mykonos and Naxos and north of Santorini. It is long and narrow in shape, with an interesting morphology of several hills and little valleys that feature beautiful olive grows and low vegetation. Amorgos is known for being covered in herbs, scenting the air with unique fragrances, and, during Spring, filling the scene with wildflowers.
Amorgos combines the arid, sundried scenery that contrasts with the deep blue of the Aegean with the subtle touches of nature here and there. Like all of the Cycladic islands, Amorgos also has the iconic summer wind: the Meltemi. The Meltemi is a highly seasonal northern wind that can be pretty strong. It usually peaks during August.
You can expect generally the Meltemi to blow during the day and ease up during the night, though that isn’t always the case. Thanks to the Meltemi, though, you will be protected from feeling the scorching, unforgiving heat of the Greek summer that can reach 40 degrees Celsius! While the Meltemi blows, the air cools and makes it easier for you to explore, even during heat waves.
The best time to visit Amorgos is during the summer, which for Greece is from mid-May to late September. If you want to avoid big crowds and the brunt of the Meltemi weather, then you want to visit Amorgos during June or early July and during September.
Especially during September, you can get the best of summer services and amenities without the big crowds and without the Meltemi, with the sea being its most mellow. August is the peak of the high season, so be prepared for somewhat higher prices and more crowds.
How to get to Amorgos
The only way to reach Amorgos is by ferry. You can take the boat from Athens’ port Piraeus directly to Amorgos. The trip lasts roughly 6 to 7 hours, so you might want to book a cabin if you want to be rested when you get there.
Alternatively, you could fly to Santorini and then take the boat to Amorgos, which can cut a few hours from your trip but might be more expensive.
Or enter your destination below:
Where to stay in Amorgos
Aegiali Hotel & Spa: this hotel is in the Aegiali village and features an Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool. Breakfast offers homemade jams and other local delicacies to the guests. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Casaprimavera: this hotel is located in Katapola village and close to the port and Katapola Beach. It offers homemade breakfast to the guests as well as stunning views of the village. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
A brief history of Amorgos
Legend has it that King Minos, of the opulent Minoan civilization, built and founded a second illustrious kingdom at Amorgos. Historically, there is solid evidence that the island has been inhabited since the end of the Neolithic age, around 4000 BC. After that, during the rise of the Cycladic civilization, Amorgos seems to have played an important role as there were discovered no fewer than twelve citadels and two cemeteries from that era.
As we move on to the Archaic era, Amorgos was inhabited by Ionian Greeks, who made the island a hub of civilization, commerce, and shipping. Amorgos became a hub of huge economic and social development well into the Classical era. It is mentioned as having taken part in the Persian wars and especially the battle of Salamis, where it contributed one ship to the allied Greek fleet.
After Alexander the Great swept Greece, Amorgos became part of the kingdom and was influenced by the Ptolemies, who were based in Egypt. Amorgos remained very important as a trade and economic hub during all these centuries and well into the Roman era. But when the Roman empire began declining, so did Amorgos, and a lot of its monuments fell into disrepair.
Amorgos then became part of the Byzantine empire and later on came under the rule of the Venetians. The Venetians, though, were unable to truly bolster the island, and it constantly fell prey to the pirates of the area, which caused many inhabitants to simply abandon it for safer places, such as Crete.
From around the 1500s to 1821, Amorgos became part of the Ottoman Empire and enjoyed autonomy, functioning as a tiny democracy within the empire. During the preparation for the Greek War of Independence of 1821, many prominent people of Amorgos participated and then, when it broke out, fought for the island’s independence. When the Greek state was founded, Amorgos became part of it as its own municipality.
Things to do in Amorgos
Amorgos is extremely authentic, and tourist crowds are relatively tame compared to other Cycladic islands. Its charm and allure are such that you will immerse yourself in its calm simplicity. That said, there are many unique places to see and a lot of things to do in Amorgos, so here is a short list of what you simply must not miss out!
Explore Amorgos’ Chora
The main town of Amorgos, Chora, is simply stunning in its authenticity and beauty. Being the main town of Amorgos since medieval times, it is a reminder of how once pirates were the scourge of the Aegean. People left the coast and built their towns up the mountains, choosing vantage points to be able to see pirates coming, and that’s exactly how Chora was built.
Its whitewashed, traditional houses are iconic of the Cycladic architecture that is so recognizable and offer a tableau for the splash of color from the bougainvilleas and other plants in clay pots. Follow the beautiful, narrow paved pathways up the slope and enjoy the medieval churches and beautiful windmills. Have your coffee at the gorgeous Laza square and then visit the medieval castle, the Kastro, that reigns over the town.
Visit the Kastro
The castle offers breathtaking views of the entire island and the great blue of the Aegean sea. It was built during the Venetian era, in the 13th century, to guard against pirate attacks. It is quite well preserved, standing at the top of a tall, craggy rock. You can get to the Kastro by following the quaint paved pathways of Chora. Usually, it is closed, but you can ask to be allowed in if you do so in advance and ask for permission at Laza square. Make sure to visit before sundown!
Visit Hozoviotissa Monastery
Roughly 1km from Chora, you will find the famed monastery of Hozoviotissa. It is the second oldest monastery complex in all of Greece, and it is guaranteed to take your breath away! The monastery is built on the cliffside, high up over the small beach with brilliant water. It was built by the Byzantine emperor Alexius Komnenos I in the 11th century, after an icon of the Virgin Mary from Palestine that was considered miraculous was mysteriously found in the area.
Go up the many steps leading to the monastery, which is eight floors high with several narrow, maze-like pathways, staircases, and archways. Visit the church housing the icon and listen to the stories and history of the monastery from the monks, that will treat you and chat with you as you enjoy the gorgeous views from the ancient windows.
Katapola is the main port of Amorgos. It’s located 6 km from Chora and has three beautiful regions for you to explore. The port itself is very picturesque, with modern sailboats and traditional fishing boats bobbing on the glistening surface of the port’s clear water. The area is also quite verdant, so you will have lots of shade as you explore the large bay. Enjoy your coffee at the various cafés or have a delicious meal in its many taverns.
Aegialis is a gorgeous village on Amorgos’ northeast side. It is clustered around the island’s second-largest port after Katapola, and it is quite popular with locals and tourists. The whitewashed houses have picturesque, vibrant doors and shutters, complementing the splashes of color from the wild nature that embraces them.
Walk along the beautiful bay and the port with the quaint boats and fisher boats, enjoy your coffee or your meal at the various cafés and restaurants, and imbue yourself in the authentic traditional atmosphere of the village that has been meticulously preserved despite the advent of tourism. Don’t forget to hit the beach, either!
Explore the villages
Amorgos is full of beautiful villages, each with its unique flair and beauty. If you have time, it’s worth visiting them all in one unforgettable road trip! But if you can’t, here are the few that you shouldn’t miss out on:
Tholaria: Tholaria village is 18km from Chora, built 182 meters above sea level. The views and vistas you can experience from Tholaria are truly breathtaking. The village itself is a very traditional settlement, with the white contrasting with the ochre and the blue. Make sure you visit the village’s church for one of the most sweeping views of the island you can see, and if you’re in Amorgos in July, stick around for the local panigyri on July 1st! Enjoy local hospitality, tradition, and fun!
Lagada: 20km from Chora, you will find a tiny oasis of a village amidst the arid, hilly landscape. Lagada is uniquely popular because it combines that landscape with proximity to the sea and beautiful nature around the village. Lagada is picturesque with its traditional, iconic Cycladic architecture and narrow-paved pathways. You can also use it as your starting point for exploring some of the beautiful churches and monasteries in the area.
Arkesini: The oldest village of Amorgos is located 15km from Chora and is very near the 3000BC ancient settlement that also has the same name! Visit this small but gorgeous village sitting in a valley among the hills. Explore the old, traditional pathways and houses, and venture out to the ancient sites.
Visit the sites
Ancient Aegialis (Vigla): The archaeological site of ancient Aegialis had been inhabited since the 10th century BC, and Vigla (the name means “lookout”) was the location of its acropolis. You can walk to the site from Aegialis village, but keep in mind there is no shade, and you need to keep yourself hydrated! Going to ancient Aegialis, you will see the remains of its outer walls, some interesting carvings, and some statues from the Hellenistic period- and of course, the gorgeous bird’s eye view.
Ancient Arkesini: Also called “Kastri” (little castle), ancient Arkesini is a settlement that was continuously inhabited from the 10th century BC to roughly medieval times. Its tall tower is considered one of the best-preserved ancient monuments of the Cyclades and it offers a stunning view.
Ancient Minoa: Located right over the port of Katapola, ancient Minoa was an ancient Cretan mansion that was the summer residence of the king of ancient Crete. Explore it all as it is an extensive settlement complete with traces of a Gymnasium and other structures.
Visit the museums
Archaeological museum: It is located in Chora. It is housed in a monument, Gavras Tower, which is one of the few surviving Venetian towers on the island. Within it, you will see very interesting collections of ancient artifacts from excavations all over Amorgos. From pottery to parts of entire temples to weapons and more, from prehistoric times to Roman times, all the exhibits will give you a taste of the island’s lush history.
Folklore museum: This museum is small but no less interesting and worth visiting! Also located in Chora, it is a full representation and depiction of how a household in Amorgos would be a few centuries ago, complete with outfits and costumes iconic of old Amorgos and its local culture.
Hit the beaches
Amorgos has no shortage of gorgeous beaches for you to enjoy. In fact, anywhere you go it will be pretty. But here are a few that you should make a point of visiting while you’re there!
Mouros beach: This slightly remote beach- you need to walk for 10 minutes to get to it- is 12km from Chora. Its sloped shore contrasts beautifully with the clear azure of the sea. It’s pebbly and not organized, so you have to bring your own shade! Because it’s so secluded, it is also nudist-friendly.
Aegiali beach: This is one of the most popular beaches of Amorgos, and with good reason! It’s long, sandy, with turquoise waters, and lined with trees as a natural shade. Keep in mind that it may be crowded on occasion! This beach is organized, and there’s even a diving club available.
Katapola beach: Another beach competing for the title of most popular in Amorgos, this is sandy and stretching out, lined with taverns and cafés, so you won’t have any need to look for refreshments! It’s somewhat organized and very family-friendly, so keep that in mind. It also has a diving club available.
Finikes beach: This is a remote beach for those that love wild sceneries and no tourists. The beach is 7 km from Chora. It is pebbled and surrounded by cliffs, offering a unique experience. The waters are crystal clear, and the ambiance is perfect for relaxation.
Kato Kambos beach: It’s also called the fjord of Amorgos; it’s a narrow, deep bay lined with a beautiful beach of fine sand for you to enjoy and explore. It is often quite secluded so that you will have privacy. It isn’t organized at all, so you should bring what you’ll be needing with you- especially shade.
Check out: The best beaches in Amorgos.
Visit the shipwreck
In the south part of Amorgos, there is a beach called Kalotaritissa. It’s, like all of Amorgos’ beaches, quite beautiful! But its uniqueness lies in that it’s the resting place of the 1980s shipwreck. This was a commercial ship that was pushed off course by very strong winds and ended up smashing against the rocks.
The crew could abandon it in time, so there was no loss of life. The ship has remained there ever since, and it’s a tourist attraction thanks to its otherworldly beauty as it slowly deteriorates. While the ship’s name wasn’t that, it was given the name Olympia, and that’s how it’s known around the island.
Do some hiking
Amorgos is well known in Greece for being gorgeous not only in its villages but also in its wild nature with the herbs and the unusual cliffs and hillsides, as well as the sweeping, stunning views. So what better way to enjoy them all than going hiking along some of its most famous hiking paths?
There are options for beginners and advanced hikers alike, all beautiful and exceptionally scenic. There are eight hiking paths that you can take, and here are some of the most popular routes:
Palia Strata path (Chora to Aegialis): This is the longest hiking path, with an average walking time of 2 hours. Its name means “old road” because, before the modern road system, this path was the main avenue of trade and goods circulation. You will be transversing the entire island, starting from Chora, going past Hozoviotissa monastery, and eventually ending up in Aegialis! It’s remarkably scenic and has some of the best views on the menu!
Fotodotis path: This is a rather easy hiking path that will have you walking for 40 minutes, and a lot of it is a descending slope! You will start from the back end of Chora and go north, ending in Katapola for a refreshing dunk in the water!
Itonia path: This is a great one for lovers of history, as the path connects the two ancient cities of Amorgos, Minoa, and Arkesini! You will start from Arkesini and walk for roughly 3-4 hours through nature and gorgeous views, past Vroutsis village, and ending up at Minoa, just over Chora.
Do some scuba diving.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or an advanced scuba diver, consider going scuba diving while you’re in Amorgos. There is a very acting scuba diving scene thanks to Amorgos’ seabed, which is rich in undersea life, reefs, and even shipwrecks!
Pick one of Amorgos’ diving schools and go on an undersea adventure in one of its many undersea sites, such as the underwater cave at Aghios Pavlos beach or the shipwreck near the islet of Sinopi that sank in 1981!
Sample the food
Amorgos is famous for a lot of the local produce, food, and local dishes, so make sure you sample them all, but especially the following that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else:
The honey: Amorgos is full of thyme, low bushes, and wildflowers, so its honey is some of the highest quality, both the pure thyme varieties. Research indicates that the bees that make this honey are a local subspecies, so it’s doubly special!
Roasted raki: This unique type of alcoholic drink is at its best at the monastery of Hozoviotissa, made by the monk that takes care of the entire complex! When you visit the monastery, he will treat you with shots of roasted raki and some doughnuts!
The cheeses: Many different local cheeses are made in Amorgos, and you should sample them all, from the mizithra and anthotyri (the name means flower cheese) to the different varieties of kopanisti, which you spread on bread. They have unique tastes, and the locals will show you what they go best with.
The herbs: Amorgos’ herbs are of exquisite quality. From thyme and oregano to sage, rosemary, and mallow, their fragrance is going to add a unique elevation to your meal or your drink.
The bread and rusks: Amorgians make their own flour, so the bread is uniquely tasty, and so are the rusks that go great with the cheeses.
Split peas from katsuni: This type of split peas are also unique to Amorgos and are unlike the one you may have tasted in Santorini (or from there). They yield a creamy dish cooked slowly over the fire or make into deep-fried balls called favokroketes.
The potato: This is Amorgos’ most famous and popular dish; it’s goat meat cooked overnight, very slowly, with potatoes so that all the juices come together into something delicious!
Cheese pies of Amorgos: These deep-fried hot pockets are filled with cheese and herbs for a fragrant delight! They’re excellent as a snack as well as a quick lunch.
Kavourmas: Another traditional dish that is made from pork marinated in herbs and then fried in fat, then kept in the fridge to use as an ingredient for omelets that you will love!
Amorgian pastel: The iconic sweet from Amorgos is a sesame bar made with honey and cinnamon that is soft and chewy or very dry and crunchy, depending on your preference. Pack it for your hiking for a high-energy and irresistible treat!