Chios: Exploring a New 92-km Hiking Route

We travel the new 92-km route that connects World Heritage and Natura 2000 sites across western Chios, showcasing the island’s incredible natural beauty.


Trails that smell of oregano or resin wind through the mountains and plains of this unique island in the Northern Aegean, passing by Byzantine monasteries, old mines, abandoned villages, and stone-built castle-villages to reach beaches with crystal-clear waters. Thanks to an idea by the Friends of Chios’ Trails Association, the North Aegean Region has cleared, signposted, and joined old trails into a single network that spans from the mastic trees and olive groves in the south to the wild beauty, plane trees, and flowing waters in the north.

The island’s main hiking axis begins at the picturesque port of Lithi to the southwest, one of the 24 mastic villages, and travels through many well-known and unknown sights before ending at the Agiasmata Thermal Baths in the northwest. If 92 kilometers seems too long, you can choose one of the eight smaller routes that comprise it. You can walk to or from the historic monasteries of Nea Moni, Aghioi Pateres, and Moundon, visit the medieval villages of Anavatos and Avgonima, pass through the old antimony mines of Keramos and see the abandoned village of Palia Potamia, as well as Volissos’ watermills and threshing floors. 

 

For those who enjoy hiking, Chios offers an unofficial geopark featuring a variety of landscapes, numerous distinctive landmarks, and an abundance of activities, such as hydrotherapy, inhalation therapy, wine tasting, and birdwatching, which can be combined with hiking based on your interests.

Avgonima-Lithi; the old Ottoman road

The route that connects the pre-medieval village of Avgonima in central Chios to the sandy beach of Lithi offers breathtaking views of the town of Chios and the Aegean. You can begin your journey in this picturesque castle-village, complete with traditional stone houses and cobblestone streets, and end in Lithi for a swim or fresh fish.

This 16-kilometer route passes through the Monastery of Aghioi Pateres and Nea Moni, an 11th-century monastery with remarkable mosaics and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The trail then continues along the old 19th-century Ottoman stone road, which provides unobstructed views of the island’s western coast and leads to the small port of Lithi. If you don’t have much time, you can walk only the final section of the route, from the Fa area to Lithi. It’s an easy hike, lasting about an hour and a half, which at this time of year is fragrant with smells of oregano and sage.

Katavasi – Volissos; the path of the watermills

Begin at the chapel of Aghia Matrona in northwest Chios and follow the old trail to the lush settlement of Katavasi and the village of Diefha. One kilometer further north is the Monastery of Moundon of Aghios Ioannis Prodromos, which sits at an elevation of 300 metres on the slopes of Mount Pelinnaio, Chios’ highest mountain range. The three-kilometer walk to Panagia ton Neromylon (“Virgin of the Water Mills”) begins at this historic monastery, which served as a refuge during Ottoman rule. Here, you will come across four old watermills, one of which is well preserved, and in many places, you will follow the irrigation channel that brought water from the Malagiotis River to the church of Aghios.

Next, an old trail will take you from this church with its impressive red and white facade with stone columns to Volissos, the largest village in northwest Chios. At the top of the settlement, which is built amphitheatrically on the site of the ancient city of Volissos or Voliskos, where Homer is said to have lived, you can see the remains of a Byzantine castle. It is also worth purchasing bread from Mr. Aris’ traditional wood oven. The moderately difficult route spans 11.9 kilometres.

Halandra – Agiasmata; the paths of mines and wine

Some of the more interesting sections of the of the 92-kilometer network are found between Halandra and the coastal settlement of Agiasmata. You can start your journey from this small village, built at an elevation of 455 metres, and descend to the sea. 

From Halandra, follow the old path east towards the village of Keramos, where you will come across the tunnels and abandoned buildings of the antimony mines that were once in the area. When you arrive in the village of Leptopoda, you can stop at Embolo, a small, traditional self-service café. From Leptopoda, you descend to the Thermal Baths of Agiasmata, which are located at the island’s northernmost point. You can enjoy the waters of the thermal spring (61°C), which gave the area its name.

 

Alternatively, travel northwest from Halandra to the villages of Afrodisia, Kourounia, and Egrigoros. In the Sofos area, you will come across Ariousios, a small winery that has revived the production of the famous ancient Ariousios wine. It’s worth trying the unique Chiotic krassero local variety, as well as other award-winning wines exported to numerous countries. Then, to reach the Agiasmata thermal baths, take the downhill path that is lined with wild asparagus, blooming lupins, and rare orchids at this time of year.

The Chios Regional Unit website provides detailed trail information and interactive maps for the hiking network.



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