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Hiking from Ermoupoli to Kini (Syros)

Syros is small enough to hike across its width and back in a day, with time to hang around in the middle, if you start early. I didn't go there and back yesterday though, instead spending some extra time to explore the western side of the island more. Here's the GPS trace on Runkeeper.

A map of Syros with a GPS line and mile markers drawn from east to west

I started from Lazarate, and headed around the back of Ermoupoli, up the hills until it was mostly fields, with a few scattered houses. Great views over Ermoupoli, Ano Syros, and the bay the whole way. I reached the village of Episkopio and left the main road to pick up the hiking trail. At the start of the trail I met a tiny cerberus.. or.. three medium sized barking dogs who were neither tied up nor behind a fence. Unequipped for battling mythological monsters that day, I backed up, retreated all the way to the turn-off to Alithini, and continued along the main road instead. This was a bit longer, basically going around the other side of the hill to the hiking trail (the east side rather than west), and probably less nice terrain but also goes a bit higher and provides continuing specatcular views of Ermoupoli and the sea, and at the peak in a small spot you can see the sea in both directions at once.

Fluffy white clouds in a blue sky; green grass in the foreground; a sprawling white town over hills, by the sea A concrete road leads to a small white church with a bell; hills in the distance are half green, half covered white a white town A view between two trees shows a distant white chapel A stone wall in the foreground, in front of a steeply climbing hill of grey-green gorse with sandy rocks at the top and a blue sky A concrete road curves around to the left, with gorse on both sides, a blue sky and a wind turbline in the distance View across the bay with grass in the foreground and white houses on the hills, ships in the port Sandy covered rocks with gorse and the blue sea in the distance

Then the descent began, with a view of Kini and its bay the whole way. There are some spectacular rock formations, and lots of quartz and glittering stones in the ground. I managed to get off the main road for the final descent to the village, after spotting some stairs and a small sign to the right.

Rolling green hills with a small town around a distant bay with blue sea A tree and a wooden sign with an arrow that says Kini 20' in Greek with green hills and sea in the background Stone steps with grass poking through climb up a gorsey hill; a white domed church in the distance

It took 2 hours to walk from Ermoupoli to Kini, with the diversion. I wandered around Kini, which was quiet but not deserted. Feels more like a summer-town though. The beach is nice, and there's a pier with steps straight into the sea for swimming. I couldn't find the bus stop, so asked someone who told me it's by the mermaid fountain. There's no sign there, and she didn't know the schedule. But I had plenty of time before the probable last bus, and it wasn't too far to walk back if I missed it anyway.

A green statue of a mermaid holding a man beside a palm tree with blue sea in the background Blue green sea with a metal ladder going in from a concrete platform A concrete road leads to the sea with houses and trees on each side A sandy beach beside shallow blue sea with a hill in the background Sun falls through trees onto sand and sea with rocks

The trail to Delphini, just around the coast to the north, takes about 30 minutes and is not for the faint of heart. To find the start, follow the beach around to the north, along the road a bit and up the last stone steps you can see, past a small house. From there it's just a narrow dirt path through the gorse that creeps veeery close to a sheer drop to the sea and jagged rocks below in some places. It was really beautiful of course, with deep green-blue sea.

A narrow dirt trail runs along a gorse-covered hill by the sea A narrow dirt trail runs into the distance along a gorse-covered hill by the sea The side of a hill with blue sky, scrub grass, gorse, and interesting sticking up rocks A close up of rippled blue and white veined quartz A beach at the foot of a hill in the distance; gorse hillside in the foreground Looking down on clear green blue sea breaking on rocks Deep blue clear sea at the base of a steep drop

Delphini seemed empty. There's a beach bar (closed), and a few houses which are probably summer rentals. Delphini beach was described to me as 'wild', but I read somewhere that the next beach over, Varvaroussa, is truely untouched, so I continued on.

A grit and sand beach runs into the distance with green hills and blue sea A sandy beach with straw sun umbrellas making two rows down the center; waves breaking on the left

The trail to Varvaroussa starts just up the hill from the beach bar (there's a lower down trail that doesn't go all the way). This was high up the side of the cliff too, but a more gentle slope down so you wouldn't get thrown directly into the ocean if a big gust of wind came, but roll through the gorse a bit.. That is until you get past the big sticky-out bit, and around to the next bay, with Varvaroussa in view. Then it's a challenging rocky scramble, over a trail that would be impossible to see without the helpful presence of red dots painted on rocks at intervals. The red dots could also be a practical joke to lure gullible hikers to their doom. I made it though, in about 35 minutes, so I assume they were done with good intentions.

Looking up at a steep rocky gorse covered hill and blue sky A view out to the ocean where a gorse covered piece of land sticks out in a club-shape A distant beach surrounded by rocky hills with a clear blue bay A deep blue sea with rocky islands in a bay A wide sandy beach from above, in a bay with green sea A view up a steep rocky hillside to blue sky A view down over gorse and diagonally slanted straight rocks sticking out of the hillside

Varvaroussa is not attached to the rest of the world by road; the only way there from any direction is scrambling over the hills, so it really is wild. Looking back at the direction I'd come, there was no clear route in or out. There were a couple of old abandoned-looking stone houses in the hillside, and the rambling stone walls you see everywhere, but nothing else. I sat alone, cut off from the world; ate my lunch, went for a swim. The sun was warm, but it was also windy despite the sheltered feeling of the bay so the sea wasn't especially calm and pretty bloody cold. I didn't swim long.

A sandy beach curves around to the right lapped by blue and white sea A sandy beach, lapping waves, and rocky island in the distance A sandy beach leads to rocky hills under a blue sky A sandy beach is lapped by blue sea, interrupted by rocks stickout of the ocean and sand Foamy waves from the water's edge A steep hill with rocks and gorse

I packed up and returned the way I'd come, because there's pretty much no other option. The first few minutes was a direct, almost vertical climb, guided by red dots, that felt much steeper going up than it had coming down. From Delphini I took the road back to Kini, for a change of scene. I asked after the bus schedule in cafe Aepiko, and they looked it up online for me; the next and last bus to Ermoupoli was at 17.20, about 2 hours time. I stayed for a coffee and split pea hummus.

At the bus stop, I made some catfriends and watched the sun set. Kini is famous (apparently) for its stunning beach sunsets, but in the winter the angle is a bit off and it dips behind a hill instead of into the ocean.

The silhouette of a statue of a woman holding a man in front of a pale orange sunset over the ocean Two tabby cats hanging out on sand and pavement A black and white cat sits on top of a wall that is painted with purple and black pawprints Sunset over a distant hill with the ocean in the foreground Sky is yellow and purple as the sun has just set in the distance, with the sea and a palm tree silhouette

At 1725 there was still no bus and I was starting to feel the cold. And my legs hurt. I no longer fancied walking the return journey. Then the waiter from the cafe drove past, and stopped. He was heading back to Ano Syros, and offered me a ride. Sometimes I really wonder when my continuous good fortune while traveling will run out. (We passed the bus after 5 minutes though.)

I had to haul myself back up the hill to Lazarate though, and when I got home my knees and hips were insisting I'd walked 20 miles, not 11. Maybe it was the steep climbs, or maybe because I haven't hiked for 2 weeks, or maybe I'm just getting old.

The rest of the photos are here.

🏷 hiking travel greece syros