Rugged cliffs that plunge into the deep blue waters of the sea; spectacular sunsets and whitewashed villages with a mysterious aura; ancient roads that criss-cross the bare, rocky landscape; stunning mountain ridges with panoramic views of the Aegean; and one of the most beautiful capitals in the Cyclades.Thirty years after it achieved cinematic immortality in “Le Grand Bleu”, Amorgos remains a jewel of raw natural beauty and unparalleled energy. This tranquil paradise on the eastern edge of the Cycladic archipelago is a perfect place for relaxation and reflection, and for those who want to take their holiday at a slower pace.It is a proud, pristine and genuinely hospitable island, offering a festival of sights, sounds and scents beneath the dazzling Mediterranean sun to those who choose a ferry ticket to Amorgos.
10 reasons to visit Amorgos
- To look out over the Aegean Sea from the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, the island’s most iconic landmark. Built in 1088, it clings to a sheer cliff-face 300 metres above sea level, creating the impression that it is suspended in the void. Climbing the 350 steps to the monastery courtyard is an extraordinary experience. Make sure you enter the guest quarters, where you will be treated to the excellent local liqueur, called psimeni raki, and Turkish delight.
- To get lost in the narrow, maze-like alleys and vaulted passages of Amorgos Town, one of the most beautiful capitals in the Cyclades. Invisible from the sea, it is an attractive setting full of paved streets, whitewashed houses with brightly coloured doors and shutters, courtyards full of the scent of jasmine, countless churches, and arty cafes. This architectural jewel stands in the shadow of a 13th century Venetian castle.
- To spend time in Tholaria, one of the most atmospheric villages in the Cyclades. Built in the shape of an amphitheatre 200 metres above the bay of Aegiali, it seems almost to touch the clouds. As you wander the winding cobbled streets with their arches and secret passages, you will find that the otherworldly silence exerts a strange fascination. Stay until dusk and watch the harbour below gradually twinkling with light as night falls.
- To climb up the hillside with the 11 half-demolished windmills above the neighbourhood of Troullos in Amorgos Town to admire these monuments of folk architecture that have stood proudly for centuries.
- To visit the historic monastery of St. George the Balsamite (8th century). According to tradition, in ancient times this was a site of hydromancy, whereby prophecies were made on the basis of how water in a spring reacted when pebbles were dropped into it.
- To explore the Tower of Gavras (in Amorgos Town), a beautiful 16th century Venetian mansion that houses the Archaeological Museum. Its collection includes finds from the island’s three ancient cities (Aegiali, Minoa and Arkesini), mainly sculptures and inscriptions.
- To enjoy unforgettable moments on the exotic beaches of the uninhabited islet of Nikouria, nicknamed “Nicaragua” by the locals. You can get there by boat from Saint Paul beach.
- To discover the old cafes of Amorgos, unique monuments of folk architecture and tradition that remain unchanged by time. From the worn terrazzo floors to the vibrant colours of the painted walls, they reflect the atmosphere of bygone days. You will find them in Tholaria, Langada, Katapola and Arkesini, and they are worth a visit if you choose the ferry to Amorgos.
- To wander around the ruins of the Venetian castle on the rock above Amorgos Town, next to the small church of St George, just before sunset. The panoramic views of the town and the Aegean are magnificent.
- 10. To enjoy a Greek coffee made in hot ash, accompanied by a traditional fruit preserve, on the main square of Loza, with a stunning view of the windmills.
The top 5 beaches
Saint Anna: The island’s most famous – and most photographed – beach is a small sandy cove surrounded by steep rocks below the Hozoviotissa Monastery. The rocks act as natural platforms for anyone wanting to dive into the deep blue waters of the sea, which, because of its extraordinary clarity, is ideal for snorkelling.Saint Paul: One of the most exotic beaches on Amorgos, just 300 metres from the tiny island of Nikouria. The beach combines sand and white pebbles, while there is also a narrow spit of land here that stretches out into the turquoise sea. The waters are calm, making them ideal for families with children, and for fishing. It lacks any formal amenities, but the food at the taverna here is delicious.Mourou: A small stretch of coast with grey sand and thin black pebbles surrounded by steep, imposing rocks. The cool turquoise waters complement the enchanting scenery, while at one end of the beach are two sea caves that are ideal for swimming or snorkelling. Mourou is located near Kamari and Arkesini, south of Amorgos Town, and is a ten-minute walk down a path. Although it has no formal amenities, there is a small taverna offering the essentials.Levrosos: A paradise of fine golden sand and shallow emerald waters in the northern part of Amorgos, with natural shade provided by a cluster of tamarisk trees. The beach is protected by steep hills and is an ideal haven for lovers of quiet and seclusion. It is easy to get to from Tholaria (via a path) or by boat from Aegiali.Maltezi: One of the island’s most beautiful beaches, northwest of Katapola, with fine golden sand and blue-green waters. It is an especially attractive spot when the north wind picks up during the meltemi season, as it is well-protected. Amenities include a beach bar and sunbeds. The easiest way of getting here is by boat from Katapola (every 30 or 60 minutes), while lovers of hiking will enjoy the 20-minute walk along a trail from the village of Xylokeratidi.
Don’t leave Amorgos without…
- Sampling a glass of rakomelo (a raki and honey drink) at one of the island’s tavernas and cafes as the locals stage impromptu performances on the violin or lute, sing songs and even recite poems.
- Staying up late to enjoy refreshing cocktails beneath the stars while listening to jazz at one of Aegiali’s beach bars.
- Taking an evening stroll to Platysteno, the central paved street of Amorgos Town, with its dozens of café-bars, tavernas and picturesque shops.
- Visiting the Chapel of the Holy Trinity in Langada, a tiny white box of just six square metres that clings to a sheer cliff-face.
- Taking a selfie in front of the rusting half-submerged ship “Olympia” in Kato Meria (in the bay of Kalotaritissa), one of the most mysterious sights on the island.
- Exploring Langada, one of Amorgos’s most beautiful villages, with its white houses, courtyards full of flowers, picturesque tavernas and panoramic views of the island.
- Experiencing the peaceful rural setting of the agricultural part of Amorgos known as Kato Meria, where the villages of Arkesini, Kamari, Kalotaritissa, Vroutsi, and Kolofana have stood since time immemorial.
- Making a stop at the deserted settlement of Asfondylitis (on the road from Aegiali to Amorgos Town), famous for the 200 or so rock pictures that adorn the area. Mainly featuring musicians and dancers, they were made in the late 19th century by a disabled child, Michalis Roussos, who used to spend his time carving elaborate scenes from everyday village life on stones, rocks and even the walls of houses.
- Discovering the local countryside on the island’s historic hiking trails, well-preserved ancient paved paths that follow breathtaking routes between the villages. There are eight trails with varying degrees of difficulty (Palia Strata, Fotodotis, Itonia, Melania, Pan, Valsamitis, the Old Mills of Langada, and Evangelistria).
- Taking a boat-trip around the island to discover amazing inaccessible beaches and unique spots for underwater exploration and diving adventures.
- If you choose the ferry to Amorgos, you should definitely try psimeni raki (a homemade liqueur made by boiling raki with honey, spices and dried fruit), which is always served hot.
- Taste the famous patatato (goat or lamb with red sauce and potatoes in the oven) and kalogiro (aubergines with meat, tomato, feta and kasseri cheese in the oven).
- Don’t miss the local version of the split pea puree fava (made on Amorgos from a sweet variety of pea called “katsouni”), either served with onions or shaped into patties and fried.
- Try the delicious local kavourmas (an omelette made with pork meat and fat).
- Sample malaka (the local soft fresh goat cheese), aromatic honey and pavli (rusks of twice-baked bread known elsewhere in Greece as paximadia and here made from a mixture of wheat and barley).
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with xerotigana, fried strips of sweet dough flavoured with honey, cinnamon and sesame seeds.
- When you are out and about, keep yourself going with a bar of pasteli, the local snack made from honey, sesame seeds and cumin.
- Discover some of the island’s unforgettable traditional specialties in the local tavernas: horiatiko (oven-baked beef with vegetables and kasseri cheese), exohiko (oven-baked lamb or goat in the oven with greens, tomatoes, and pasta), lupina ladolemono (a kind of white bean), and oven-baked aubergine (with tomato, cinnamon, cloves, onions, garlic and xinomizithra cheese).
- At festivals on the island you will have the chance to taste xidato (a kind of soup made with goat meat) and stuffed goat (with rice, offal, dill and herbs).
In 1988, Amorgos became an overnight sensation when Luc Besson filmed part of “The Big Blue” (“Le Grand Bleu”) at Saint Anna beach and the Olympia shipwreck (in the Bay of Kalotaritissa). Even today, tourists are inspired to come here by the astonishingly beautiful images in Besson’s movie.