Greece // The Dodecanese //

Hiking in northern Kárpathos

Northern Kárpathos is renowned for excellent hiking. While the most popular walk of all simply follows the jeep track down from Ólymbos to the superb west-coast beach at Fýsses, a sharp drop below the village, most local trails head more gently north or east, on waymarked paths.

Ólymbos to Dhiafáni

An easy ninety-minute walk leads back down to Dhiafáni, starting just below the two working windmills. The way is well marked, with water twenty minutes along, and eventually drops to a ravine amid extensive forest. The final half-hour, unfortunately, follows a bulldozed riverbed.

Ólymbos to Vrykoúnda

Heading north from Ólymbos, it takes around 1hr 30min to reach sparsely inhabited Avlóna, set on a high upland devoted to grain. From there, less than an hour more of descending first moderately, then steeply, along an ancient walled-in path that takes off from the valley-floor track, will bring you to the ruins and beach at Vrykoúnda. Once you’ve seen the Hellenistic/Roman masonry courses and rock-cut tombs here, and the remote cave-shrine of John the Baptist on the promontory (focus of a major Aug 28–29 festival), there’s good swimming in the pebble coves to one side.

Avlóna to Trístomo

Starting just above Avlóna, a magnificent cobbled way leads in 2hr 30min, via the abandoned agricultural hamlets of Ahordhéa and Kílios, to Trístomo, a Byzantine anchorage in the far northeast of Kárpathos. The views en route, and the path itself, are the thing; Trístomo itself is dreary, with not even a beach.

Trístomo to Vanánda

If you’ve already hiked to Trístomo, and would prefer not to retrace your steps to Avlóna, you can hook up, via a shortish link trail east from Trístomo, with a spectacular coastal path back to Vanánda (3hr 30min). Once clear of abandoned agricultural valleys and over a pine-tufted pass, it’s often a corniche route through the trees, with distant glimpses of Dhiafáni and no real challenge except at the steep rock-stairs known as Xylóskala.

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