Located around an hour south-east of Naxos or 2-3 hours north-east of Santorini is the rather extraordinary Cycladic island of Amorgos. With its beautiful beaches, pretty towns and authentic farms and villages Amorgos is also home to one of the most incredible Monasteries in Europe and a shipwreck featured in numerous films.
Amorgos has a permanent population of around 2000 residents many of whom are farmers, fishermen or are in hospitality.
It is only accessible by boat which keeps tourist numbers low and that is unlikely to change due to its unusual terrain.
If you are island hopping in the Eastern Cyclades this is an island that should definitely be on your itinerary.
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When to visit Amorgos
Summer is probably the best time of year to visit Amorgos. Unlike some of the Greek Islands, Amorgos never gets too overcrowded – no matter what time of year – but the height of the tourist season is June to August.
The average temperatures this time of year are around 29 degrees Celsius with mild nights and warm seas. Outside of the summer months, Amorgos is quiet. Autumn and spring are both pleasant times to visit with lower temperatures, cheaper accommodation, but not so good beach or swimming weather.
Best beach and swimming weather: June to September
Best sightseeing weather: March to June and September/October
Where is Amorgos Island?
Amorgos is in the easternmost Cycladean islands in the Aegean Sea, with the Dodecanese Island group right next door. With a population of around 2,000 people, it’s located just to the southeast of Naxos, and the mainland city of Piraeus is 126 nautical miles away.
Amorgos, surrounded by the glittering blue sea and boasting traditional villages, also has 16 neighbouring islets, the largest of which is the rocky Nikouria.
How to get to Amorgos
Amorgos is accessible only by sea, so if you’re thinking about flying directly to the island, think again. There are ferry services that connect Piraeus to Amorgos, as well as to and from other nearby islands.
Flying to Amorgos
With no airport this is tricky BUT you can fly to nearby islands, Naxos is closest for this, and then catch a ferry from there. This will save at least 3 hours from Athens.
Ferry to Amorgos
The ferry service to Amargos from Piraeus is a daily service that runs all year round. If you do want to fly, you have the option to catch a plane to Naxos – or Santorini – and then take one of the regular ferries from either of those islands.
Amorgos has two ports – Katapola and Aegiali. The ports are both served by passenger ferries from surrounding islands. The northern port of Aegiali has fewer connections than its counterpart, Katapola, further south. Katapola is the port you want if you want to hop on the daily boat to Athens (Piraeus) or for more options in general – it’s a busier port.
The best thing to do is to check out whereabouts on the island your accommodation is located and book your ferry accordingly. There are 25 kilometres between the two ports, so choosing the most convenient will save you time.
Getting around Amorgos
There is a bus that services the island and stops at all the main ports and villages. You can find the timetable HERE.
There are limited Taxi’s on Amorgos and it pays to book ahead if you can.
The current operators are:
Mobile: +30 6937 883 838
Mobile: +30 6973 988 702
Mobile: +30 6932 000 455
Mobile: +30 6932 103 077
Car and Scooter rental
Scooters, ATVs and cars can be hired from several places on the islands including both ports. FM Rent a Car is the biggest and most popular.
A small car is a great idea to see some of the more authentic parts of the island including the more remote and interior villages.
Further reading : Driving in Greece
Amorgos Hotels and Houses
Historic and strikingly beautiful, the island of Amorgos has a handful of different locations where you may want to stay. From quiet villages to more well-trodden locales, there’s something here to suit different styles of travel.
Chora is the capital of Amorgos. This town is situated 400 meters above sea level and is well loved for its winding medieval streets and white-washed walls. Here you can opt to stay in its historic center with charming churches, cafes, and paved streets to explore.
For those looking for more of a beach-side getaway, there are also the port towns of Aegiali and Katapola.
Katapola is set around a large bay and boasts ancient sites nearby, as well as a good selection of accommodation, eateries, and bars. The newly built Amorgion Hotel has been a big hit already and we also love Amorgos Pearls, with its beachfront location and incredible sunsets!
For those interested in nightlife, Aegiali has more in the way of bars but also makes for a good base for hiking. Hotel options here include the charming Filoxenia, which overlooks the sea, or for something more unique, you could even stay in a cave hotel!
Food and dining
Like anywhere in Greece, food is an important part of the culture. While there isn’t a developed tourist industry on Amorgos, there’s still a good selection of places to eat and drink on the island.
In Chora, there are plenty of charming cafes that serve up traditional coffee and baked goods.
In larger Katapola and Aegiali, you’ll find traditional tavernas serving up catch of the day with views of the sea.
Even in less visited villages, there are still charming local tavernas to try out. Here you may find some Greek gastronomic delights you’ve never heard of before.
For example, there’s patatato – goat and potato stew cooked slowly – which is a particularly Aegean dish. If you see it on the menu, definitely try it!
Ladotyri is sheep and/or goat milk cheese stored in olive oil, a specialty of the region. It’s a hard cheese with a fully flavour and intense aroma.
For something less intense, but much sweeter, try xerotigana if you see it anywhere. This pastry involves raki and sesame seeds. It’s native to Amorgos and is commonly seen at festive events.
Also in the realm of sweets is pasteli, a sticky sesame bar compacted with Greek honey – perfect to grab as a snack to eat on a hike, or eaten with an afternoon cup of coffee or tea.
And then there’s Amorgos’ very own variety of raki: psimeni raki. Translating to “roasted raki”, it has a richer, spicier flavour than the usual variety. Try it at the eponymous Psimeni Raki Festival or pick it up at pretty much any bar in time. It’s usually drunk in celebratory situations but can be enjoyed any time of year.
Amorgos restaurants and bars
In Aegiali Yachendo is right on the waterfront and offer homemade dishes cooked daily with whats at hand. Limani is another popular spot with very traditional and affordable food. Along the beach road south is Vedema a bar with great views and loud music.
Katapola is home to a fantastic Creperie Cafe called Elichrison which is a great place to have breakfast and watch the ferries come in. The Corner Taverns is also on the waterfront and a great place for dinner as is Ανέμι and Youlaki Amorgos.
Hungry explorers who have been to see the extraordinary Panagia Hozoviotissa monastery are often found dining in the tavernas of Chora, probably the best on the island. Don’t miss Transistoraki and Kallisto!
If you are exploring the island by car be sure to stop into Στον Πύργο, a traditional country taverna under big shady trees.
Things to do in Amorgos
Amorgos is much like many Greek islands in that vacations here are best spent kicking back at the beach, hiking, or chilling out in a café. However, one of the draws has got to be how un-touristy the island is, especially compared to nearby hotspots like Santorini.
Quiet though it may be, Amorgos also has plenty to do with its rich history for visitors to discover as well with many ancient monuments and museums to while away some hours.
Here are some of the best things to do on Amorgos:
Aegiali Beach is easily one of Amorgos’ most popular beaches. Situated in the coastal town of the same name, this one kilometer stretch of sand is backed by Mediterranean greenery and has amenities close by.
Despite being situated near the town, it is very picturesque – even the drive here from Chora is breath-taking as you glimpse the gleaming sea against the backdrop of the rocky landscape. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
For something closer to the capital, try Agia Anna Beach. This beach is very pretty but very popular. It’s so popular because it was one of the filming locations for the Luc Besson film The Big Blue (1988).
Aptly enough, the water here is deep and clear, making it great for diving and snorkeling. Nearby, you’ll also find Kanbi Beach which is a nudist beach as well as secluded Sirma Beach (not a nudist beach).
Agios Panteleimonas Beach is situated close to the port of Katapola. It’s a small sandy spot that takes its name from a charming church located nearby. This is the spot for you if you simply want to relax in a chilled place and soak up the surrounding nature.
Eight kilometers south of Chora is Agios Pavlos Beach. With a combination of pebbles and sand, it’s less popular than Aegiali or Agia Anna Beach, but it’s still an attractive place to relax. Here you can watch fishing boats chug by from the sand or spend the afternoon in a local taverna over a long lunch with sea views.
Located 20 kilometers south of Chora, Kalotaritissa Beach is the southernmost of Amorgos’ beaches. This protected, sandy bay is ideal for families who enjoy splashing around in clean, clear, shallow waters.
Easily accessible by bus, there’s a small traditional taverna here and a selection of sunbeds and umbrellas, making it a fantastic place to spend the day on the island. The nearby Paradisia Beach also features calm waters but feels more secluded than its neighbor.
Last but not least is Gramvoussa Beach. Accessible only via a taxi boat from Kalotaritissa, this small islet has gleaming white sand and emerald waters. It’s perfect for snorkeling and ideal for nature enthusiasts, as migrating birds like to stop here during spring.
This and some of the other surrounding islets – such as the practically uninhabited Nikouria (reached via boat from Agios Pavlos) – also make for ideal beach getaways.
Things to do in Amorgos
Monuments and museums of Amorgos
Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa
This monastery is the second oldest in Greece and one of the most photographed. It was built in 1117 which is incredible in itself but even more impressive is its astounding location. Built into the craggy rock face, at 300 meters above sea level, this white-washed building looks more like a fantastical castle than a monastery.
It really is quite an architectural and engineering feat which rivals the monasteries of Meteora for its jaw dropping wow factor!
It was originally built to protect a religious icon (itself dating to 812 AD). To reach this storied monastery make your way past Chora and prepare for a hike – there are over 1,000 steps up to the entrance and the spectacular views of the island.
The Venetian Castle
The now-ruined Venetian Castle was built in 1290 during the period of Venetian rule to protect against Saracen pirates. This landmark is the centrepiece of Chora, soaring high above the town on a 64-meter-tall rocky outcrop. It’s hard to miss and offers up amazing views for those who climb up the many to where the castle once stood.
Church of Agia Anna
Not only giving its name to a nearby beach, this charming chapel – with its white-washed walls, blue doors and windows, and natural setting – is also worth a visit in itself. Situated near the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa, the chapel is located on a hill and also has a claim to fame as a shooting location for the movie The Big Blue.
Agios Georgios Valsamitis
This church is situated on the road between Aegiali and Katapola. Built in the 17th century, this small sanctuary offers up views out across the hilly, rugged landscape of Amorgos, and its wide blue skies.
There are many other small, attractive chapels dotted across the island that visitors can discover as they explore the island – they’re particularly easy to find if you have your own set of wheels, so you can stop off and soak up some peace and quiet in amongst the nature of the island.
Museums of Amorgos
The Archaeological Collection of Amorgos
Amorgos’ history goes back in time for many centuries, and the perfect place to learn all about it is at the Archaeological Collection of Amorgos.
The museum itself is housed inside the historic 16th-century Garavas Tower, located at the center of Chora. This two-storey Venetian tower is a sight to visit in its own right, but inside its hall are exhibits displaying an array of ancient artefacts.
These have been discovered at various locations around the island and span millennia of history from the Roman era to the 20th century. You’ll find statues, marble relics, sculptures, tools, weapons, ceramics, and jewelry.
Amorgos Minoan Site
Evidence of the ancient pre-Hellenistic (i.e. before “ancient Greece”) Minoan civilization has been found on Amorgos. One particular archaeological site of interest can be found near Katapola on Moundoulia Hill. The ruins here date back to the 4th century BC, with buildings, a gymnasium, a sanctuary, and altars of worship uncovered over the years.
Nature and outdoors on Amorgos
Situated near the pebbly Mouros Beach are some of Amargos’ best sea caves. They’re only accessed by swimming from the beach itself (head right).
These large caves are ideal to explore with a snorkel or diving equipment and boast unusual rock formations and a colorful underwater landscape. The caves are an enchanting underwater spot for strong swimmers.
Another location from The Big Blue, this shipwreck can be found near Kalotaritissa Beach.
How did it get there? In the February of 1988, a commercial ship, Olympia, was brought close to the shore of Amorgos by strong winds, where it ran aground. The crew abandoned ship and the wreckage has remained ever since – the ideal playground for divers.
Monastery of Theologos hike (and others)
Hiking is definitely an option when you’re staying on Amorgos. There are many hikes to be enjoyed across the island, suitable for varying fitness levels – some are more demanding, while others are shorter but still scenic.
One option is the hour-long hike from Lagada to the Monastery of Theologos, originally dating to the 7th century. The walk leads you up to a high vantage point with beautiful views across the landscape.
Events on Amorgos
Throughout the year, this being Greece, there are multiple religious events that take place on the island throughout the year. For example, during Holy Week, you can expect processions of icons around the towns and villages of the island.
One particularly interesting celebration is the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. That’s because Mary is the patron saint of the island of Amorgos.
Taking place on 15th August, this is sometimes referred to as “Easter in the Summer” and celebrates the time when Mary ascended to heaven. Think good food, traditional music, and an all-round community atmosphere.
Also taking place in summer is the Feast of Klidona. This traditional June event is marked by friends and families coming together with music and dancing.
In July, the Psimeni Raki Festival is held in Katapola’s main square. Visitors will have the chance to see how raki is made (and sample some, too). Festivities include boat carrying, music, dancing, and local delicacies until the early hours.
Independence Day (25th March) is an important event and national holiday across Greece. It celebrates the beginning of the Greek Revolution against Ottoman rule in 1821.
Further reading: When to visit Greece – weather, holidays and more