Summer. Greek islands. The Aegean Sea. Cyclades.
These five words filling your minds with colors, images, and memories, are more than enough to make you google straight away the website of a ferry company and book your tickets to Amorgos. However, in case you need some prompting, here are 5+1 reasons for you to spend your holidays on this enchanting island.
1. Chora of Amorgos
Chora, the capital of Amorgos, is most definitely one of the most beautiful villages in the Cyclades. Whitewashed houses with fully bloomed bougainvilleas and jasmines create a majestic scenery that enchants visitors and reminds them of every traditional Greek summer. Avoid following a specific path: turn off your cell phones, put away your maps, and wander through the little cobblestone streets, full of tiny taverns and picturesque cafès. Make a stop at “Kath’ odon” for a refreshing cold lemonade or a home-made Greek coffee, taste authentic Amorgian plates at “Tranzistoraki” and satisfy your sweet tooth by trying one (or more) of the delicious sweets in “Kallisto”.
2. Panagia Hozoviotissa monastery
Perched on the edge of the cliff, visible from afar due to its snow-white color, you will find the monastery of Hozoviotissa, probably the most famous and photographed place on the island. The 300 steps you will have to climb might seem too many under the burning sun; however, once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a breath-taking view. Endless blue as far as the eye can see, the horizon in the distance separating the sea from the sky, all these inspire in the minds of visitors the feeling of being at the end of the world, and thus justify the decision of Luc Besson to choose this position as the filming spot of his movie, “The Big Blue” (“Le Grand Bleu”).
In case you would like to go inside the monastery as well, you should organize a little bit ahead, as it is open to visitors from 8.00 to 13.00 and from 17.00 to 19.00. Let this be our little secret, but when we were there, we weren’t aware of this tiny piece of information, and, as a result, we did not taste the Greek coffee, the baked raki and loukoumi (aka Turkish delight) that the monks serve upon arrival, however the complete and immersive tranquility due to the lack of tourists was worth the sacrifice.
Check here the best hotel prices in Amorgos!
3. By the beach
Certainly one cannot experience authentic Greek summer without magnificent beaches and clear-blue water. If you find this picture attractive and you cannot wait to dive into the waves, Amorgos is definitely the place to be.
You can choose among sandy beaches, like the one of Aigiali or Kalotaritissa, or those with pebbles, like Agios Pavlos beach. Keep in mind, however, that most beaches in Amorgos are not organized, while some of them have just a few umbrellas and a little canteen, therefore you should bring with you bottles of water or snacks. Starting from Agios Pavlos, a small boat can take you to the isle of Nikouria right across, where you will enjoy the route through the crystal clear water and the fresh sea breeze almost as much as the absolutely enchanting and exotic-like beaches.
The best beach of them all, in my opinion, and the one that still holds a special place in my heart is Agia Anna, right under the cliff of Panagia Hozoviotissa monastery. Climbing down a few steps you will find two tiny bays, full of pebbles and surrounded by big rocks, ideal both for sunbathing on and jumping off them into the endless blue of the Aegean Sea. The water is crystal and refreshingly cold, while the wildness and the uniqueness of the scenery are captivating.
Check also “Antiparos: the small paradise of Cyclades“
4. Local delicacies
For all my fellow foodies out there, I’m sure that this is the point you were eagerly expecting. Apart from all the typical Greek dishes that you may have already tried, in Amorgos you will have the chance to taste unique local delicacies unlike those of any other island. Start with an Amorgian salad, very similar to the classic Greek one, but with xinomyzithra (sour cheese), local olives and caper, and then move on to the Amorgian fava, which unlike the one of Santorini is made of katsuni, a particular kind of peas. Do not leave the island without trying patatato, probably the most famous dish of Amorgos, made with lamp or goat meat, boiled with potatoes, tomato sauce, and an abundance of spices.
Lastly, do not forget to try the well-known tiropitakia or hortopitakia (cheese pies or spinach/various greens pies), with their crispy fried phyllo dough, and for dessert the Amorgian pasteli (sesame seeds candy), softer and more aromatic than that of the other islands.
5. Baked raki
And last but not least; the unique drink of Amorgos, which will be offered to you almost everywhere –and I promise that you will be glad about the generous offers after tasting it at least once. The raki is baked with honey, cinnamon, and other spices, served either warm or cold and can be found at any place of the island.
+1. People and atmosphere
Maybe the most important part when visiting a new place is feeling comfortable and at home, and Amorgos is extraordinary precisely for this reason. People smiling and always willing to help you, serve you, but also talk with you and start a conversation, while almost everywhere you go you will be offered at least one glass of baked raki.
The greatest advantage of the island, though, is its unique and immersive tranquility, especially if you visit during early July or late August when the tourist presence is rather low. Just a few days on the island are more than enough to distract you from the stress and the noise of the big cities, make you forget your problems for a little while and get you emerged in its peacefulness and its enchanting scenery; thus making you realize what all the previous visitors have recognized before: if you had the chance, you would stay there forever…
By Penny Sarakenidou
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