In this hiking guide to the Greek island of Kastellorizo (Megisti), we detail two easy late afternoon hikes which offer great sunset views.
As you might have read in the previous chapter, I was tremendously enjoying my time on the beautiful island of Kastellorizo.
Kastellorizo, which is sometimes called Megisti or Meyisti as well, is the easternmost island of both the Dodecanese archipelago and Greece as a whole.
Measuring only 12 square kilometres, remote Kastellorizo is the perfect small island to relax and to get away from it all.
Although I certainly did spend a lot of time doing exactly that, I also managed to be a bit more active, going on two late afternoon hikes across the island.
Hiking on Kastellorizo
Due to its small size and lack of roads (basically there is only one linking the town to the airport) there are two ways to explore Kastellorizo: by boat or by foot.
There are some great hiking paths on the islands and although these tracks can get rocky at times, the relatively short distances involved mean that not a single hike is too strenuous if you don’t have mobility problems.
If you are visiting Kastellorizo in late spring, summer or early autumn like most other people do, it is best to go hiking in the early morning or late afternoon when the temperatures are a bit lower and the sun is not at its strongest.
Even though many hikes can be done in three hours there and back, it’s still wise to bring along some sunscreen and plenty of water. Although hiking shoes are not a must, some decent shoes are needed.
You will regret it if you start hiking on flip flops or the flimsiest of sandals as some of the paths are made out of rather sharp rocks.
To the monastery
One of the most popular hikes goes from Kastellorizo Town to the Monastery of St. George-of-the-Mountain, located on the mountain plateau in the centre of the island.
From Kastellorizo Town you can already see the steps hewn into the cliffside running all the way up to the top of the mountain.
Needless to say, the views during the climb up alone are absolutely worth it. Once you are on the plateau, you will also find the scenery and vegetation to be entirely different than down the mountain at sea level.
It takes about one hour to hike from Kastellorizo Town to the St. George-of-the-Mountain Monastery, which allows you a pause or two on the way up.
According to Google Maps, the walk is 1.6 kilometres or exactly 1 mile long (one-way) and sees you climbing up from 2 metres (7ft) to 174 metres (571ft) above sea level.
You can’t really miss the cliffside stairs of Kastellorizo, as these can be seen from both Kastellorizo Town as well as from the satellite neighbourhood of Mandraki.
If for some reason you cannot find the start of the path going to the mountain stairway, it is best to use Google Maps to map the route.
Climbing up the cliff
Once you reached the bottom of the stairway, you do not really need a map or GPS anymore as from here it’s just up the mountain and straight ahead to the monastery.
However, that is of course easier said than done as you still need to climb all the steps up!
The steps are hewn directly out of the red cliffs which dominate the centre of the island. In fact, the island of Kastellorizo was named after these red cliffs.
When the Knights of St. John arrived on the island they thought the towering red cliffs resembled some kind of a castle and thus named it ‘Castelrosso’.
Needless to say, the views from the stairway down over Kastellorizo Town are absolutely fantastic.
On the plateau
Once you reach the plateau, you will find the scenery and vegetation to be entirely different. There are lots of shrubs and rocks while there are few trees in this barren landscape.
Although there are no signs pointing you the way to the monastery, the path can be clearly seen between the shrubs. If in doubt, just check Google Maps and the GPS on your phone to ensure you are still walking in the right direction.
The Monastery of Saint George of the Mountain (Agios Georgios) was built in the location of an early Christian basilica from which the original mosaic floor is preserved.
Like so many other monasteries on Greek islands, Saint George of the Mountain is a fortified building complex.
The highlight is apparently the Katholikon (major church) of the monastery, which features a domed basilica and an underground carved crypt.
Unfortunately, the monastery had its doors firmly shut by the time I arrived, so I could only admire it from the outside.
From the monastery, it is possible to make a big loop of Kastellorizo’s interior by continuing the hike to Saint Panteleimon Monastery and the nearby ruins of the Paleokastro Fortress on the highest point of the island.
As the sun was already setting, I unfortunately didn’t have enough time for this so I decided to hike the same way back.
If you don’t have the time to hike all the way to Paleokastro (from where I’d say you have the best sunset view of the entire island) there is however a good alternative for sunset watchers.
Just before you arrive back at the stairway back down the cliff, you will see a flagpole with a large Greek flag in the shrubland. As this is positioned towards the west of the hiking path, there are some great sunset views from here towards the sea on Kastellorizo’s western shore.
Having brought a cold beer with me, I sat down on a rock to enjoy the great views and the well-earned refreshment.
The way back down
The hike back down the mountain to Kastellorizo town was straightforward and fast.
It’s probably best to go back before darkness falls completely as there are no lights up the mountain and the at times uneven surface means that you can easily sprain your ankle if you don’t watch where you put your foot down.
If you leave right after the sunset, you will be back in Kastellorizo Town from the hiking trip well before darkness falls.
Hiking to Saint Stephen Church
On my last day on Kastellorizo, I went hiking to Saint Stephen’s Church (Agios Stefanos) on the northernmost point of Kastellorizo.
At around 2.6 kilometres (1.6 miles) one-way distance, this hike is a bit longer than the one to the mountaintop monastery.
Although this hike only reaches an altitude about half as high (91 metres or 299 feet above sea level at most) as the one to St. George-of-the-Mountain, it is certainly more strenuous due to the rocky, uneven path. Wear good shoes, preferably with a firm and thick enough sole.
To reach the start of the hiking path to St. Stephen’s Church, you have to walk all along the harbour of Kastellorizo Town to the western side of the bay.
You will find the beginning of the hiking path right behind the building the Hellenic Post.
The hiking path towards St. Stephen’s Church basically runs along the entire length of the peninsula on the western side of Kastellorizo harbour.
Right after the post office, you will leave Kastellorizo Town behind as the trail sneaks higher up the hill. There are some great views back over Kastellorizo Town and its harbour.
Stones and rocks
As you might have already seen on the previous picture, the hiking path changes a bit in character a few hundred metres or so out of Kastellorizo Town.
What started as a well-kept walking path now turns into a much more uneven hiking trail made out of rocks and stones.
Some of these smaller stones are quite sharp, so make sure you are wearing sturdy shoes. Walking this hiking trail on flip flops is out of the question as it is not only dangerous but highly uncomfortable as well!
Even though the path may be a bit rough, the views do make up for it. About halfway the hike you will encounter a large Greek flag painted on the side of a mountain.
The last part of the hike is mostly downhill. The rocky path will eventually join a gravel road which runs down all the way to Saint Stephen Church.
This road is occasionally used by Greek Army jeeps as well, as they have a small lookout post right next to the church.
From here, the distance to Turkey across the sea is only three kilometres, making it an obvious strategic point on the island of Kastellorizo.
It will therefore not be a surprise that you will also come across several bunkers here as well, some of which are quite well camouflaged and hidden!
Having reached the northern tip of Kastellorizo and getting as close to Turkey as I could possibly get, it was time to hike back.
Just like my previous hike, I had packed a cold beer, planning to stop somewhere to watch the sunset.
As the hiking trail to St. Stephen’s Church is located on the eastern side of the peninsula, you don’t have a direct sunset view towards the west. That said, you will have some fabulous views back over Kastellorizo Town with some lovely orange and purple sunset colours in the skies.
I perhaps stayed a bit too long admiring the great views over Kastellorizo Town as by the time I finally got up and embarked on the last stretch back to town the skies were already getting dark.
Given how rocky and this hiking trail is (and at times, close to the edge of the slope as well) you may want to pack a flashlight or at least make sure you got enough battery left on your smartphone to use its torch function to shine ahead on the path.
One cool sight on the way back to town was the arrival of the SAOS Ferries ship from Rhodes into the Port of Kastellorizo.
By the time I finally arrived back at the waterfront of Kastellorizo Town, it was already pitch dark outside. The second hike ended up quite a bit more strenuous and longer than I had anticipated, but it was certainly well worth it!
Although Kastellorizo is primarily an island to relax in all quietness and to get away from it all, it also offers some excellent hiking opportunities.
As the island is only 12 square kilometres in size, these hikes will not be the longest and most arduous ever. In fact, it is easy to set out a hike taking you between two and three hours, easily fitting it into your morning or late afternoon plans.
It is especially worth it to go hiking in the late afternoon or early evening as you can make it coincide with some beautiful sunset views over the island of Kastellorizo.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘A Dodecanese Dream: Summer Island Hopping in Greece‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Back in the Skies – My First International Flight in the Age of Corona
2. Review: Kimon Hotel, Athens, Greece
3. Exploring Plaka: Through the Winding Streets of the Old Town of Athens
4. Climbing up the Acropolis: Visiting Athens’ Most Famous Sight
5. Review: Skyserv Melina Merkouri Lounge Athens Airport
6. Review: Sky Express Athens to Naxos (ATR 42)
7. Review: Studios Zafiri, Naxos Town, Greece
8. Naxos Town: The Gorgeous Historic Heart of the Cyclades
9. Review: Blue Star Ferries Naxos to Astypalaia
10. Review: Belvedere Studios, Astypalaia Town, Greece
11. Astypalea Town: The Unknown Crown Jewel of the Aegean Sea
12. Astypalea Island Guide: Exploring the Butterfly of the Aegean
13. On a Night Boat in Greece – Astypalea to Kastellorizo With Blue Star Ferries
14. Review: Traditional Apartments Alexandra, Kastellorizo, Greece
15. Kastellorizo: A Look Around Greece’s Easternmost Island
16. Hiking on Kastellorizo: Two Sunset Hikes Detailed (current chapter)
17. Review: Olympic Air Kastellorizo to Rhodes (Dash 8-100)
** rest of the chapters to follow soon **