It may be such a small island with dozens of beaches and the clean green-blue sea , however Ithaca has a rich hinterland with well-hidden secrets that are at the disposal of its guests to discover. As long as there is mood for hiking in nature of course.
Short or long routes, they have many thrills to offer to the hikers who besides the slopes and hills of the island will also find well hidden beaches, spots with panoramic views beyond Ithaca as well as nature herself: flowers, trees, and small animals, all live harmouniously with the locals for thousands of years.
From Perachori and from the old church of the village begins the path that will lead you from the medieval Paleochora, to the cave where – according to Homer – Odysseus hid the gifts of Phaeacians when he finally arrived in his homeland. The path is well cared for, it is paved for a considerable length and easy as it goes alongside the mountain slope and does not show great altitude differences. Stone benches along the route will offer you some rest and the chance to admire the spectacular view of the bay of Ithaca and of course the Ionian Sea as far as the coasts of central Greece. The path passes through the buildings of the most important medieval settlement of the island, where the central church, dedicated to Saint John, with the imposing stone bell tower, is preserved in a very good condition. In less than an hour you will find yourself in the Nymphs Cave and from there, through the asphalted downhill road, very soon to Vathi.
Skinos – Gidaki
The path connects the two best beaches of the island. You can reach by car at the beach of Skinou, which is the starting point of the path. There is an asphalted road to the first beach of the bay, Mnimata, and a short dirt road until Skinos where pine trees reach to the green sea. From the edge of this beach begins the path to, for many the best beach of the island, Gidaki. The path is uphill at first, but relatively easy as the route does not last more than 40 minutes at a slow pace. When you reach the top the view towards Gidaki will compensate you.
Perachori – Agia Paraskevi – Dasos – Agios Gerasimos
The forest of Perachori is just above the first houses of the village. It is on the slope of the mountain and it mainly consists of old, tall trees like oaks and kermes oaks. They are trees that can reach 25 meters with dense foliage. Therefore, the forest of Perahori is dense, and besides some clearings, in many places the sun does not reach the ground, besides some few moments of the day. Walking through the woods is quite easy, as long as we take into account the slope of the ground, as well as the many dry, fallen leaves that make it even more slippery. The route is between two white chapels and it is short and easy as long as you have the proper gear like suitable clothes, shoes, hat and of course water. The small chapel of Agia Paraskevi will appear in front of you amongst the tall trees. The panoramic views to Perachori, the Ionian Sea, countless small islands in the between like Atokos and Oxeia, the shores of Sterea Ellada and Peloponnese with take your breath away.
A small, wooden sign with the letter C on the road to Exogi, the smallest village of Ithaca, is the start of the trail. Yellow marks will lead you to the small plateau of Rousano where the locals have their vegetable gardens. The view to the Afalon bay and northern Ithaca is magical. On the plateau of Rousano you will see the beach of Poli from afar while there is a crossroad: on the right you will admire the view to Kefalonia and Ionian and on the left you will walk past the castle, then Kalivia and you will reach a dirt road by following the yellow marks. From there you have two choices: to the right you will go to the beach of Poli and to the left to the biggest village of north Ithaca, Stavros.
Marathias – Spiliotissa
In southern Ithaca there are many places in nature that deserve your attention. From Vathi you can take the road to Marathias. At the end of the road there are blue signs marking the beginning of the path to the church of Panagia Spiliotissa. Follow the red marks with the white in the middle and after a half hour you reach the small chapel built in a small cave on the mountainside above Andri, the southernmost bay of Ithaca. On the way, you will have the chance to admire the richness of the island’s flora: perennial olives, among oaks, cypresses and shrubs.
Before the end of the road from Vathi to Marathias there is a blue sign Arethousa Krini. From this point begins the path leading to the water spring of the homeric references. The trail takes about 40 minutes, with several altitude differences, downhill for the most part – uphill on the return. It is clean, and there is no danger of getting lost, as it is quite visible. You can get tired of hiking, but the view to Nissopoulo and the beaches below will enchant you! If you are an athletic and risky type, you can go downhill to the last junction before the water spring. You will reach the beach Pera Pigadi (name which refers to the water spring of course), where the cold waters of the Ionian Sea will compensate you for the heat!