Epic Hikes From Filoti Village to Mount Zeus Peak

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

Conquer the highest mountain of Cyclades (1004 m), hike, scramble and traverse Mount Zas with tour guide Mihailos Vasilakis, Giannakis Tours, Filoti Village, Naxos. 

The mountain Zas (pronounced Za in ancient Greek), is on the island of Naxos and according to local lore, was the playground of a God and three Nymphs. The people of Naxos named the tallest mountain – which Filoti Village folk calls the centre of the world – in honour of the Olympian God Zeus. It is upon this mountain where only eagles flew and still do, that an eagle carried the bolt of lightning to Zeus.

When Zeus, whom is lovingly called Zas by Filotians, was chased by his father, Cronos, he sought refuge on the tallest mountain of Naxos Island. Three nymphs, Filia, Kleido and Koronis, quenched his thirst with the water that pours out from the mountain spring, then they hid him in the cave far away from his father’s vengeful eyes.

Hike, scramble, and traverse this beautiful mountain with tour guide Mihailos Vasilakis, Giannakis Tours Filoti Village, Naxos. Take a guided tour to Αγ. Μαρíνα (Agia Marina), the church that seems to defy gravity.

Or take a tour to Aria Spring via ancient trails and marble walkways. Continue on to the Cave of Zeus and explore (flashlights provided). And for the piece de resistance…hike to Mount Zeus Peak.

Nothing much has changed from antiquity to today, not on this hike anyways. You will be transported back in time to a place that is quiet…country quiet. The well-beaten tracks are timeless…as you tread these trails, you wonder how many generations have walked this path.

There are many drystone walls that pop up along the way. Most of these stonewalls were built a century or centuries ago and painstakingly maintained over the decades. Drystone walls are one of Greece’s wonders. Built by hand with nothing to hold them together, they are a balancing act put in place to retain the very land from tumbling downhill.

These walls demarcate family lands, fence in farm animals and orchards, and try to keep out goats (impossible to do). These evocative stonewalls will make you pause to peruse the tranquil sights beyond the “stone fences” where you will see lines of silver-green olive trees behind one rock wall, or woolly sheep lounging under shade trees, while white lambs hop and skip around them, behind another. And you will marvel at the sight of goats clambering atop impossible outcrops.

Conquer the highest mountain of Cyclades hike, scramble and traverse Mount Zas with tour guide Mihailos Vasilakis, Filoti Village, Naxos.
My friend Ilias, Filoti Village

See if you can get a glimpse of the beautiful Filoti Village as you twist and turn on the paths on the way up. Bathe in the perfumed air of this mountain hike…the aromas, oh the glorious aromas of mountain flowers and fresh herbs scenting the very air you breathe.

The Agia Marina trail (7 Kilometres roundtrip) starts from Filoti Village and winds its way up to the hill-foot of a tiny white building way up high, here is where the brave and the fearless can scramble the steep rocky hike to the defiant little church perched atop a narrow peak. Imbibe the scenery below.

The Aria Spring and onwards hike (5-8 takes you on a sensory-filled walk up to the ever-giving Mountain Spring, where the plaque written in ancient script means “Mount Zeus of Milos”.

Pause, rest, and enjoy your individual snack-packet of local, seasonal products provided by Giannakis Tours, Filoti Village. Take a long drink of the spring’s pure water and refill your bottles for later…after all, where else in the world can one drink directly from the very same spring where a mythological god quenched his thirst?

Continue onwards dear adventurers, to the cave where glistening clusters of stalactites and stalagmites will leave you in awe. You will be in the very space where Gods and Nymphs played, fought and loved.

Then it is moving on to the peak where the views are breathtaking. It is here, at this vantage point where you will feel like you really are at the centre of the world. Looking over and out and all around you will see the surrounding islands, the verdant valleys, golden-grass hills, rock formations below, and the birds circling in the air. It is a live canvas of what Olympian gods perused.

Why Giannakis Tours?

Notes and quotes from Mihailos Vasilakis, co-owner and operator of Giannakis Hotels and Tours:

“Well organized tour guides of Filoti village and the nearby area is something that is missing from the village and many tourists ask for it. We really wanted to provide this kind of tours to our guests and we set out to find the right persons to guide this epic trek.” 

“We like hiking to the spring all year round. Each season you can see a different scenery, different colors. We spend hours looking at the fish in the cistern and the hawks flying around the mountain’s peak.”

“About 3 weeks ago I saw someone paragliding on top of the mount Zeus. I had never seen that before on this island. It must be an amazing feeling paragliding on the highest mountain in the Cyclades.”

Should one attempt this hike without a local guide? Listen to the experts, they know best.

“It is not a good idea to go on your own there especially if you want to climb the mountain because there is always a high risk of accidents and if it is foggy it might be difficult to orientate yourself.” 

Did you know Zeus would help the other gods, goddesses, and mortals if they needed help, but would also invoke his wrath upon them if he felt they weren’t worthy of his help? This made Zeus the strongest Greek god in Greek mythology…thankfully he smiles down on the people of Filoti Village…and all on the island of Naxos, Greece.

6 year old Kyriaki, daughter of Katerina and Mihailos enjoyed the oral story-telling so much she was inspired to create her interpretation.

After this amazing – in the true sense of the word – tour, pick a taverna or café for your much-deserved late lunch and/or afternoon drinks celebration. Let Giannakis Tours arrange this for you, or meander the village yourselves and choose your own place to dine.

There are many tours to choose from and you can read about them in individual blog posts on this site.

Below is the pricing for Mount Zeus tours (contact Mihailos for more information on the Agia Marina Tour):

Hike to the spring: 25€ per person (midway snack-packet included)
+ Cave of Zeus: 50€ (tour inside the cave with the flashlights provided)
+ Mount Zeus: 150€ per person

Contact: Mihailos Vasilakis


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Address: 843 02 Filóti, Kikladhes, Greece

Tel: +30 694 503 0110

Read more travel stories about Filoti Naxos.

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