10 Reasons to Visit Ano Koufonissi

Ano Koufonissi is the smallest inhabited island in the Cyclades- but what it lacks in size it makes up for in natural beauty, authenticity, and genuine Greek island hospitality.  

Part of Koufonissia, which comprises Ano (Upper) and Kato (Lower) Koufonissi; is separated by a narrow strait and the island of Keros. 

This stunning little isle is actually located between Naxos and Amorgos and boasts breathtaking sandy beaches, emerald green coves, and striking sea caves. Small enough to walk around in a day, this doesn’t mean you’ll be ready to leave after 24 hours- on the contrary- Ano Koufonissi allows visitors to relax, unwind and experience traditional Cycladic Island life without the crowds; leaving you wanting more. 

Keep in mind, cars are not allowed on the island, but you can easily get around by walking, cycling, and small boats. So apart from treating yourself to lazy days on the beach, here’s our list of the best things to see and do when visiting Ano Koufonissi!  

Insights Greece - 10 Reasons to Visit Ano Koufonissi1. Stroll around the charming capital Chora and discover tiny treasures including small boutiques with folk art, handmade jewellery by local artisans and a range of traditional fisherman’s hats. Roam the cobblestone streets and wander through picturesque alleyways filled with colourful shops, cafés, bars, and restaurants. Make sure you take a seat at one of the seaside taverns and enjoy a long lunch or dinner while watching the sunset. 

2. Discover several sea caves at Pano Koufonissis North Cape.

3. Dive straight into the turquoise waters for a memorable swim at any of the following beaches- Finikas, Fanos, Ammos, Italida, Pori, Charakopou, Parianos, and also add the tiny beach of Gala to your list – you won’t be disappointed! 

4. Savour freshly caught fish, octopus and sea urchins at one of the local seafood taverns while also drinking a shot of “rakomelo,” as the locals do. 

5. Also make sure to try the locally made Xynomyzithra (a goat’s cheese served with honey as a dessert, or added to salads). Other local dishes include Patatato (beef casserole in tomato sauce with potatoes), as are the traditional sweets Pasteli on lemon leaves and Xerotigana (sweet dumplings). 

Insights Greece - 10 Reasons to Visit Ano Koufonissi

6. Visit Saint Nicholas’ small church, which offers beautiful views of nearby islands. Saint George’s and Panagia’s churches are also definitely worth a visit. 

7. Don’t miss a dip in Piscina, a natural pool, surrounded by rocks- it features the most beautiful turquoise waters. Dive from the top straight into the pool for an unforgettable swim. 

8. For a great cultural experience and to get to know the island’s history head over to Nikitas Simos Folklore & Archaeological Collection, exhibited in the garden of Villa Ostria in Agios Georgios, it is set in a well-preserved stone building that was built in 1852.

9. Also visit the Communal Folklore Collection with displays of household and kitchen utensils, farm equipment, traditional garments, furniture, embroidery and various ornaments that highlight the island’s history, customs and traditions. 

10. Don’t leave before enjoying an Aperol Spritz at Mylos  (a traditional windmill that has been turned into a cool concept store/ all-day bar), or Sorokos Bar, which is also set right by the water. 

Insights Greece - 10 Reasons to Visit Ano Koufonissi

Getting there…

From Athens, Koufonissia is only reachable by ferry from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina. The closest airport is located on Naxos island with daily domestic flights from Athens. From Naxos, you can take a ferry to Koufonissia, as well as some other islands in the Cyclades.

Main Image by Mylos Bar ©

Escape to a Secret Greek Island Retreat

A time to reset, eat beautifully, sharpen your senses, and connect to the wild during a retreat at an authentic and under the radar Greek island. This seven day experience at the sea in Koufonisia is dedicated to giving back to your body, mind and soul.

Insights Greece - Escape to a Secret Greek Island Retreat

Having spent three rejuvenating months on Naxos island, where she immersed herself in the soul of the land and the people she encountered, Patricia Garcia Gomez decided it’s the perfect time to lead a retreat in Greece, that’s “about re-setting, connecting to nature and self, making space to be filled up with goodness. No other place is as life-affirming as Greece. I would like to go deeper and farther into Greece, and see the places less visited,” says Patricia.  

With close friends who call Naxos home, Patricia has carefully curated an upcoming experience which will allow those who go along to enjoy plenty of ocean time, daily movement, farm (and sea) to table meals, rest and adventuring. “This is a soul sabbatical, which means you let your lovely soul take the lead. You will be supported with delicious and fortifying elixirs made from local island herbs and flowers, restorative movement and sound, cicada songs, and lots of shared joy.” 

IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with Patricia about what people can expect from this experience. 

What can people expect from the Rewild & Restore (aka Your best Greek life) experience? 

“Your best Greek life” is an invitation into the senses and ancient dreams. A rewilding of the soul, with lots of glorious space for doing what inspires you. One can expect to eat beautifully, be in good company, be supported with daily movement and inspiration, some secret sensory adventures, and plenty of time for as much soul-nourishing rest as you like. 

How did it all come about and how did you decide on Koufonisia as the place to visit?

Insights Greece - Escape to a Secret Greek Island Retreat

It came about while I was living on the island of Naxos, creating my sensory immersion installation and swimming. Swimming in the Aegean shifted everything for me. I met Anita here and we developed a fabulous friendship. We love many of the same things, beauty, nature, thoughtful experiences, hand-made items, and a good laugh under the stars. When Anita invited me to Eros Keros (which was not yet open), I was smitten. It’s a magical place, that feels ancient, wild, and serene. She has channeled a lifetime of creativity into every detail. From each room, you gaze directly on to the sacred island of Keros. The R&R Best Greek Life experience is our way of sharing the things we love with others and also creating something new together.

What can you reveal about the 7 days by the sea in Koufonisia?

Time feels different in Koufonisi. It moves slower, sensually and not in a straight line but through the senses. The locals say that with each day here, you will do less. This is true in my experience. And there is magic in this. We have six days here, surrounded by the blue of the Aegean, so nothing is rushed. The sea is medicine. And we have some really fun adventures in-store. 

Will the retreat be led by yourself and locals?

Absolutely. The only imported ‘leader’ will be me. All of the other experiences will be hosted by friends, and friends of friends who live and work on the islands. As an example, Anita has known our sea captain for over twenty years, since she first fell in love with Koufonisi.

What kinds of activities do you have planned?

Insights Greece - Escape to a Secret Greek Island Retreat

Rather than the word activities, I would like to use the word experiences. We will experience…

Swims in the Aegean, including private adventures to secret swim spots.

Beautiful shared meals, sourced locally and made with love.

Daily movement and meditation.

An adventure off the island (a surprise).

Foraging and frolicking (another surprise).

Privacy, serenity, and lot of rest and free time

Rewilding is about filling up, not about exhausting. It is a time to be free in the beauty of life and the moment.

Tell us more about the gastronomical experiences people can expect? 

Insights Greece - Escape to a Secret Greek Island Retreat

All meals will be farm and sea to table, and locally sourced as much as possible. We have a local chef who will be preparing all meals, with the brief of making each meal delicious, fresh, simple and full of vibrancy.

How many people are you expecting on the retreat? 

We are keeping it small. The retreat will be limited to 10 people. Just enough for good company, and not too many so you can enjoy your own time.

Where will the group meet? 

We will all meet on the magical island of Koufonisi. I remember the first time I stepped off the ferry there. It has been calling me back ever since.

The Intel

Dates: September 2021

Location: Eros Keros, Koufonisi. Secret location.

More details: Rewild and Restore 2021

More about Patricia Garcia-Gomez and how swimming in the Aegean changed her life.

The next R&R experiences: May and June 2022

Main Image by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)