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!
1. 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).
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.
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 ©