The charmingly mysterious Folegandros, situated in the corner of the southern part of the Cyclades, entices with its deep blue waters that are in complete harmony with its steep mountains, picturesque Chora, and jaw-dropping sunsets. This Greek island exudes natural beauty; it’s a dreamy destination where you can completely relax and unwind in style.
What you need to know before you arrive…
-Folegandros is located in the southern Cyclades, close to Sikinos, Ios, Anafi, and Santorini.
-In Chora, there are grocery stores, gas stations, car rentals, ATMs, a pharmacy, and a medical centre. There’s also an ATM and car rental available at the port.
From Athens, you can take a ferry to Folegandros. Ferries from Piraeus to Folegandros are available three times per week. The journey duration is approximately 4 – 4.5 hours with a high-speed ferry and 7.5 – 10 hours with standard vessels. You can also catch a ferry from Lavrion to Folegandros once a week year-round. It takes around 11.5 hours to arrive at Folegandros. Alternatively, if you fly straight into the international airports of Santorini and Mykonos, you can then take the ferry across to Folegandros.
Where to stay- Either in Chora or on Agali beach.
Tips for getting around- The best way to move around the island of Folegandros is by motorbike or by car, which you can rent in Chora or Karavostasis (Folegandros port).
Best time to visit- The ideal time to enjoy Folegandros is from May through to October and especially during the summer season. The busiest summer months are July and August, so if you want to skip the crowds, you may choose June or September instead.
Climate- Warm and temperate. Although, winds are frequent on the island.
Where to sleep
Blue Sand Hotel and Suites: a romantic boutique hotel, overlooking Agali beach.
Anemomilos Boutique Hotel: perched along the highest point of Chora, on the vertical cliff that overlooks the vastness of the Aegean Sea.
Folegandros apartments: located in the picturesque Chora, it seems like a Cycladic village, with a pool at the centre.
Makarias Villa: Located in Ano Meria, this is a great place if you seek privacy and breathtaking views.
Where to eat
Punta: have a seat at one of the colorful chairs and enjoy a tasty breakfast.
Pasithea: located in Agali, it offers a great sea view.
Blue Sand Boutique Hotel and Suites: great restaurant for a gourmet dinner and a romantic vibe.
Panorama café: for breakfast, traditional pies, or a handmade dessert.
Blue Cuisine Restaurant: in Chora, where you can taste one-of-a-kind delicacies.
Mama’s pita: for the most divine souvlaki.
Chrysospilia: for its Garidomakaronada (shrimp spaghetti)
Synantisi (or Kyra Maria): at Ano Meria for the best matsata of the island.
Awarded Piatsa at Chora’s square: Mrs. Kyriaki cooks traditional dishes and delicacies using fresh, local ingredients.
O Theios: for handmade ice-cream.
The Lojgia: for galaktoboureko (creamy custard pie) or portokalopita (orange pie).
Parasagas: for fresh pancakes
What to eat
Matsata: a local variety of fresh homemade pasta, usually with rooster or rabbit.
Kalasouna: onion and cheese pie.
Souroto: spicy soft cheese.
Karpouzenia: watermelon tray bake pie with cinnamon and sesame seeds.
Where to drink
Beez: a modern cocktail bar located in a traditional Cycladic home. Its highlight is the cocktails with homemade blends, syrups, and fresh fruits.
Rakentia: one of the most popular meeting points on the island because of its exceptional location that offers panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. Perfect place for breakfast, coffee, and snacks or to have an evening cocktail while gazing at the spectacular sunset sky from the bar’s terrace.
BaRaki: with its pretty outdoor seating and the best Rakomelo.
Astarti: the most famous and traditional bar on the island.
Where to swim
Karavostasi, located by the port of the island. There are tamarisk trees for shade; also bars, cafés, restaurants, and hotels nearby.
Katergo, a sandy beach with clear waters. You can get there either by boat from the port or via a 30-minute challenging hike. Make sure to bring water and an umbrella as there are no amenities.
Agkali, a beautiful beach with thick sand and clear waters. After a swim, you can enjoy a meal at one of the tavernas above the beach.
Galifos, a peaceful little cove with thick sand, pebbles, and clear blue waters. Access to the beach is via a hiking trail from Agkali or by boat. Near the beach, you will find a few old boat garages. The isolated and private location makes this place an ideal spot for nudists. Apart from some rooms to let, there are no other facilities nearby.
Agios Nikolaos, is a sandy beach with emerald green waters and tamarisk trees. You can reach the beach either by boat or via a short hike from Agkali beach. Note: there’s a small taverna that serves coffee and food, called Agios Nikolaos.
Livadi, the beach of Livadi is sandy and wind-protected. There are tamarisk trees for shade and you can easily get there by car or motorcycle. There are no visitor amenities, so make sure you bring water and snacks.
Livadaki, is a secluded beach of exceptional wild beauty. It’s sandy and rocky with crystal-clear turquoise waters. You can either reach the beach by boat or via a 50-minute hike.
Abbeli, a small cove with sand and rocks. It’s famous for its amazing sunset view. You can get to the beach via a dirt road or by boat.
Agios Georgios, is a picturesque sandy cove with pebbles and natural shade. There are no visitor amenities and it often gets windy.
According to Greek mythology, it was said to have derived its name from a son of Minos. Little is known about the ancient history of Folegandros. Its inhabitants were Dorians. Later it came under Athenian rule.
The island was conquered in 1207 by the Venetian Marco Sanudo and remained under the rule of Venice until 1566 when it was taken by the Ottoman Turks. The Greeks reclaimed it in the 19th century.
Must visit villages – Folegandros has three small villages, Karavostasis (where the port is located), Chora, Ano Meria, and the small settlement of Agali with the homonymous beach.
Festivals/ Local Traditions
During summer there are three major festivals (Panigiria):
-27th of July, Saint Panteleimon Feast Day.
-6th of August, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Savior.
-15th of August is the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Dekapendavgoustos).
Do as locals do…
Visit the “Kafepantopoleio tis Irinis” at Ano Meria, a tiny little restaurant inside a grocery store. And taste excellent homemade food by ‘Kyria Eirini’. It’s the only taverna that runs all year long, so it’s also a local favourite.
For an alternative experience of eco-tourism and complete peace of mind, just 5 minutes walk from Agali, you can find the quiet and picturesque Galyfos beach. For the last 25 years here, there have been rooms available at Galyfos, that operate without electricity. Simple and beautiful- they overlook the sea.
Ideal time to spend here? I would recommend at least four days and perhaps as long as a full week.
Favourite part of the island? Kastro, the oldest and most picturesque neighbourhood of Folegandros. In fact, it’s a castle built during the Medieval Ages to protect the town from pirate attacks. Today, there are Cycladic houses inside the walls, whitewashed alleys, and staircases with bougainvillea.
What to avoid? If you like to stay by the beach, don’t choose Chora. Stay at Agali. On the contrary, if you want to be in the spotlight, choose Chora.
Scuba diving and snorkeling. Τhe undersea wealth is spectacular. Sign up for scuba diving and snorkeling lessons to explore the underwater wonders of Folegandros. Check out Sea-u.
Hiking/ Trekking. Folegandros has many footpaths available for hiking or trekking, well traced. The Top 5 are: Ano Meriá (Agios Andréas) – AgiosSóstis – Agios Geórgios and back/ Ano Meria – Livadaki – Angali – Chora/ Chóra – Angáli – Chóra/ Chora – Petoúsis – Livádi – Loústria – Karavostásis/ Chóra – Stavrós – Agia Paraskeví – Giórgi t’ Aga – Ano Meriá (Theológos).
*For more information check here: folegandros.com
Where to shop
Always Summer in Folegandros, a shop where you can find your favourite Greek brands. –
Design 35, a little store full of chic and elegant creations made by local Greek designers.
To stolidaki, a beautiful shop with artisanal designer clothes, jewels, accessories, and unique handmade gifts- beautifully crafted!
What to see
-The church of Panagia, located on a privileged spot above Chora, offering a jaw-dropping view of the island and the ocean.
-The medieval Castle (Kastro), built on the edge of the sheer cliff of 200 meters. The village within the walls was lived in continuously throughout the centuries.
-The photogenic twin chapels between Agali and Galifos beach boasts stunning views.
Also, check out the lemonospita (lemon houses) at Ano Meria. These very peculiar constructions with walls built from stone in a square or round shape used to protect the lemon tree, planted in the middle, from the strong winds of the island.
Take a day trip to: Santorini or Sikinos. The ferry trip from Santorini to Folegandros lasts from 50 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on the ferry company, while from Folegandros to Sikinos the ferry journey takes around 45 minutes.
What to do…
-Hike to the Church of Panagia in Chora and enjoy the view, especially during sunset.
-Get wonderfully lost within the walls of the Castle of Folegandros.
-Visit Merkouri Wine Bar in a vineyard full of local wine varieties, distillations, and cocktails that you can taste while hearing relaxing music.
-Take a boat trip and explore the Cave of Chrisospilia.
-Visit the Aspropounta Lighthouse built in 1919.
-Follow hillside hiking trails leading to cute chapels.
-On a hiking adventure to Ano Meria, visit the Ecological and Folklore Museum of Folegandros. Built according to old techniques (with stones and mud), it holds a wide collection of traditional well-preserved daily life items of Folegandros.
-Go beach hopping after a swim at Agali beach.
Can’t leave until- You enjoy the breathtaking sunset from the stairs of the church of Panagia in Chora (more than once).
*All images by Polina Paraskevopoulou © (Copyright)