Folegandros is a truly breath-taking Greek island and should be on your list to visit. It’s located in the Cyclades between the popular Milos and Ios but has it’s own individual charm and magic which make it a worthwhile trip. Folegandros has vast, steep mountainous areas with a beautiful Chora which strikes a resemblance to Santorini. Around the island are secluded beaches which offer more peace than its neighbouring islands.
Found in pockets around the mountains, will be off road paths to the sea. You can feel the tranquility on this island with plenty of areas to spend time by yourself or with the people you’re exploring with. At times, you’ll feel like it’s your own island.
How long to stay
You will regret making this island a short stop, if that’s what you’ve booked. Exploring the island and the hidden beaches can be done in 2-3 days but you won’t have had enough time to really appreciate it. We spent 3 nights here and wish we’d had longer.
The Chora is like a mini Oia in Santorini, without all the tourists and hustle and bustle for the best spots. We’ve recommended Folegandros to family and friends as a main holiday to relax. Despite it’s smaller size, you’ll have plenty of things to do and more importantly just enjoy relaxing and the quieter side to this island.
How to get there
Folegandros is more secluded and not as popular as the other islands nearby. This is favourable for you so you can have more of the island for yourself. What it does mean though, is that you need to plan your visit carefully. The closest airport is on the island of Milos, so an option is to fly there from Athens and get a boat over.
The easier option though will be arriving from one of its neighbouring islands and not flying from Milos. Most people who visit the Cyclades will be island hopping by use of ferries, which is what we did. The most important thing is checking in advance which ferries arrive and depart on certain days. The timetable for ferries visiting is not as often as the other islands.
We used Ferry Hopper to organise all our travel around the islands and were not let down once. Just be aware that ferries will usually arrive 1-2 hours later than schedule as they have a lot of stoppages at different islands.
Where to stay
When doing our research, we found three areas to potentially stay at all with their own pros. As soon as we saw pictures of the Chora, we knew that we had to stay there. It’s built on a steep cliff and has mesmerising views of the ocean when looking down the steep drop of the cliff. You’ll find a gorgeous Castro to visit with local Greek houses where people live with spectacular views.
The village itself has plenty of restaurants for choice and bars which stay open for drinks until the early hours of the morning. Make sure you reserve tables in advance as they will get full as it’s only a small area. This exquisite town is also home to the most iconic picture of the island, the Church of Panagia.
Another option of where to stay is by the port, Karavostasi where you’ll be dropped off by the ferry. This also has some beautiful views of the ocean and some stunning beaches. Here is where you’ll find a trip to one of the beautiful beaches on the island, only accessible by boat. There’s plenty of restaurants and bars here too.
The last area in which people stay is, Ano Meria. This is one of the quietest parts of the island with only a couple of restaurants and places to stay. It is a short 10 minute drive from the Chora and offers an even more peaceful experience.
One thing we noticed when booking our accommodation, was how little choice there was for us in the Chora. That’s because of the size of the island and that there is less choice. Book in advance to guarantee yourself a nice spot and place. You’ll also find the prices are expensive due to the popularity.
We stayed at the wonderful, Folegandros apartments, you can see our review here. It was an amazing place to stay at the top of the Chora and they will pick you up and drop you off at the port.
How to get about
There is a limited bus service that will get you to the main areas but the best way to explore this island is with an ATV. It doesn’t take long to get from one side of the island to the other and you’ll get to explore other areas which are not accessible by car. We booked with Folegandros-Rentals, who are based at the Chora, they give online discount and the service was very pleasant when using them. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Places to visit
We’ll start with the Chora because if you’re not staying here, then visiting here is a must. This quaint, pretty town has the classic white washed buildings and pastel colours you associate with Greece. It’s kept in such good condition that you may even notice the local residents giving it a fresh coat of paint which is what we saw with the cobbled paths. The beautiful buildings will tempt you with a visit inside whether that’s a cafe, restaurant or bar. You’ll find a photo opportunity around every corner.
Within the Chora, you’ll find Folegandros Castro. This area is quiet and unique, it has beautiful kept houses where the local people live. Enjoy the views, take photos and watch one of the sleepy cats have a nap in the shade.
Church of Panagia
Probably the most photographed area of Folegandros and you’ll have seen it at the top of this post. Famous for its individualistic, windy white path. It’s extra special visiting this place during sunset, but will get very crowded. Find a nice area an hour before sunset and experience the beautiful colours which are produced from the sun on the white washed church. You’ll see the steepness of the cliff leading to the ocean and a hypnotising, hazey coloured blue which looks like it goes on forever.
Sticking with sunsets, this is a bit of a secret spot and you may have this place to yourself. It is a little church on the Western edge of the island that you can reach by car or on foot from the end of Ano Meria. You’ll find a rock to have a photo on and a great area to watch the sunset. Be careful, as this place isn’t protected from the wind and you’ll do well to come away with your hair not all over the place.
Explore and find your own hidden gem
As mentioned before, you’ll find large areas of this island looking deserted. Guy went looking for not as popular beaches near Ano Meria on the ATV. We ended up a little lost due to the infrastructure not as easy to get around but loved getting our drone out and witnessing the stunning views down a dirt path we took. You can really find some amazing areas on this island.
Folegandros is blessed with some extraordinary looking beaches with some only accessible by boat. Thankfully, there are frequent public boats which set off on a daily timetable. Don’t worry if that’s not something you enjoy, because there are some great beaches still easily accessible by car and foot.
Agali beach is located centrally on the island and only a short drive from Chora and Ano Meria. It has crystal clear waters and white washed houses surrounding. There are some lovely cafes nearby which make it a perfect place to chill for the whole day. There will be regular boat rides here to the nearby Livadaki beach too.
This is a stunning beach area and one of the most popular to visit on Folegandros. There is a hiking trail from Ano Meria or you can access it by a public boat from Agali. We took the boat option and it was only a short boat journey away. The beach area is pebbles and very secluded, prepare yourself by bringing snacks and drink. The water colour here is will leave you awe-struck.
Agios Nikolaos beach
A great beach to visit, with tavernas and a beach bar. If you book the boat to take you to Livadaki, then they will drop you off here on the way back to Agali. This is a lovely place to relax for a few hours, especially with the tavernas nearby.
Karavostasi beach is the area you see when you enter Folegandros at the port. It has a lovely area to swim and is surrounded by the traditional white Greek buildings. The area is much more built up than the other beach areas as it is still a popular place to stay. The harbour can be found here and this is where you will find the boat that takes you to the famous Katergo beach. On the other side of the rocks of Karavostasi, you’ll find it’s neighbouring beach. This is a popular area to visit.
Located on the other side of the rocks, you’ll find Vardia beach. This spot is better if you want more peace and seclusion. There are stairs which makes it easy to access, be careful of the wind as this place isn’t as protected.
Katergo beach is the most well-known and probably the most beautiful on the island, it is accessible by boat or by a hike. You’ll need to take the public boat from the harbour at Karavostasi. Similarly to Livadaki, it’s secluded and you’ll need to pre pack any snacks and drinks. It is easy to see why it is popular with the gorgeous scenery and turquoise waters.
One of the funnest things to do on Folegandros is drive and explore. There are other natural beaches on the island and you can follow these by hiking or driving. Follow the rugged coastline and you’ll find quiet, secluded spots. We found some great areas near the beaches of Dentro, Ambeli and Agios Georgios and you’ll feel like you have it all to yourself.
Where to eat and drink
We’re sticking to the Chora, as this is where stayed. Because it’s a small place, it can get quite busy during the evenings. Due to this, it’s best booking a table in advance if you really have somewhere specific in mind. We enjoyed eating at Souvlaki Club for amazing Pitta Gyros. During the evening, you’ll have plenty of choice for food.
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