The Weekly Getaway: Folegandros, an island largely still unexplored
I found myself in Folegandros around 10 years ago whilst I was traveling with a bunch of friends -all male- trying to find some bars to party at. That never really happened! Instead we settled for crystal clear waters in remote beaches, picturesque whitewashed alleys in the main town and lots of great food in local traditional joints. And that was great!
Located around 4 hours away south of Athens, Folegandros is a very small island with only three villages and 650 inhabitants. The main village is full of nice local cafés and tavernas, a handful of bars and lots of B&Bs, all of them nicely tucked around the three squares. White and fuchsia bougainvilleas color this scenery that could be well be taken from a movie set.
You're most likely to get into the island around noon, which makes perfect timing for a late brunch at Magos (Magician in English) or Nicolas which is actually the owner's real name! This guy serves meals all-day long and sitting underneath the trees' shade, reading one his books or trying to solve one of his handmade riddles can be quite relaxing and fun.
When you're ready to hit the beach, you can make your way towards Agkali beach, the most easy-to-get beach of the island that gets though really crowded after lunchtime. If you're in a hiking mood, you can walk up the hill on a footpath of around 20 minutes that will get you to Agios Nikolaos beach. Alternatively you can get there by boat. Very quiet remote beach with a cute taverna sitting on top, particularly nice for a glass of ouzo just before sunset.
Other nice beaches are Katergo (again, have to go there by boat), Ambeli (in the north 15 min away from Chora) and Livadi (sandy beach near Karavostasis port). Whatever you do though, check the wind beforehand cause it can get really tricky... especially during August.
- Church of Panagia - perched upon the hill just opposite Chora, this Cycladic white-washed church dedicated to Virgin Mary is a former female monastery and a place of worship during times of high winds. Legend has it that residents prayed when a strong northern wind blew and sank all the boats of the pirates
- Hrysospilia - remarkable cave found at an altitude of approximately 10 meters above sea level on the hillside of mountain Palaiokastro. Hard to access although a local boat service runs a daily excursion that stops at this site for a few minutes and a quick glimpse
- The Castle of Hora - established by Marco Sanudo, the duke of Naxos during 1212, the castle is a medieval settlement created in order to protect the island’s population from enemies and pirate invasions. It's easily accessed on foot from Chora
- Deutera Parouysia church - one of the highest peaks of the island with a small hidden church at the very top (close to the telco antennas). The sunset view is unparalleled
- Fata Morgana - good location for a basic hotel offering. Great views though to the Chora and the Aegean sea
- Anemi - the most luxurious hotel on the island although it's located in the worst part of it, the port. The price is high, as are the amenities, but it is located far away from all the buzz in Chora
- Provalma Studios - very nice, clean and stylish studios. Also, breathtaking views!
- Airbnb - very limited offering but definitely worth exploring. Andrew is a great host and his small recently renovated white-washed houses a perfect choice
- Ambeli beach - narrow and long rocky bay that is hard to reach by car. Really rewarding though if you make the trek all the way up north. Could combine this with a meal at Synantisi on the way back!
- Agios Nikolaos beach - perfect turquoise waters and pebbles on the seabed. The sandy beach is rather small and is hard to reach on a 15min trek from Agkali beach. Definitely worth every minute of it!
- Agkali beach - the most accessible beach on the island that gets very busy at all times. Worth it only for a quick "in-and-out" dip
- Katergo beach - a ferry service from the port runs every hour or so to this long stretch in the southern part of the island. Definitely a must if you like remote places, so long as you get enough supplies and water with you
- Pounta - mostly for breakfast, go early to secure a nice table in the front overlooking the main drop-off point or sit at the back garden. Read our full review here
- Papalagi - atop the hill on Agios Nikolas bay, perfect for small seafood and salad bites
- H synantisi - delicious Matsata, Folegandros' local recipe of pasta cooked in a tomato or lemon with the meat of your choice
- To spitiko - lost in the narrow alleys of Chora, this restaurant is like walking into a local cook's kitchen
- BaRaki - arguably the best music in Folegandros with cute small tables in the alleys of Chora
- Beez - more upscale and fashionable than BaRaki offering cocktails too, although there's not too many tables outside
- Astarti - also good, located in the main square which can be very busy
Last updated: 13/08/2017