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Why Should I Visit Anafi?

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Anafi at a glance

A small arid rock just a few nautical miles from the famous Santorini, the easternmost of the Cycladic Islands is a place that celebrates the beauty of simplicity and freedom.

According to legend, the god Apollo raised the island up from the depths of the Aegean during a terrible storm, to provide a refuge to the Argonauts on their way home from their quest for the Golden Fleece.

Today, this remote Cycladic island, with its highly individual character, bathed in the dazzling light of the Aegean, remains a unique haven of peace and tranquilly where modern travellers can recharge their batteries.

It is also an unparalleled destination for lovers of exploration, with exotic beaches and emerald waters reminiscent of a lost paradise, trails that cross the interior of the island along ancient sacred routes, legendary monasteries, and archaeological sites.

Kalamos, the second largest monolith in the Mediterranean after Gibraltar, is a breathtaking sight, while the atmospheric Anafi Town, perched on a hill overlooking the Aegean, is an enchanting setting for endless romantic walks along winding streets full of dazzling whitewashed buildings with vaulted roofs.

Genuinely welcoming and warm-hearted but also mysterious, Anafi is especially favoured by groups of young people, romantic couples, and free spirits, as well as celebrities who want to fly under the radar.

8 reasons to visit Anafi
  1. To walk the cobbled streets of Anafi Town, one of the most beautiful island capitals in the Aegean. Built on the slopes of a hill below a Venetian castle, the whitewashed Cycladic settlement has stunning views of the Cretan Sea and boasts bougainvillea-splashed stone houses with vaulted roofs, pretty chapels, and picturesque windmills.
  2. To admire the famous Kalamos, the second largest monolith in the Mediterranean after Gibraltar. Completely inaccessible by sea and difficult to reach by land, the imposing limestone rock rises 460 metres above sea level and is linked to the rest of the island by a short isthmus. A favourite location for experienced climbers, it is part of the Natura 2000 network of nature protection areas. According to popular legend, it exerts a strong pull on anyone approaching it. In 1700, the French traveller Tournefort called it “one of the most fearsome rocks in the world”.
  3. To contemplate the vastness of the Aegean from the Monastery of the Virgin Mary Kalamiotissa, an 18th-century architectural gem at the top of Kalamos. The elegant single-aisle church with its white dome and beautiful belfry is the island’s most important religious monument.
  4. To travel back in time to the ancient city-state of Anafi, whose glorious past is evoked at the archaeological site on the 327-metre-high Kasteli Hill through the remains of an enormous wall, impressive tombs and Roman grave monuments.
  5. To wander around the Archaeological Collection (in Anafi Town) and admire Roman statues and sculptures from Kasteli (ancient Anafi).
  6. To discover the Dragon’s Cave, an impressive geological formation on the north side of Kalamos. Its opening is 10 metres high, while the columns, natural pools and stalactites inside are bathed in a golden-green light. You can visit it by choosing a ferry for Anafi.
  7. To explore the countless footpaths of the island. One of the most attractive trails, which ascends from the Monastery of the Life-giving Fount to the Monastery of Kalamiotissa, has constant sea views. The most romantic way to make the walk is to arrive in time to see the spectacular sunset, spend the night in sleeping bags in the monastery courtyard, and wake at dawn to watch the sunrise.
  8. To visit the historic Monastery of the Life-giving Fount in its enchanting location at the foot of Kalamos. It stands on the ruins of an ancient temple of Apollo, built, according to legend, by the Argonauts. The temple was linked to Kasteli (ancient Anafi) by the stone-paved Sacred Way. Masonry from its walls and columns was used in the construction of the monastery.
The top 5 beaches

Roukounas: The most famous and popular beach on the island boasts pale sand, pebbles and tamarisk trees offering natural shade. Next to it is a flat stretch of land where olive and prickly pear trees grow. The taverna is open all day for food.

Kleisidi: A large, exotic beach with fine sand and shallow turquoise waters, just past the port. It is very popular, especially with families, thanks to its good facilities including umbrellas, sun loungers and a cafe. It is well worth visiting if you choose a ferry ticket to Anafi.

Katsouni: A small, quiet, sandy beach with clear waters and tamarisk trees providing natural shade. Access is via a coastal path from Kleisidi.

Flamourou: A beautiful beach with an otherworldly atmosphere in an exotic setting of imposing rocks, pale sand and turquoise waters.

Prasies: A large sandy beach with flat pebbles and turquoise waters, in the shadow of the imposing Kalamos.

Don’t leave Anafi without…
  • Swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Agioi Anargyroi beach, overlooked by the tiny white church of the same name (which means “Holy Unmercenaries”) with the gigantic rock of Kalamos in the background.
  • Enjoying an aromatic Greek coffee and traditional koufeto honey and almond sweets in one of the cafes in Anafi Town.
  • Relaxing with a rakomelo (honey and raki drink) or a cool beer and enjoying the sea view from one of the atmospheric terraces in Anafi Town.
  • Taking a boat trip around the coast of Anafi and exploring hidden pristine beaches of outstanding natural beauty and the tiny deserted islands of Ftena, Pachia and Makra.
  • Discovering the famous shepherds’ dwellings scattered around the interior of the island. These listed buildings, superb examples of folk architecture, are unique throughout the Aegean. A characteristic feature is the oven, an enormous round stone structure in the courtyard of each one.
Tasty Experiences
  • If you choose a ferry ticket to Anafi, stock up on the excellent thyme honey produced on the island.
  • Make sure you try the unique cheese-bread from the bakery in Anafi Town. Flavoured with locally grown saffron, it is traditionally served at breakfast.
  • Sample the local roast goat, homemade pasta such as balothia and pitaria, tzonari (salt pork with onions and potatoes), tomato fritters and the famous local lobster linguine.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with yemista or skaltsounia (half-moons of thin pastry filled with honey, sesame seeds and walnuts), melitera (sweet pies made with eggs and soft mizithra cheese), sisamomelo (sesame seeds with honey and cinnamon) and koufeto (made of pure local honey and almonds).
  • Enjoy a glass of strofyliatiko, the excellent local white wine.
Trivia

The people of Anafi have always been great builders and craftsmen. In 1834, during the reign of King Otto, Athens was declared the capital of Greece, creating the need for skilled workers to help build the new city. People from Anafi were among those who moved to Athens to build the king’s palaces. They chose to settle on the rocky north-eastern side of the Acropolis, creating the famous “Anafiotika”, a Cycladic-style settlement perched on the steep slopes of the rock. Although part of it was demolished in the 1980s so that an ancient road could be rebuilt around the Acropolis, the neighbourhood remains one of the most beautiful in Athens. ​

MAP OF ANAFI
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