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Why Should I Visit Folegandros?

Folegandros at a glance

An island of wild natural beauty with amazing rocky scenery and an authentic way of life, Folegandros regularly features on lists of Europe’s least explored gems.

From the picture-postcard capital to steep cliffs that plunge into the sea and idyllic pristine beaches with turquoise waters, this remote and windswept location makes an immediate impression on visitors.

Bathed in the dazzling Aegean light, the bare landscape of Folegandros emits a unique feeling of peace and tranquillity that is never less than captivating.  Here, in the south of the Cyclades, you can discover a haven of freedom and seclusion where a sense of moderation mingles perfectly with the cosmopolitan atmosphere of an international travel destination. You can visit it by choosing a ferry ticket to Folegandros.

7 reasons to visit Folegandros
  1. To explore one of the most stunningly beautiful capitals in the Aegean. Built on top of a 210-metre cliff, Folegandros Town is an enchanting labyrinth of narrow paved streets, charming squares connected by whitewashed steps, quaint churches, and sugar-cube houses. The most atmospheric part is the Venetian Kastro, with a medieval settlement that has been inhabited without interruption since 1215.  
  2. To visit the excellent Ecomuseum in Ano Meria, where you can see an authentic representation of the traditional way of life on a 19th century farmstead.
  3. To enjoy the wonderful sunset from the striking Church of the Virgin Mary, perched on a high rock above Folegandros Town. The courtyard and the interior of the church are adorned with ancient inscriptions, sculptures, and pedestals of statues, while the 19th-century marble icon screen is particularly fine. You can get there by walking up the paved footpath from Pountas Square.
  4. To watch the sunrise from Pantanassa, the Church of the Assumption in Kastro, a masterpiece of local church architecture dating from the 18th century. From here, you can see as far as Milos, Sifnos and Kimolos.
  5. To discover the mysterious Golden Cave, a difficult-to-reach cavern, 300 metres in length, in the cliff below the Church of the Virgin Mary. This incredible natural monument contains Roman cisterns, potsherds, and impressive stalactites. The walls and ceiling are etched with ancient names belonging to the adolescent males brought here in the 4th century BC to take part in coming-of-age rituals. Access is possible only via the famous ‘Greek Steps’ or by excursion boat from Karavostasi.
  6. To experience the unique atmosphere and bustling nightlife of the capital’s three squares, where the whole island seems to congregate in the picturesque whitewashed surroundings of the stylish open-air bars.
  7. To gaze out over the vast stretch of sea visible from Pountas Square, one of the most attractive vantage points in the Aegean. The spectacular view is truly breathtaking.
The top 5 beaches

Angali: The island’s largest beach stretches around the picturesque Vathi Bay and is surrounded by steep rocky hills. The soft white sand and translucent emerald waters are ideal for endless sunbathing and swimming or snorkelling. With no amenities, it is an ideal beach for lovers of tranquillity, while the tavernas in the nearby village have plenty of options for food and drink.

Livadi: This stunning beach with golden sand, tamarisk trees, and dark green waters is situated near the villages of Karavostasi and Livadi. It is especially popular with young people, as it has facilities for water sports and beach games, while during the meltemi season the strong winds make it a paradise for windsurfing. There is also a campsite nearby with a restaurant and a bar. The beach is accessible by boat from Angali or Karavostasi and on foot by a difficult path from Ano Meria.

Livadaki: A gorgeous and secluded beach tucked away at the back of a cove with small pebbles, white stone, and cooling blue waters. Surrounded by wide rocks that are good for exploring, its natural beauty attracts lots of people by boat from Angali. The more adventurous come on foot via two hiking trails that start at Ano Meria. Aspropounta Lighthouse is just a ten-minute walk away.

Saint Nicholas: Small and quiet, this is a beach with fine sand, clear green waters and tamarisk trees providing natural shade. It takes its name from the small church perched on the rock at one end (which can be reached via a path). A favourite spot for a beach party when the moon is full, it is accessible by boat (from Karavostasi or Angali) or on foot from Angali or Ano Meria. It is well worth visiting if you choose one of the itineraries for Folegandros.

Katergo: Considered the most spectacular beach on the island, it is also perhaps the most challenging, owing to the difficulty in getting here and its exposure to the sun. The pale grey shingle and limpid turquoise waters surrounded by high rocks create an exotic setting. The valuable iron ore hematite was once mined nearby and the name ‘Katergo’, meaning ‘hard labour’, suggests that this was no easy task. To enjoy the beach, come by boat from Karavostasi or along the path from Livadi.

Don’t leave Folegandros without…
  • Exploring the mountainous Ano Meria, which is like an open-air museum of rural life with dry-stone walls, terraces, and restored themonies (traditional farmsteads with stables, threshing circles, henhouses, outdoor stone ovens, and olive presses).
  • Visiting the iconic Aspropounta Lighthouse. Built in 1919, it stands 58 metres above sea level and today operates by solar energy. The best time to go is just before sunset. It can be reached by hiking from Livadaki or Ano Meria.
  • Walking the old stone-paved paths of the island, which make up a 20-kilometre network of trails that criss-cross the countryside and pass many sites of cultural interest.
  • Going scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters around the enchanting Georgitsis sea cave, a regular spot for the local excursion boats to stop at.  
Tasty Experiences
  • If you choose one of the ferry tickets to Folegandros, don’t miss the opportunity to try the famous matsata (handmade noodles) with red sauce or braised meat (rooster or rabbit).
  • Taste the delicious kalatsouna, also known as sourotenia (traditional pies made with the famous local souroto cheese).
  • Folegandros pies, both sweet and savoury, are in a class of their own. Sample manouropita (with manouri cheese), hortenia (a meat pie with horta – mixed wild greens), kolokithenia (pumpkin pie), and ladenia (an open pie with onion, tomato, and plenty of oil).
  • Enjoy chickpea casserole, slow-cooked wild capers, and karavolous (snails served yiahni-style in a sauce of onions and fresh tomatoes).
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with karpouzenia (a traditional baked dessert of watermelon, honey, and sesame seeds).
  • Try delicious kouloura bread with sesame seeds and aniseed accompanied by souroto cheese.
  • When you are out and about, keep yourself going with some of the locals’ favourite cookies, known as methismena (meaning ‘drunken’) as they contain wine.

The name ‘Folegandros’ is believed to derive from the Phoenician word ‘phelekgundari’ meaning ‘rocky land’, which well describes the rugged contours of the island.​

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