Continuing our tour in the Cyclades, this time we are gonna reach the small islands of Herakleia, Keros and Koufonissia. Leave any obligations behind and surrender yourselves to the dream-like small islands of the Cyclades that will surely awake your wanderlust!
Relatively unknown compared to the rest of the Cyclades, the small islands of Herakleia, Keros and Koufonisia operate as places of seclusion with enchanting sceneries and fascinating atmosphere. In case you are looking for an alternative summer destination characterized by authenticity and tranquillity, you definitely need to look for one of the following choices. Each island more beautiful than the previous one, get ready to experience locations of wild Cycladic beauty, unspoiled traditional settlements and have a taste of life in the Aegean sea almost frozen in time.
Koufonisia - credits: www.discovergreece.com
Koufonisia comprises of two islands, the main Ano Koufonisi and the uninhabited during the winter months Kato Koufonisi. This small island is a paradox of its own. It is the most densely populated island of the Cyclades, related to its size, and out of its 360 people, almost 110 are teenagers and children. Therefore, it is quite a lively island, an ideal family-friendly option off-the-beaten-path. Most of the families of the island rely on fishing activities to survive, preserving the local traditions which you will have the chance to experience. One thing that you are not gonna need on the island is a car. You can walk from the one end of the island to another in no time, using the ancient traditional paths covering the whole expanse of Koufonisi. For those that want to have a more nature-oriented experience, the camping-site of the island offers you the chance to sleep under the bright Aegean sky and gaze at the beaming stars during the night. With almost zero light pollution, the night sky of Koufonisia is a memorable sight!
Despite the fact that Ano Koufonisi, where there are hotels and rooms for you to stay, is quite a small island, there are certainly so many things for you to see that you will never feel bored for a second. The Chora of Koufonisi is a small settlement which reflects the typical Cycladic architecture, with streets and alleys relatively unchanged through the years. The local delicacies are many, but what you should not miss is fish! There, you will find the freshest fish, literally taken out from the sea minutes ago. Choose one of the many traditional restaurants, mingle with the warm-hearted locals and enjoy a typical Cycladic Mediterranean meal at a fantastic location. Depended on when you are gonna visit the island, there are many local festivals for you to attest, the best way to live like a local! The most important one happens in August the 15th when people of Ano Koufonisi hop on their boats and get to the smaller island of Kato Koufonisi to celebrate Virgin Mary. After the mass, food and drinks are at the centre of everyone’s interest. Fresh fish, local products, goat cheese, wine and many more are some of the things you are gonna try if you get there. Have in mind that these festivals are pivotal to the mindset of Greeks, therefore this is your best chance to live a true, authentic Greek experience!
But what about the natural beauty of Koufonisia? In order for you to realize the scale of the beauty of this corner of Cyclades, photos and videos are more than inefficient. There are so many options and untouched destinations on both the islands that just listing them would probably take ages! Another thing that you will quickly realize while on Koufonisia, is that the islands emit a strong energy of freedom and relaxation, therefore many campers and nudists are to be found there. Nevertheless, some must-see attractions are the traditional 19th-century windmills of the island, and then some of the most popular beaches at Ano and Kato Koufonisi. Do not forget to swim at Pori, where your senses will go wild and enjoy the crystal clear emerald waters of the central Aegean Sea. For those that want to check as many beaches as possible, there are really frequent boat trips from the port of Koufonisi that will take you to some of the most secluded, almost private beaches and magical caves of the Aegean.
With almost no one on it since 1968, Keros is a large island with just one inhabitant, a shepherd who does not spend all year long there too. Nowadays, the island is protected by the Natura 2000, environment protection network and excluded from every construction and habitation activity by the Greek State. Keros used to belong to the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa of Amorgos, until 1952. The main reason for its abandonment was the lack of drinking water and the dry of the existing wells. During the decade of 1960’s, the Greek Archaeological Society started excavating on the island, revealing one of the most important centres of the Cycladic civilization, with habitation dated since 2700 BC. It is known that the island kept having people since classical times, due to an inscription describing the tax people of Keros had to pay to the major city of Athens. Excavations on the island continue with an aim to shed some more light on the rich ancient past of Keros.
Located at the south of Naxos island and connecting with ferry routes to Naxos, the rest of the small Cycladic islands and the port of Piraeus, Herakleia, an island of about 100 people is certainly the place of dreams.
On Herakleia you are not gonna find banks (except for 1 ATM), authorities of any kind, camping site, gas station, taxis or buses, or any other luxurious option. On the other hand, you will find, warm-hearted people that will treat you like friends, endless options for pristine beaches, traditional paths to take you to every inch of the island, and picturesque settlements. If you choose to visit Herakleia as your summer destination, you need to know that time has no meaning there. Leave any of your anxieties, prejudices, and taboos behind and dive into the mindset of Herakleians that will welcome you with open arms. Do not miss the chance to explore the island’s ancient past and visit the cave of St. John, and wander around stalactites and stalagmites millions of years old or dive in its water and check wrecks of WWII. Waste no time and pay a visit to the small island of Hercules.
The island complex of small Cyclades is definitely an option addressing to the most demanding traveller. Get your chance to visit some of the islands mentioned before, plan your own trip and check out one of ours Greece tours.