Wild and charmingly mysterious, the island of Folegandros is considered the island of couples and lovers of alternative vacations. Its morphology is reminiscent of Santorini with an imposing rock dominating and two large settlements located on the hills, at the edge of the cliff. The island belongs to the complex of the Southwestern Cyclades and is located between Sikinos and Milos. It took its name from the son of Minos, while it is also called ‘Polykandros’. Enter the magical world of Folegandros island and get insight into one of the most well-kept secrets of Greece.
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History of Folegandros island
Folegandros - credits: littlelosttravel.com
According to Greek mythology, the island was named after the son of King Minos, Folegandros. Another version wants the name of the island to come from the Phoenician word ‘phelekgundari’ which means ‘rocky land’, referring to the morphology of the island.
The island was first inhabited around the middle of the 3rd century BC., while the findings, as well as the origin of the name of the island, testify to the Minoan influences on the island during the 2nd century BC. The first inhabitants who settled on the island from mainland Greece were Dorians. During the 5th century BC. Folegandros participated in the Athenian Alliance.
The ancient citadel of the island was located at Paleokastro, above the church of Panagia, where there are still scattered fragments of pottery and ruins of buildings. A little further down, in the cemetery of Chora, a part of a wall from the 4th century BC is preserved. century. The engraved names of teenagers on the walls of Chrysospilia located on the north side of the island date to the same period.
Afterward, the island passed successively to the rule of the Macedonians during the 3rd century BC, the Ptolemies during the 1st century BC, and finally the Romans. During the Byzantine times, there are no reports or findings of the history of the island. With the beginning of the Frankish rule in the 12th century, the island together with the rest of the Cyclades passed into the hands of the Venetians and belonged to the duchy of Naxos. The famous Castle was built at this time to repel the pirate raids of that period.
In 1617 and until the liberation in 1928, the island passed into the possession of the Turks. With the integration of the island in the Greek state, many Folegandrites emigrated to Egypt, Constantinople, and Athens, many distinguished themselves in social sciences and humanities, acquired property, and sent money and goods to their families on the island. At that time, the settlement outside the Castle began and the modern settlement of Chora took shape.
During the dictatorships that Greece experienced, Folegandros became a place of exile. In recent decades the island has experienced development mainly through tourism while maintaining the traditional physiognomy of the island.
Why you should visit Folegandros this summer
Folegandros - hotel-castro.com
1. It has the most picturesque town in the Cyclades
The town of Folegandros is the most beautiful town of the Cyclades. Foreign media praise the picturesqueness and beauty of Chora. You will walk carefree on the cobbled streets and squares and you will live the Cycladic fairy tale.
2. The sunset in Folegandros compares to that of Santorini
To enjoy the sunset in Folegandros you will go up to the church of Panagia. From there, the whole of the Aegean will unfold before you. The colors of the sunset contrast with the sea and will give you magical moments and even more magical photos.
3. For a swim in Katergo
Katergo is a separate chapter for Folegandros. It is probably the most famous beach on the island since both tourists and the media talk about it. You will reach it by boat. You will swim in clear blue, transparent waters, you will be enchanted by its rich water life bottom, you will climb its famous sea rock and you will leave full of experiences and images.
4. Folegandros has the perfect climate!
The Cyclades are known for being hot in the morning and extremely windy at night. In Folegandros, that’s not the case. It is warm enough in the morning so you do not feel the need to leave the beach, and cool enough at night that you will enjoy a drink comfortably, probably without even needing a cardigan.
5. You will not need a vehicle in Folegandros
Holidays in Folegandros will take you out of the eternal dilemma of whether or not to take a vehicle with you. Any type of vehicle, even a motorbike, in Folegandros is unnecessary since the road leads only from the port to Chora and from there to Agali beach and Ano Meria. You can go to the rest by boat or on foot!
6. The nature of Folegandros will leave you speechless
On the island, you will see the vastness of nature. Impressive rocks, caves, and deep blue waters await you to guide you through the history of the island. Diving is imperative and photography even more so.
Whether you want an alternative vacation with your friends, or you are arranging a romantic vacation for two, Folegandros is for everyone. You will enjoy the local spirit of ‘rakomelo’ and cocktails in well-kept shops in Chora with your friends, while if you are a type of camping you will find it highly organized in the port. For more romantic moments you will enjoy walks, sunsets, and bars for two in Folegandros and several rooms and hotels with views to choose from.
Where to stay
Folegandros - credits: belvederefolegandros.com
Every corner of Folegandros is idyllic, however, the most popular regions for you to reside on are Chora, Karavostasis, Ano Meria, Agali, Petousis, and Livadi. Chora or Folegandro’s town is, of course, the most popular and convenient one.
In Chora, the Dounavi and Contarini squares are among the busiest and liveliest. There, but also in the alleys between them, every night the paved road is flooded by the visitors of the island, which fill not only the cafes and bars but also the terraces of the squares. You don’t even have to sit in a shop to have fun, the whole center of Chora becomes one; a great company altogether.
The award-winning Vrahos Boutique Hotel, located on the most picturesque slope of the island, 20 meters from the sea, has deluxe rooms with sea views and suites with private hot tubs, from where you can enjoy the unobstructed sea view, without leaving your room.
Anemi Hotel, located a few meters from the port in Karavostasi, is fully equipped with all amenities. The personalized experience it offers will make you come back again and again. It is located on an excellent spot on the island, which will allow you to reach easily Chora and other nearby beaches.
Blue Sand Boutique Hotel & Suites, is paradise on earth. Built on a slope, it is located 15 meters from Agali beach. So close that you will almost dive out of your room. Also, in the Boutique of the hotel, you will find many Greek fashion brands you can shop from.
AMOsuites & Spa will excite you from the first moment. Luxury, comfort, and excellent value for money. The deluxe suites all have an outdoor jacuzzi to relax at any time of the day, enjoying the panoramic view from Karavostasi.
Keep in mind that the most affordable accommodation options are located on the beach of Agali and Karavostasi. Regardless, in our humble opinion, Folegandro’s town is worth the extra money.
Beaches in Folegandros
Folegandros - credits: grecomania.com
It is true. In Folegandros, you won’t come across comfortable sandy beaches that resemble the ones you see on postcards. However, the peculiarity of the coasts, the green stone of Folegandros, and the fact that there is no organization with sunbeds and beach bars, give personality to the beaches of the island.
The most famous and definitely impressive beach is Katergo, a crystal clear beach which you will reach by boat from the port. Alternatively, you can reach it for a difficult path from Livadi in 30 minutes, but beware that you’ll be required to walk a difficult road under the blazing sun. Agali is more family-friendly and comfortable, as it has taverns and shops behind it. You can access Agali beach by car or bus.
From Karavostasis, there is easy access to the beaches of Hochlidia and Vardia next to the port, while from there and on the way to Livadi, you will find the small beaches of Latinaki, Vicentzou, and Pountaki. Agios Nikolaos, Livadaki, Serfiotiko, and Voreina are good alternatives, but also quite inaccessible.
Where to eat
Folegandros - theculturetrip.com
On the island, you will find delicious gastronomic options that cover all tastes and budgets. After all, as we have already mentioned, the island’s squares are full of taverns and restaurants. The traditional dish is called ‘matsata’. It consists of handmade pasta served with braised rooster, rabbit or ‘soutzouki’ sausage, and local cheese.
If you are looking for somewhere to eat traditional dishes, then your best bet is to go to ‘Sinantisi’ in Ano Meria. The ‘matsata’ there is incomparable, as is ‘karpouzenia’ the watermelon pie that is the local dessert that combines watermelon, honey, and sesame.
Another great traditional tavern is ‘Piazza’ located in the center of Folegandros’ Chora. There, you will find homey dishes such as beef stew that will leave you salivating for more. ‘Blue Cuisine’ is also an excellent choice. It is the new gourmet proposal of Chora. There, you will be served gastronomic offerings from the best restaurants abroad and the most sought-after wines. Do not miss the ‘Sardines Bruschetta’, ie sardines in sourdough bread, with sun-dried tomatoes, orange sauce, and hot pepper. To top it all off, ‘Blue Cuisine’ overlooks the church of Panagitsa and offers stunning views.
Since we mentioned the matsata -really, do not miss the opportunity to try it-, we should also talk about the opportunity to explore the island even more deliciously. In Karavostasi and Agali you should go for fresh fish and seafood and in Chora, you will find from international cuisine to taverns that serve traditional cheese pies with "strained" cheese, cooked capers, baked chickpeas, caravolos -which is a type of snail stew-, traditional pastries and many more local products.
In Punta, in the homonymous square, you can enjoy an incredible breakfast in the backyard. At ‘Papalagki Tavern’ in Agios Nikolaos, you will taste excellent seafood with a sea view. Last but not least, at ‘Spitiko’ in the heart of Chora, you will have the opportunity to taste the local flavors in huge portions.
Getting Around Folegandros
Artist painting Folegandros - credits: folegandrosisland.com
Folegandros is connected to Piraeus during the summer season by speedboats, daily. The journey takes 3.5-4 hours. With conventional ferries the journey takes about 11 hours, depending on the route. Buses connect the port in Karavostasi with Chora and Ano Meria. There is always a connection with the ships, regardless of the time of their arrival. There are also taxis and offices that rent cars and mopeds.
Please keep in mind that Folegandros is one of the smallest islands of the Cyclades, with an area of 32 square kilometers and about 650 permanent residents. Naturally, if you are a fan of wandering, you will melt every sole of your shoes to reach from one end to the other. You are welcome to do so, as the infrastructure is rather inviting since there are alleys and paths for routes of every taste. From the network of 20 kilometers, the route from Chora to Stavros, Christos, Fira, and Agali stands out. It will take you approximately 45 minutes.
There is the alternative of buses that will take you to any destination of your desire or donkeys, which can be found all over the island, and cover distances from Chora of about 2-3 kilometers to the beaches.
Greeking.me trips visiting Folegandros
Folegandros - credits: twinsofjourney.com
If the idea of visiting Folegandros sounds appealing, but you’d rather do it with the help of expert locals, then you can trust Greeking.me to take you around the island, among many more, and introduce you to its raw beauty.
Whether you choose to make your visit to Folegandros a romantic and intimate experience and join our Cycladic Romance: 13-Day trip to Athens, Milos, Folegandros & Santorini, or explore the best of the Cyclades with a 10-day Athens, Folegandros, Paros & Small Cyclades Exploration, you will not be disappointed! Through our guided tours and local experiences you will get to experience the Greek islands from the eyes of a local, avoiding all the tourist traps and enjoying an original side of Greece you wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy.
Folegandros’ well-preserved houses with the original Cycladic architecture, its medieval castle built during the Venetian period, the square, the main square, the cobbled alleys, the beautiful churches, all contribute to making the island an ideal vacation destination. With wild beauty, steep coves, a country that looks like an ideal setting for a pirate movie, with special beaches, unique sights, and a nature that will impress you, Folegandros is not just a travel destination; it is a state of mind!