Top Reasons Why You Should Visit Folegandros, Greece

Take a winding road that zigzags up a hill to reach the white-domed Church of Panagia
Take a winding road that zigzags up a hill to reach the white-domed Church of Panagia | © Francesco Riccardo Iacomino / Getty
Photo of Samantha McCabe
21 September 2021

Most people have heard of Santorini and Mykonos, but far fewer tourists venture to the hidden Cycladic island of Folegandros. This tiny paradise offers secluded turquoise coves, delectable seafood and beautiful views from the hilltop Panagia Church.

International tourists haven’t yet discovered this small island of the Cyclades chain, so if you’re looking for a remote destination for your Grecian getaway, this is it. From swimming at one of the dozen fantastic beaches around the island to hitting up important cultural sites such as Ano Meria, here’s why you should put Folegandros on your travel bucket list.

Feel like a true local – without the authenticity-seeking crowds

Natural Feature
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a woman walking down a street past traditional whitewash buildings in Folegandros, Cyclades Islands, Greece
© Joshua Windsor / Alamy

With under a thousand official occupants and only 32sqkm (12sqmi) of space, Folegandros offers a more tranquil choice than the party locales of Mykonos and Santorini. Even during the busiest summer months there’s peace to be found on restaurant patios, remote beaches and the pews of churches — and Folegandros isn’t too hard to get to by boat, so you’re not spending valuable holiday time travelling.

Sunbathe on one of the gorgeous beaches

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Latinaki beach, rocky beach with crystal waters on Folegandros island. Cyclades, Greece
© vivoo / Alamy

Need to get your tan on or crack open a great book? Folegandros offers your pick of fantastic beaches, such as the windy but secluded Agios Georgios Beach on the north side of the island, or the rocky outcroppings of Katergo Beach, perfect for leaping into the water. Latinaki and Karavostasis are family-friendly beach choices, with shallow water and nearby restaurants. Don’t stop until you’ve visited them all.

Treat yourself to Greek culinary delights

Restaurant, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Greek
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Pounta taverna in Plateia Pounta, Chora, Folegandros, Cyclades, Greece. Image shot 2015. Exact date unknown.
© AegeanPhoto / Alamy
Pounta, in Chora, is a restaurant nestled away in a garden, and is easily missed unless you know it’s there. Try the deep-fried aubergine, fava bean puree and grilled seafood. Meanwhile, Eva’s Garden serves up creative versions of authentic Greek dishes such as steaming crayfish orzo.

Explore the narrow alleyways of Chora

Natural Feature, Historical Landmark
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Greece, Cyclades, Folegandros Island, chora Folegandros
© AGF Srl / Alamy

Chora – as many of the main towns on Greek islands are named – is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in the Cyclades. Spend an afternoon weaving through the narrow whitewashed streets, thick with bougainvillea and hibiscus. It’s closed to car and motorcycle traffic, so all you’ll hear are the crickets and sounds of laughter drifting from a nearby taverna. The main square is perfect for catching some shade.

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  • Make the hillside trek up to the Panagia Church

    Map View
    A young woman descending the footpath from the Church of Panagia, Folegandros, Cyclades Islands, Greece
    © Joshua Windsor / Alamy

    The Orthodox Church of Panagia is easily spottable from Chora (and many other places on the island). You’ll see a winding road snaking to the top of a hill, with the white-domed building almost at the top. The walk is pleasant, and you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping view of Chora and the entire west coast of Folegandros, which is even better at sunrise and sunset.

    Admire the rural settlement of Ano Meria

    Natural Feature, Historical Landmark
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    An all-in-one shop (grocery, mini market, cafe, tavern) typical of remote Greek villages, in Ano Mera village, Folegandros.
    © Hercules Milas / Alamy

    Ano Meria is another small village on the island, a calm, idyllic locale spread over cultivated fields. Here you’ll find Greek cafes, called kafeneios, which served as a typical gathering place for men to chat and lounge. These days, of course, women are also welcome. Hungry after all that caffeine? Stop at a local tavern for sharing plates.

    Stay in an affordable boutique hotel

    Hotel, Boutique Hotel
    4.8/5 (34 Reviews)
    The Blue Sand boutique hotel_61812db8
    Courtesy of Blue Sand Boutique Hotel & Suites / Expedia | Courtesy of Blue Sand Boutique Hotel & Suites / Expedia

    Compared to its neighbouring islands, Folegandros is rather reasonably priced. Most of the accommodation options in Folegandros are located in Chora, with options atop the cliffs offering a romantic seaside view, and Karavostasi, which boasts the harbour. The Blue Sand boutique hotel is truly beachside, and Anima Apartments are better for bigger groups or longer stays. If you’re looking to splurge, the chic Anemi Hotel boasts rows upon rows of loungers beside a massive pool.

    More info

    Marvel at ancient signatures inside Chrysospilia

    Natural Feature, Archaeological site, Historical Landmark
    Map View

    Climb aboard a boat and make your way to the northeastern side of the island. There, 30m (100ft) above sea level, is the cave of Chrysospilia. Beyond the impressive stalactites, there are dozens of names inscribed into the walls, dating back to the 4th century BCE. It’s thought they were etched by young men as part of a coming-of-age ceremony. While there are steps leading into the cave, visits are not recommended, as the cave is dangerous, especially when a northerly wind is blowing.

    These recommendations were updated on September 21, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Samantha McCabe

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