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The Island That Exudes a Feeling of Freedom

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Discover Anafi

Anafi is the easternmost of the Cyclades, a small barren rock just twelve nautical miles from Santorini. According to myth, the island emerged from the sea to offer shelter to Jason and the Argonauts, whose ship had sunk in the middle of Aegean. It boasts the second largest monolith in the Mediterranean and the most skilled stonemasons in Greece.

Geographically remote and untouched by mass tourism, it radiates a mysterious aura and a sense of freedom that captivates visitors. It is renowned for its exotic beaches, turquoise seas, and enchanting trails that reveal its ancient history through unique cultural monuments.

Anafi is a wonderful destination for nature lovers, hikers, and anyone looking to recharge their batteries in a relaxing environment of genuine tranquillity. This peaceful and hospitable retreat has opportunities both for contemplation and recreation into the small hours on atmospheric terraces with fantastic sea views.

3 memorable experiences on Anafi
  1. Watching the sun set from the windswept peak of Kalamos with its panoramic sea view. The more adventurous can spend the night in the courtyard of the Kalamiotissa Monastery, waking up to watch the sun rise.
  2. Going around the island by boat to see the huge cliffs of Kalamos from the sea, where they look even more spectacular.
  3. If you choose one of the itineraries to Anafi, don’t forget to search the countryside to spot the distinctive shepherds’ dwellings, unique examples of traditional Aegean folk architecture that have been designated protected buildings. The enormous circular stone structures outside each one are ovens.
Beaches of Anafi

Anafi has unspoiled exotic beaches to suit all tastes. The busiest ones, which are sandy, are along the southern coast, where the shallow blue sea is sheltered from the wind. Those on the northern coast are rockier and more secluded, attracting lovers of peace and tranquillity. They are all accessible by road, on foot, or by boat. It is worth discovering:

  • Roukounas, the island’s best known and longest beach. It offers a swathe of golden sand and pebbles, with a few tamarisk trees offering natural shade, and a view of olive and prickly pear trees on the flat stretch of land next to it. It has tourist amenities, and the taverna is open throughout the day.
  • Kleisidi, a large beach, and one of Anafi’s busiest, next to the port of Saint Nicholas. Notable for its striking scenery, with fine sand and shallow aquamarine waters, it is especially popular with families. Its facilities include umbrellas, sun loungers, and restaurants.
  • Katsouni, a small relaxing paradise of fine golden sand and tamarisk trees with a crystal-clear sea. The walk here from Kleisidi takes about 15 minutes along a coastal path.
  • The idyllic Flamourou, with its pale sand, blue-green sea, and impressive rocks that make it irresistible.
  • Prasies, below the imposing Kalamos, a large expanse of golden sand with flat pebbles and superb turquoise waters.
  • Agioi Anargyroi, overlooked by the white chapel of the same name (it means “Holy Unmercenaries”), with an exceptional view of the giant monolith of Kalamos in the background. It has a large expanse of fine sand and its crystalline sea is endlessly inviting.
Postcards from Anafi: 8 things not to miss

Anafi Town
If you choose one of the ferry tickets to Anafi, you’ll have the opportunity to explore perhaps the loveliest capital in the Aegean, situated on the side of a hill below a Venetian castle. Its appearance is quintessentially Cycladic, with winding cobbled lanes and stone houses with vaulted roofs, whitewashed courtyards, and brightly coloured bougainvillea, as well as its picturesque Byzantine chapels and beautiful windmills. It has unhindered views of the Cretan Sea.

This enormous limestone rock at the eastern end of the island is the second largest monolith in the Mediterranean, after Gibraltar. With its steep cliff-face and a peak that is 460 metres above sea level, it represents an exciting challenge to experienced climbers. Together with the rocky islets of Ftena, Makria and Pachia, it has been designated a Natura 2000 protected area. Kalamos is joined to Anafi by a short isthmus and is a breathtaking sight, particularly for anyone encountering it for the first time. In 1700, the French traveller Tournefort called it “one of the most fearsome rocks in the world”.

The Monastery of the Virgin Mary Kalamiotissa
Standing on the highest peak of Kalamos, this elegant white-domed single-aisle church, which dates from the 18th-century, offers unparalleled views of the Aegean. According to legend, it was built after an icon of the Virgin Mary was found hanging on a reed. It is the island’s most important religious monument.

The splendid ruins of the acropolis of ancient Anafi, founded by the Dorians between the 8th and 7th century BC, are located at the top of a 327-metre-high hill. Visitors can admire parts of an enormous wall, the impressive tombs in the ancient necropolis, and Roman grave monuments.

The Archaeological Collection
The finds from local excavations housed in this small building in Anafi Town include Roman statues and sculptures from Kasteli.

Dragon’s Cave
This striking geological formation is situated on the north side of Kalamos. The entrance is 10 metres high, while there are columns, pools and stalactites inside. The walk to get here is not easy, but it is rewarding.

The island’s trails
Anafi is a magnet for hikers, with an 18-km network of paths, some of them following routes that have existed since ancient times. It is worth walking the legendary Sacred Way, which joined Kasteli with the Temple of Apollo, or the path between the Monastery of the Life-giving Fount and the Monastery of Kalamiotissa on Kalamos.

The Monastery of the Life-giving Fount
Built on the isthmus that joins Anafi with Kalamos, on the site of the Temple of Apollo, this historic monastery is among the most important places of pilgrimage in the Cyclades. Masonry from the columns and walls of the temple was used in the construction of its courtyard.

Tastes of Anafi

The local cuisine is suffused with the aroma of the saffron that grows on the island and is used in several dishes. Be sure to try the well-known speciality of saffron cheese-bread.

Other favourites include balothia and pitaria (handmade pasta), tzonari (salt pork with onions and potatoes), kavourmas (pan-fried pork with onion and saffron), tomato fritters, roast goat, and the famous Anafi lobster linguine.

The most popular traditional treats are yemista (half-moons of pastry filled with honey, sesame seeds and almonds), melitera (sweet pies made with soft mizithra cheese), and koufeto (confectionary made with local honey and almonds). Don’t miss the excellent white wine made from the strofiliatiko grape.

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