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Folegandros: A Hidden European Gem

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Discover Folegandros

Folegandros is among the most enchanting islands in Greece and, according to the international press, a hidden European gem that is ripe for discovery. Although for many decades one of the less-frequented parts of the Aegean, this impressive rock in the southern Cyclades is now emerging as a cosmopolitan travel destination with vibrant nightlife and famous visitors.

From its dazzling and romantic capital to its stunning countryside and pristine beaches, Folegandros promises authentic experiences to lovers of rugged natural beauty, folk architecture, and freedom. Bathed in the light of the Aegean, it is an island full of captivating sensory experiences.

3 memorable experiences on Folegandros
  1. If you choose one of the ferry tickets to Folegandros, don’t miss the opportunity to gaze out over the Aegean from the excellent vantage point of Pounta Square.
  2. Exploring Ano Meria, the heart of rural Folegandros. It is a veritable open-air museum of vernacular architecture, ranging from intricately constructed dry-stone walls to restored farmhouses.
  3. Swimming in the gorgeous waters around the dazzling Georgitsis sea cave, where the local excursion boats regularly drop anchor.
Beaches of Folegandros

The rocky coastline of Folegandros forms arresting scenery of rugged charm punctuated by quiet idyllic beaches with marvellous clear blue waters. Amenities are a rarity and access is usually only possible by sea or on foot. It is worth discovering:

  • Angali, stretching around the picturesque Vathi Bay. This expansive paradise of velvety golden sand and limpid emerald waters is ideal for lovers of tranquillity, sunbathing, and snorkelling. There are no facilities here, but the nearby village has several tavernas and cafes. It is fairly easy to get to by car from the town, as well as by excursion boat.
  • Exquisite Livadi, a sandy beach with wonderful emerald waters just one kilometre from the port of Karavostasi. It is surrounded by orchards and is adjacent to the island’s only campsite, which has a bar and restaurant. It is perfect for watersports, and when it gets breezy, is especially popular among windsurfers. It can be approached by sea from Agali or Karavostasi, and on foot via a difficult path from Ano Meria.
  • Secluded Livadaki, renowned for its rare beauty, just a ten-minute walk from the lighthouse. Its imposing white rocks and cool blue-green waters contribute to its wild grandeur. Access is by boat from Angali or via two hiking trails, starting from Ano Meria.
  • Saint Nicholas, where parties are held beneath the full moon! This small beach with its white sand and aquamarine sea owes its name to the tiny church at one end. There are tamarisk trees providing natural shade and a little taverna with food and coffee. It can be reached by boat or on foot, either from Angali or Ano Meria.
  • The breath-taking Katergo, whose huge rocks, grey pebbles, and turquoise waters make it a setting of exotic splendour. It owes its name, which means “hard labour”, to the hematite mine that used to operate in the area. As it is remote and has no amenities, you should make sure you have everything you need in terms of food and protection from the sun. In addition, access is relatively difficult. You can get here either by boat from the port of Karavostasi or by a 30-minute hike from Livadi.
Postcards from Folegandros: 7 things not to miss

Folegandros Town
Built on the edge of a rocky cliff 210 metres above sea level, this is a capital like no other. The jewel in its crown, the attractive Kastro area, dating from 1215, is made up of cube-like single-room houses made of stone that resemble to monastic cells. The whole town is a masterpiece of architectural harmony and style, consisting of paved alleys, atmospheric squares connected by whitewashed steps, and pretty churches.

Folegandros Ecomuseum
The island’s excellent folklore museum housed in an exemplary restoration of a traditional 19th century farmstead in Ano Meria, shows just what life on Folegandros was once like through unique period items.

The Church of the Virgin Mary
Standing on a rocky hillside above Folegandros Town, on the site of an ancient temple, this important and imposing church is a masterpiece of 19th-century Aegean architecture. It is possible to see some of the ancient inscriptions and sculptural tributes to Artemis and Apollo used in its construction, while its courtyard offers magnificent views of the sunset. The climb up to the church, following the path with the whitewashed steps from Pounta Square, is a magical experience.

Pantanassa Church
Dating from the early 18th century, this elegant church dominates the west side of the capital’s Kastro quarter. Its breathtaking views of the Aegean take in Milos, Sifnos and Kimolos.

The Golden Cave
Folegandros’ most spectacular natural wonder is an exceptional 300-metre-long cavern, hidden on a difficult-to-reach part of the rock below the Church of the Virgin Mary. Experts have identified it as a major place of worship, as there are Roman-era cisterns inside, while the walls are inscribed with the names of young men who participated in coming-of-age ceremonies in the 4th century BC. The cave can only be accessed by sea (by excursion boat from Karavostasi) or by land via the “Greek Steps”.

Aspropounta Lighthouse
Built in 1919 to a height of 58 metres above sea level, this commanding structure is a lovely spot from which to see the sunset. It can be reached by hiking from Livadaki or Ano Meria.

 

 

Tasty Experiences

Folegandros promises unforgettable culinary experiences for anyone who loves good food. The island’s best-known traditional dishes are matsata (handmade noodles) accompanied by red sauce or braised meat (rooster or rabbit), and the justly famed kalatsouna or sourotenia (a regional cheese pie, made with souroto cheese and onion).

In general, the island is celebrated for its pies and it is worth trying them all: from the savoury manouropita (another kind of cheese pie) and hortenia (a meat pie with mixed wild greens) to kolokithenia (pumpkin pie), and karpouzenia (made with local watermelon, honey, and sesame seeds).

If you choose one of the itineraries to Folegandros, don’t forget to try other specialities of the Cyclades, such as chickpea casserole, karavolous (snails served yiahni-style in a sauce of onions and fresh tomatoes), and slow-cooked wild capers. Fans of bakery products will love methismena cookies (which contain wine, hence their name, which means “drunken”), and kouloura bread, made with sesame seeds and aniseed.

MAP OF FOLEGANDROS
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