The Serenity of Folegandros, Greece
When I was planning our trip to the Greek Islands, I knew we had to visit the popular islands of Santorini and Mykonos, but I also knew we'd want an escape from the hustle and bustle, so I added Folegandros (foe-leg-an-dross) to our travel plans. This small island may have been our favorite stop during our journey to the Greek Islands. We went during the middle of September, so things had begun to quiet down quite a bit, which was ideal. Just three days on the island, and we had already begun to recognize familiar faces (during the winter months, the island is home to less than 800 full-time residents).
We took a ferry from Santorini to Folegandros, there are a few ferry options, we took the Sea Jet and arrived within 40min. We stayed at a lovely Airbnb just outside of town, about a 3 minute drive. You can drive the length of the island in about 30min, and if you want to explore the beaches and hillsides, I would highly recommend renting a car. We spent most of our days wandering the streets of Chora, the largest town on the island, which has a surprising number of shops, cafes, restaurants and markets. You'll get lost wandering the narrow stone streets and admiring the white houses with blue doors.
The Church of Panaghia is the large church you'll spot on the top of the hill above Chora. It's a short but somewhat steep hike to the Church from the edge of town, along a paved path of switchbacks. If you start at the viewpoint across from Pounta (our favorite restaurant in town!), you'll follow the sidewalk uphill and will soon see the Church in the distance. I'd suggest walking up here for sunrise and sunset if you're up for it, the view of the Aegean sea and the town of Chora below is spectacular!
There are many beaches to enjoy on the island of Folegandros, however the beaches near the port tend to be more crowded. We hopped in the car and drove to Ambeli Beach one day, and Agios Beach the next. These two beaches are hidden little havens visited by locals. Agios Beach is a bit larger than Ambeli, but both are set in coves to protect you from wind and large waves. To get to either beach, you'll take a dirt road that is fairly rough, the car rental office may suggest you can walk if you want, but that would be quite the trek in the heat of the day with no shade to be found. I'd recommend driving and just taking it slow while embracing the views.
You can't drive two minutes in Folegandros without seeing a small white church perched on a hilltop. There are dirt paths to each, and walking out to any one of these little sanctuaries is a wonderful way to take in the simple beauty of the island.
- Go to Parasagas and order the fig gelato
- Rent a car to visit the remote beaches
- Hike up to the Church of Panaghia in the town of Chora
- Sit back and enjoy the slow paced life on this magical little island!
- Bring your tripod! There is no light pollution here, and the night sky is miraculous!