It’s late May – the beginning of the tourist season – Folegandros remains low-key and positively empty. Donkeys still trot the craggy paths that meander throughout the island. The summer air is filled with the sweet scent of rosemary and oregano, wafting in from the herb gardens that belonged to restaurant owners.
Some equate Folegandros to Santorini during its early days, before an airport was built and the tourists took over. The charm of Folegandros is exactly that – an unassuming island that has not met with the tourist mob. Or at least not yet. It is a refuge for those who simply want to kick back and take in the sights of the Cyclades, minus the noise.
A trip to the Greek islands is incomplete without a little sunbathing time by the sea, and Folegandros is loaded with remote beaches. A short ride in the island’s vintage bus will take you to Agali Beach, the most accessible of them all. Make a day of it when you’re there to soak up the azure waters. Quick bites and drinks are just a few steps away at the nearby cafés – a great way to power through your afternoon soak. The view from the bar and restaurant at Blue Sand Hotel is exceptionally breathtaking, and the perfect spot to watch sunbathers glowing red under the Mediterranean sun.
Katergo Beach is a pristine oasis with some of the bluest waters crashing against its shoreline. The fastest way to get there is by boat. Its seclusion is its biggest appeal, but that also means the sight of an eatery is not for another three miles or so. Pack your own food and drinks, and you’ll feel at home at a beach retreat.
Livadaki Beach is another of the island’s elusive beaches. Boats will take you there from Agali Beach. Otherwise, an adventurous hike from Ano Meria will take you through a steep terrain before you can lay eyes on this paradise.
Spend your days wandering Chora, one of the three villages in Folegandros with the highest concentration of restaurants, cafés and knick-knack shops. Take a stroll through Kastro – a little hamlet in Chora – where you can see the way the Greeks live on this island.
The zigzag path up to the Church of Panagia promises some of the best views of Folegandros and its towering cliffs. As the sun sets, the sky darkens and Chora lights up for the night – the perfect view from the church.
Ano Meria represents the wilder side of Folegandros. Some of the longest hikes start off at this rural village that still retains the old donkey tracks. Hikes range from one to three and a half hours.
Local specialties include matsata, a type of handmade pasta cooked with rooster or rabbit in tomato sauce. The dishes at Folegandros is usually topped with souroto cheese, a locally produced white cheese that resembles feta. For more on what to eat here, check out the eating guide.
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
Perched beside the pathway to the Church of Panagia, Anemomilos Apartments is a three-room boutique establishment with the makings of a luxe hotel. Owner Dimitris Patelis first set foot in Folegandros and fell in love with its unmistakable beauty. In three years time, he transformed an empty land into a balmy abode that’s open to islanders in summer. Guests are treated to a homemade breakfast in the mornings and sweeping views of the open sea. Doubles start at €150.
For the best bang for your buck, Aeri Folegandros Studios has rooms with views of Chora set against the backdrop of the ocean. Doubles start at €90 – each spacious room has a living area and balcony.