Folegandros might very well be my favorite Greek island, at least among the dozen or so I’ve seen so far. It’s not as off-the-beaten-path as nearby Sikinos, so it attracts quite a few tourists, but it’s not as tacky and crowded as Santorini and still manages to retain some of its traditional Cycladic charm.
Maybe it’s because we visited it near the end of the high season, at the beginning of September, but not being pushed around by crowds from a cruise ship and not having to walk by an endless strip of shops selling the same ugly souvenirs (as is typical of Fira in Santorini) was refreshing. The island’s main village, Chora, has more than a few stores, but somehow they are all art galleries or crafts shops that cater to a more discerning clientele.
While Folegandros does not offer the same stunning and unique views that Santorini has, it has some beautiful landscapes of its own, starting with the bird’s eye view that can be admired from the path leading to the Panagia church, high above the Chora. The view facing west at sunset can be breathtaking.
On the right days, a thin crescent moon, in the company of the planet Venus, will follow the sun into the sea, while the sky turns into shades of orange fading into deep blue. I have rarely witnessed a more romantic scenario, perfect for a moment of tenderness together with your loved one.
If it’s not too hot, it’s always nice to wander around the narrow streets of the Chora and especially of its innermost part, the Kastro. While many of its houses have been turned into B&Bs, it still looks a lot like I imagine it would have looked a hundred years ago, typical Cycladic whitewashed houses, blue doors, and everything.
After a walk through the Chora, there’s nothing better than to grab some food at one of the many restaurants that have tables in a handful of small, quaint squares, in the trees’ shade.
My recommendation is to visit Nicolas’ Place, in the main square, at least once. Food is great, with some unusual menu entries, and a dinner will be typically topped with a serving of flaming rakomelo, the local honey-flavored liquor. Careful! That thing is hot and strong.
Do you want beaches? Folegandros has them and some are gorgeous!
If you’re staying near Karavostasis, the port, there is a little stretch of white pebbles under the tamarisk trees right on the harbour.
A couple kilometers from Chora you will be able to find Agkali, which can be reached by car, boat and a regular bus service. This was our favorite spot when we were in Folegandros, as it was quite windy those days and Agkali offered protection from the prevailing eastern winds.
A short hike from Agkali will bring you to Galifos, a very small cove with white pebbles and emerald waters. Notice that you could find some nudists here, so avoid it if that’s not to your liking.
If you are more adventurous, you can hike your way towards Katergo. There are no roads leading there and the only way to reach it is either via a 2km hike across the countryside that gets very steep and treacherous right at the end, or via boat. Due to the aforementioned high winds there was no boat service when we went there and that meant we had to share a huge beach with maybe half a dozen other people. Of course, there are no bars or beach huts there, so bring lots of water and some food, if you think you’ll be hungry. In this case, always remember to not leave anything behind, except footprints.