Located right in the middle of Santorini and Milos is the lovely island of Folegandros. Quiet, original and stunningly beautiful this may not be the island all your friends have been to but this is where you can have an authentic Greek experience with few other tourists and a laid back summer vibe. This Folegandros Travel Guide covers everything you need to know.
Don’t forget to book through my links!
PLANNING A TRIP TO GREECE?
Whether you’ve been before or it’s your first time it can be hard to process all the information out there. Be sure to check out our complete Planning Guide as well as our FREE 13-page downloadable itinerary.
And come join our private Facebook Group where you can ask questions and get advice from real travelers!
When to visit Folegandros
Home to only around 700 permanent inhabitants, the island of Folegandros may be small, but during the summer months, it sees many visitors flock to its shores. Peak tourist season here is between June and September with temperatures in their late 20s.
July and August see the highest number of visitors. Outside of these months, visiting in the autumn or in springtime means lower prices for accommodation and still mild weather.
Wind can pick up between August and October, but it isn’t so bad that it will ruin your vacation. If it’s a windy day in the Cyclades we head to a protected beach, usually south facing. Every island has them!
Best beach and swimming weather: June to September
Best sightseeing weather: March to June and September/October
Where is Folegandros?
This quiet Greek island is in the Cyclades group; specifically, it’s 15 miles to the east of Milos and 22 miles northwest of Santorini. If you are visiting those two islands it’s the perfect stopping off point!
Despite its location close to these popular islands of the southwest Aegean, Folegandros is much quieter than others and therefore boasts a more unspoilt, traditional atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty for visitors to do.
Inhabitants of the island are called Folegandrites or Folegandrinos.
How to get to Folegandros
With no airport on the island, ferries are relied upon by visitors to make their way to Folegandros.
There has been a rise in the popularity of the island in the past decade or so which has seen an increase in ferry services. These connect Folegandros to nearby islands such as Milos.
Athens to Folegandros
If you’re coming from the mainland the port of Piraeus in Athens features a year-round ferry service to Folegandros. The ferry from Piraeus generally takes around six to eight hours, but it depends on what type of ferry you catch.
Santorini to Folegandros
Two high-speed ferries per day leave Santorini bound for Folegandros with take around 50 minutes. There are also two from Mykonos (four hours), while Milos also has regular ferry services to the island (around one hour).
Another option is to fly to Santorini and then take a ferry to Folegandros.
The island is also connected to other Cycladean islands via ferry, including Ios and Sifnos, so you’ll have the chance to embark on a spot of island hopping while you’re in the area, if you like.
Getting around Folegandros
Folegandros is a very hilly island and there is little shade. You may be able to rent a bike in summer but we prefer other forms of transport on this island.
There are regular buses the service the island. Schedules can be found here.
There are a few Taxis on the island but they can be hard to get in Summer. The can usually be found at the Port for ferry arrivals but it can pay to book in advance by calling 0030 694 4693 957.
There are also little water taxis serving the main beach towns.
Car and Scooter rental
Scooters, ATVs and cars can be hired from places near the Port and in Chora.
We use and recommended RentalCars for car hire.
Further reading : Driving in Greece
Folegandros island hotels and houses
The island of Folegandros is rugged and hilly, and it’s on one of those hills that you’ll find its capital, Chora, located 200 meters above sea level.
This charming town is a beautiful place to stay in Folegandros. Think soaking up local life, eating in traditional tavernas, and looking out on an amazing sea view studded with islands.
There is a selection of hotel options in town, including the affordable Aegeo Hotel, with its Cycladic style, and Aeri, which mixes modern and tradition and boasts amazing sea views and an outdoor pool.
Then there’s the picturesque port town of Karavostasis. The second-largest town on the island, you’ll find many hotel options here.
It’s great if you want to be near the beach, conveniently located for tours, or transport. Hotels include the centrally located Onar Suites & Villas – a stone’s throw from Radia Beach – and the elegant Amosuites & Spa who have fantastic open-air hot tubs.
The coastal village of Agali may be small, but for a quieter place to stay, this is the option for you. As well as a handful of beaches to explore, there are also some great eateries to sample – it’s a good option for those with a hire car. Blue Sand Boutique Hotel & Spa is built into the rocky hillside itself, while Pasithea Folegandros is a traditional Cycladic gem with astonishing views.
Close to Chora is the small town of Ano Meria. Known for its beautiful landscapes and traditional feel, it’s another good option if you have your own set of wheels and want peace and quiet away from tourist crowds.
Image credit: Onar Suites
Unlike some other islands that may have been slightly overrun by mass tourism, Folegandros has retained its traditional cuisine and boasts a healthy gastronomic scene of its own.
The cuisine of Folegandros is rich and delicious. Foodies should try souroto (a soft white goat or sheep’s milk cheese made on the island and salads or used to top pies); matsata (a homemade ribbon-like pasta native to the island); kalasouna (a type of cheese and onion pie); and pasteli, referring to any kind of sweet baked treat.
Most of the island’s eateries are located in Chora, the capital, where you can find everything from a welcoming café to an easygoing bar or a traditional restaurant. Here our favourites are Souvlaki Club and O’kritikos Grill House for cheap and cheerful meals and Melissa and To Goupi for romantic dinners.
There are also many low-key eateries found around popular beaches, such as Agali Beach, which are helpful if you’re spending the day by the sea. Here we think O Psaromiligkas is not to be missed!
Don’t expect much in the way of nightlife, but there are a few bars that stay open until 2:00 in the morning.
Things to do on Folegandros
While Folegandros isn’t on the usual tourist route for most Greek Islands itineraries, it’s still packed with a number of things to do. Like any self-respecting island in the Aegean Sea beaches and hiking are the tip of the iceberg.
Elsewhere, there are historic monuments to discover and charming towns to lose yourself in.
Here are just a few of the amazing things you can get up to on a trip to Folegrandos.
Folegandros Island Beaches
Agali Beach is a good place to start your beach-hopping adventures on Folegandros. One of the most popular beaches on the island, its white sand and gleaming blue seas are surrounded by high cliffs that protect from the wind. With a scattering of eateries nearby, this is a great option for families with children.
Another good choice for families is Agios Nikolaos Beach. Not too far from Chora, the shallow waters here and gently sloping sand make for the ideal base to spend a lazy day in the sun. The Agios Nikolaos Chapel is nearby, as are two traditional tavernas.
Katergos Beach features grainy sand, crystal-clear waters and such rugged surroundings that it’s only accessible by boat. This remote beach is best reached on a boat tour, but it’s one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.
Livadaki Beach is a small, pebbly beach that can be reached on foot from the town of Ano Meria. There are a few trees for shade, and the water is gentle, making it a nice place to lounge around. Note that there are no facilities nearby, so make sure to bring refreshments with you.
Just southeast of Chora, Karavostasi Beach is a family-friendly beach with shallow water and a calm atmosphere. It’s great for a fun day out, and there are a few places to get food and drink, plus trees for shade.
For those keen on sunsets, don’t miss out on Fira Beach. It’s worth the small hike to reach the compact beach for the sunsets alone – they’re stunning.
Monuments and museums of Folegandros Island
Known as “Kastro”, the Venetian castle of Folegandros dates back to 1215. This medieval marvel was built atop steep cliffs to defend the island against any marauders.
The first houses of Chora were built around the castle first and were not painted white but left their natural colour to avoid being spotted from the sea. Walking around this part of town is particularly rewarding, with its narrow passageways, sea views, and colourful flowers.
Church of Panagia
Also located in Chora, this much photographed and iconic church on Folegandros overlooks the town and boasts an incredible vista of the Aegean Sea. The centuries-old church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and has many legends surrounding it.
To reach the church, walk up the zig-zagging path from Paunda Square in Chora.
Between the beaches of Agali and Galifos you’ll find this particularly photogenic spot. Two small, white-washed chapels stand at the coast here, right on the cliff edge on a backdrop of the azure sea. It’s a beautiful place to seek out if you like photography or just marvelling at a gorgeous view surrounded by nature.
Called “lemonospito” in Greek, these unique structures can be found dotted around the island. Mostly, however, they’re found on the outskirts of Ano Meria, a scenic spot of Mediterranean greenery and the blue sea.
What are they? These dry-stone walls encircle lemon trees, ensuring that the fruit is protected from the strong north winds that can batter this side of the island.
So when you try one of the island’s lemons, you’ll know how much care and love has gone into creating it!
Museums of Folegandros Island
The island of Folegandros has just one museum, and it is the Ecological and Folklore Museum. Opening its doors in 1988, the museum may be small in stature, but it still offers up the chance to learn about local life and traditions.
Situated inside a rustic 19th-century house in the village of Ano Meria, the cultural exhibits on display are worth a look for curious visitors. Pottery, ancient art, and other historic artefacts are spread over two storeys.
There’s also a theatre located in the courtyard and beautiful panoramic views of the island and the Aegean Sea beyond. The house itself – a typical rural residence of the era – is interesting in itself.
Nature and outdoors
Located on the northeastern side of Folegandros is this historic cave. Believed to have once been a place of worship, excavations of the cave remain ongoing to this day.
Inside the cave human remains, Roman vases, and a cistern have been found. On the walls, hundreds of ancient names have been found scrawled, dating to around the 4th century BC.
Unfortunately, you need a permit to visit this archaeological location. If you do secure a permit, it’s reachable only by boat.
The Aspropounta Lighthouse is tucked away on the southwestern coast of the island. The 11-meter-tall lighthouse sits high above Livadaki Beach below. It was first built in 1919 and can be visited via the hiking trail from nearby Ano Meria.
Folegandros abounds with other hiking routes, offering a pleasant landscape and well-marked footpaths. You can opt to either tackle the steep coastline, or traverse inland routes.
The longest of the island’s hikes runs between Ano Meria and Chora but is particularly beautiful, and takes in many of the island’s scenic and historic highlights (with a chance to swim along the way, too).
Events on Folegandros Island
Easter is probably the most important religious holiday in Greece, but on Folegandros they celebrate it in a unique way.
Beginning with a procession on Easter Sunday, locals across the island open their doors to watch the passing of the parade of the Holy Virgin. The icon is taken through the streets, from the castle in Chora to Ano Meria, returning the next day to the castle.
Over the next few days, the icon is carried around the island, including to the port of Karavostasis, where it blesses the boats in the port. Expect local ceremonies, traditional dances, and plenty of food.
There are many other religious celebrations that take place throughout the year, one of which is the Festival of Agios Panteleimonas on 27th July.
There’s also Sotiras Day on 6th August, and the Assumption of the Holy Virgin (also in August), often called “Easter in Summer”.
Other Events in Folegandros
One of the biggest events is Folegandros’ Summer Festival. Taking place in early July, it’s a fun time to visit. The whole island joins in the celebrations, with musical performances and concerts. The jubilant atmosphere usually continues for weeks – think dancing, poetry readings, theatrical events, and spreads of traditional food.
There’s also the Sailing Festival. In August, the Nautical Club of Folegandros hosts a swimming and sailing competition at Karavostasis – an enjoyable event to witness.
A more creative option is the selection of cultural exhibits and creative shows put on by the Folegandros Creative Society across the summer.