Visitors to Greece and the Cyclades flock to famous islands like Santorini and Mykonos. But with 220 islands making up the Cyclades, there’s plenty of other islands where you can get a more authentic taste of Greek island life than just tourist trodden Santorini. Folegandros, one of the best small Greek islands near Santorini, is far underrated and often completely unknown. With a population of just 650 people, one lone ATM and no bank, a handful of hotels, and parts of the island that are so authentic they still don’t even have electricity, it’s really no wonder most people have never even heard of Folegandros, Greece.
With no airport and only accessible by boat, the best way to get to Folegandros is by a ferry from nearby Santorini. So why not combine a trip to Greece’s most famous island with a couple of days stay on Folegandros? Perfect particularly for couples, we think Folegandros is one of the most romantic Greek islands to kick back, relax and make some unforgettable memories together.
Things to Do in Folegandros
The mostly untouched Greek gem is located in the midst of the Cycladic Islands and not sought out by the throngs of tourists that flock to the most popular Greek isles like Santorini and Mykonos. We were so glad we visited the remote island, because we were rewarded with stunning landscapes, practically deserted beaches, and unpretentious restaurants serving up delicious Greek dishes. Folegandros is definitely a destination just for relaxation; there isn’t much to do besides soak up Greek sunshine on the beaches and hike the many footpaths. It’s one of the best Greek islands for couples who want a romantic getaway, a little beach time, incredible food and a lot of relaxation. Make no mistake, the sheer beauty of the island is well worth the trek to Folegandros.
Don’t miss seeing Chora, pronounced Hor-ah, the largest settlement on the island. Situated 200 meters above sea level, the white-washed buildings tumbled down sheer cliffs and the narrow slate-paved lanes suddenly open into squares. Access is prohibited to all motor vehicles, so it’s easy to stroll the lanes, wander in and out of the shops, and enjoy a quiet lunch among the shade of the trees.
Kastro is the oldest part of Chora and has been inhabited continuously since its establishment. Some of the houses are over 1000 years old and are surprisingly maintained in good condition.
With a commanding presence, Folegandros’ largest church towers over Chora. Steps snake up to the Panagia Church, which was built on the ruins of the ancient sanctuary of Artemis. The church is open each evening from 6pm – 9pm and ancient inscriptions, sculptures, and statues can be seen inside. From the vantage point of the Panagia’s courtyard, there are panoramic views over the Aegean Sea, making it a stunning spot to watch a Folegandros sunset.
Built on the north-western edge of the island, Ano Meria is the second largest settlement on Folegandros. It’s easy to see that the way of life in this authentic village is still mainly agricultural. Age old customs and traditions are still preserved here and while the village does have an Ecological and Folk Museum, it’s practically a living museum in and of itself. You’re likely to spot residents riding their donkeys along the terraced fields and octopus drying on the lines outside the village’s few restaurants.
If you want to see what the inside of the typical houses made of mud and stone in Ano Meria look like, definitely visit the Ecological and Folk Museum. It’s housed inside one of the typical houses and has traditional tools, local costumes, the remains of an olive press and a primitive wine press.
Beaches in Folegandros
Folegandros has no shortage of beaches and exploring them is one of the best things to do on the island. Even so, the most popular beaches seem practically deserted. Only a handful of people are soaking up the sun or splashing in the azure water. Many of the beaches aren’t easily reached; you need to hike or rent a boat to reach them. We asked some locals where to hit the beach and checked out their recommendations for the best Folegandros beaches.
Agali Beach Folegandros
Agali Beach (also known as Angali beach) is the most popular beach on the island. It’s easily accessible via the one road that runs from the port in Karavostasis to Ano Meria on the other end of the island. Angali means hug, and the rocky cliffs surrounding the sand and pebble beach appear to be enveloping it in a big hug.
Scoot around the cliff side and you may even find your very own private cove like we did. It’s a family beach and signs warn nudity isn’t tolerated here.
There are a few tavernas teetering on the cliff side and they serve up fresh fish. There are no other services or even a shop to buy water, so be sure to bring your own towels and drinks.
Agios Nikolaos Beach
Agios Nikolaos can only be reached by foot or by boat. It’s about a 20 minute hike from Agali Beach or a boat, which operates on GMT (Greek Maybe Time), also takes passengers to the beach. Supposedly the boat runs every 30 minutes, but we only saw it take some passengers over to Agios Nikolaos once the entire time we were hiking to the beach and hung out on the beach. Be sure to make arrangements with the boat captain if you hope to only hike one way or get a round trip boat ride.
Agios Nikolaos is a sandy beach with a few tamarisk trees for shade. It’s a typical Greek beach where bathing suits are left at home and going au naturel is the name of the game. There is also a small taverna offering food and drinks and a cafe selling drinks on the beach.
Agios Georgios Beach
At the very northern end of the island lies Agios Georgios. There is a dirt road leading down to the beach from Ano Meria just after the Agios Georgios church, though it looked questionable as to whether cars or buggies should even be on it. Bring everything as there are no services at this secluded beach. It’s also not recommended to visit Agios Georgios when it is windy.
The green stone hill rolls down the eastern side of Folegandros to Vorina Beach below Chora. To reach the beach, follow the footpath from Chora to Ano Meria or hire a private boat to get to the beach. There are no services, so bring plenty of water and whatever else you need for your day in the sun. And remember: you will have to hike back up that steep cliff side.
Where to Eat in Folegandros
Folegandros restaurants are totally unpretentious and might have just 5 or 6 tables.
Overlooking the port, Kali Kardia has been serving fresh fish since 1960. Every dish is homemade. We enjoyed a simple, yet delicious, dinner of tomato and cucumber salad, tarama spread (a Greek specialty made with carp roe, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, milk, olive oil and seasonings), grilled lobster and fried fish.
Matsata is the island’s specialty dish, which is a fresh pasta made with a red sauce and chicken, rabbit or goat. We tried matsata with rabbit and goat at To Asygkrito (ΤΟ ΑΣΥΓΚΡΙΤΟ) in Chora and weren’t disappointed. The meat literally fell off the bone and we happily recommended both dishes to another table of visitors when they asked what we were having.
Where to Stay in Folegandros
The chic 5-star luxury boutique hotel, Anemi Hotel is located an easy walk of just 300 meters from the beach on the little-known Greek island. Known to the locals as the Island of Peace, Anemi Hotel Folegandros mirrors the tranquility of the island with the Cycladic-style white two story houses set against a backdrop of cloudless blue skies and rocky hillsides. Dubbed the best hotel on the island, we have no doubt to that claim. The friendliness of the staff and the service were top notch and we loved the little touches like the Cuban cigar bar, infinity pool with sea water, in-room amenities like a pumice stone and Tiery Mugler bath products. Luxury is extremely affordable at this Folegandros hotel.
We absolutely loved the minimalist design of Anemi Hotels. The whole hotel is upscale beach chic with white painted wood floors, light tones, and minimalist touches that make it feel like you’re in your very own beach house instead of a hotel. The 5-star hotel feels homey and not at all pretentious.
The infinity pool has such a spectacular view and is sea water, so it’s like you’re at the beach without the sand. If secluded, deserted Greek beaches with crystal clear water weren’t calling our name, we could have lounged by the infinity pool all day.
When it comes to the rooms, our sea view room was spacious with plenty of closet space for storing our luggage. We loved the beach-chic design of the spacious rooms. The bed was incredibly comfortable with luxury linens for added comfort and we liked the hip design of the mural that made up the headboard. The rooms have fridges that are a little larger than a typical mini fridge and there is space to put some of your own drinks inside. Some of the suites even have their own private pool.
We adored our second floor sea view room and the balcony was a lovely spot to sit and watch the sail boats bob in the quiet port while sipping on some glasses of Greek wine.
I also loved the lemon scented Thierry Mugler bath products. Even after a day at the beach, the shampoo and conditioner left my tangled locks silky smooth. And bonus points for the pumice stone, which I definitely put to use giving myself an in-room pedicure.
We think that it’s also worth mentioning that the wifi was so awesome, it not only worked anywhere on the hotel property but also even all the way to the ferry while we were waiting to depart from the port.
Breakfast is made to order with a fairly extensive a la carte menu to select from. Every kind of egg is available and my veggie omelet was a delicious way to start my day. I also had a Greek yogurt with honey and fruit that is served in a pastry. It came with fresh mint and felt like a dessert rather than a healthy breakfast. Tim had the French toast and was equally as pleased. Breakfast can also be served in your room if preferred.
We got a good workout on the hike to one of Folegandros’ many beaches only accessible by foot (or boats that run on Greek Maybe Time). But had we needed to work off all the delicious Greek food, Anemi Hotel does have tennis courts and a well-equipped gym to get your fitness on.
Getting Around Folegandros
There are a few car rental companies located in Karavostassis (the port) and we found the prices to be comparable at all of them. We really wanted a buggy and the only one available was from Budget Car Rental. We had a blast exploring the island in the buggy and it was an affordable way to get around at our own leisure at €40 per day.
There is also a regular bus service that runs from Karavostassis to Chora and Ano Meria. Though we found most things on the island ran on GMT (Greek Maybe Time), including Budget Car Rental which did not re-open in the afternoon for us to return our buggy. The staff at Anemi Hotel kindly arranged to drop the keys off at Budget for us when they re-opened.
Know Before You Go
Ferries to Folegandros run from Santorini at least three times per week. We took the fast ferry, Sea Jet, which reaches Folegandros in just 45 minutes. We returned to Santorini on Nel Lines, which takes 2 hours to reach Santorini from Folegandros. Book your ferry tickets online and pick them up at the port with your confirmation number.
There are about a dozen or so hotels in Folegandros, with the majority located in Chora. Browse other Folegandros hotels from our Booking.com partner site.
Our stay was provided by Anemi Hotel Folegandros in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own. This article contains affiliate links. When you book on Booking.com through our affiliate site, we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.