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Folegandros

Folegandros. Greece

Looking for a quiet Greek Island where you can get away from package tours and holiday-makers? Folegandros may be just the place but you better hurry. The word is out.

In 2005 an article appeared in Conde Naste Traveler which called Folegandros 'Greece's most beautiful undiscovered island' or something close to that. This created a stampede of American travelers interested in combining Folegandros with the other islands they had heard of which were of course, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and Rhodes. This led to a travel agency nightmare of trying to find ferry connections from these islands to Folegandros of which there were none (Mykonos), a few in the summer (Santorini), rarely (Crete) and none (Rhodes). Those travelers who had opted for the less touristy islands of Sifnos and Milos had it a little easier though those traveling in the non-summer months of any except July and August found even these connections unreliable. Nonetheless some travelers who were not talked out of it and kept searching found that a small, but very high-tech travel company on the island of Sifnos, Aegean Thesaurus Travel, was willing to take the time and use their resources to find a way for travelers to visit this unspoiled Cycladic island that has been called "an untouched piece of true Greece".

Folegandros has little in the way of package tourist amenities or major roads and those who come to the island looking for organized water-sports, discos and wild nightlife will be disappointed. But a lack of nightlife does not mean a lack of good restaurants and cafes for after all, on a quiet island, once you have walked through the hills in solitude, smelling the wild thyme, oregano and the array of colorful wildflowers in he spring, what better way to end the day than with a nice meal and some good wine? Like its neighbors Sifnos and Milos, Folegandros cuisine has not been gentrified yet.

Folegandros

Villages on Folegandros

There are three main villages on the island: Karavostasi, Hora (Folegandros town) and Ano Meria.

Folegandros, Hora

Hora is one of the oldest traditional medieval towns in the Cyclades; the buildings stand close to one another creating the external wall of the castle (kastro). The Hora, closed to car and motorcycle traffic, has a unique centre of three squares in a row, with trees under which to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat in a quiet, romantic atmosphere. It is no exaggeration to describe Hora as one of the most aesthetically picturesque, traditional villages of its kind. The view is said to be second only to that of Santorini, (though fans of Plaka on the island of Milos might argue). The Kastro is a medieval fortress at the top of the town which dates from the 13th Century. Despite being a 'quiet island' there actually are some music bars so if you need that thumping beat to make conversation you are in luck.

Karavostassis, Folegandros

Karavostassis is a small seaside settlement 3 km southeast of Hora with whitewashed houses in the Cycladic style of architecture and a pebbled beach for nudists or not. Karavostassis is the island's port, where you will find fishing boats intermingled with and yachts and the visit of the ferry from Athens which comes only two or three times a week in the off-season but many times a day in the summer from Athens, Rafina and other islands. From Karavostassis, you can go on foot to Petoussis and Livadi to see the cave of Georgitsis. If you find yourself in Karavostasis waiting for a boat, three's always "To Zirma" run by friendly Manolis, who despite the size of his establishment can serve up all kinds of delicacies. A view of the sea and a wide selection of Greek beers also helps! This year's favourite was a microbrew Katsika Porter which is marketed as Folegandros beer but the connection with the island escapes me. Excellent though.

Provalma Studios Hotel

The rural village of Ano Merià has a typical kafeneio, known as Irini's place, a taverna-cum-shop, now in the process of being taken over by her grand-daughter, who hopefully will continue the tradition after old man Kostas who started the whole business. Irini's daughter, by the way runs the excellent taverna on Angali beach, so it's all in the family. The village, is spread over cultivated fields with a myriad of dry stoned walls. Here you will find the Ecological and Folklore Museum with exhibits that reconstruct the farming practices of the island. It includes a rural residence with out-buildings, an orchard and vineyard, utensils used in daily life, as well as local costumes. Ano Meria is also the location of the highly rated Provalma Studios, a popular hotel in the center of the village.(photo)

Folegandros beach

Beaches on Folegandros

There are a variety of mostly quiet beaches around the island many of which require some hiking to get to. You can find some small beaches around the port area of Karavostasi. About 400 meters from Karavostasi, just over the small hill is the beach of Vardia (photo) and Livadi with its beach and camping area. From Ano Meria you can walk from 40 to 90 minutes to reach many beaches, the finest being Agios Georgios, towards the northeast. Agios Giorgios is one of the best beaches in summer, when there's enough of a breeze to keep it cool under the trees, and the walk there from Ano Meria is very nice. From Hora a road heads north, hugging the cliff top and offering breathtaking views before descending sharply to the lovely sandy beach of Vathi Bay and the beaches of Angali and Agios Nikolaos the latter of which there are two places to eat and take drinks, the "Papalagi" on top which keep extending their terrace and where you can reserve table, and then there is the Agios Nikolaos taverna right on the beach, run by Jenny and serving excellent fish (oh, the swordfish fillets!) and cold Mythos on tap! My kind of place!

Folegandros Ferry

Getting to Folegandros

In the off-season there are only two or three ferries a week. There are more in the summer though how many more one does not know until the summer actually arrives which makes booking hotels a little difficult. But you can estimate that if there is not a daily boat there will be one 5 days a week. As for making connections to other islands, Sifnos, Milos and the Western Cyclades are your best bet and Santorini, Sikinos, and Ios are good possibilities if the Super-jet or one of the small companies has a high-speed doing this route. Because most businesses on the islands will have to go to the Cyclades capital of Syros for licenses, permits, fines or court you can assume that there will be a boat to and from that island a couple times a week. The most accurate ferry schedules are the ones at Ferryhopper.com and their system of booking and ticket pickup is very easy. You purchase on-line and pick them up at the port right by the ferry boat.

Unless you are a free spirit with a one-way ticket to Greece and no schedule then you may want to hook up with Aegean Thesaurus Travel and let them take the responsibility of getting you on and off Folegandros and finding a hotel. Also see Fantasy Travel's Folegandros Program which can be combined with other islands like in their Folegandros-Santorini-Naxos Program.

If you want to combine Folegandros with other islands try using Matt's Create-an-itinerary form which enables you to put together your own itinerary and get a price back from the agency with no obligation to buy.

Folegandros Restaurants

Restaurants in Folegandros

Most of the restaurant and nightlife is in the small squares and streets of Chora. Pounda is probably your best option, everything lovingly and carefully supervised by Takis the owner. Seating is in a peaceful and quiet garden. Try the delicious psarosoupa (fish soup), octopus stifado, and zucchini fritters, and some clever variations on traditional Greek dishes. Their breakfast is also outstanding. And the ceramics on the table made by his Danish wife Lisbet are lovely. She sells them too but they’re usually all gone by mid July. To Spitiko near the Artos kai Gefsi bakery (yum!!) makes great food especially the local handmade rolled pasta, called matsata, cooked with rabbit and karpouzenio, or watermelon pie. Plus there’s often a breeze there when the square is stifling. (It can also be very windy here). It is the one place that really serves traditional Greek food as most of the other restaurants are becoming more sophisticated to suit a changing clientele. If you’re craving souvlaki/gyros The Souvlaki Club in Chora is the better souvlaki place and their mixed grill for two easily feeds four and even then you need a digestive after eating! The man about the place is Panagiotis, a very cheerful guy who even at one time worked at a Greek restaurant in Arendal, a small village on the South coast of Norway! For fresh fish try Zefiros Anemos on the edge of the village, which is famous for its Astako Makaronada (lobster spaghetti) and its fancy fish which you buy by the kilo and they clean it for you at your table. For a special evening try the small, elegant, Blue Cuisine which reinterprets traditional Greek recipes to create a fine dining experience like you might find in New York or London, only being on a Greek island you have fresh local ingredients and the best Greek wine. For ouzo, tsipuro and mezedes try To Koupi and Loggia (Η Λότζια) the small bar at the "back entrance" to Kastro, a bit out of the way and well run by Janni for a number of years. Also recommended is Arakse restaurant.

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE ON FOLEGANDROS

This six-day workshop is a unique opportunity to combine travel to a Greek island, with an in-depth, experiential look at how the body and mind work together in movement. The classroom experience extends as you hike, swim, relax and enjoy Folegandros with the new information and body awareness that you gain from the Alexander Technique.. For more info e-mail: jkgrod@earthlink.net or visit her website

Hotels on Folegandros

There are a number of family run hotels and what we might call B&Bs on Folegardros that compare favorably with higher category hotels on other more popular islands. Folegandros like any island can get crowded in the summer so arriving expecting to find a place to stay may just be wishful thinking. I recommend using a travel agency that knows the island, for a number of reasons. First of all you will want to know that you can gup qet on and off the island when you need to and if there is a ferry system in the world with more question marks on the schedules than he Greek ferry system it is probably in Bangladesh. The second reason is that even the quietest island has some nightlife and to book yourself into a hotel on a quiet island defeats the purpose if the hotel is next to the island's only disco. Aegean Thesaurus Travel on the nearby island of Sifnos can help you with hotels on Folegandros, ferries and can book you on other islands and Athens as well. The easiest islands to combine with Folegandros are Milos and Sifnos.

Recommended Hotels on Folegandros

I have listed the hotels that are considered the best on Folegandros by people who have actually stayed in them. For that reason they fill quickly so if you find one you like then book it. (Some of them allow you to book a cancel later with no cancellation fees). You can click on the hotel name for more photos, guest reviews and booking information.

Folegandros Apartments

Folegandros Apartments

Featuring free WiFi and a sun terrace, Folegandros Apartments offers accommodations in Chora Folegandros. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Free private parking is available on site. Every room at this hotel is air conditioned and features a TV. Certain rooms feature a sitting area for your convenience. Certain rooms have views of the pool or city. Each room comes with a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is free shuttle service at the property.

Onar Suites Folegandros

Onar Suites Folegandros

This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Located in Karavostásis, Onar Suites Folegandros features a garden and sun terrace. The property is air conditioned and is equipped with a hot tub. Oía is 26 miles from the property. The accommodation features a sitting area. Some units feature a terrace and/or balcony with sea views. There is also a kitchenette, fitted with a refrigerator and stovetop. There is a private bathroom with bathrobes in every unit. Bed linen are provided. Onar Suites Folegandros also includes a hot tub.

Vrahos Boutique Hotel, Folegandros

Vrahos Boutique Hotel

This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Featuring free WiFi, Vrahos Boutique Hotel offers accommodations in Karavostásis. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Certain units feature a private bathroom with a hot tub, and others have free toiletries and a hairdryer. Certain accommodations include a sitting area for your convenience. A balcony or patio are featured in certain rooms. A flat-screen TV with satellite channels is featured. There is free shuttle service at the property.

Anemi Hotel, Folegandros

Anemi Hotel

Get the celebrity treatment with world-class service at Anemi Hotel. This property is a 6-minute walk from the beach. Anemi Hotel is located in Karavostásis, just 26 miles from Oía. The hotel has an outdoor pool and fitness center, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Free private parking is available on site. A flat-screen TV with satellite channels and DVD player, as well as an iPod docking station are featured. Certain rooms have a sitting area to relax in after a busy day. There is a large pool and spa and the suites have private pools!

Chora Resort Hotel, Folegandros

Chora Resort Hotel and Spa

All rooms have air conditioning, a hairdryer, separate bathrooms and satellite TV. Keep fit in the fitness center, enjoy a massage at the spa and health club, or play a game of pool. The outdoor swimming pool is the best spot to pass lazy days in the sun. Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout. Located in Chora, the main town on the island.

Polikandia Hotel, Folegandros

Polikandia Hotel

Located in Chora, Polikandia Hotel features an outdoor pool and sun terrace. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Certain units include a sitting area where you can relax. A terrace or balcony are featured in certain rooms. Every room includes a private bathroom, AC and satelite TV. The hotel also provides free shuttle service.

Aria Boutique Hotel, Folegandros

Aria Boutique Hotel

Showcasing a seasonal outdoor pool and sun terrace, Aria Boutique Hotel is located in Chora Folegandros. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Every room at this hotel is air conditioned and is equipped with a flat-screen TV. Some rooms feature a sitting area where you can relax. A terrace or balcony are featured in certain rooms. Every room comes with a private bathroom. Extras include bathrobes, free toiletries and a hairdryer.The hotel also provides free shuttle service.

Pegados Villas, Folegandros

Pegados Villas

Pegados Villas features an outdoor pool and sun terrace. Ios Chora is 21 miles from the property. Free WiFi is featured and free private parking is available on site. All units have a sitting area. Some units include a terrace and/or patio. There is also a kitchenette, equipped with a refrigerator. There is a private bathroom with a bathtub or shower and a hairdryer in each unit. Bed linen are provided.

Provalma Studios, pool

Provalma Studios

Featuring an outdoor pool with unobstructed views of the Aegean Sea, Provalma Studios is located in the center of Ano Meria village. Built according to the local architecture, it is set amid a small garden with vineyard. Traditionally decorated, all air-conditioned studios at Provalma open to a terrace with sea and pool views. Each has a fully equipped kitchenette with dining area, a laptop safe and a flat-screen TV. Fitted with a built-in shower, the private bathroom also comes with Korres toiletries and a hairdryer. Guests can relax on the comfortable sun loungers by the pool or enjoy a drink from the bar. Other facilities like luggage storage and daily cleaning are offered. Free WiFi access is available throughout.

You can find more hotels, apartments, villas and rooms in Folegandros on Booking.com's Folegandros Page where you can use the search options to find exactly what you want. You can also contact Aegean Thesaurus Travel and Fantasy Travel who both book hotels on Folegandros. If you want to combine Folegandros with other islands try using Matt's Create-an-itinerary form which enables you to put together your own itinerary and get a price back from the agency with no obligation to buy.

Photos courtesy of Fantasy Travel and Booking.com. Special Thanks to Erik Myrland of Oslo, Norway for keeping me up to date with Folegandros by visiting every year. By the way Erik says you will like the island much more if you visit May, June and September instead of July and August.

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