A few years ago, Folegandros was a well-kept secret in the heart of the Aegean, known to a discerning few. Now, more and more people are discovering this tiny, remote island
with its rugged beauty and easy pace. Its main town, Hora, teeters precariously on the edge of a high cliff with its many squares framed by graceful, typically Cycladic church facades and old-fashioned tavernas.
In the evenings, their tables fill up and the village turns into one big party. Honeyed raki flows, music starts, people sing and friends are made. By day, you’ll meet them again on beaches lapped by green water or in the colourful lanes of the oldest part of town. Welcome to Folegandros!
What to do in Folegandros
Hora: A real cliff hanger
Probably one of the most spectacularly situated of all island villages, Hora, built on the edge of a sheer cliff, adds new meaning to the word breathtaking. Its oldest part, the walled medieval Kastro, is beautifully preserved. Will you dare to stand on the parapet at Pounta Square and admire the view? From there you can stroll to Hora’s other squares. Each has its own character and each boasts its own exquisite church and small houses glistening under layers of whitewash. Here, you understand the truth of the saying, “small is beautiful”.
Mediaeval Folegandros survives
In the roofed passage to the walled district of Kastro once hung a bell that would ring out at every evening to announce the closing of the iron gate. You wouldn’t want to be left outside in those days. As though moulded from white clay, the little houses of the Kato Rouga neighbourhood are like sculptures trimmed with lively colours. Sit down for a longer look and then walk to the Pantanassa church. From there you can clearly see the islands of Milos, Sifnos and Kimolos.
Above Hora, you’ll think Zorro left his mark
Above Hora a striking white path zigzags against the face of the mountain up to a special Folegandros landmark, the church of the Panagia. You hesitate, imagining you’ll arrive out of breath, but the walk is surprisingly gentle and short. And the rewards are great. The church is a rare example of Aegean ecclesiastical architecture with three domes. Inside there is a portable icon of the Virgin, which on her feast days is carried in procession around all the houses of the island, a moving and impressive spectacle. The views are superb.
Pristine beaches in spectacular settings
Whether you walk, take the bus or jump into a caique, you will find Folegandros beaches delightful and photogenic. Whatever your choice, fine pebbles or golden sand, you’ll find the water inviting and clear. Angali, Agios Georgios, Vardia, Livadaki, Hochlidia, Katergo will become familiar names. But remember to take a picnic with you. You won’t find your lounging chair, umbrella or iced coffee on these beaches. Their beauty will be your reward.
Images of Folegandros
Hidden gems of Folegandros
A treat for hikers
If you were to measure them, the island’s pathways would be far, far longer than its asphalted roads. Generations of farmers and shepherds carved out dozens of routes to their pastures and crops, which hikers will want to try. Most of them are paved with flagstones. Hike them all – they will lead you to the most beautiful secrets of the Aegean...
The Folk Museum of Folegandros
Ano Meria, the island’s only other village besides Hora, has kept its strictly agricultural character. Here, in an old farmhouse, you can see what a traditional farm complex was really like, with its storage cellar, outdoor oven, olive press and - a Folegandros phenomenon – walled lemon trees. The winter wind blows so fiercely that the locals erect high stone walls around each one to protect them.
Eleven metres tall, the lighthouse at Cape Mihelo has been operating since 1912. Put it on your list of interesting walks, and take in the breathtaking view, as the entire Aegean unfolds before you.