No, you’re not in heaven! You’re on Pano (upper) or Kato (lower) Koufonisi, two island gems which, together, are known as Koufonisia. With Iraklia, Donousa and Schinoussa, they make up the Small Cyclades – not just because they are less well-known than their more illustrious island neighbours, but because they contain everything magical about the Cyclades and radiate it in abundance.
Beautifully clear water, sand that glistens like fairy dust and caves for outlawed pirates of years gone by and today’s more adventurous travellers. Savour the flavours and enjoy music inspired by nights under the moon. There are spots here where the fun never stops, as well as plenty of secret places for peace, tranquility and complete relaxation.
What to do on Koufonisia
Where less is more
There is beauty in simplicity. Pano Koufonisi (the inhabited of the two islands) may not have the luxuries of some of the other islands of the Cyclades, but it has all the necessary comforts and – more importantly – provides unspoiled natural beauty. Despite being the smallest of all the inhabited Cycladic islands (10 sq km), it has enticed travellers of all kinds over the past 20 years.
Dive into an emerald dream
Golden coastlines, still waters and sandy shores. The urge to dive straight into the Aegean will prove irresistible when you’re here! Finikas, Fanos, Italida, Pori … there’s even a beach called The Pool (Pisinia), true to its name.
Explore by boat
If there was ever a place to visit by boat, it is the waters around these islands. It’s not just the hidden beaches that await discovery, but a tapestry of exotic imagery, endless hues of blue, green and turquoise.
All roads lead to... Hora!
The only settlement on either island, you will inevitably pass through the Hora (town) of Pano Koufonisi, a Cycladic microcosm that welcomes you to wander its small streets. Pots of geraniums, white walls and afternoons where locals chat and gossip on their stoops. At night, the town comes alive: tourists and locals socialise and the mood is vibrant and fun. Strangers exchange warm glances and softly-spoken conversations, and sweet music tempts you in like a siren.
Hidden gems of Koufonisia
The sea caves
Legend has it that pirates hid in the sea caves on the north side of Pano Koufonisi. And it’s not hard to see why. Impressive shelters have been carved out by the waves, with Lilliputian beaches. It’s the perfect spot for snorkellers and fishing enthusiasts.
At night, from Pano Koufonisi, you can see the small island of Keros in the distance, shaped like a woman’s silhouette. By day, Keros reveals its archaeological significance. A protected site and, for some, even more important than Delos, it is the hometown of the Arpisti and Avliti, the traditional flute- and harp-playing figurines depicted in so much Cycladic art.
Exotic Kato Koufonisi
There are about ten buildings altogether and a famous taverna, but no one lives here anymore. You should definitely take a day trip here, with boats leaving regularly from Pano Koufonisi’s little port. You can explore on foot. The beaches Nero, Pezoulia and Fikio await.