I’m launching a new category for blog posts entitled “Italy’s Neighbors.” While the benefits of living in Italy are plentiful, one HUGE one is how easily I can hop around to neighboring countries.
I’ve spent the last several years tackling the logistics of moving to Italy and setting up my home. So, I had neglected returning to one of my favorite places on earth – Folegandros, in the Cycladic Islands of Greece. I’ve been there six times now, and we’re already making plans to return next year. I promise you, this island is THAT incredible and well worth your efforts to get there.
Why do I love Folegandros so much?
Of all the places I have visited, when I am in Folegandros I feel a sense of space, expansiveness, and wonder that is almost impossible to describe. Only when I have taken friends and family there do they turn to me and say “Now I get why this place is so special.”
Very few non-Greek people have heard of Folegandros, and selfishly I hope it remains off the main tourist radar. Looking at a map of they Cycladic island, Folegandros looks like it’s within spitting distance of Santorini – which now seems to be constantly under siege by tourists. Yes, Santorini is still a stunning place to go (especially Oia on the northern tip), but the character of the place definitely has been “tainted” by heavy tourism. Multiple flights, cruise ships and ferries regularly make their way into Santorini. In Folegandros, your options are more severely limited. And this, I believe, is what will protect it from being spoiled.
How to reach Folegandros.
If you fly into Athens, you can head to the port of Piraeus and catch a ferry to Folegandros. In peak season you can find two daily “fast” boats to Folegandros. These are high-speed catamarans, but they do make several other island stops – so the journey can be over five hours. And, the sea can be rough when the high winds are acting up (take Dramamine). Other big, slow, lumbering ferries make stops there, and if you want to go with your car, then this would be the option for you. You can book a cabin and spend the night. To check ferry schedules and book tickets to www.ferries.gr.
Another option is to fly to Santorini and pick up a ferry there. Depending on the type of ferry you can be pulling into the port of Folegandros within a couple of hours of departure.
And, if you’re island hopping, you just need to check the ferry schedule. But, I urge you to give yourself at least a week on Folegandros. If you try to go for just two or three days you’ll be kicking yourself for not staying longer.
If you’re filthy rich (no, I don’t run in these circles) you can take a helicopter into the island. There is a helicopter pad there for the rich and famous, and for airlifting people in a medical emergency.
Anemomilos Apartments is THE place to stay.
When you visit the website of Anemomilos Apartments don’t be surprised if you quickly start clearing your calendar and plotting how quickly you can get there. I’ve stayed there for every one of my six visits. Cornelia, and her family, do a spectacular job with this property. You can tell this is their baby, and they treat it and their guests with great affection. Located in Chora (the central town on the island), Anemomilos is perched on the cliff just above town and just below the fantastic Church of Panagia (in spring and summer you can see wedding processions making their way up the mountain).
When you book one of the Blue series, you’re guaranteed a front row seat to some of the most spectacular ocean and sunset views you’ll ever experience. Frankly, you’ll be pinching yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming.
The town of Chora is magical.
When you enter Chora you’ll meander throw little square after little square. Lights are strung in the trees, and quaint little restaurants are populated with people donning contented smiles for having discovered Folegandros.
You get a sense of Greek family life and community. Groups of men, women, and teenagers are scattered about. Children run and play. It seems like it has been artfully choreographed, but it all happens naturally.
Exploring the reaches of Folegandros is easy
The choices for getting around Folegandros include renting a car, renting a scooter (you’ll need a motorcycle license to do so), renting an ATV (this is what we did, and we LOVED it), or taking the buses that run the length of this island (the main road from tip to tip is around six to seven miles). We love the ATV option because it can take you down some of the narrower and bumpier dirt or stone roads to reach some pretty spectacular secluded beaches. Reserve your rentals early, as they can be snapped up in a hurry during high season.
Folegandros is Packed with Raw Beauty.
Even during peak tourist season, you can find many deserted, or semi-deserted spots. If you’re into hiking, you’ve hit the jackpot on Folegandros. Bring good hiking shoes with sturdy ankle support, and always have a swimsuit handy. The swimming in the waters surrounding Folegandros is wonderful.
I could go on and on and on about Folegandros, but I’ll leave you here to explore further on your own. I hope I’ve whetted your appetite to learn more about this spot that truly is “heaven on earth.”
In closing I leave you with two important links: