Folegandros is a small island in the Cyclades located between Milos and Santorini. At 10km long and 3km wide at its widest point, it’s lesser known than its bigger and more popular neighbors but my oh my does it hold its own.
Folegandros is everything you’re looking for when it comes to a magical Greek island paradise. It’s the secluded, rustic, getaway I thought I was getting in the other islands but never found until I arrived in Folegandros. With just 700 residents on the entire island, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve stepped away from it all.
It’s every bit as beautiful as Santorini, but with so much more charm and authenticity. It’s definitely not an undiscovered island as it’s a popular getaway for Greeks and knowledgeable tourists these days but you still feel like you’ve gotten away from it all. I spent three nights exploring the Chora and the island on my scooter and I must say, that Folegandros was my favorite island in the Cyclades!
Santorini was one of the islands I visited on my month long trip island hopping through the Cyclades. If you’re also planning a multi-island trip through the Cyclades, make sure to read my itinerary and guide to planning your own Greek island hopping trip!
How to get to Folegandros
Folegandros is well connected by the Greek ferry system. There are numerous ferry companies in the Cyclades that service all the islands. As Folegandros is one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades, there are no airports in sight.
Seajets has regular ferries to Folegandros from Naxos, Milos, and Santorini. Ferries are not as common as larger islands as you’d expect so make sure to book your tickets in advance if traveling during the high season.
Santorini day trip to Folegandros
While I stayed here before visiting Santorini, Folegandros is becoming a popular day trip from Santorini. If you’re visiting Santorini, I’d highly consider a day trip to Folegandros because it will really give you a totally different taste of what the Cyclades are like. Santorini, while incredibly beautiful and picture perfect, is a bit too overdone in my opinion. Folegandros offers the same cliff drop views but with much more authenticity.
There are day tours you can book from Santorini or you can just DIY by taking the ferry in the morning.
When to best visit Folegandros?
Folegandros is located in the southwest of the Cyclades in the south Aegean. The climate in the cycladic islands are pretty much all the same. It enjoys a mild and pleasant climate all year round.
In the summer months, temperatures are highest around 30 degrees or so during the day and dropping to 24 or so at night. The days are normally sunny for months on end. I spent all of July and August traveling around the Cyclades and it was only cloudy or rained one day. Every day is paradise in the summer months.
The shoulder seasons from Sep to Nov and Apr to June and also quite pleasant but you will see some days of cloud and rain, albeit still not that bad. However, I have heard that November can be particularly bad with the rain/clouds.
The winter months or off season is usually colder but temperatures never really drop below 10 degrees. These months between Nov to Mar are the slowest months and tourism usually grinds to a halt.
When is the best time to visit Folegandros?
So what is the best time to Visit Folegandros? It really depends on what you’re after. If you want non stop hot sun, then you will need to visit in the summer. These are the best months to swim in the ocean as the water temperatures will be a pleasant 24 to 25 degrees. However, this is also when all of Greece and the rest of Europe also choose to visit Greece so the crowds will be at their peak.
Prices will be the highest between June and Sep (particularly July and August). I visited the Cyclades during Coronavirus times so even during the peak months it was not overwhelming but there were still a good amount of people. Folegandros even in the peak summer months never felt overwhelming. The Chora was busy at night but largely empty throughout the day.
I think because of how remote Folegandros is, I would not come in the winter months because apparently there are only two restaurants open on the entire island!
Getting around Folegandros
Folegandros, like pretty much every other island in the Cyclades is really meant for a DIY type of adventure. While there are cabs you can take, they are not cheap and not easy if you’re looking to explore multiple places. There aren’t many cabs on the island that I saw and you’re better off just renting something because it will probably be cheaper.
Rent an ATV or Scooter
Renting an ATV can be done pretty much anywhere on the island. There are countless shops in the Chora that have scooter/ATV rentals so there’s no need to book before hand. Prices are mostly set but there is always some negotiation room but do not expect to get huge discounts because the shops work with each other to form a minimum price.
ATVs can be rented for around €30-40 depending on the motor size. Gas is not included in the price but they do not take much. Scooters can be had for around €20 for a 125cc engine.
You will need an EU Drivers license or international drivers license to rent a scooter or ATV
Greece is famously strict about adhering to the drivers license rule. If you have an American drivers license, they will not rent you anything unless you have an international license to go along with it. I did not find anyone that would skirt these rules, even with the shadiest looking of places. Thankfully, living in Europe and having the right US drivers license, I was able to convert mine into a EU license quite easily.
For Folegandros, I found that an ATV is best because of how hilly the island is. The main road is located at the peak of the island in the middle. If you want to visit any beaches, you’ll need to break away from the main road and largely offroad down the side of the island to the beach. A scooter was quite scary to do.
Visit the Chora of Folegandros
If you’re visiting Folegandros, it’s inevitable that you either stay or visit the main Chora (town) of the island. Like the Chora’s in all the other islands, expect to see cute white-washed streets, blue painted door frames, white-lined cobblestone streets, restaurants, shops and more.
The Chora of Folegandros is particularly attractive just because of how small and accessible it is. While it’s not overly picture perfect like Mykonos, it was so charming due to its size and lack of tourists that I couldn’t help but walk through it multiple times. No cars are allowed at all making walking a pleasure.
The whole Chora takes maybe 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. It’s not as big and grand in Mykonos but I guarantee you’ll want to walk it over and over again!
Visit the Kastro neighborhood
Kastro is a neighborhood within the Chora. I suppose it is considered the “old town” even if the whole place feels like an old town. It’s located in the northern part of the town near to the entrance to the church of Panagia.
The houses here are over 100 years old although you wouldn’t guess this as they are kept up in great condition. This is definitely the place to take some photos as it embodies everything you’re looking for in a whitewashed Cycladic neighborhood! The best time to visit is around noon as the sun will be at its highest point giving the best lighting to the houses.
While there were plenty of people in the Chora at night eating dinner, the Kastro neighborhood was mostly empty during the day.
Drive around the island to Ano Meria
Outside of the Chora, there are not really that many other points of interest. The entire island is beautiful and the terracing seen throughout the island is worth a quick drive through. The views from outside of the Chora are just spectacular.
If you do rent a scooter, you can drive northwest to the second largest town of Ano Meria. This place feels like a local village with one or two bakeries, a mini market, and only a handful of restaurants. There isn’t much here to do but is worth a quick stop on a drive through the island!
Sunset at the Church of Panagia
Without a doubt, an absolute must do in Folegandros is to visit the Church of Panagia for the sunset. You can’t miss this church as the winding white-lined steps zig zag up the hill to this white washed church. It’s kind of the iconic image of Folegandros.
The views of the sunset here are absolutely amazing. The sun sets directly in front through the ocean. Also, because you’re 300m above sea level, you get that dramatic cliff view as well.
It gets pretty packed here during sunset hours and who can blame the people? It’s probably one of the best if not the best sun set I had during my entire visit in the Cyclades. Come here early with a nice bottle of wine to secure your spot. I’d recommend at least 1 hour before the sunset and then you can enjoy the views without any people around.
The photos you can take here are insane. The Chora is so picturesque with the cliffs and stairs in the background. You can’t go wrong here! I also flew my drone from here numerous times which was able to get some beautiful shots!
Visit the numerous beaches on the island
Folegandros has no shortage of amazing beaches. However, they are not super easily accessible. The island is made up of cliffs and the main road and Chora are in the middle of the island at the top of these cliffs. To access any beach will involve some decent driving on unpaved road.
Some beaches are so inaccessible that you can’t even drive to it with an ATV but rather you’ll need to walk from the main road. This can take up to an hour to reach but can be well worth it if you’re willing to make the hike. There are a few sandy beaches in Folegandros but expect to see throngs of people during the summer months.
One of the most popular beaches on Folegandros is the Agklai beach. It’s not too far from the Chora and there are some really great restaurants in this spot. The beach is nice but I think the best part of beach hopping is actually walking from Paralia Agklai to Agias Nicholas beach. It’s a short walk up a hill but offers amazing views of the sea and surrounding landscapes.
In the middle of this hike is the Agias ________ which is a full nude beach. The water here is crystal clear and you can swim to nearby rocks to enjoy your birthday suit. I had my first experience with one of these unexpectedly in Mexico so I wasn’t as much in shock this time around!
Agias Nicholas is another beautiful beach located next to Paralia Agklai. It’s more secluded and has less people than Agklai. There is also a seafood restaurant here called Papalagi that offers beautiful views of the beach so is also well worth it.
Located near to the Chora, Vorina beach is extremely beautiful and often secluded. However, this beach is often closed due to strong winds. If you’re able to visit without the huge winds, then definitely come here!
Scuba Diving in Folegandros
I decided to also try some scuba diving in Folegandros. I’m not a big fan of Mediterranean diving having already dove in Mykonos and in Crete. However, I had some free time while in Folegandros and wanted to get in the water.
The only dive shop on the island is called Sea-U. It has perhaps the cutest dive shop exterior of all time. I’ve seen many many dive shops but none like Sea U which is adorned in white stone, teal highlights, and pink Bougainvillea flowers.
The diving in Folegandros actually exceeded my expectations. The visibility was perhaps the clearest water I’ve ever seen outside of Iceland, which of course is famous for its visibility given the water is 2c.
I swear the visibility must have been at least 50m as I felt like I could see forever. I’ve dived all over the world but this had to have been it. We also did a beautiful cave dive filled with stalactites.
For €100, this included two boat dives with all equipment so wasn’t such a bad deal either.
Where to eat in Folegandros?
Folegandros offers a ton of Greek food options with the same deliciousness I’ve come to expect while traveling the country.
However, as a whole, I’d say Folegandros does not have the same culinary prowess as the other islands which is probably due to its small size. Perhaps I went to the wrong places as well but having just come from Milos where the food was out of this world, I was not super impressed with Folegandros.
You will not go hungry however as there are tons of options. Make sure to try the Matsata dish which is essentially just a pasta dish with tender braised beef, goat, or rabbit. I was a bit confused at how a pasta dish like this ended up being a local delicacy on a tiny island like this, especially since none of the other islands make claim for it. Apparently it is because all of the Cyclades was under Venetian control in the 15th century and I guess they must have made a stronger impression on Folegandros than the other islands? Who knows, but try it nonetheless.
For a cheap but delicious Greek street food meal, Mama’s Souvlaki was my go to. They had delicious gyros pitas and souvlaki skewers for my liking. For one gyros pita and 2 meat skewers, I paid only €6.
While Folegandros is definitely travel island, if you are on a backpacker budget, then this will be your go to spot.
As mentioned above, Papalagi is located at Agias Nicholas Beach. It’s got amazing views of the ocean. The food is primarily seafood as you’d expect and while it is good, it is not great. Especially after having so much seafood in Milos island previous to coming to Folegandros. Nevertheless, if you’re doing the hike from Agklai to Agias Nicolas, this will be at the end of your hike and you’ll want to treat yourself to a nice meal.
Pounta for breakfast
Located in the Chora near the Kastro neighborhood, Pounta is the go to spot for breakfast. They have delicious fresh juices and breakfast dishes like omelets available from 8am and onwards. I came here almost every day I was in Folegandros and ordered juices and Greek yogurts. They also have a beautiful garden that offers plenty of seating.
Another restaurant in the Chora that I tried was Melissa’s Taverna. I tried their traditional Matsata here which was okay but nothing to write home about. Their lamb chops were delicious though!
This place in the Chora specializes in grilled meats which were quite delicious. It’s also one of the cheapest restaurants I went to as I spent only €15 for wine, salad, and meat.