When I look for destinations where I want to travel to next, I always look at the most popular option, and then I branch out right outside of it. Popular destinations are popular for a reason, but big crowds tend to turn me off. I just want to walk freely and roam about; I don’t want to have to worry about passing people on the street or getting bumped left and right. Since I knew that Santorini was a must when traveling in Greece, I looked into smaller and less touristy islands right by it in order to satisfy my small-town craving. And that’s how I discovered Folegandros.
What I discovered about this tiny little Cycladic island is that it’s supposed to be the “next” Santorini. Much smaller and much less visited, but with sunsets JUST as beautiful, if not even better than Santorini. Well, Folegandros did NOT disappoint. It honestly was my absolute FAVORITE island!! The cute little side streets, the pretty flowers on all the houses, the delicious food, the unbelievable sunsets; it was all so…unreal.
Ok, so jump back to last September, after our four-day stay in Milos, we hopped on a Hellenic Seaways ferry towards Folegandros. I put this little guide together in the hopes that it will help you streamline what you do and see in Folegandros if you only plan on spending a couple days here.
Where to Stay in Folegandros
We spent two nights at Hotel Odysseus in Chora. They pick you up from the ferry at the port and drop you off in the center of town. From there, we were off on our feet to try and find the hotel. After a few minutes spent zigzagging the little town (and taking LOTS of pictures), the hubby and I found Hotel Odysseus away from one of the center squares. It’s still very close to town, but because it’s set off to the back, it’s super quiet and quaint here. Both our balcony and the pool faced the Aegean Sea. Swoon. Although we spent more money here (about $100/night) than most other accommodations charged in Folegandros, it was worth every single penny. We were provided with a great breakfast spread and we ate on the terrace facing the sea both mornings. I will say that the rooms are on the small side, but let’s face it, we didn’t come to Greece to hang out in our room all day long.
Where to Go
Chora – This is the center of town. I fell in love with pretty much all of the houses that I saw there. It’s not even an exaggeration. Chora is so tiny and cute, with bright white buildings everywhere. There are tons of cute restaurants with some small bars scattered throughout.
Church of Panagia – The steep walk to the top of the church looks a lot harder than it actually is. Don’t let the height stop you! It took us about 15 minutes to get to the top, walking at a leisurely rate and stopping here and there to take pictures of the view. You’ll definitely work up a sweat though, so wear some light clothes. Once you get up there, man, it’s totally worth it. We timed it so that we would get there 30 minutes before the sunset.
Here’s a tip: go to one of the local grocers, buy a few snacks and Mythos beer and pack a bag. That’s what we did, so once we got up there, we found a cozy spot on the rocks and made ourselves comfortable. Beer and sunsets go hand-in-hand for me!
Katergo Beach – This beach came highly recommended from our hotel concierge. It’s rated the best beach in Folegandros and is only accessible by local boats so you have to check what time the boats depart and come back. We TRIED to go here, but when we made our way down to the boat back at the port, there was a sign that said “Closed for Today”. That’s it, no further explanation. So…not sure what happened there, but we obviously couldn’t go there anymore. Instead, we walked about 10 minutes around the port and found a little spot on the rocky beach to lay out on. We were completely alone for the rest of the day. Even though we were a little sad that we couldn’t go to Katergo Beach, this absolutely made up for it!
Where to Eat
Araxe – Located in one of the main squares of Chora. Araxe means “relax” in English. We had a very simple breakfast here, but the waiter was so helpful when we asked him for directions on how to get around town. And they have free wi-fi which is always a plus!
Eva’s Garden – Very romantic restaurant! Delicious fava bean appetizer. Also, their eggplant saganaki was to die for! This is also where I fell in love with a Greek dessert wine called Vinsanto. Mmmm!
Souvlaki Club – As we walked past this restaurant in Chora, they dubbed themselves as having the “best souvlaki in the universe.” Who are we to turn down the best in the universe??
Artos & Gefsi Bakery – Great place to pick up snacks, spinach, cheese or ham pies.
Here’s another piece of advice: If you’re like me and suffer from bouts of hangriness, then you need to plan out your meals accordingly. Restaurants and shops close after lunch time. And they don’t open up early in the morning either. If you’re a late riser and don’t eat breakfast until later in the day, know that nothing will be open any time after 2-3pm and won’t reopen until 5-6pm for dinner. Prepare and get your snacks ready…you’ve been warned!
Where to go for Drinks
Laomi Music Bar – Outside of the main square of Chora. They have a strong pour so why don’t you go ahead and order that caparinha? If you’re daring, order two!
Mikro Kelari Wine Bar – This is where I tasted a Rakomelo drink for the first time. It’s a drink served with warm raki, combined with honey, cinnamon and cloves. It’s great if you feel a cold coming on or, you know, if you’re on vacation in Greece.
I don’t think it’s necessary to rent a car in Folegandros because of how small it is here. If you really wanted to, you could rent an ATV or scooter to get around quickly. I found that the local transportation system was easy to understand and most importantly, very cheap. When we took the local bus from Chora into the port, the cost was 1,80 euro each.
Folegandros is supposed to be the next “it” destination. It looked like Santorini, but not as crowded, touristy, nor as expensive. It was about half the cost of Santorini. We were so sad to leave Folegandros after such a short amount of time. While it was quiet here, there was great energy here from all the locals. This is where you want to go if you just want to relax and get away from it all! Selfishly, I don’t want Folegandros to be the next “it” place so that tourism doesn’t overcrowd the island, but I do think that people shouldn’t skip this place as it’s so special here.
While I wish we did have more time here, 48 hours is still a lot of time to visit the main attractions here! I hope this guide is helpful to anyone looking to spend a few days here.
Have you ever been here? What was your favorite thing to do in Folegandros?
Come back next week to read about the next stop on our trip: Santorini!
Au revoir and efharisto!