Folegandros, is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea between Sikinos and Milos, that has packed a lot of beauty into its small size. One of the most beautiful Cycladic islands, Folegandros is known for the magical charm of its white-washed Hora with its old Castle that has been occupied since Medieval times and of course, the settlement of Ano Meria with its famous “themonies” agricultural complexes that consisted of homes, ovens, cellars and cisterns.
1. THE ISLAND HAS AN OLD-WORLD CHARM
Despite its small size and relatively long distance from the Greek capital’s Piraeus port, Folegandros has long stood as a favorite summertime destination. This is no surprise considering the quality of its main town, one of the most striking in Greece. Kastro, a medieval-era district that makes up part of the main town and features old white houses joined wall-to-wall, is extremely impressive. Its slightly aged look is livened up by the colored window and door frames and the young locals, who like to come here and play during the afternoon hours. Simply relax and absorb the Hora’s overall magic. The rugged rural areas at Ano Meria and the Aspropounta lighthouse, built nearly a century ago, provide additional interest to Folegandros’s unique Cycladic setting.
2. DELECTABLE CUISINE IN A PICTURESQUE SETTING
Karavostasis port, part of a small, likable and simple village, serves as the first impression of the island for new arrivals. Apart from offering a selection of accommodation and food choices, Karavostasis essentially gives a hint of the beauty to be found at the main town. Hora’s quality may be seen at and around the squares, and along the small roads. The plane trees embellish the setting, while the experience is made even richer by the dinner tables, loaded with handmade pasta (matsata, often served with rooster), snails (karavoli), orange pies and almond-based sweets (amygdalota). Make the effort to walk to Panagia (Virgin Mary) church,15 minutes away from Hora’s Pounta Square. Although this is the shortest route, it can prove a little challenging for walkers not in good physical shape.
3. VISIT THE EXQUISITE CHURCH
The Panagia church, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, is one of the island’s main tourism attractions. At Easter, a renowned icon, kept inside, is used to bless all the houses and boats of Folegandros over a three-day procession like no other.
4. SURVEY THE RURAL AREA
Explore the rural area and farm houses of Ano Meria, located roughly five kilometers northwest of Hora. Ano Meria is the island’s second-largest settlement. Its landscape and architectural traits differ to those of the main town. The traditional farm houses – which, in the past, were equipped with threshing floors and cisterns, providing locals with means to make a living – are a distinctive Ano Meria feature. If in the mood for a little extra adventure, it is worth walking from Ano Meria to the Aspropounta lighthouse, a monument constructed 97 years ago.
5. TAKE A DIP AT ONE OF THE BEACHES
The island’s small size limits the number of accessible swimming choices, but they are worthwhile thanks to their emerald-green waters. Hohlidia and Vardia are conveniently placed for visitors based in the wider Karavostasis area. Hop on one of the boat rides to Katergo. Also head to Agali and the small beaches located nearby, including Galifos. The Abeli, Livadaki and Agios Nikolaos beaches should also be kept in mind for a visit.
The island of Folegandros is renowned for the souroto white cheese. Souroto cheese is mostly used in salads. You can also try this hard local cheese as a snack or even with wine. Another popular plate you will often taste in Folegandros is the matsata, which is traditional pasta served either with cockerel or rabbit.
Very popular in Folegandros is also karpouzenia, a kind of sweet pie with a mixture of watermelon, honey, and sesame seeds. In addition, there is pastelli, a bar made of sesame and honey, which is worth trying. The products of Folegandros are available in the local shops of the island.5