Folegandros is the epitome of what travelling through the Greek Islands before the turn of the century was like when cruise ships didn’t dominate the seas and fleets tour busses didn’t take over the land. If you’re looking for an island in the Western Cyclades where locals and travellers mingle together in the central square, where you can spend a whole day at a beach without another person in sight, and the rugged rock terraces give way to a quiet beauty of Greek serenity. Follow this Folegandros 3 day itinerary to learn about how to plan your vacation to see the best of its beaches, restaurants, hikes, and hotels.
- 14 day Greek islands hopping itinerary
- 3 day itinerary of Santorini
- Best SIM cards for data in Europe
- Greece travel guide
Where to stay in Folegandros?
- The central town of Chora is where you want to be and if you’re interested in somewhere that’s convenient, comfortable, and cheap, there’s no better than Meltemi.
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The Folegandros 3 Day Itinerary
I’ll be the first to tell you that when I started planning this epic 14 day Greek island hopping trip, I had never heard of Folegandros. In many ways, that was exactly what I was looking for. How could I put together a trip that included some of the “best hits” but also a couple of potential “hidden gems” and we certainly found it in Folegandros.
There wasn’t a lot of information about Folegandros and so I combed through a ton of resources to put something together. At the same time, much of what you see here is the result of talking to locals and serendipitously discovering things and places as we went along – the best kind of travel right?
The goals of this Greek Island itinerary is to supplement the high level breakdown of how we did our trip Greek island hopping across 14 days. Use the full itinerary as the larger guide for how we went about going from island to island. Also, don’t miss the comprehensive Greek Island travel guide which will have an incredible amount of detail on everything you won’t find in a guide book or “top things to do” type of blog post.
Let’s jump into how plan a Folegandros itinerary in 3 day including Folegandros hotels, restaurants, sights, beaches, ATV rentals and more!
Day 1 – Folegandros – Slowing It Down
If you’re following along the 14 day Greece itinerary of the Western Cyclades, this is your third island. From Santorini, you’re headed to an island that is considered more off-the-beaten-path and easily one that you’ve probably never heard of. Its name is Folegandros and boy, you’re in for a treat!
Check the ferry schedule from Santorini to Folegandros
The ferry we took was the SeaJets Naxos Jet at 8:30AM but this will be different depending on your schedule
While you’ll love Santorini for its iconic-ness, it can get a little overwhelming sometimes. It’s the most visited of all the islands with their busloads of group tourists and unending waves of cruise ships and those insane crowds in Oia can turn many people off especially if you’re looking for more of a getaway.
That’s why Folegandros is the perfect island to head to next. With just 700 or so inhabitants on the island, escape the throngs of tourists and get a feel for what Greek island life truly should be.
When you arrive on the island, hopefully your hotel will have shuttle service but if not you can always just take a taxi service into the medieval town of Chora (also Hora).
After a couple of heavy days of walking and exploring, you deserve a break. After settling into your hotel, spend time getting to know the island largest settlement that’s perched on the edge of a cliff 200m (650ft) above sea level. With nowhere you have to be at a specific time and no activity lined up, roam wildly and free in the most charmingly ‘Greek’ of all the Cyclades. With no airports or cruise ships, you’re transported back to a simpler time where you feel like you’re one of a dozen tourists on the island, locals mingle with visitors, and there’s an unhurried feel.
The cobbled streets of Pounta Square is a perfect place to start where the edge gives you a downwind view of just how dramatic the scenery is here with its rocky cliffs, crashing waves, and endless rows of terraces from ancient farms. Steps from here, you enter into the heart Chora with a mix of locally run tavernas, boutique shops, grocery stores, the local baker, and the one ice cream shop that’s interconnected by other smaller squares.
Grab lunch at Araxe which you’ll see almost right away. Their pasta was some of the best we had all trip.
At this point you can stroll some more or head back for a nap. We opted for the nap. This ended up working out because we learned that Folegandros enters siesta-mode from 2-5PM.
By about dinner time, head back out to walk through new parts of the town that you might not’ve seen the first time around. One of the stops I recommend making is a shop called “The Uncle” that serves Italian-style ice cream. Just be aware that it only opens after 6PM. Another stop that’s worth making is to Folegandros Rentals so you can talk to them about ATV rentals. You don’t need to reserve or anything like that but at least you’ll have the price figured out and you’ll be able to let them know you’re coming back the next day.
If you’re up for it, take the zig-zag path that winds up gently to the top of the hill and watch the sunset from the Church of Panagia.
For dinner, there are plenty of options and what you’ll love about it is that you almost can’t discern who’s a local and who’s a visitor. We ended up choosing Piatsa which is right by one of the churches and has the perfect outdoor seating to see all of the buzz of the evening when literally everyone comes out.
And that’s about it! Like I promised, a super chill day that perfectly represents what Folegandros is all about.
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Day 2 – Folegandros – ATV Beach Hopping
Remember when I said that it was probably not the best idea to rent an ATV in Santorini? Well now that you’re on an extremely small island with many hard-to-get-to beaches, there’s really no better place to hop on a quad.
To start your morning off right, walk over to the best breakfast spot in all the Greek Islands called Pounda. Located right in Pounta Square, this can only be described as a chilled out restaurant where they have an absolutely gorgeous back courtyard and smaller tables for two in the front if you’d like to people watch. Owned by a Danish family for 20 years, fresh breakfast creations are served to you on ceramic plates designed by the owners. My favourite has to be their Greek yogurt crepe. Before you go, also order a sandwich to go because you’ll need it later.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Price: These are the prices we were offered in early June which is still considered to be low season.
- ATV 170CC – 26 EUR
- Small car – 37 EUR
Do they accept credit card?: Yes but lower prices are for cash payment.
- Is it easy to drive? Yes, it’s quite easy to drive because it’s automatic. The only things you had to get used to were making sure you hold the brake handle down when changing from Park to Drive and also getting out of the habit of having your right foot rest too much on the secondary brake.
- Do you need more power than 17oCC? No, we drove all over the island with our underpowered 170CC ATV and we had no issues at all even when off-road and climbing hills.
- How much fuel should I fill up for 2 days? Based on our experience, 2.50 EUR is honestly enough. We filled up 10 EUR which filled up the ATV all 5 ticks. By the end of 2 days, we only used up 1 tick of the fuel gauge.
- Can you park your ATV in Chora overnight? We asked our the hotel owner whether we could park our ATV out at the front but she said no. I presume this is the case for most properties in Chora. The good thing is that Folegandros Rentals is right in the outskirts so it’s easy to walk park there overnight and pick up again the next day.
- The ATV has a small luggage box in the back which just happened to fit my whole Peak Design 45L Travel Backpack but the limited space is something to consider in terms of what you can bring.
- Before you leave the lot, make sure you test the ATV and mainly make sure the brakes work well.
- Ask for a bungee cord if one isn’t provided so you can strap things to the front of the ATV.
- We negotiated a shuttle to the port for our final day (free of charge) because it just so happened our hotel couldn’t offer a ride. The morning of the final day, Voula who helps runs Folegandros Rentals picked us up and drove us down to the port in Karavostasis.
When you hit the road, make your way to the trailhead for Vorina Beach. This isn’t one of those beaches that everyone goes to but it’s well worth the effort. There’s a hike down from where you park your ATV on the side of the main road and along the way you’ll pass by a farm and an unfinished resort, and eventually a gate. The gravel path itself isn’t too difficult as it’s pretty clear where each of the steps are. There are also stone markers along the way to look out for. The hardest part is the end where there’s a bit of a climb down around an eroded path but luckily there are rocks and exposed roots to hold on to.
You’ll love this beach because not many people make the hike down here which means that most likely it’ll just be you out there. You’ll be surrounded by these incredible imposing cliffs with a giant sloping spine that falls into the sea. The water is the crystal clarity of turquoise and the temperature just right for a dip. While the beach itself is not a refined sand, there are pockets of areas where you can lay down your beach towel amongst the small pebbles. Another challenge will be finding shade but if you look around, you’ll find some boulders that you can use for sun protection.
This is that perfect combination of tranquil solitude with a moderate hike that is what makes Folegandros so special.
Spend a few hours here and have your packed lunch before making the hike back up which will be much more tiring than the way down.
Hopping back on your ATV, ride south towards the town of Ano Meria. The town has a very local feel to it with architecture that preserves its ancient farming traditions. As you drive through, it’ll be really quiet but don’t worry, things are open. This is a good chance to stock up on water and snacks for the second half of the day at one of the grocery stores that’s located right by an abandoned windmill.
At the very end of the road, you’ll turn off left and head down a dirt road that continues to wind downwards until you reach Ambeli Beach. If you come earlier in the afternoon, you’ll have time to beach out. It’s a narrower channel of water that comes in with caves to explore but I would only recommend that when the water is calm and the tide is low. We came here at the recommendation of Meltemi’s owner and we could see why it’s a favourite because of how scenic it is and how most tourists wouldn’t make it all the way down here. That said, we did find that there wasn’t a lot of space here. There’s a small patch of sand you could set up on and the rest of the space are these large flatbeds of rock.
Stretch out your day by heading back up the main road and then immediately dropping down on the other side, following the dirt road towards both Lygaria Beach and ultimately Agios Georgios Beach. This is one of the beaches that you’ll see rated highly in all of the books and online resources and we wanted to find out why. For one, this beach is large and sandy which makes it very friendly as a beach and great for the kids as well. Since this seemed to be a port at some point, there are concrete structures flanking both sides of the beach, some which look like change rooms and others that look like actual fishermen homes. On the left side of the beach are a few large concrete structures where beachgoers were using as cover and a place to set up. Another reason why it’s family friendly is because the water stays quite shallow for a good distance so there is a ton of space to play.
As you make your drive back, don’t forget to stop along the way and take in the endless rows terraced farms, creating ancient stone-lined crop plots.
For dinner, eat at the ever-popular O Kritikos that not only services up delicious meat plates but is also set in the most romantic square of Chora that almost doesn’t feel real until you pinch yourself and you tell yourself how thankful you are that you picked Folegandros as part of your 14 day Greek Islands itinerary. The string lights, the buzz of delight from everyone’s relaxed day on the beach, locals gossiping, and the scent of bougainvillea flowers completes it all.
Day 3 – Folegandros – Katergo Beach
From the most obscure beaches on the island, we go to one of the most popular in Folegandros.
There’s no reason not to start your day any different from the last so head to Pounda first. Try something new here or stick to old favourites.
Since you’ll be spending most of your day at the beach, do the same thing and grab takeaway from something in town. This time, go to Souvlaki Club for gyros to go. 6 EUR for two wraps is a pretty sweet deal.
When you do research of Folegandros, some places will tell you that it’s not possible to get to the famed Katergo Beach by land. Our hotel even said that it’s recommended to take a boat there but I looked it up and it’s entirely possible.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Directions: The good news is that the island is making an effort to focus on hiking as an attraction with new signs and clear markers. All you need to know is where to start the Katergo Beach hike and then you’re all set. Since trail head markers aren’t available on Google, I’ve explicitly marked them on the Greek Island Trip Planning Map
- Whether with your ATV or car, drive towards port (Karavostasis) and keep going towards Livadi.
- You will see signs for “Katergo” so follow them.
- Eventually you’ll hit a point where you will see cars parked. Continue along this dirt road if you have the ATV until you see another “Katergo” sign made out of steel wire. This is as far as your ATV can go so park here.
- What do the trail markers look like? I took a few photos of them along the way. Similar to the Vorina Beach trail where VR is painted on rocks, you’ll see something similar with KT is painted on rocks.
- How hard is the hike? The hike is actually really easy as it’s quite flat throughout. There isn’t any major elevation change until you get to the end of the spine of one ridge and have to take the switchbacks down to the beach but even then nothing is steep or dangerous.
- Is it easy to get lost on the trail? No because there are rock markers along the way and the trail is quite obvious. The only confusion could be some of the shortcuts that people have made over the years but that’s something you figure out pretty quickly.
- Are there bathrooms on the beach? No.
- Does the beach get crowded? No but there are a lot more people here than the other beaches because boat tours/shuttles will bring in and out new people every few hours. That said, this is a very wide beach so there’s plenty of space to spread around
- How long does it take to hike to the beach? It takes roughly 40 minutes.
- What if I want to take a boat to Katergo? Yes there is a shuttle service from port and the schedule is in the image to the right.
- There are limited spaces when it comes to spots on the beach with shade. You either need to come to the beach early or wait for an opportune time to takeover someone’s spot when they get back on the boat.
- There is a water taxi that comes at around 2PM.
- There are no facilities here so bring all the food, water, and equipment you need.
From the trailhead, make your way up to the top of the ridge, across it to near the tip and then drop down the switch backs onto the beach. The view as your make your way down is truly inspiring with the sliver of rock that splits the beach’s water in two.
While there are more people than the secluded beaches of Folegandros, we loved that there were large stretches of sand where we could set up our towels. Spend as much time as you’d like here and don’t forget to eat those pita wraps before they get too soggy.
Hike back to the ATV and ride to the port town of Karavostasis. When you come here, you’ll see why it isn’t recommended to stay here. It doesn’t quite have that familial and welcoming feel that Chora has and is also quite small.
What they do have are a few beaches that are really easy to reach and to end off your day, park your ATV in town and walk to Vardia Beach. Located over the other side of the port, this is a comfortable wide and traditional sandy beach that is another popular one with locals. Soak in whatever sun you can get before it dips behind the cliff.
For dinner, try Blue Cuisine in Chora which has over-the-top dishes such as deconstructed Greek salad and modern spins on calamari and goat souvlaki. While presented exceptionally well and service to meet the price, we still yearned for more of the traditional taverna to match the setting we were in.
Next: Head to Milos
While I am sure you will feel like staying in Folegandros forever, it’s time for one more island to explore.
On the 10th day of your Greek Island hopping tour, take a free shuttle from your hotel or make an arrangement with your ATV rental company to catch a ferry to the neighbouring island of Milos.
From here, I hand it over to the Milos 3 day itinerary guide which turned out to be a surprise-favourite on the entire trip because it was so peaceful, off-the-tourist-path, and outdoorsy.
Read the full 3 day itinerary of Milos
If you’d like a more detailed breakdown of each day, be sure to not miss reading this guide to help in your trip planning.
Where to Stay in Folegandros
The nice thing about a small island is that you don’t have to deal with the same type of analysis paralysis that we had in Santorini. What it really comes down to knowing which area on the island you want to be and deciding your budget.
There are really only 3 main areas of Folegandros where you can stay: 1) Karavostasis 2) Chora and 3) Ano Meria.
Personally, I think staying in Chora is the smartest option because that is where all the good restaurants are, a great place for an evening stroll, and at the end of it the nicest part of the island.
Another thing with Folegandros is that there aren’t exactly that many places to choose from so remember that they can and will fill up quickly especially in high-season as the secret gets out!
Review of Meltemi
When I first found Meltemi, I was a little skeptical about what it would be like because so many of the properties in Folegandros that are on the more affordable/budget side of things simply didn’t have the greatest photos. It felt like there was a bit of leap-of-faith on my part.
Luckily, this property turned out to be way better than I expected. Here’s a little bit more information about it for those of you trying to make a decision on Folegandros hotels.
When it comes to the architecture, what you have with Meltemi is quite common in terms of Cycladic architecture. Each room is its own self contained unit. It could be on the first floor or the second floor but they are quite often spread out and each will have its own balcony or front patio.
Inside our particular unit is a large square room with extremely high ceilings. It’s outfitted with a queen-sized bed, night tables, a nook for a small table that’s perfect as a work station, a mini-fridge with table top, and a few chairs, and a small wall-mounted LCD TV.
With how beautiful the weather is, we often kept the door and windows open as well to bring in a ton of light and the breeze.
Overall, the room was comfortable and spacious for us to lay out our suitcases. It had everything we needed since we’re not the most demanding of travellers. I could see some people complaining about the lack of channels on the TV but seriously we weren’t in Greece to watch TV.
The bathroom is on the back side and was extremely clean and had a spacious shower. The only gripe I had with this was that you had to plan in advance the use of hot water in the shower because each unit has its own hot water tank. It normally took a good 30-40 minutes to heat up the whole tank and between the two of us, it had just enough hot water.
We learned that we had to have it turned on before we went out for dinner so we would have a full tank ready for us before bed.
This is the best part. I didn’t understand the layout of Chora when I booked it but having stayed here, we loved how Meltemi is literally steps away from Pounta Square. This is the square where you’ll find restaurant Pounda and the best view of the sunset.
From the square it leads into the heart of Chora and so everything is walkable without having to take your ATV or car somewhere.
In the evening, it’s very quiet here so there’s no issue of noise and from a safety perspective, not that it’s unsafe anywhere else, you’re still in town surrounded by other properties so you won’t feel like you’re on your own.
The lady that owns the property is the one that you’ll see at reception and around the property most of the time. She’s super friendly but the challenge is that she barely speaks any English. Her son, Christos, helps out part-time and he was the one that actually picked is up from the port.
Daily housekeeping is offered although the timing of it is a bit unpredictable. There’s also no opt-out so just know that they’ll be coming in your room some time in the day to clean up.
Meltemi also offers free shuttle service but we learned that this is only when Christos is around. If he’s not on the island then you’re on your own. If staying here, I recommend you ask for shuttle service after booking and for you to get an idea of whether they can offer you a free ride.
TIP: If you’re booking with Booking.com, consider paying ahead of time. At Meltemi, I had a balance that I still owed and since I didn’t have enough cash on hand, I ended up paying by credit card which carried a 1.50 EUR charge with the use of the machine. Alternatively, make sure you have enough cash on you.
Hotels to Consider
Here are 4 hotels including ours that I’d consider checking out. You’ll notice that I didn’t really recommend any hotels near Karovastasis and that’s because I found that the area near the port was a bit rundown. That said, we did see a few resorts scattered but ultimately I think you’ll enjoy staying near Chora. The one in Ano Meria is a unique one and for those looking for more a secluded luxury resort.
I STAYED HERE
We picked this for its affordability and central location to Pounta Square that’s family run and offered port pick-up. Rooms were clean and included everything we needed including table for my laptop, small fridge, and great little front porch with a view.
RESORT & SPA
Idyllic resort that has the largest outdoor swimming pool on the island that’s in the heart of Chora that’s just far away that it’s also very quiet and tranquil. Rooms are huge and staff is extremely friendly.
When is the best time? – This applies to all of the Greek Islands. The best time to go is in the summer season since a lot of things closed in the off-season and the weather isn’t the best. Best months are May – June and September – October.
Beaches: Almost all beaches in Folegandros are secluded and off-the-beaten-path. Some are easier to get to than others but expect some driving and hiking to get to the good ones. With the exception of Agios Georgios Beach which had a change room, I didn’t see any facilities at the others so plan accordingly. Also, this isn’t the kind of island where you’ll find beach umbrella and beach chair service.
Sunsets: The best spots to view the sunset are either from Pounta Square or up on Church of Panagia.
Getting here – Folegandros is a small island and does not have their own airport. As a result, the only way to get here is by ferry. Again, use Ferries in Greece to check which ferries fit your schedule.
Where should I stay? – We did almost all of our hotel reservations through Booking.com and it’s because they have such a good inventory of properties that range from hotels, hostels, guesthouses, and resorts. I love that cancellation is easy for most properties and the booking management is seamless. Plus, if you get up to Genius Level 2, you can save up to 15% off on top. As an alternative, there’s also Agoda and Airbnb.
Do I need travel insurance? – As always, travel insurance is highly recommended. My philosophy is that you want to make sure you’re covered in case the unknown happens. Make sure to read our guide on choosing the right travel insurance for you. Overall, World Nomads has the best balance of price and coverage.
Top 5 Tips For Folegandros
#1 Beach towels
Don’t just assume you can use your hotel’s towel for the beach. We asked our hotel for extra beach towels and they told us that they don’t like it when guests use their white towels for the beach. That said, they were nice enough to find a few extra towels that they said would be okay for us to use on sand.
#2 Hiking is awesome here
While we didn’t do any of the big hikes, we managed to fit in the ones that took us to the beaches. The island is making a concerted effort to make the hiking a big part of the island’s attraction and I can’t blame them because they have access to so many off-the-beaten-path trails. As part of this effort, they’re putting in better signs everywhere. Above is a photo that shows all the various hikes that are available and also the type of signs to look out for.
#3 Rent an ATV
There’s no better place to learn how to ATV here. There’s no stress driving here because it’s less populated. The views you get from the ATV and also the freedom makes this a great choice.
#4 Chat with a local
We had the most interesting conversations when we popped into a stores in Chora. There was always mutual curiosity about the crafts we found in the store, their story, and ours as well. This was again one of those things that made Folegandros so special.
Between the hours of roughly 2-5PM the main town of Chora where many stores close up so plan around this. Many restaurants stay open at this time but we found it interesting that places like the ice cream shop only opened after 6PM.
How I Feel About Folegandros
Hands down, Folegandros was our favourite island on the trip and here’s why.
It ultimately came down to a feeling. When you get to hop around to different islands in the Western Cyclades, each one gives you varying senses of Greek culture, Cycladic architecture, the food, the beaches, and overall the Greek island way of life. Some give you a hint of it, some feel a little diluted as was the case with Santorini, and some very strong in Folegandros’ case.
Folegandros was our favourite island
We loved the authenticity of this island. Real people live here. While many of them serve the tourism industry, we loved that we could walk around Chora and see the kids of the parents running the shops hanging out after school and practicing their K-Pop dance moves or playing video games on their phone. I had one kid come up to me and ask if I played Fortnite. Those interactions made me realize that these are all humble families that have made Folegandros their home and are making ends meet. We loved that it wasn’t polished or glam’ed up. All of it was real.
Being the outdoor lovers that we are, it was refreshing that you needed to work a few muscles to get to where you wanted to go which was the case for Vorina Beach and also some of those beaches located down dirt road paths.
Folegandros is compact, simple, rugged, and the way the Greek Islands should be.
I would love to hear from you. Are you having trouble planning your Greek Island itinerary like I was? Drop a line here if you have any specific questions or just want to share your favourite spots in Folegandros.
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