We all know this "favorite place" thing varies a lot according to each person´s tastes etc....I was told Katergo and Agios Nikolaos to be the most beautiful of all, however for me Livadaki was the best surprise ever....it´s the kind of place I keep remembering every now and then....and imagining myself there once more...
Livadaki is a small bay, literally "hidden" between the cliffs, and there is absolutely nothing in there; no camping sites, no taverns, nothing. Just the beach, the rocks, the wind and some tamarisk trees....
The place feels very "Greece": the arid ground, contrasting with the bright, clear turquoise sea.
There are two ways to get to Livadaki: by boat from Angali, lasting about 30 minutes, or on foot, from the trail that leaves from Ano Meria, taking about 2 and a half hours, amogst the fields. The trek itself isn´t hard, but there´s one very important thing to consider: there is no shade along the way, and no water whatsoever, so it´s best to take lots of water with you...
Ano Meria is where the bus take the turn back...what could be more "off the beatten track" for a village?
The village itself is small, very quiet, and there isn´t much except for the lovely country side view. But from Ano Meria leaves trails to thousand secluded beaches in the island, like Agios Georgios and Livadaki, all to be reached only by foot or by boat.....so it´s definately worth visiting!
For those who love trekking and a "private" beach, Ano Meria is a "must do" =)
Angali is a gorgeous bay, with some local restaurants and lodging sites and a small pier nearby..... there are trails to lead you to other secluded beaches like Agios Nikolaos. There are buses leaving from Chora and also Karavostasi going to Angali.
There is a small restaurant by the pier, I don´t remember their name, but many locals go there to eat, there are great seafood dishes for a good price, and also the best greek salad i´ve ever tried, with a very generous ammount of fetta cheese...=)
Do not forget to walk up the hill after the pier, so you can catch a glimpse of Angali from above, and see the coral reefs below the water surface.....
This is something you must do when coming to Chora: watch the sunset from the Church of Panaghia, or Chruch of Virgin Mary. The church itself is simple, built in the cycladic style, about 200 years old...the interesting thing about it is the location of the church, some meters away from the town over a higher plain, so that you can see the village of Chora and where it ends....a gorgeous view.
To get to Panaghia church is not difficult....you can see it from the castro, and there is a small pedestrian " zig zag" path to get to it.....
Chora is known to be very old....one of its major attractions is the so called Kastro, meaning castle, built by the Venetians around 1212. It does not even remind of a castle, since it is now composed by a conglomerate of houses inside it, painted in the cycladic style.....but when you walk on the surroundings of the Kastro you´ll be able to see the old venetian entrances. And by the height of the entrances I shall say venetians were small people! =)
As said before, the interesting fact of the kastro is not the castle itself, but the location of it, built so that its external wall is a continuation of the 250 m cliff that ends at the sea. The view from the Kastro is mind blowing...The houses inside are mainly residences, but there are some hotels and small commercial stablishements inside.
Those who travel along Greece realize something very interesting: it doesn´t matter where you go to, if it is in the countryside or the sea cost, you´ll see greeks love to live the highest above the sea level they can. Look for the highest point, the edgiest cliff, there will certainly be a bunch of local houses on the top! Hehehehe
And if you think Santorini is the most breathtaking example of living in the edge, that´s because you did not see Chora! There the greeks took this "tradition" way more seriously....
The village of Chora is located over the high platform of the island, and is concentrated so that the houses conglomerate till the village ends abruptly on the edge of the sheer 250m cliff! This crazy structure was originated since many houses were formed inside the old venetian castle, constructed in the 13th century over the cliff, probably for strategic purposes.
Chora for that reason have no beaches by its side, although it has the best structure in the island, with small restaurants, markets, hotels and the highest number of bus connections. The feeling you have in Chora is that you are visiting a cycladic island two centuries ago: the locals concentrate themselves outside their houses, talking, while the children play on the street. At night, people gather at the little city square. No cars (they must stop at the bus point), no busy streets...every now and then people grab their brushes to paint their houses on white again. A lovely atmosphere!
There are four main villages in the island, each reachable on public transportation: Karavostasi, Chora (the main village), Angali and Ano Meria.
Karavostasi is the village where the main ferries and boats arrive. It doens´t look like a pier at all! The beach is incredibly calm, and the village is less crowded....there are some hotels and restaurants available in the shore. When you land in Folegandros, as you get away from the pier platform you will see the bus time table atached in a wall, usually hand written and adapted to the ferries arrivals. The buses get you to Hora, Angali and further inside the island, to Ano Meria.
Karavostasi is not only an arriving point, you can spend a nice day walking around the area and visiting the beaches nearby, like Livadi, a very pleasant stroll.
From Karavostasi you can also take a boat to Katergo, which is known to be the most beatiful beach...
Although Folegandros is in such a strategical location, between Santorini and Milos, there aren´t many ferry connections available, if you compare it to other popular islands like Paros, Mikonos. Folegandros is small, and also little populated (less than 800 hab). It seams like it was "forgotten" by turists.
The easiest time to get to Folegandros is in the summer. The ferries are more regular, the number of lodging sites and restaurants available increase in the high season. Actually as I talked to some locals I learned that many of them, by the end of october, tend to leave the island and get to the continent.
Probably, if you want to get to Folegandros with a good weather, easy transportation and a satisfactory number of comercial stablishements, probably the best months are august and september. Mainly the first 2 weeks of september: the number of tourists are smaller, the weather is still good, and the high season ferry connections are still operating.
One important factor to consider is that Folegandros is a big victim of the "meltemi" (windy period), that usually begins in the end of september and lasts through october...this period is usually the worst one, so the locals told me....the sea is less calm, the ferry trip in the bad weather lasts two times more, and a day in the beach gets less comfortable.
Certainly, one of the major pleasures one visitor of the island of Folegandros can have, are the beaches: not very spacious (with the exception of Angali), but with deep-blue, crystal and inspiring waters!
Should I mention some of them:
Vardia, Karavostassi, Latinaki, Vitsentsou, Livadi, Katergo, Angali, Aghios Ghiorghis.
My favourite one is: Angali (which in Greek means: hug).It is a wonderful, spacious sand beach, with that deep-blue, crystal waters that make the Greek Islands second to none!Easy access from the capital of the island.
The "Folegandros Festivities" summer festival started in 2003. Since then it has been organized around the middle of July every year The festival includes exhibitions, music concerts, performances, projections and workshops. During the festival Folegandros becomes a meeting point for people who share a common interest in art, film making, photography, music, history and so on, depending on the presented subjects.
Livadaki is a small white beach famous for the unique undersea life. Don’t forget to take your diving equipment and your camera. There are to ways to access the beach, or by boat from Angali or by Car from Ano Meria but you have to go on foot after one point.
Katergo is one of the most famous beaches of the island and you should visit it. The best way to go to Katergo is by boat from the main harbour of Karavostasi. Be careful you need to be foul equipped because there are no services at the beach. The most important is to take water with you.
The lighthouse was built in 1919, 58m. above the sea with an 11 metre-tall light. It is visible from a distance of 17 nautical miles. When it began operating in 1921 the lighthouse was lit by a wick. Later on a petroleum gas mechanism was installed, but since 1986 it has been running on solar power. You can reach the lighthouse by footpath either from Livadaki (15'), or from Ano Meria.
This is one of the most outstanding historical monuments of Folegandros and its most important church, dedicated to the Assumption -or Dormition- of Virgin Mary.
Perched on the cliff-top above Hora and it lies, in all likelihood, on the site of an ancient temple, building materials from which have been used in its construction. One can see ancient inscriptions and statue fragments incorporated in the masonry of the interior and the courtyard walls.
This single-aisled, multi-domed basilica used to be a katholikon of a nunnery. Here lies the only marble templon of the island, made by Kaparias, a sculptor from Tinos, in 1896. The same atist has made the archibishop's throne and the pulpit.
The episcopal icon of The Virgin that is kept in the church is associated with many stories and legends of Folegandros. According to the old Folegandriot custom, during Easter time the silver-ornamented icon of the Virgin is carried in procession to all the houses of the island.
To get to Panaghia pass through Pounta square and go up the zig-zag paved road which leads to the church courtyard(15').
Chryssospilia is an impressive natural monument, associated with several local legends. Situated on the north-eastern side of the island, it lies ten metres above the sea and remains, as yet, unexplored.
Remnants of human sceletons, broken vases and a Roman cistern have been found in the numerous chambers of the cave which is considered to have possibly been a place of worship where coming-of-age rituals took place around the 4th century BC
Hundreds of ancient names and surnames were discoverd by archeologists a few years ago. This makes Chryssospilia a unique specimen of its kind in Greece.
The cave can only be approached by sea in conditions of complete calm. It must be noted that it is not open to the public: in order to visit it you will need a special permit from the Community, as excavations are still in progress.