Guide to Folegandros, Ios & Milos
A Trip to Folegandros
Travelling to Folegandros, a little island of the Cyclades is a great idea for people wanting to avoid mass tourism. Its three villages, Hora, Karavostrassis and Pano Media are symbols of the urban and religious architecture of the Cyclades.
When you arrive by boat to the harbour of Karavostassis, take some time to explore this fishing village around the bay.
For accommodation, the most practical thing to do is to stay in Hora the island’s capital only 4 km from Karavostassis. This city is built on the edge of a cliff and impresses with its typical architecture and urban tramway. Soak in the calm of its narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses and the many churches scattered about the city. Climb up to the very well preserved Kastro. Its main access is behind the Ntounavi square by the Paraporti.
The Panagia church is about a 15 minute walk from the centre of town from the path that starts at the Pounta square in the east. The church houses a miraculous Virgin Mary icon that is always paraded during religious ceremonies.
Only one road crosses the entirety of the island from north to south. We therefore recommend that you get around by car to benefit from the most freedom during your trip. Stop at Angali for a day on its wonderful beach. Continue on to Pano Media, driving along mountain crests and enjoying views onto windmills, still in use to this day.
The island of Folegandros is fairly isolated and its coastal infrastructure is not very developed. As a result, its little beaches nestled into coves are often deserted and allow for total tranquillity. The beaches of Ambeli and Livakadi in the west and Agios Sostis in the north are only accessible after a short hike with a fairly steep slope. You can get to the beach of Agios Georgios in the north directly by car.
A Trip to Milos
Choosing to travel to Milos, the Cyclades westernmost island, is choosing to discover volcanic lands of inexhaustible natural resources. Nicknamed the island of colours because of its variety of landscapes, the island is famous for being the place where the Venus de Milo was discovered.
Plaka, the island’s capital, is well worth a visit. Perched on a hill, the city is dominated by the Kastro, a Venetian castle in ruins that is accessible from the little street to the right of the main square. At the peak, you’ll find the Korfiatissa church. Go there in the evening to catch the sunset and the impressive view over the entire island.
Take a car to visit the area surrounding Plaka, home to many tiny villages. We would suggest that you stop at the village of Tripti, only 2 km from the capital. You’ll be enchanted by its white windmills and traditional taverns. On foot from Tripiti, take the trail that leads to the catacombs, where Christian tombs have been dug into volcanic rock face. Entry is free! Continue your walk to the picturesque port of Klima, a fishing village full of distinctive homes.
From Plaka, go nord to get to the village of Mandrakia, whose charming roads invite you for a stroll. Going along the coast heading east, you’ll find the tranquil site of Philakopi, where many archaeological findings are on exhibit. If you keep going, you’ll get to the village of Pollonia, home to the church of Agia Paraskevi, and Milos’ second most visited town.
Milos’ beaches will not disappoint: the southern coast is full of vast expanses of fine sands with clear blue water. We’ll mention Agia Kiriaki, made entirely of broken seashells, and Paliochori, whom many consider to be the most beautiful. For complete serenity, opt for the Gerontas beach in the Southwest.
A Trip to Ios
The last island we absolutely love in the Cyclades is Ios.
The island’s capital, Hora, flaunts typical Cyclades architecture: sinuous cobblestone roads, whitewashed houses with blue domes. The city can get crowded so it might be better to wake up early to see it in a more authentic state. Take the maze of narrow paths to the top of the hill to get the best view of its three chapels.
On the island’s northern tip is Homer’s tomb. According to legend, he wanted to be buried on Ios, his mother’s island. Travellers can choose from a wide selection of hikes: we like the one that takes you to the Agios Prokopios monastery through the heights of the Profitis Illias because it allows you to discover a chunk of Ios’ less visited interior.
For swimming, we recommend the Kalamos beach, a bit more isolated than the others during high tourist season. From a track leading away from the beach, stop at the Kalamos monastery 4 km away. Go for a stroll in its well-tended gardens. The Koubara beach, above Ormos on the west coast is also rather tranquil. Psathi is an interesting option, mass tourism has stopped short of this small fishing village. You can savour a meal at the family tavern Alonistra after a dip in the ocean.
The beach at Mangarani, on Ios’ southern coast, is often considered the island’s most beautiful with its powdery sand and turquoise waters.