A great way to explore Folegandros
The island of Folegandros is undeniably a hidden gem. As it used to be overlooked by tourists, who frequently chose its better known Cycladic neighbors as a destination, Folegandros kept a more authentic appeal. It was only until recently that this small island caught the attention of visitors and astonished them with its well preserved natural landscape. It is not a surprise that Folegandros offers one of the most well preserved network of footpaths for hiking. These paths were used originally by locals for their transportation between the island’s important locations and have a total length of 20 Kilometers (12.5 miles). Considering that Folegandros is entirely untouched by any urban influence along with its natural and rustic beauty, makes it the ideal destination for someone who loves hiking and trekking. Here is a selection of the main hiking routes of the island:
1. Hora – Stavros – Christos – Fira – Aggali (walking time: 45 minutes)
This first route is a great way for visiting some historic chapels and churches. It begins at the narrow alleys of Hora, and its first reaching point is the church of Stavros. Reaching this historic church, the path continues south-west. Next stop is Christos and after that the footpath becomes narrower and rougher and offers an amazing view of the Fira bay and Aggali bay.
2. Ano Meria – Agios Ioannis Eleimonas – Marmaro – Agios Nikolaos – Aggali (Walking time: 1 hour)
This route also finishes at Aggali, but ii starts at Agios Ioannis Eleimonas, at the eastern edge of the Ano Meria settlement. The route follows a paved footpath leading to the Folk Art Museum and from there to the Agios Ioannis Theologos chapel. The footpath descends and crosses the abandoned village of Marmaro. This is a unique opportunity to observe the typical Ano Meria architecture which has been preserved intact here. As it approaches the coast, the route passes above the picturesque bay of Ai Nikolas and descends towards the small beach at Galyfos. Moving along the coast, the footpath finally leads to the small church of Agia Marina, near Aggali.
3. Ano Meria – Agios Andreas – Agios Georgios – Lygaria – Zoodochos Pigi (Walking time: 1 hour and 15 minutes)
This third option is longer and offers a more varied experience. The route starts at the church of Agios Andreas, on the western side of Ano Meria. Walkers may make a stop to visit the Agios Sostis’ chapel and enjoy the panoramic view. The track passes through a grove and ends up at Agios Georgios bay. The Agios Georgios footpath is still used by the area’s farmers and shepherds. Between Agios Georgios bay and Kastello cape, the footpath turns into an agricultural road. Here in Kastello can be seen the ruins of a Proto-Cycladic settlement. It is a very interesting archaeological site. From there, the route turns south-west and meets the picturesque small beach of Lygaria. In its last section, the footpath goes towards the Karkana leading to the church of Zoodochos Pigi. With broad views towards the open sea and cape Kyparissi, this hiking route can be completed by returning to Ano Meria village through Merovigli.
4. Ano Meria (Taxiarhis) – Agios Panteleimonas – Ampeli (Walking time: 30 minutes.)
This option offers a great way to explore the island’s flora and the see the traditional cultivation methods as the route finishes at Ampeli (Ampeli in Greek means vineyard). The route starts from Taxiathis in Ano Meria and heads west, along the road. After a crossroads with a footpath leading south-west to Livadaki, it heads west towards Agios Panteleimonas along a paved footpath, leading to a location of rare beauty. After Agios Panteleimonas, the footpath is divided into two branches, leading to Ampeli bay (Ampeli in Greek means vineyard). The southern branch, which is initially smooth, later descends steeply towards the picturesque beach. By contrast, the northern branch is hard to start with, but can worth your while as it gives passes through a beautiful gorge.
5. Ano Meria (Taxiarhis) – Livadaki – Aspropounta Lighthouse – Ano Meria (Myloi) (Walking time: 2 hours and 10 minutes)
This is the longest route of the five. It begins from Taxiarhis and end up at Myloi in Ano Meria. Initially, the route is the same as the previous one, until the crossroads to Livadaki, which this route follows. The footpath is intact and well-marked, and paved in parts. The view from the hill with the countryside chapel of Agii Anargyri is breathtaking. The footpath then heads downwards, crossing the Skiathitis area and directed towards Livadaki, a sheltered bay with a small pebbly beach. Subsequently, hikers start to climb, reaching a small fork in the path that leads to the particularly picturesque Aspropounta Lighthouse. The main route continues along a footpath at the foot of Trahilos hill, and becomes a dirt road headed in a northerly direction. The last section of the route crosses the Petalakia area and passes above Tzanis gorge, terminating at Stavros church, right by the Myloi (windmills) in Ano Meria.
So, if you are going to visit Folegandros make sure to pack your hiking shoes along with your swimsuit. Because there is no better way to fully explore this great destination.