How to get on the island of Folegandros?
20 July 2016 • Folegandros is a charming little island on the southern edge of the Cyclades, nearby Santorini. It was on our wish list and this year we made it.
The "largest" town, Chora, is built on the edge of a 200-metre high cliff. Folegandros is one of the islands which you can recognize immediately because of the triangular shape of the massive rock with a white chapel on top.
The biggest difference with well-known islands as Santorini or Mykonos is that you don't have charter flights bringing loads of tourists. In fact, you do not have flights at all, because there simply isn't an airport. Even the ferry port is limited in size and only a few ferries --car ferries and high-speed ferries-- call irregularly.
We flew from Brussels to Athens with Brussels Airlines, and stayed one night in Piraeus, the port of Athens. To get to Piraeus we took the airport bus X96 (€6 per person) and disembarked at the Dimotiko bus stop. Then we phoned our very recommendable Hotel Phidias Piraeus, and 10 minutes later somebody came to pick us up. He also drove us the next day to our ferry terminal. Mind you, if you have never been in Piraeus this drop off service is fantastic, because the port is huge, and extremely busy. Especially in summer.
When we travelled in June there were basically two options to get in Folegandros: the conventional ferry, or the fast ferry.
In summer it is somewhat easier to get there. Off season you really have to plan your vacation based on the available ferries.
The conventional ferry (or car ferry) is operated by Zante Ferries. The ship --ADAMANTIOS KORAIS-- can be seen on the picture above: it is the orange one, on the left.
It is lovely to enjoy the crossing on the outer decks. The ferry calls at several islands before arriving in Folegandros. You can walk around, enjoy some food and if you want you can even book a cabin.
Bringing your personal car is another option.
This sturdy vessel sails in all kinds of weather.
You will spend two to three more hours at sea, because a car ferry is slower.
The schedule is complicated. Some days the ship leaves at 07:10, with arrival at 14:20. We envisaged the 14:00 departure, but then we would have arrived at midnight. One return departure gave a 03:00 arrival in Piraeus. Indeed, in the middle of the night.
In our case we decided to go for the fast ferry option, and booked tickets online via SeaJets.
Daily departure at 07:00, with arrival before noon.
Our first crossing was cancelled because of the wave height. We had to stay one night extra in Piraeus.
It is a small craft with aircraft type seats. You are supposed to remain seated unless you need to buy something.
It is not allowed to go on the open stern deck while at sea.
A bit more expensive.
Because we had to be in Heraklion, Crete, we did not return via Piraeus. Instead we took the same fast ferry to Santorini, with a connecting ferry to Heraklion.
This made me think that a solution could be to fly on Santorini, and take the ferry to Folegandros. There are many regular and charter flights to Santorini. This might save you one night in Athens/Piraeus. However, it is highly recommendable not to take the schedules for granted, and to have some margin. An extra night in a hotel is a safer bet.
If you have never been in Santorini, both islands are a good combination. See our previous blog post here. And why not add Ios?
The fast ferry from Santorini (Thyra) to Folegandros takes 50-90 minutes.
The car ferry will need up to three hours.
Tip: go to the local travel agent. Most have the ferry schedules on display.
It is always good to double-check if the ferry you booked is sailing (on time).
Tip: I often use the Marinetraffic app on my smartphone and MacBook to see where a ferry is, and at what time she will arrive.
Text & Photos: Mike & Véronique