Photo: Yanni Haviaras

Koufonisi

At last a very peaceful island that helps visitors find tranquillity within. Windless coasts and golden sandy beaches with the bluest of waters await visitors, along with small natural swimming pools, modest sea caves, fabulous island feasts and great seafood. Nonetheless, there are around 370 inhabitants on this island, which makes it almost overpopulated when compared to others of the same size. There’s also an uncharacteristically high proportion of young people on Koufonisi.

Koufonisi is really two islands, the upper island Ano Koufonisi and the lower island Kato Koufonisi, which both belong to the Small Eastern Cyclades separated by a 200-meter strait. Koufonisi could mean hollow islands, mainly due to the many caves around the coasts.

Photo: GNTO/ P.Dimitrakopoulos

Pano Koufonisi contains Hora, the only town on the island. It is a typical fishing village with picturesque streets, whitewashed houses and the characteristic white windmill on the left of the jetty. Agios Georgios, the temple dedicated to the island’s protector, dominates in the centre of the settlement. The dirt road east of the harbour leads to the beach of Finikas and hosts most of the island’s accommodation.

Photo: GNTO/ P.Dimitrakopoulos

Hora has many places to stay, with restaurants and taverns that present tasty dishes and seafood. Pano Koufonisi is in reality a small paradise with golden coasts, crystal waters and smooth soil without asphalt streets, which can be covered on foot in three hours. Another hiking option offering unforgettable views follows the inland treks, leading to the Chapel of Profitis Ilias through areas where farmers abound in full tradition.

Kato Koufonisi lies between Pano Koufonisi, Schoinousa and Keros, and is almost deserted. It has a small harbour and many small and isolated beaches. The small chapel of Panagia on the pier, which is built on ancient ruins, is one of the sights of the island. On the 15th of August, a church mass takes place here, followed by dinner that includes fish, lamb and kid. Take a fishing boat from Pano Koufonisi for one of three daily tours in summer.

The whole island, along with several surrounding ones (Glaronisi, Lazaros, Megali Plaka, Voulgari) have been declared as regions of particular natural beauty and figure within the Natura 2000 network.

 

 

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Location - Koufonisi

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Rent a bike and tour the island following the coast. Starting from the port in Hora, head to Loutro, a scenic location with the white Chapel of Aghios Nikolaos and an old windmill perched above the traditional boatyard where craftsmen can still be seen at work. Further on, Parianos represents the island’s fishing community, reputed to be the largest in Greece in proportion to the population.

Beyond Platia Pounta (Italida) the sea is a stunning shade of blue, along with a stretch with narrow coves or 'pisines' in Greek for an amazing swimming experience. Other beaches worth visiting are Epano Mylos, Pori and Harokopou. Finally, Xylopatis features a sea cave inhabited by rock doves that is worth visiting.

Photo: aegeancolors.com

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