Things to Do in Koufonisi

Things to do in Koufonisi

Many visitors to Koufonisi are known to stay longer than they originally intended. This is because the group of two heavenly islands—Ano and Kato Koufonisi—have a relaxing energy that keeps people coming back.

A big part of that is the gorgeous beaches, which range in color from azure to navy blue. But there’s more to do than just lazing on the beach.

1. Visit the Virgin Mary Church

A trip to Koufonisi isn’t complete without visiting the enchanting Virgin Mary church. The small, white-washed building is the perfect place to take a moment to reflect and appreciate your surroundings. It’s also an excellent opportunity to catch a glimpse of local life and culture. In fact, the entire island has an authentic feel, thanks to its friendly residents. They’re more than happy to help you, guide you through, and introduce you to their relaxed lifestyle. Don’t miss out on a chance to sample some of their homemade delicacies, including rakomelo (honey wine), nougat, xerotigana (honeyed dough strips), and fava (split peas).

If you’re traveling to Koufonisi during high season, be sure to visit the local church on August 15th, which is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. This is a major religious festival that takes place throughout Greece. The locals are dressed in traditional clothes and the church is filled with food, drinks, and music.

During your stay in Koufonisi, you’ll want to make time to explore the island’s other highlights, including Pori and Gala beaches. Pori beach is the most beautiful on the island, with golden sand and spectacular blue waters. It’s also home to the popular bar-restaurant Kalofego. Gala is another fantastic beach, which gets its name from the milky color of its water. This is due to an opening in the rocks that allows seawater to flow through.

Other must-see sights include the Eye of the Devil (Pisina), a stunning natural swimming pool with fascinating rocks. This is a great spot to swim as the rock formations help to take the sting out of the waves. You can also swim through an opening in the rocks to reach the shore.

Those who are interested in exploring the island on foot should take advantage of the many trails that lead to the various beaches and villages. A hike to the top of Prophitis Ilias is a worthwhile experience, as it provides a riveting view of the surrounding Aegean landscape. Be sure to bring plenty of water, as the climb can be tiring.

2. Take a boat trip to Kato Koufonisi

A day trip to Kato Koufonisi is one of the most worthwhile things to do in Koufonisi. This uninhabited sister island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Cyclades, as well as a handful of taverns and other structures. It’s important to book a ticket ahead of time, especially in high season when the island is very popular and rooms tend to sell out quickly.

The trip starts in the main settlement of Ano Koufonisi, where you can find narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed houses, coffee shops, and traditional taverns. It’s worth spending an hour or so here, getting a feel for the place and soaking up the atmosphere. The Ethnographic Museum of Ano Koufonisi is also a highlight, featuring a collection of utensils and other objects related to the local island life.

Once on the boat, you’ll sail along the pristine coastline of Ano Koufonisi and discover a variety of beaches and other natural pools. Be sure to visit the rocky natural pool known as Devil’s Eye, a fantastic snorkeling spot featuring interesting rocks and a clear opening that leads into the water. There are also a number of stunning sandy beaches to explore, including Platia Pounta and Pori.

You’ll have the option to hop off at the beach of Panagia for a quick swim, or you can continue to Nero Beach which is further south. The waters here are some of the most crystal-clear in the Cyclades, and there’s plenty of space for everyone.

After Nero, the boat will stop at Detis Beach, which is another great snorkeling spot. From here you can take a short walk to a hidden cove with soft sand, which is perfect for swimming. It’s also the perfect spot for watching sunset on the beach, before hopping back on the boat and heading to Chora.

If you have extra time, it’s worth taking a longer excursion to Kato Koufonisi to explore the other pristine beaches on the island. There are only a few taverns and other facilities on the island, so it’s important to bring food and water for your day here.

3. Go on a day trip to Keros

The island has only a few hotels and restaurants and the food is very high-quality. You can find all kinds of seafood, fresh salads and the traditional psimeni raki (“boiled raki” with honey, sugar and spices). You can also try the meat-based dishes like souvlaki and tzatziki and the local specialties like wild goat from Kato Koufonisi or xerotigana (pork on a spit). Don’t forget to get a taste of the delicious cheeses made on the island.

The best place to go for a meal is the little restaurant on the west side of the island near Pori beach. This small restaurant has a line of tables on a small paved path right next to the sea. This is a magical setting for a meal, especially at night when the stars are out. The prices are a bit more than the other places on the island, but it is worth the extra money to enjoy the unique dining experience.

Another option for a great meal is the restaurant in the main town of Pano Koufonisi. This restaurant is located in sort of a farm and serves locally grown foods. It is particularly known for their excellent meat, including lamb and goat from Keros. They have an excellent variety of wines as well.

The other great thing about Koufonisi is that you can walk to most of the beaches on the island. The coastal footpath along the south coast of the island is flat and offers stunning views of the beaches and coves. It takes about an hour to get from the town of Chora to the farthest beach, Pori.

The other option for getting around on the island is by bike. There are a couple of companies on the island that rent bikes and e-bikes. The only problem is that you may have a hard time finding one in summer since the islands are so popular. You may have to call a few days in advance.

4. Enjoy the local cuisine

Located at the entrance of Ano Koufonisi, this cute little restaurant has brightly colored tables, comfy seating and quiet softly lit corners where you can enjoy lunch in the shade. Try their ‘Apostolis’ salad, a new take on the traditional Greek Salad, the feta baked in honey, the tasty fish soup and homemade breads. The staff are friendly without being intrusive.

The people of Koufonisi are a big part of what makes the place so unique and heartwarming. They are always ready to help, guide you through and initiate you to their relaxed lifestyle. During low season, you can spend time getting to know them and be treated with food and rakomelo they make right in their loving homes.

The beaches of Koufonisi are some of the best in the Cyclades and the waters are crystal blue. They are also very secluded and often empty during the high season. The Pori beach, for instance, is only accessible by boat and offers one of the most beautiful views on the island.

Another thing you should definitely do is rent a bike and explore the countryside. The paths are well-marked and offer an incredible landscape that will take your breath away. It will give you a chance to discover the natural beauty of the island and get a true feel for its culture and traditions.

Koufonisi may sound like a far-flung destination, but it is actually very easy to reach, even from Athens. There are daily ferries from Athens to Naxos and then a short ferry ride to Koufonisi.

You can stay in the main settlement of Ano Koufonisi or at the nearby hotels. However, during summer it is highly recommended that you book your accommodation in advance because the island gets very busy.