The Koufonisia islands complex, often described as heaven on earth by those totally mesmerised by their charm and unparalleled beauty, is spread across a landscape of endless crystal clear tuquoise blue waters, rocky & cavey shores, and astonishingly unique land formations. And yes, they are as remarkably serene and beautiful as you may have heard!
The complex includes three main islands: Epano, Pano or Ano (all meaning ‘Upper’) Koufonisi often merely called Koufonisi, Kato (meaning Lower) Koufonisi, and Keros. Only the first one, Pano Koufonisi, is inhabited. Geographically, they are positioned on the south-southeast side of the island of Naxos, and on the west-northwest of the island of Amorgos. They belong to what is referred to as the Small Cyclades archipelago, which also includes the impressive islands of Schinoussa, Iraklia, and Donousa, certainly also worth a visit.
The cherished and very charmingly minimalistic Cycladic architecture is prevalent on Koufonisia. All the buildings are predominantly painted in shades of white and blue, projecting a very idiosyncratic and unique picture that defines the term ‘abundant beauty can be found in utter simplicity’. A typical interior of a local home in Koufonisia would usually consist of three rooms, a bedroom, a kitchen and a large room which was utilised as a living-room for the family to come together. The roofs, locally known as ‘Steosa’ was usually made of reeds, earth and wood, often a kind of wood taken from fida, called ‘kontarida’.
Beaches and Sites
Do take the time to check out the remarkable beaches of Finikas, Loutro, Italida, and Pori in Ano Koufonissi. We would certainly also suggest taking the small fishing boat (‘ka-i-ki’) to check out Kato Koufonisi as well, and dip into the pristinely clear azure blue waters at the beaches of Nero, Detis and Panagia. Renting a boat to tour this fantastic set of islands can prove to be an unforgettable experience. You will discover a range of impressive sea caves and rock formations in a series of completely isolated coves. Note the colour of the water, spanning most shades of blue contrasting with the colours of the earth and rock.
Koufonissi is due to have its own archaeological museum soon, so certainly watch this space as the area has graced us with several artefacts of great historical significance. In fact, a couple of impressive statuettes which have become symbols of the Early Cycladic civilization, known as the Piper and the Harpist, are currently exposed at the Athens Archaeological Museum and were discovered on the island.
There are just too many hidden gems and things to do, including several cultural events and local feasts on specific dates of the year while in Koufonissi to mention here. Make sure you drop us a line to find out how you can experience all that this fantastic destination can offer you, not just what your usual tourist guide will point you towards. If you are around during a full moon for example, take the chance to enjoy it as the locals or regulars tend to… Stay tuned!
Please remember that we are always available to provide you with tips, to offer guidance, or to assist you in perfecting the ideal Travel Design fully tailored to your own tastes and likes, prior to, or during your trip. For a peak of what is on offer, check out our Path Travel Designs website, or simply tell us what you are after by contacting us here.
Keros, is in fact a protected archaeological site as a whole, as settlements and a large number of ancient Cycladic art pieces have been excavated there in the 20th century, pointing to the fact that Keros was in fact an island of prime cultural and perhaps religious significance in the Early Cycladic Era. Archaeological findings suggest that Koufonisia were inhabited since prehistoric times. Certain excavations in Epano Mili also unearthed evidence that the islands were inhabited since the early years of the Cycladic Era, while excavations on the east shore unearthed remains dating to Hellenistic and Roman times. In fact, one of the most important artefacts found is a fryer-shaped vessel with a nine-ray star on it. It is exhibited in Naxos’ archaeological museum along with many more historical treasures in case you are keen to check them out.
In post-classical times the area, as most of the Cyclades islands, later fell into the hands of the Venetians, followed by the Ottomans. In the 17th century the two clashed to gain dominance over the Aegean Sea. Koufonisia residents often had to join forces with the revolutionaries residing in Mani at the heart of the Pelloponese Peninsulsa, with pirates, and/or any other ally. Basically allies who could aid them in their struggle to survive the occupational forces, often utilising the narrow channel between Pano and Kato Koufonisi as a safe shelter. Koufonisia were set free along with the rest of Cyclades islands and incorporated into the Greek state in 1830.
Local families have often had to fight and persist in order persevere in the face of several challenges historically. They had to rely on fishing, farming and light agricultural activities since the land is dry, rocky and hard to cultivate, in order to survive. Before the islands slowly and gradually resurfaced as the superbly authentic and remarkably beautiful destination they are now known as, the population was reduced significantly, as many had to relocate to other larger islands and even the port and city of Piraeus to make ends meet. Being cut off from the regular itineraries between the larger Greek islands basically meant ships would reach the island sporadically, perhaps once a week and when the weather permitted it. Access to healthcare and any other sort of aid in case of any emergency was therefore not easy and often not present when needed.
The area has now seen a rise in visitor’s volumes, there are a few roads, bars and shops to cater to most basic things your heart may desire yet still remains authentic and a typically off-the-tourist-path destination for those in the know. The magic is still there, and frankly, this is a place that merits a visit if you enjoy the Cycladic style and appreciate the unique elegance, simplicity and beauty prevalent in this part of the Greek archipelago. Not to be missed, and usually cherished for a lifetime after a visit, is what many of our clients have fed back over the years!
Making sure you enjoy the islands of Koufonisia in full comfort & style is exactly what we do.
Check out the different premium quality accommodation options we offer on the island below, let us know about what you are seeking so we can give you tips and arrange it all for you here, and treat yourself with a trip that will certainly relax and rejuvenate you this summer!
Small Cyclades Islands, Aegean Sea
- By plane to:
- Athens, from there a connecting flight to Naxos and then a ferry to Koufonisi.
- Mykonos, Paros or Santorini and then a ferry to Naxos and then another ferry to Koufonisi.
- By ferry from Piraeus Port (7.5h)