Head To This Greek Island For Scenery Like Santorini But Cheaper And Without The Crowds

For lovers of warm weather and crystal-clear seas, the islands of Greece are a destination that simply can't be beaten. It's no wonder Greece, with its unique cultural highlights, ancient ruins, delicious gastronomy, and gorgeous natural scenery, sits at the top of many travelers' bucket lists. If you follow travel content on social media, you've likely run into countless posts featuring travel influencers in sun hats standing among the iconic white-and-blue buildings of Santorini or perched on rocky cliffs on the shore of the Mediterranean. Greece has more than 6,000 islands. Of those, 227 are inhabited (per Visit Greece), and choosing which Greek island to visit could make or break your trip. 

The island of Santorini is inarguably beautiful, but over the past several decades, its popularity has skyrocketed, especially among honeymooners and jet-setters. Due to the influx of tourism, Santorini has become oversaturated and overcrowded. While Greece is usually considered an affordable destination, prices in Santorini can be high for some travelers. Luckily, you can enjoy the same beauty for less money on a trip to Folegandros, a beautiful rocky island in the Cyclades that encompasses 12 square miles (per The New York Times). As an added bonus, you won't have to deal with hordes of other tourists — at least not yet.

Folegandros is an underrated island paradise

You've likely heard of Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos, but if the island of Folegandros is brand new to you, you're not alone. Folegandros is located in the Cyclades, the same island group as Santorini. It's just under 40 miles from Santorini in the Aegean Sea. It's smaller and lesser known than its neighbor, but no less beautiful. Perhaps Folegandros has remained under the radar due to a lack of tourism marketing initiatives, or maybe the people of Greece are simply keeping this hidden gem all to themselves. Folegandros has remained mostly unchanged by tourism, making it the perfect choice in the Cyclades for travelers who want a taste of authentic Greece and old-world charm. Especially if you wish to avoid crowds during your trip to Greece

On a trip to the island of Folegandros, you'll enjoy a peaceful atmosphere and gorgeous scenery. There might not be as many options for nightlife and high-end shopping, but there will be plenty of opportunities to soak up the Mediterranean sunshine on pristine beaches. The island's main town of Chora dates back to the Middle Ages and features Cycladian architecture – meaning you'll be able to snap a photo among the classic white buildings with blue shutters. Don't miss visiting the historic Venetian quarter (called Kastro) or the beautiful Panagia Church. Expect the perfect, laid-back atmosphere and plan for activities like hiking, swimming, and sipping wine as you watch the sunset over the sparkling sea.

Planning your trip

Despite the lack of tourism, there are plenty of accommodation options in Folegandros that are ideal for a budget-friendly island vacation. You can choose from private rentals or beautiful bed and breakfasts right in town. You can easily find lovely hotel rooms for under $100 and private vacation rentals for around $150. If you're willing to splurge, Airbnb has some incredible private homes for rent right on the beach.

The easiest way to reach Folegandros is to fly into Athens, which has a major international airport that welcomes hundreds of flights per day. Depending on the time of your arrival, you may be able to catch the ferry on the same day. For a more relaxing journey, consider spending a few days soaking up the culture and history of Athens before setting sail to your island getaway. The high-speed ferry departs daily and takes just under five hours. Many ferries have comfortable chairs on an expansive deck where you can enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the views. Economy ferry tickets cost just over $125.

Folegandros also makes an excellent home base from which to explore the rest of the Cyclades islands without paying sky-high accommodation prices. Ferries depart daily for Mykonos, Santorini, and Naxos, and the trip to Santorini takes under an hour on the high-speed ferry.