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Pano Koufonisi (or Upper Koufonisi), the smallest island in the Small Cyclades (or Lesser Cyclades), is also the one that hosts the most visitors each year. For many years, Koufonisi has been a favorite destination for both Greek and foreign tourists, thanks to a number of special features: wonderful sandy beaches with crystal clear water, short distances that allow you to walk all over the island and make a vehicle unnecessary (except, perhaps, a bike), and many good options for accommodation, dining, and evening entertainment (for example, enjoying your drink under the moonlight, with the harbor and Strait of Koufonisia in the background). If at some point you find yourself getting tired of the crowds in Pano Koufonisi, hop on a boat, and in 10 minutes it will take you to the unspoiled, uninhabited world of Kato (or Lower) Koufonisi, without hotels, cars, or roads, but ideal for hiking, with the only company the arid landscape, the Cycladic light, and the wonderful beaches.


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Popularity: 388


Center : Chora
Surface : 11 km2
Water : Island
Population 2011 : 399
Type of Place : ScenicScenic
Kallikratis Code : 6702050101

Lesser Cyclades - Kato Koufonissi
Kato Koufonisi (38)
Lesser Cyclades - Koufonissi
Koufonisi (215)
Lesser Cyclades - Koufonissi
Koufonisia (278)
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Important Note

“Koufonisia” refers to the two islands of Pano Koufonisi and Kato Koufonisi. “Pano” means “upper,” so Pano Koufonisi may be referred to as the Upper Island; “Kato” means “lower,” so Kato Koufonisi is also called the Lower Island. Kato Koufonisi is nearly deserted, with no electricity and just one taverna, but also some very nice, quiet beaches. Pano Koufonisi is the base for visitors, who can escape the tourist bustle via boats to the Lower Island that run every two hours, if they wish. Unless otherwise indicated, both “Koufonisi” and “the island” refer to Pano Koufonisi, and that is where the ferry boats bring tourists, and where all the accommodations and shops are found.

How to Get There

You can reach Koufonisi by ferry boat in the following ways:

  1. With the Blue Star Ferries that depart from the port of Piraeus. The frequency of service depends on the season, but it is not available every day (usually three times weekly). Travel time: 8 - 8 ½ hours Approximate ticket price: 36€ per passenger and 75€ per car Stops: Piraeus - Syros - Paros - Naxos - Iraklia - Schoinoussa - Koufonisi - Donoussa - Amorgos (Katapola)

  2. With the legendary Skopelitis, which for years now has provided year-round daily connections between the islands of the Small Cyclades and Amorgos (Katapola/Aegiali) and Naxos. There is room for 11 or 12 cars in the small garage of the ship, but be sure to make reservations well in advance, and get to the port on time, because in the summer spaces are measured down to the centimeter!

Travel times and prices: Iraklia - Koufonisi 45 minutes, price 5.30€/person; Schoinoussa - Koufonisi 35 minutes, 4.80€/person; Koufonisi - Donoussa 1 hour and 15 minutes, 5.90€/person; Koufonisi - Katapola 4 hours, 7.40€/person; Koufonisi - Aegiali 3 hours, 7.40€/person; Koufonisi - Naxos daily except Sunday, 2.5 hours, 8.50€/person. Approximate average price per car: 22.50€. Stops: Naxos - Iraklia - Schoinoussa - Koufonisi - Donoussa - Amorgos (Aegiali) - Amorgos (Katapola)

  1. Excursion boats from Naxos and Paros (Livadi) also make trips to Koufonisia.

The island has a Heliport.

Road Network

You do not really need a car in Koufonisia. In Pano (Upper) Koufonisi, there is a relatively dense network of roads (asphalt and passable dirt road), but the maximum distance is only three kilometers (between Chora and Pori).

The short distances make it easy to walk all around Pano Koufonisi in two days. All the beaches on the island can be reached by passable dirt roads or short trails. There are some marked trails, but we do not see the careful marking found in Iraklia and Donoussa.

The main hiking route that is worthwhile is the seaside trail from Chora to Pori (3.5 kilometers). A second route crosses the island horizontally from east to west, starting from Pori with the Choristaria path (1 kilometer), heading north to Limenaria (1,400 meters), and going west to the Church of the Prophet Elias (1,800 meters) and finally Kladaries (1 kilometer).

There are no taxis on the island; however, you can rent a motorbike or bicycle. Since there are not any major changes in altitude, and only short distances, bicycling is a very good way to get around. There is a gas station 1,500 meters down the north road from Chora to the island’s dump.

Lower or Kato Koufonisi is an ideal place for hiking, as there are no roads--only trails. You can do a hiking tour in about 4 or 5 hours over a total of 14 kilometers of trails (maximum altitude difference 80 meters).

Other Means of Transportation

A sightseeing bus departs from the port every half hour from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily, with stops in Ammos Beach, Paradise Resort, Porta Beach, Hondros Kavos, Finikas and Pori. (There is also a bus to Hotel Koufonisia). Cost: 1 euro (round trip) to Finikas and 2.50 euros to Pori.

Boats depart from the port daily, at regular intervals, with service to both Kato Koufonisi (every two hours) and the beaches of Finikas and Pori (every hour). On Kato Koufonisi, the boat stops at both Panagia (where there is a taverna) and the beautiful beach of Nero. There is an evening departure at 8:30 especially for Kato Koufonisi’s taverna, with a return trip at 11:00. Cost: 3 euros roundtrip.

Tickets are available at the kiosk in the harbor, in front of the point where the boats dock. Just be sure you're there 15 to 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

You can also arrange for one of the captains of the boats that serve tourists to take you (roundtrip) to the splendid beach at Glaronisi and (Kastelli Beach), with its beautiful rock formations, on the northwest side of Kato Koufonisi.

Useful Tips

  1. On Koufonisia we recorded 48 gorgeous beaches (27 in Pano Koufonisi and 21 in Kato Koufonisi and Glaronisi). On Pano Koufonisi, no beach faces north, and all the beaches are accessible by either dirt road or a short path. In Kato Koufonisi, the northern Afriania and Kastelli beaches with the breathtaking rock formations are only accessible by sea.

The most striking beaches we singled out are the gorgeous sandy beaches at Pori and Platia Pounta - Italida in Pano Koufonisi, and in Kato Koufonisi, the pebbly beach of Deti with its crystalline light blue water, and the solitary sandy beach of Pezoulia at the southern end of the island after Nero.

  1. The landscape of Pano Koufonisi is fairly flat. The tallest hill on the island has an altitude of 120 meters and is located in the northern part of the island, in Vardia, west of the gas station on the way to the [dump][TID:41114 ].

  2. Although Kato Koufonisi has no electricity, there is one very beautiful traditional taverna, the Venetsanos, in Panagia, where the boat disembarks. Most of the food there comes from local ingredients or livestock (first and foremost the goats!).

  3. On Pano Koufonisi there is a gas station 1,500 meters down the north road from Chora to the island’s dump.

  4. There is a pharmacy in Chora.

  5. There is a Piraeus Bank ATM in Chora.

  6. There is no free or organized camping on Pano Koufonisi, but there is free camping on Kato Koufonisi, on private property above Lakki Beach. The only request is that campers notify the people at the island’s only taverna when they are settled in.

  7. Pano Koufonisi has many accommodations for its size (more than 75), but especially in July and August, make sure to make your reservations well in advance (at least from June).  

Useful Phone Numbers

Community of Koufonisia 22850-71379

Citizens’ Service Center of Koufonisia 22850-29243

Regional Health Clinic 22850-71370

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