Pano Koufonisi is the smallest inhabited island belonging to the Cyclades. It is specifically one of the four “Mikres Kyklades” (meaning small Cyclades). You will find it south-east of Naxos with a distance of only a few kilometres.
Despite its minimal size (5700 m²), it has more than 350 permanent inhabitants, which is quite a score for the Greek islands.
Until just a few years ago only a handful of tourists knew of the virtues of this tiny island, but recently it has become quite a treat for many.
Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to have changed the friendliness and services of the locals. You are still certain to eat only the freshest of fish and to enjoy the original atmosphere with the best music (foreign as well as Greek) in cafés and bars.
To many Koufonisi is synonymous with freedom. Freedom to walk barefoot all day long, freedom to dive into the most incredibly blue waves and freedom to stay up and watch the sunrise over the wild cliffs and gorgeous sea.
The village (there is only one!) starts at the port and crawls up a hill to the East and to beaches, of course. It is full of life with many children playing in the streets, Koufonisi actually has schools for children at all ages, even a highschool.
Here you can enjoy your coffee in the afternoon, shopping in the small shops along the curvy mainstreet. You’ll find taverns and bars as well as supermarkets covering your daily need of goods.
The sea caves at Pori
Koufonisi has taken its name from the many sea caves both above and below sea level. “Koufo”, meaning hollow in Greek is derived from the fact that the ocean for millenia has been “eating” the island, creating caves specially at the Northeastern side of the island. Like other islands in the Aegean Sea, Koufonisi consists mainly of volcanic rock in brown shades. The beautiful rock formations created under sea level are inviting many divers to have a closer look at this environment rich in fish and other sea creatures.
Lady of Keros
Keros is to be seen from any point at the eastern side of Koufonisi. It looks just like a lady resting on her back in the sea. Keros, today, is declared an archaeological site and is uninhabited. Until some years ago, a handful of shepherds were living on Keros with their herds of goats.
Keros is of great archaeological importance with rare findings from the Cycladic period (2700 BC–2300 BC, Keros culture). It’s living up to the importance of Delos island (Classical period).
In 2006-2008, the Cambridge Keros Project, co-directed by Colin Renfrew with others, conducted excavations at Kavos on the west coast of the island. This general area is believed to be the source of the so-called “Keros Hoard” of fragmentary Cycladic figurines.
Publication of this important work is underway and expected in four volumes to appear in 2012 and 2013.
Visiting Koufonisi (Pano Koufonisi, meaning Upper Koufonisi) you must try the short ride on one of the boats belonging to Captain Kostantis to Kato Koufonisi (Lower Koufonisi). Kato Koufonisi is located next to Pano Koufonisi, Shoinousa and Keros. It has an area of 4, 3 km² and it is almost uninhabited, as only a few rural houses exist there. The most characteristic sight of the island is the small church of Panagia that is built on the jetty, on top of ancient ruins. Only fish and tourist boats anchor in its small, but picturesque port.
Captain Kostantis will, on the way to Kato Koufonisi, take you around the eastern side of the tiny islet, Glaronisi. Its eastern side of spectacular and wild beauty is hidden from Koufonisi.
“Sohoro villas” at Spilia
the Sohoro villas are to be found at Spilia (cave) on the southwest side of Koufonisi. Six traditional houses with limitless view to Naxos, Shoinousa, Eraklia and Kato Koufonisi have recently been built.
It is located 200 m from the port, and 10 meters from the sea. Every villa has its own parking. Every house has many handmade details and every house is unique. The beds are from handmade iron, the kitchens have oven, stove and a large fridge. Every living room has a 32 inches LCD screen TV and the living spaces and bedrooms are air-conditioned.
“Gitonia tis Irinis”
“Gitonia tis Irinis” consists of 15 self-catered small houses, each one with its own yard. all of them have access to a garden full of flowers and a magnificent view to the sea and Keros island. “Gitonia tis Irinis” is located only 150m from the central beach and the village. There are single rooms, double rooms and small apartments with three or four beds, each one with its own bathroom and kitchen.
“Gitonia tis Irinis” (“Irini’s Neighborhood”)
by Antonis Em. Mavros
Tel: +30 22850 71674 Fax: +30 22850 74494
Built in 1852. From 1890 to 1930 it functioned as a primary school. In 1996 it became one of the most popular café-bars in Koufonisia. In an ambient environment with rock music you can enjoy delicious crepes, sophisticated cocktails while playing board games or chatting with the friendly owners. You’ll find it on the cobbled main street of the village. It has wireless internet. As mentioned above each year from May until late September it is hosting a photo exhibition from Dreamy Shoots (www.dreamyshoots.com)
Open 18:00 to 3:30 all year round
Manager: Dimitris (Mimis) Tsekouras
Τel/Fax: (+30) 22850 71837