Travel to Anafi

Anafi is a small island sitting next to Santorini in the south-eastern part of the Cyclades island group. Anafi is in many ways quite the opposite to Santorini – no cosmopolitan extravagances here, no! It does, though, preserve its untouched, traditional charm. 

View of Chora, Anafi - Photo by S. Lambadaridis
View of Chora, Anafi@S. Lambadaridis

Island hopping from Santorini to Anafi 

One thing the two Greek islands have in common is their volcanic origins. Anafi is boasting a unique and volcanic landscape with imposing wild cliffs and sandy beaches hidden between rocks in little bays. The wild scenery is perfect for you who love vacations in nature. The island is still untouched by mass tourism. Being the neighbour of world-famous Santorini Anafi is of great island-hopping material. 

Where is Anafi in Greece? 

Anafi Island Greece - View from Chora village
View from Chora village in Anafi

Anafi island lies east of the island of Santorini (Thira) in the southern part of the Cyclades island group and is part of the Thira region. In 2011, it had a population of 271 inhabitants. 

Map of the Cyclades in Greece

Map of Cyclades Archipelagos
Click to enlarge the map

How to get to Anafi Greece? 

Anafi is a small and secluded island with no airport and only accessible by ferry from some ports on other islands in the Aegean Sea. You can fly to Athens, where there is a ferry connection from Piraeus port to Anafi, about three times a week. It is a long journey, though, 9-11 hours since the ferry makes many stops on the way. The easiest and fastest way to get to Anafi is by boat from nearby Santorini, which has the Santorini National Airport (JTR), also known as Thira Airport. You can reach Santorini airport from Athens and several international airports around Europe. The trip from Santorini to Anafi by ferry lasts approximately two hours. Anafi Island is also interconnected with ferries from MilosIos, Karpathos, RhodesKassos, and Crete

How to get around on Anafi? 

Being a small island with just one village Anafi is easy to get around, most beaches are accessible on foot and the atmosphere is relaxing and laid back. This is the reason why Anafi is popular as a camping destination. 

Old paths in Anafi perfect for walking 

Anafi Island Greece - Goats on cliffs
Goats on cliffs in Anafi

Anafi is an island perfect for walking or hiking. Through the old paths and around the steep hills, you can walk to the other side of the island. The most popular beaches are Klisidi and Roukounas. The peninsula at the eastern end of the island is dominated by a monolithic peak, Mount Kalamos, which is among the largest in the Mediterranean at 420 m. Perched atop this massif is the Kalamiotissa church, largely rebuilt after an earthquake in the 1950s.  

Meaning of the name ‘Anafi’ 

There are different explanations to the name giving of the island. According to mythology, the island was given the name Anafi because it emerged from the depths of the sea to give refuge to the Argonauts from a bad storm. Others say that the name is due to the non-existence of snakes on the island: “An Ofis” (without snakes). Despite its small geographical size, Anafi offers archaeological as well as mythological interest. At the monastery of Panagia Kalamiotisa, there are ruins of a temple built as an offering to the god Apollo Aegletus. Ruins can also be found at Kasteli, and most of the findings, such as the statues, are now located at the Archaeological Museum in Chora, in a very small room housing these ancient findings. 

Weather and climate in Anafi Island 

Anafi Greece - Coming down from Kalamos - Photo by Yiorgos Theodoropoulos
Coming down from Kalamos – Photo by Yiorgos Theodoropoulos

Anafi and Santorini are the only places in Europe with hot desert climates according to the Köppen climate classification system. The climate is Mediterranean with hot summers and moderate winters. At noon the temperature easily rises to 35 oC during summer, but in the evening the atmosphere becomes more comfortable with a light breeze from the sea. Sometimes the North wind becomes strong, but it rarely rains during summer. Most rainfall happens in Autumn, but winters are rather dry with strong winds and temperatures around 10 oC. Spring is beautiful with warmer weather and nature blooming. 

Anafi – what to see? 

Kalamos, Anafi - Photo by Miltiadis Giovanos
Kalamos, Anafi – Photo by Miltiadis Giovanos

KASTELLI – 8th CENTURY BC CITY-STATE

The hill on which the ancient city was located extends to an altitude of 327 metres. Ruins of the Anafian city-state can be seen there; the city was probably established in the 8th century BC by Dorian colonists, and dominated life on the island until the end of antiquity. 
The city walls, as well as extensive ruins of the city’s cemetery, can be seen at Kastelli. Rich findings from the Roman period, during which the island flourished, are scattered throughout the area; one particularly impressive finding is the sarcophagus located next to the historic chapel of Panagia sto Dokari. 

MONASTERY OF ZOODOCHOU PIGIS

Anafi, Greece - Kalamos, Panagia Kalamiotissa - Photo Vag. Stefan
Kalamos, Panagia Kalamiotissa – Photo Vag. Stefan

Also known as Panagia Kalamiotissa is located over the narrow isthmus separating the main island from the Kalamos peninsula. 
It is built over the eminent ancient temple of Apollo Aeglitis, which was linked to the city-state by the paved Iera Odos (sections of which can still be seen today). Quite high sections of the walls of the temple itself and its enclosure have been preserved and incorporated into the enclosure of the modern-day Monastery. 
The Monastery has functioned as a pilgrimage since the times of Turkish rule and is well-known both within and outside Anafi. The island’s most important religious feast takes place there on September 7th-8th. 

KALAMOS – TALL MONOLITHIC ROCK

Kalamiotissa, Anafi Greece - Photo Amalia1984
Kalamiotissa, Anafi – Photo Amalia1984

The tall monolithic rock, inaccessible by sea and hard to reach by land, forms a unique natural monument for the island. It is host to rare species of flora and has some impressive geo-morphological features. The rock was inhabited, on an occasional basis at least, in Medieval times, as a refuge from the island’s numerous invaders. 
Its highest peak hosts the now-abandoned old Kalamiotissa Monastery. It is a single room domed temple with interesting architectural features, surrounded by a few monastic cells and a small water reservoir. Its location and the view inspire an indescribable sense of awe in all visitors. 

Things to do in Anafi 

Anafi Island Greece -Two boys fishing
Two boys fishing in Anafi

HIKING / WALKING THE OLD FOOTPATHS 

Anafi is an ideal destination for explorer-travellers, who will meet the challenge of discovering unknown facets of the Anafian countryside, through an extensive network of selected footpaths. This network, with an overall length of 18 kilometres, covers most of the island and forms the Footpaths of Historical and Cultural Interest, which cross sites or lead to destinations that have a special historical-cultural or environmental significance. 

Cultural events in Anafi

Every August, the authorities of the island organize: 

  • Swimming races in the port 
  • Folk art and photography exhibitions in Chora 
  • Traditional island feast in the Chora square 

Anafi beaches 

Anafi Greece - Photo Amalia1984
Anafi beach – Photo Amalia1984

Common for all beaches on Anafi is their tranquility, since the island has still not been discovered by foreign tourists. The ones with most visitors are found on the southern coast of Anafi, since they are easy to reach either by boat or on foot. Most of the beaches on Anafi are long and sandy, with clear blue waters, but only few trees for sun protection. None of the beaches are organized, but you might just have some of them all to yourself. The most popular beaches in Anafi are the ones located around Anafi port, like Agios Nikolaos and Klisidi. This is also where many of the Anafi hotels are to be found. One charming thing about Anafi is that everything is within walking distance from the main town on the island.  

All beaches – non organized 

  • Kleisidi Beach – located 2 km south of Chora – sandy, secluded, nudism friendly 
  • Roukounas Beach – located 3 km southeast of Chora – sandy, secluded, nudism friendly 
  • Agios Nikolaos Beach – located 2 km south of Chora – sandy, harbour 
  • Katsouni Beach – located 2 km south of Chora – pebbled, secluded, nudism friendly 
  • Agioi Anargyri Beach – 4 km east of Chora – pebbled, secluded 
  • Agios Ioannis Beach – 4 km southeast of Chora – pebbled, secluded 
  • Flamourou Beach – 3 km southeast of Chora – sandy, secluded 
  • Kameni Lagkada Beach – 4 km southwest of Chora – pebbled, secluded 
  • Megas Potamos Beach – 4 km southeast of Chora – pebbled, secluded 
  • Prasa Beach – 6 km north west of Chora – pebbled, secluded 
  • Agios Spiridon Beach – 2 km from Chora – sandy 

Chora Anafi, the only village 

Anafi island, Cyclades, Greece - Photo by Sotiris Lambadaridis
Tavern in Chora Anafi

Chora Anafi is built on the slopes of steep mountains, at an altitude of 200 meters. It is the capital of the island and gives you a stunning view to the Aegean Sea. Chora Anafi is the centre of all activities with restaurants, bars and shops. Up here, you will discover hidden natural gems such as caves and old footpaths with breath taking views to the Aegean Sea. 

Beach on Anafi island, Cyclades, Greece - Photo by Sotiris Lambadaridis
Anafi island, Cyclades@otiris Lambadaridis

Anafi is an island keeping its integrity and tranquillity – perfect if you enjoy a few days in a remote and laid-back Aegean island.