Donousa

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Image Credits to Konstantinos Mantidis

The Aquamarine Island

Winds of Serenity and Waves of Peacefulness
A handful of whitewashed houses reflect under the blinding light of the Cycladic sun of Donousa and emerald and azure waters run in the golden beaches without a trace of shadow with the permanent sound of cicadas and the scent of watermelon from sunscreens. This is Donousa, a mysterious island of just thirteen square kilometres that, as the locals say, you can walk around it on foot. The natural terrain of the island boasts steep cliffs plunging into the sea while interesting hiking paths of the inland are passing through old farmhouses and rural churches. The island exhales a serene landscape of an indented coastline on the northeastern part and wonderful sandy beaches with emerald waters of the southern part of Donousa. Whatever Donousa lacks in size, it replenish in colours; besides they say less is more. Some of the most beautiful seashores of the Cycladic coastline spread on this island that will make you want to spend there the rest of your journey. Donousa is home to the spectacular cave of Fokospilia; one of the last refuges of the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus Monachus, and the Cave of Tihos with impressive stalactites in the bay of Xylobatis. So, if you are from those travellers who want to escape and experience something different from the ordinary, Donousa is the right island for you. Are you ready to unveil the mysteries of this tiny paradise?

Discover Donousa

Best of Donousa

The Capital of Donousa

The Settlement of Stavros, else known as Kambos from locals, is the capital of Donousa located on the southwest side of the island. The beautiful settlement is embellished with white and blue houses and flowery courtyards that spread amphitheatrically around the harbour. The natural terrain of the island boasts steep cliffs plunging into the sea while interesting hiking paths of the inland are passing through old farmhouses and rural churches and lead to beautiful beaches with emerald waters. One should definitely visit the beautiful church of Timios Stavros and the church of Panagia Ai Gianni standing on the gentle slopes around the bay.

The Bay of Kedros 

The Bay of Kedros  is one of the most beautiful beaches of Donousa. The beach is ideal for diving adventures lovers, as one will find the shipwreck of the German warship of Orion that was sunk from the Allied Forces during the Second World War.

The Churches of Panagia and Agios Ioannis

The Churches of Panagia and Agios Ioannis are the most beautiful churches of Donousa found on a hillside on the eastern area of the capital of the island. Both of them are samples of the traditional architecture of the Cyclades. There, one can enjoy panoramic views over the Aegean Sea.

Archaeological Sites

The Archaeological Site of Vathy Limenari is an ancient fortified settlement of the Geometrical period located close to Miti tou Trahila on the southeast side of the island. One can admire remnants of architectural elements and traces of ancient tombs. Findings from the site are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Naxos.

Chapels and Churches

The Chapel of Timios Stavros is the patron saint of Donousa located in the capital of the island. The beautiful church is a sample of the traditional architecture of the Cyclades. Here, one can enjoy panoramic views over the Aegean Sea. The church celebrates in honour of the saint on September 14.

The Twin Churches of Panagia and Agios Ioannis are the most beautiful churches of Donousa found on a hillside on the eastern area of the capital of the island. Both of them are samples of the traditional architecture of the Cyclades. There, one can enjoy panoramic views over the Aegean Sea. church celebrates in honour of the saint on August 15.

The Chapel of Agia Sofia is one of the most charming chapels of Donousa located in the village of Mersini. Here, one can admire panoramic views over the Aegean Sea. The church celebrates in honour of the saint on September 17.

Monuments

The Windmills of Donousa are one of the most beautiful spots of the island located on the plain of Messaria. In the old days, the windmills operated by wind as the Cyclades are renowned for their gusty winds. Although the windmills are no longer operational, they continue to be a symbol of the long history of the island. Here, one can admire panoramic views over the deep blue of Aegean.

Natural Beauties

The Cave of Fokospilia is located at the cape of Moshonas to the eastern side of the island. It is a marvelous cave with emerald water that used to be a shelter for the Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus Monachus. The cave was named after the monk seals, as Fokospilia means the cave of the monk seals. One can access the cave through a boat trip from the harbor of Stavros.

The Cave of Tihos is located on the northwest side of the island. It is a beautiful cave with rich stalactite and stalagmite formation and beautiful emerald waters. The cave is renowned for its beautiful ambience and the pure crystal waters. One can access the cave through a boat trip from the harbor of Stavros.

The Spring of Mersini is spring of potable water located on the northeast side of the island. The surrounding area has been developed into verdant owing to the abundant flowing waters. The huge old place tree stands out in the charming square, offering its shade to the visitors. On days with a clear atmosphere, the springs of Mersini offers panoramic views over the surrounding areas.

Promenades & Villages

Mersini is a mountainous village located on the northeast side of the island.  The surrounding area has been developed into verdant owing to the abundant flowing waters. The huge old place tree stands out in the charming square, offering its shade to the visitors. On days with a clear atmosphere, the village of Mersini offers panoramic views over the surrounding areas.

Stavros, else known as Kambos from locals, is the capital of Donousa located on the southwest side of the island. The beautiful settlement is embellished with white and blue houses and flowery courtyards that spread amphitheatrically around the harbour. The natural terrain of the island boasts steep cliffs plunging into the sea while interesting hiking paths of the inland are passing through old farmhouses and rural churches and lead to beautiful beaches with emerald waters. One should definitely visit the beautiful church of Timios Stavros and the church of Panagia Ai Gianni standing on the gentle slopes around the bay.

Sunset Spots

Spot: Beach of Kalotaritissa, Northeast Donousa

Spot: Chapel of Agia Sofia, Northeast Donousa

Spot: Chapel of Panagitsa, Southwest Donousa

Excursions

Boat tour: The boat tour to the beautiful caves of Donousa is a beautiful experience. One will have the opportunity to discover the marvellous caves of Fokospilia and Tihos with their crystal clean waters. Excursion boats operate from harbour of Stavros.

Boat Trip: The Island of Heraklia is a beautiful island of the small Cyclades. What is there to say for this mysterious island of eighteen square kilometres? Heraklia is a diamond shaped island of the Small Cyclades lying between the islands of Ios and Naxos. In an island of a hundred fifty inhabitants, the permanent peace of Heraklia is swinging in the air. When you arrive at the charming harbor of Agios Georgios, you feel like you have disembarked from a time machine boat travelling to the past. .Heraklia is a tranquil island embellished from pristine mysterious beauty with scenic bays and crystalline waters with shipwrecks surrounded from smooth hills on a simple Cycladic architectural landscape of whitewashed houses and charming chapels. Maybe it’s the time for you to be charmed from the simplicity of virgin nature and the magic of tardiness liberating the freedom of living.

Boat trip: The Islands of Koufonisia are two mysterious dots sail carefree in the the Aegean Sea. Ano Koufonisi is a charming island embellished with whitewashed houses of Cycladic architecture surrounded from golden beaches and crystal emerald and turquoise waters.  Whatever Koufonisia lacks in size, it replenish in landscapes and colors; besides they say less is more. The peacefulness of Ano Koufonisi emits an astonishingly mystic atmosphere spreading over an area of just four square kilometers while the wilderness of Kato Koufonisi releases a relaxing Cycladic aura surrounded from the sapphire waters of the sea with the shadow of the Cycladic silhouette of the island of Keros hiding in the deep sea. The boundless blue of the Aegean is matching with the white and blue houses of Koufonisia creating a magical atmosphere. Koufonisia are a paradise of natural beauty boasting a unique geomorphology with steep rocky shores and coves surrounded from beaches of tropical beauty with golden sand and emerald waters. An island blessed with strips of golden sand interchanging with wave carved rocks and the wild sight of caves, a beautiful escape to the unknown.

Boat Trip: The Island of Schinousa possesses a special energy that will make you appreciate the simple moments in life. The harmonic sceneries of the island will undoubtedly fulfil your every day. Schinoussa is a place you will find peace of mind while the simplicity and kindness of the local people will make you feel like you become part of their lives. The indented coastline of Schinoussa is blessed with the magic of the deep blue. Staring at the endless horizon of the sea elicits an indescribable feeling of freedom. Although Schinoussa is a small island, you will always find a place to isolate yourself to feel peace and tranquillity.   Fresh air, hospitable people, beautiful sceneries and the feeling of serenity; what else you might need?

Activities

Beach Volley: Are you a lover of beach sports? The beach of Stavros is ideal for beach volley.

Hiking: Donousa hosts numerous paths ideal for lovers of hiking. (1) One of the most beautiful routes is the one crossing the imposing mountain of Pappas, a beautiful path that passes through olive groves and vineyards where you can see the old mines of Donousa. The path leads to the beautiful bay of Kalotairitissa. (2) Another interesting trail includes the one that leads to the chapel of Panagitsa at the hill of Stavros. (3) It is also worth following the route that starts from the beach of Pera Panta and climbs up to the hill behind the village of Stavros. There, one will enjoy panoramic views of the neighboring islands of Amorgos, Irakleia and Koufonisia.

Snorkelling: Grasp your mask and dive in the bay of Kedros! It is definetely an amazing experience, as one will have the opportuntiy to discover the  wreck of the German warship of Orion that was sunk from the Allied Forces during the Second World War.

Beaches

Ammoudi is a pebbled beach with crystal clear waters. The beach is secluded and can be accessed from the path starting from the village of Stavros.

Fikio is a sandy beach with emerald waters and rocky formations located on the southeast side of the island. The beach is secluded ideal for those looking for tranquillity. It is accessible through a thirty minutes path from the village of Mersini.

Kalotaritissa is a long bay of the consecutive sandy beaches of Mesa Ammos, Sapounochroma and Vlyho located on the northeast side of the island. The bay of Kalotaritissa is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches of Donousa.

Mesa Ammos and Sapounochroma are two long golden sandy beaches with turquoise waters located on the bay of Kalotaritissa on the northern side of the island. The beaches are secluded ideal for those looking for tranquillity. The beaches offer panoramic views of the island.

Kedros is a sandy beach with turquoise waters located on the southern side of the island. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of Donousa. The beach is accessible through a short path starting from the village of Stavros.

Livadi is a white sandy bay with crystal clean waters located on the southern side of the island. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of Donousa and it is accessible through a short path starting from the village of Mersini.

Stavros is a sandy beach with turquoise waters located on the harbour of Stavros. It is one of the most popular beaches of Donousa and has easy access and amenities.

Tripiti is a sandy beach with crystal clean waters on the northern side of the island. It is a secluded beach ideal for those looking for tranquillity and isolation.

Vathi Limenari is a secluded pebbled beach with emerald waters on the southern side of the island. The beach is accessible only by boat.

Coffee Corners, Gastronomic Delights and Cocktails Inspirations

Coffee Corners

Corona Borealis: Coffee, Stavros beach
O Panaes: Bakery, Stavros
Skatzoxoiros: Coffee, Stavros beach

Gastronomic Delights

Aprosperitis: Seafood, Stavros
Kori tou Kyr Mihali: Greek Cuisine, Mersini
Kyma: Seafood, Stavros
Meltemi: Seafood, Stavros
Mitsos: Greek Cuisine, Kalotaritissa
Tzi Tzi: Greek Cuisine, Mersini

Cocktails Inspirations

Corona Borealis: Cocktails and Drinks, Stavros beach
Skatzoxoiros: Cocktails and Drinks, Stavros beach

Local Products & Specialties

The local products of the island include axialomizithra, a cheese produced with yogurt, the local alcoholic drink of rakomelo, and pastries from the bakery in the village of Stavros.
The local specialties of the island include aranista, a type of pasta, patatato, a dish made of stew meat with potatoes, kavourmas, a dish made of pork fried in fat, giaprakia, a dish made of stuffed cabbage, souvli, a cream made of barley, and kserotigana, a sweet of honey dipped pastries .

Events & Festivals

Every 15th of August, the traditional celebration in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary takes places in Donousa hosting a series of folklore special events with live traditional music and dances.

Every 27th of July, the Innkeepers Festival takes place in Donousa hosting a series of exhibitions of folklore art and photography.

Every August, the Treasure Hunt, a game rooted from folklore tales about pirates using the island for anchorage, takes place in Donousa.

Every 14th of September, the traditional celebration in honour of the Stavros takes place at the Chapel of Timios Stavros hosting traditional music, dance and local food.

Every 17th of September, the traditional celebration in honour of Agia Sofia takes place at the Church of Agia Sofia in the village of Mersini.

History & Mythology

Mythology

According to mythology, God Dionysus took Ariadne from the island of Naxos in order to hide her from Theseus in the island of Donousa.

History

Archaeological findings show the Donousa was inhabited since the Early Cycladic period reaching its peak during the Geometric era, as the remains of a fortified settlement show at the region of Vathi Limenari. In the Roman period, Donousa was used as a place of the exiled while afterwards the island suffered from pirate raids. Later, Donousa became under the domination of the Venetian and Turkish.  Local oral tradition has it that the inhabitants of the island had to pay a tax during the Turkish rule, which was collected by a Turkish ship anchored off the bay of Kalotaritissa. In the beginning of 18th century, the shepherds of the island of Amorgos settled on Donousa in order to cultivate the land. At that period, the inhabitants of the island were around 3.000 and worked in aluminium and copper mines in Kedros until they were shut down in 1938. One of the most remarkable facts of Donousa was its prominent role at the First World War, in the Battle of Gallipoli known as the Dardanelles Affair, where the German cruiser Goeben sailed in the harbour of Donousa after pursued from the British Royal Naval Fleet and managed to sail on to Dardanelles and precipitate Turkey into the war on the side of Germany. During the Second World War, Donousa fell under the Italian domination; actually there is a German shipwreck at the region of Kedros that was sunk from the allies at that time. Since then, the main occupation of the inhabitants was the cultivation of onions and tobacco until the 1950s, while the inhabitants suffered from emigration, depopulation and poverty in the 1960s. Just before electricity came to the island, the first travellers arrived.

Travel & Transport

By Boat (101 and 115 Nautical Miles): Donousa is accessible by boat from the harbours of Rafina and Piraeus. The journey usually lasts from four to six hours. Book your tickets with FerriesinGreece.com !

Mysterious Greece Tips

Beige Sand and Turquoise Glory: The Pristine Beaches of Donousa

The island is known for its beautiful pristine beaches. The majority of them are isolated, so make sure you bring the necessary precautions with you. Also, don’t forget your snorkelling equipment!

Book and Novels Under the Sun of the Aegean

Reading your favourite book under the sun of the Aegean is just marvellous! So, make sure you bring your favourite book with you!

Camping at Donousa

Although law prohibits free camping, Donousa is an ideal destination for free camping. The favourite beaches of free campers are Kedros and Livadi!

Discover Donousa by Hiking

Undoubtely, the best way to discover the island is through its hiking paths. One of the most beautiful routes leads to the highest mountain of Donousa, Mount Pappas. There, one can enjoy one of the best views of the Cyclades!

Diving Explorations:  Orion Shipwreck

One of the most impressive attractions of the island is the shipwreck of the German Warship of Orion. The shipwreck is located in the seabed of the bay of Kedros, an ideal spot for lovers of snorkeling and diving!

Donousa is the Art of Resting

It will be quite easy to adapt to the simple rhythms of life of Donousa. So, make sure you leave all of your problems and thoughts in the ferryboat! Once you step in Donousa, the air of serenity will definitely capture your body and soul!

Festivals of Donousa:  Traditions and Customs

The festivals of Donousa were always one of the traditional forms of entertainment and religious worship for the inhabitants of the island since the ancient years. Donousa has managed to maintain its traditions and customs as reflected from the numerous feasts, festivals and celebrations. One of the biggest celebrations take place on September 14 in honour of Stavros in the chapel of Timios Stavros. On that day, the evening service takes place followed by an event in the churchyard where guest enjoy food and wine!

Hop On the Traditional Boat

Hop on the traditional boat of Donousa to visit the deserted beaches of Donousa. The family atmosphere accompanied from a fabulous choice of music and local delicacies creates a beautiful experience.

It’s Sunset Time

The most beautiful spot to admire the sunset is the chapel of Panagitsa on the hill of the village of Stavros!

Yoga in Donousa

Are you a yoga enthusiast? Donousa offers the opportunity to enhance your stay by joining one of the summer yoga classes of Orionas Yoga.

Photo Credits

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Chapel of Agia Sofia: Fan of Greece by Flickr

Coastline: Panoramix12 by Panoramio

Crystal Clean Waters: Kat66 by Panoramio

Tables and Chairs: Dimitris Kosmidis

Fokospilia Cave: SirJoe48 by Panoramio

Kalotairitissa beach: Fysiolatreia.blogspot.gr

Kedros beach: Piperpg by Panoramio

Landscape: SirJoe48 by Panoramio

Livadi beach: Photos-gr.blogspot.gr

Mountain Pappas: Massimo Bettega by Flickr

Skilonisi Islet: Miltos57 by Panoramio

Stavros village: Photos-gr.blogspot.gr