181km (98 nautical miles) SE of Piraeus

Tell people that you're off to Folegandros and you're likely to get one of two reactions: quizzical expressions from those who have not been here and envious glances from those who know the island. Folegandros has one of the most perfect capitals in the islands: More village than town, Hora huddles at the edge of cliffs some 250m (820 ft.) above the sea. As with so many Cycladic towns, this one was built far inland, to make it almost invisible to pirates. The town has a series of interlocked plateias (squares), whose streets are made of green and blue paving slates outlined in brilliant white. As you prowl the streets, you'll gradually realize that much of Hora is built into the walls of the kastro, a medieval castle. Small houses with steep front staircases and overhanging wooden balconies weighed with pots of geraniums line the narrow lanes.

As for the main port, Karavostasi: If you didn't know about Hora and the island's beguiling interior landscape, you could be forgiven for continuing to the next port of call and not getting off. Karavostasi means "ferry stop," and the name sums up all there is to say about this desultory little port; although, in recent years, a sprinkling of cafes and jewelry shops have sprung up. Still, Karovostasi has little of architectural interest and few of the charms of most Cycladis ports.

If you want to explore Folegandros, you can do a good deal by local bus, but if you like to walk, this is a great place for it. Even if you rent a car, you'll have to leave it from time to time -- no cars are allowed in Hora and several other villages. The island's paved roads are still fairly minimal and there is still an elaborate network of foot and donkey paths over beautiful terraced hillsides. Look closely and you'll see that some of these paths are paved with ancient marble blocks; others are hacked from the natural bedrock. Hills are crisscrossed with the stone walls that enclose the terraced fields that allow local farmers to grow barley on the island's steep slopes. Rocky coves shelter some appealing pebble beaches (best reached by caique). Try to allow at least a day and a night on Folegandros -- and don't be surprised if you decide to stay a lot longer!