La suspendue

Donoussa, la suspendue

Away from the other islands, Donoussa, in the archipelago of the small Cyclades, plays the role of a loner.

According to mythology, it is the island where Dionysus would have hidden Ariadne so that Theseus does not find her. Like a rock set in the sea, it is the perfect secret stopover to live a suspended moment far from the tumultuous Aegean effervescence of the summer.

Quiet and with a steep relief, it has four barely inhabited hamlets, beautiful marked hiking trails, a few delicious taverns, and beaches with the scent of the end of the world. In Donoussa, life is sweet, very sweet even. Here we take our time and enjoy. There are no “must-sees”, no “must-see”, except for the sea, which is bluer than ever and opens perpetually on the horizon.

More rarely served than the other small Cyclades, boats stop here only when they go around Naxos from the north. This is how the island has managed to preserve itself and appears as a Cycladic mirage of authenticity and simplicity.

Untamed in the soul, it floats on this island a community and libertarian spirit, a bit alternative which is not to our displeasure. It is the favorite destination of Greek free campers who come every year to spend long weeks and live on love and fresh water. We understand them. With for main base, the beach of Kedros, a bay adorned with cedars, with golden sand and sublime blue waters where you can observe with a simple mask the wreck of a German destroyer. The small beach bar adjacent to the beach is also delicious.

In Donoussa, there is no car rental and a single road with vertiginous peaks crossed by a bus connecting the two villages of the island to the main beaches. After Kedros, the road leads to the tiny hamlet of Mersini, green and shaded by apricot, peach and fig trees. It houses the friendly TziTzi tavern with a breathtaking view. There is a spring (the only drinkable one on the island) at the foot of a hundred-year-old plane tree. A steep dirt road leads in 30 minutes to Livadi beach, the most beautiful on the island. A large beach, partly nudist, idyllic with tamarisk trees for shade.

The cliffside road continues and then descends northward to the village of Kalotatissa, which is absolutely quiet and also has a small tavern and 3 beaches. The most beautiful one is Trypiti, about 500 m from the village center. In high season, a cab boat connects Stavros to these beaches and allows you to discover the beautiful coast of the island.


In spite of the construction of some asphalt roads (13km in total), Donoussa offers some mule tracks that criss-cross the hilly and arid landscape and offer magnificent views of the surrounding islands of Naxos and Amorgos. The shortest trail is only 1 km long and the longest is about 4.5 km (1.5-2 hours walking time).

Life in Donoussa revolves mainly around the pleasant little port of Stavros on the west coast of the island. About sixty whitewashed houses scattered on a hill facing the sea, a very pleasant sandy beach with turquoise waters and in the distance the mountains of Naxos make the village the living heart of the island. A haven of peace where it is good to stroll in the paved alleys scented with jasmine and pointing to the sea, and enjoy the village life that wakes up once the night comes.

The inhabitants are welcoming and charming. Behind a sapphire blue door, a woman smiles at us. Would you like to visit and photograph your home? And here we are in the oldest house of the island, formerly the communal school in company of Iona, a yaya of 6 small children tasting a candied orange accompanied by a glass of water. A moment of pure Aegean happiness, simple and friendly as we like them so much.

Donoussa can appear as a garden of Eden in the middle of the Cycladic summer tumult. Dip your body in the diaphanous water, so fresh and clear that you almost forget that it is salty. Swimming. Make the starfish. Reach the shore in a spectacular setting. To dry on the hot sand. Lick its iodized skin. Enjoy some fruit. Read. Get some sleep. Return to immerse yourself even more… Then walk to the village with sun-drenched skins to dine in one of its delicious taverns. Contemplate the Aegean from the terrace of your accommodation by the light of the moon. Repeat the next day.

Donoussa is

4 km long by 3 km wide

Accommodation capacity

Where is Donoussa located? Donoussa in Greece forms with the islands of KoufonissiSchinoussa and Iraklia a mini archipelago commonly called Small Cyclades between Naxos and Amorgos.

How to get to Donoussa? By ferry from Athens Piraeus (6h45), Naxos (1h), Amorgos (Aegiali 35min, Katapola 1h10), Koufonissi (1h10), Paros (1h50), Schinoussa (1h55), Iraklia (2h15)

How to get around the island? No car rental but a bus that shuttles all day to connect the places of residence to the main beaches. Donoussa is an island that can also be explored on foot. In the summer a cab boat also provides a shuttle service from the port of Stavros.

Where to sleep and eat?

Argalios,in Stavros, a beautiful guest house with traditional architecture. 4 cozy and carefully decorated cocoons from which the Aegean is inevitably admired.

PetalidesIn Stavros, 3 guest rooms with a beautiful view of the sea.

Dimitrakis guesthouse, in Messaria, 3 independent houses overlooking the sea.

Tavern Tzitzi, in Mersini, tavern suspended on the hillside above the beach of Livadi and home-made dishes.

Kedros, on the beach of Kedros… Nice beach bar. In the shade, you can enjoy vegetables from the garden and traditional Cycladic dishes with a touch of fantasy.

Simadoura, small restaurant perched on the heights of Stavros. Simple and refined cuisine with a very friendly atmosphere.

Avli, in Stavros, Greek restaurant with sophisticated cuisine and beautiful surroundings. Make a reservation.

The book to take in your suitcase? Immortelle randonnée by Jean-Christophe Rufin.

The song to include in your playlist ? Silly love songs by Wings

And above all where to drink its Spritz? At the sunset at theIliovasilema Restaurant with a view of Stavros and its terrace overlooking the sea.

If I had known, …

I would have gotten up (much) earlier to have a coffee in the morning at To Kima, the Uzeri of the port which also serves as a grocery store, a tobacco shop and is an ideal place to observe the life of the village and the fishermen.

I would have gone at the end of the day rather than for lunch to the charming beach bar of Kedros for good cocktails and delicious mezzes, and sometimes, live music until dawn the next day.

For an unforgettable memory, I would have dived from the top of the cliffs of Fokospilia. The adjoining sea cave was once home to Mediterranean seals and today is a treasure trove of breathtaking seabed.

I would have gone to Livadi beach by bus (Mersini stop) or on foot and I would have taken the beach caïque on the way back. Much better than the other way around and avoids the 30 minutes long walk up to Mersini in the heat. It’s up to you.

J’aurais vérifié les horaires du ferry (le plus petit des Cyclades), le Skopelitis express, avant de réserver mon hébergement. En effet, il ne s’arrête pas tous les jours sur cette île. Après, il y a pire comme endroit pour rester bloqué…


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