Greek Summer Escapes : Sifnos
Last week I received a message from a friend planning to travel to Milos with her family and looking for a nearby island to complete her trip, I suggested her to visit Sifnos. It was such a pleasure to dig back into my files, searching for cards and bringing back memories from this splendid Cycladic island. What I particularly like about Sifnos is the authenticity of its villages and the roughness of the landscapes, which make it stunningly beautiful. There is so much to explore on the island: old monasteries with breathtaking views, scenic walks through dry scrublands and green olive trees, picturesque villages, workshops from talented potters, and nice beaches to relax! I have listed bellow some tips to guide my friend - and hopefully many others.
How to get there?
Boats depart daily from Piraeus port: speedboats take 3h30 while “classic” boats take 6h. There are connections with other islands such as Serifos or Milos. For more information, check: www.openseas.gr
Where to stay?
We had different experiences, which I can all recommend. It depends on your budget and priorities:
- For a luxury and relaxing retreat: Hotel Eliès is a comfortable and nicely designed hotel on Vathy beach. The hotel’s restaurant is very good and you can also enjoy a more relaxed meal in one of the beach’s taverns. Vathy is a charming and quiet little village where you will find the atelier of the talented potter, Antonis Atsonios. For us, the only minus of this hotel’s choice was the distance to the heart of the island: travelling with a baby at that time, we suffered a bit going back and forth on winding roads.
- For a family-stay and a reasonable budget: Windmill Bella Vista Hotel in Artemonas was an excellent choice. This family-run establishment has simple little studios built around a swimming pool with gorgeous views to the village of Kastro. Children are more than welcomed and you will certainly get a feeling of the Greek hospitality. The central location is convenient to explore the island.
- For a Boutique hotel at the heart of the island: our friends recommended Hotel Kamaroti as a comfortable, nicely designed and welcoming address; this is probably where I would choose to stay on a future visit.
- Several friends are renting out their villas or village houses, I would be happy to put you in touch if you were interested.
Where to eat?
In Kastro - To Batraxia, Tel: 2284033047/ 6972039055 (cell Fotis)
On the ferry travelling to Sifnos, the lady seating next to us recommended to have dinner at a tiny fish-restaurant at the foot of Kastro and this experience remains one of the highlights of our visits to Sifnos. Don’t miss it!
In Apollonia, we enjoyed the trendy atmosphere, nice design and good food at the concept store-restaurant and bar ΚΥΚΛΑΔΩΝ ΧΩΡΟΣ: http://www.kikladonxoros.gr/
Our favorite beach tavern is in Chrissopigi: Lembesis.
Get a taste of the local pastries at Vasilis Theodorou in Artemonas.
Where to swim?
With children, we thought the two best options were Vathy beach and Chrissopigi beach, both are sandy beaches with shallow waters (and good taverns directly on the sand).
I also liked the beach at the heart of Kheronisos village, neither for the beauty of the landscape nor for the quality of the water but for the very local atmosphere!
There are plenty of hidden coves, often rocky and difficult to access therefore I did not get a chance to explore them since I travelled with my young children but ask the locals for some tips if you want to get out of the beaten tracks.
What to see and do?
Discover the fortified village of Kastro and the small church of Seven Martyrs built on a rocky peninsula right before Kastro’s entrance.
Visit the superb monastery, Panagia Chrissopigi
Stroll around the narrow and picturesque streets in Apollonia
Drive to Kheronisos, enjoy the scenic views on the cliffs and stop at Saint Simeon monastery for even more breath-taking views.
Visit potters’ workshops: Giannis Lembesis in Artemonas, Kostas Depastas in Kheronissos, Antonis Atsionos in Vathy.
Climb all the way up to the peak of the island (not with young kids) where you will visit the large complex of the Prophet Elias' Monastery.
Have a last sunset drink in Kamares witnessing the buzzing atmosphere at the ferry pier.