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Why Should I Visit Sifnos?

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Sifnos at a glance

Sifnos is the discreet aristocrat of the Western Cyclades: a sophisticated island with a distinctive architectural identity, a wealth of centuries-old local traditions, and a unique gastronomic culture.

It is a place that raises the aesthetic of simplicity to a fine art, accentuated by the penetrating Aegean light. In its dazzling white villages, hundreds of blue-domed churches adorning rocks and cliffs, legendary festivals, and age-old trails passing through landscapes of outstanding natural beauty, the visitor will discover the quiet strength of authenticity.

Fashionable but with an alternative vibe, Sifnos is the birthplace of the famous cookery writer Nikolaos Tselementes, and is also a traditional centre of pottery production and ceramic art. It promises a dreamlike experience to bewitch the senses, with magnificent bays of blue and green bathed in golden sunlight, the smell of salt carried by the sea breeze, and the air filled with the intoxicating aroma of Mediterranean herbs. A unique experience for anyone who chooses one of the tickets to Sifnos.

10 reasons to visit Sifnos
  1. To admire the fortified architecture of Kastro, the island’s ancient capital. The picturesque settlement with the low gateways that once protected the inhabitants from pirate raids is one of the island’s most popular places for a stroll. Wander the meandering stone streets, taking in traditional houses and scattered marble sarcophagi, until you arrive at the ancient Acropolis, dating from the 6th century BC, where you can admire the superb sea view.
  2. To visit the iconic monastery, Our Lady of the Golden Spring, dedicated to the island’s patron, which is one of the largest sites of pilgrimage in the Aegean. The brilliant white monastery was built in the 17th century on two sides of a rock divided in two by a fissure and joined by a small bridge. Stop and admire the carved stone icon screen and the cell where the poet and playwright Aristomenis Provelengios stayed.
  3. To gaze out at the vastness of the Aegean from the stone-paved courtyard of Our Lady of the Mountain, near Platis Yialos. This beautiful church, built in 1813 with donations from the Sifnian community of Constantinople, offers a magnificent view of the islands of Kimolos and Polyaigos.
  4. To go for an afternoon stroll around the cobbled streets of Artemonas, perhaps the island’s most elegant village, to admire its superb neoclassical mansions built in the early 20th century. They include the house where the poet Ioannis Gryparis was born.
  5. To experience the nightlife on the famous main pedestrian street of Apollonia, the island’s capital, with dozens of bars where you can enjoy refreshing cocktails into the early hours of the morning.
  6. To see the sunset from the idyllic Church of the Seven Martyrs, one of the most photographed and romantic images of Sifnos. Perched on a rock surrounded by the blue of the Aegean, this small architectural gem seems to rise up out of the sea. It can be reached from Kastro via a stone-paved path and a large number of steps.
  7. To discover the very particular architectural tradition of Sifnos, which has long been of interest to students of bioclimatic design from all over the world. The flat roofs of the houses, the whitewashed joints between the paving slabs, the clay chimney stacks, and the old stone-paved paths and steps that connect large settlements make it a unique setting.
  8. To explore the impressive ancient phryctoriae of Sifnos. These round fortified towers built from the 6th to the 3rd century BC on slopes and hilltops functioned as a signalling network through the use of mirrors or smoke. So far, 76 have been recorded throughout the island. It is worth visiting the White Tower at Platis Yialos, the Black Tower at Exambela and the Katavati Tower at the village of the same name. Every year, on the eve of the Feast Day of the Holy Spirit, dozens of volunteers light fires on the phryctoriae in a revival of the ancient system of communication.
  9. To visit the fascinating archaeological site of the Mycenaean Citadel of Agios Andreas, which in 2012 received a Europa Nostra award as an exceptional example of cultural heritage. Admire the impressive outer wall dating from the 12th century BC and the beautifully preserved ruins. Make a stop at St. Andrew’s Church, built in 1701, and enjoy the view of Sifnos from on high.
  10. To attend the three-day Nikolaos Tselementes Festival of Cycladic Cuisine, a voyage through the food and gastronomic culture of the Cycladic islands, featuring dishes from guest chefs, demonstrations of local recipes, and cookery competitions. The festival takes place every September in Artemonas.
The top 5 beaches

Platis Yialos: The busiest and most popular beach on the island offers a long golden stretch of sand and shallow turquoise waters, ideal for playing in. It has every amenity, including umbrellas, sun loungers, changing rooms and showers, as well as water sports, beach bars and restaurants.

Vathy: This beautiful natural bay has one of the prettiest beaches on Sifnos, with a large area of sand, tamarisk trees and shallow emerald waters. Part of it has excellent facilities, with umbrellas, sun beds, water sports, changing rooms and showers, while there are cafes and tavernas serving excellent food along its entire length. The beach is particularly popular among families with young children and also with sailors, because the harbour is well protected from the wind.

Apokofto (Chrysopigi): A beautiful little bay with fine golden sand, tamarisk trees, and refreshing blue-green waters, for lovers of quiet and seclusion. It has an enchanting view of the small promontory with the famous Monastery of Our Lady of the Golden Spring, the protector of the island, which was built in 1650, and it is possible to swim out there to dive off its flat rocks. On the beach you will find changing rooms, showers, cafes and restaurants. It is well worth visiting if you choose the ferry to Sifnos.

Kamares: A long beach with plenty of golden sand, lush green vegetation, reeds, sand dunes with sea lilies, and shallow waters, between the port and the village of Agia Marina. Because it is so near the port, it is extremely well maintained and has every amenity, while there are cafes and restaurants at both ends.

Vroulidia: One of the most beautiful small beaches on the island, with sand, pebbles, and enchanting emerald waters that gradually deepen. There are two café-restaurants operating on the beach, which hire out umbrellas and sun loungers. The location is ideal for lovers of quiet and seclusion.

Don’t leave Sifnos without…
  • Walking some of the most beautiful trails in the Aegean on a 200-kilometre-long network of ancient footpaths connecting the island’s largest settlements and crossing the countryside. Each route reveals a dazzling centuries-old world of monasteries, churches, farm buildings, pigeon houses, threshing circles, dry-stone walls and windmills, as well as ancient signalling towers, mines and fortifications.
  • Discovering the secrets of pottery, a craft with a tradition going back millennia on Sifnos, all the way to the early Cycladic period (3000 BC). Visit some of the island’s 19 pottery workshops to learn from the masters of the art.
  • Purchasing high-quality ovenware or unique pieces of art from the workshops and studios of the island’s young potters and ceramicists.
  • Enjoying the seafood at the small tavernas in Seralia, the ancient harbour of Sifnos, with a view of Paros and Antiparos.
  • Experiencing the unique ceremony of a feast day on Sifnos. There are 237 churches and monasteries on the island, more than anywhere else per square kilometre in the Cyclades, and an equal number of opportunities for celebration. Every festival is organised and paid for by just one person as an expression of their gratitude and devotion to the saint in question.
  • Sitting for a Greek coffee or ouzo at the oldest cafe in Sifnos, dating from 1900, in the village of Ano Petali, and admiring its wonderful period décor.
Tasty experiences
  • Sample chickpea fritters, cheese croquettes, caper dip (made by cooking the capers together with pearl onions), kalasouna (a pie of wild greens and rice) and string beans with garlic puree.
  • If you choose a ticket to Sifnos, try mastelo (lamb in a clay pot with dill and wine cooked in a wood-fired oven), one of the island’s signature dishes.
  • Enjoy the famous Sifnos revithada (chickpea soup) in a clay pot, an emblematic Sunday dish slow-cooked overnight in a wood-fired oven and usually eaten for breakfast.
  • Get a taste of fine local cheeses such as sour xinomizithra, spicy manoura and fresh chloromanoura.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with delicious hot loukoumades (doughnuts) with honey, cheese or sugar, and melopita (a kind of cheesecake made with honey and cinnamon).
  • Make a stop at a traditional bakery or cake shop for local amygdalota (almond sweets made either in a saucepan or in the oven).
  • Taste the famous loli (a pumpkin pie with cinnamon, cloves, honey and raisins).
Trivia

Sifnos is the birthplace of Nikolaos Tselementes, one of the greatest chefs and confectioners of the 20th century and the creator of the magazine “Cooking Guide”, which first came out in 1910. He published the first complete recipe book in Greek in 1920, and in Greece, his name is synonymous with the word “cookbook”.

MAP OF SIFNOS
Useful Information