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Map & Synopsis: Greek Island of Sifnos (Cyclades)
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greece travel map sifnos greek islandGreek Island of Sifnos

The many charms of this Cycladic island draw large numbers of visitors during peak season, including its fine eastern villages, with some truly traditional architecture, its fortified medieval town, Kastro, along with some lovely nature in parts, its dovecotes, beaches, monasteries, windmills and its pottery.

Its port of Kamares, on the west coast of the island, gives no hint of the beauties that lie farther east, though it has a campsite along with a jumble of tourist rooms and restaurants, and a very nice small beach. Be sure and stop in at the Old Captain's Pub on the waterfront and tell Tony 'Harry sent you' too!

A twenty minute bus ride takes one across the island to the prettiest settlements, close to the east central coast. Apollonia has a little folklore museum in its square, and a street leading uphill with two of the town's remarkable churches, Aghios Spyridon and Panaghia Ouranoforia. Near Kleanthis Triandafyllos Square is a third church, Aghios Athanasios, with some frescoes and a carved wooden iconostasis. Steps lead up in the other direction past the whitewashed village of Ano Petali, with another large, kamares blue domed church near the top, and up above is the village of Artemonas, all three villages more or less merging into one another. Along the paved road that parallels the steps ascending to Artemonas, there are some fine neoclassical mansions belonging to that town, which also has some fine churches farther up. Little lanes lead off from the main street, and also stone steps leading down through a maze of windmills and out to the edges of the village, where a panoramic view of the Aegean includes the medieval village of Kastro across the way on a bluff up over the sea.

Below Artemonas is a lovely old monastery church with a blue dome, sitting up over a rocky cove. Kastro, reachable by coastal path or paved road from Artemonas, was both the ancient and medieval island capital, with the outer walls of tall Venetian houses forming some of the walls. Along the little lanes one finds 16th and 17th century churches and the Archaeological Museum, housed in an old Venetian church. There are some tavernas and a few rooms in Kastro, and swimming off the rocks.

sifnos viewsNearby is the 16th century monastery of Khryssostomou and the Church of Epta Martiries (Seven Martyrs). Sifnos' big resort is at Platis Yialos, on the island's southern tip, with frequent buses to it. Sadly, the long sandy beach is flanked by unending tourist businesses with generally high prices, and though there's a campsite, it's not very appealing.

To the north, on a little promontory, is the 17th century Khryssopighis monastery; to the north of it is the long beach of Apokofto, and a nude beach at Fasolou. Faros, to the north, was once a fishing village on a small bay, which has some rooms and tavernas, but the nearby beach at Glyfo is better. The 17th century Vrisi Monastery is nearby, named for its springs. A nice walk that starts from Apollonia leads to the abandoned monastery of Firayia, just minutes from the town; little farther is Aghios Andreas, with fine views. Vathy Bay, on the western side of the island's southern tip, is still a wonderful long hike (three hours from Katavati, the lower part of Apollonia, though it has predictably lost some of its charm by the construction of the paved road also leading to it. Northern Sifnos is very dry, though one can still enjoy a long walk along a dirt road to Hersonissos, on the northern tip, where there may still be an old pottery workshop.