General Information on Sifnos
The island of Sifnos is part of the Cyclades cluster and it is located between Serifos and Milos. The surface area of the island is 74km² and it has a population of 2,242 inhabitants. It is a small but cosmopolitan island that will astonish you as soon as you start to explore it.
In the last few years, the construction activity has increased and some neighbouring villages tend to merge together. Until today, the island has managed to keep its authenticity and tourist facilities are harmoniously blended with traditional elements. Along with the characteristic whitewashed houses, the island has numerous lovely churches (732), windmills and dovecots. Sifnos is also known for its nice beaches, an appealing nightlife, amazing food and its long tradition in pottery. The island of Sifnos is the ideal place for those who wish to combine relaxation with fun.
History of Sifnos
In the early Bronze Age (3000 B.C.) settlers from Asia Minor came to the island of Sifnos and mingled with earlier Neolithic occupants to develop what is known as the Early Cycladic culture. In the late Bronze Age (1600 B.C.), Sifnos came under the cultural and commercial domination of the Minoans of Crete. After the explosion of Santorini and the destruction of the major Minoan centers, the Myceneans took control of Sifnos and the other islands of the area.
Between 1130 and 1120 B.C. the Ionians colonized the island as well as the rest of the Cyclades. During this time, the new capital of Sifnos was established where Kastro stands today. The high artistic, commercial and cultural development of Sifnos during this period is proven by the numerous marble buildings, bases of column, various objects and graves. During the 6th century B.C., the inhabitants of Sifnos were very wealthy because of an amount of gold and silver found on the island. According to historic sources, the inhabitants built a treasury in Delphi and every year they presented a solid golden egg to god Apollo.
In the 5th century B.C., Sifnos was part of the Delian league and came under the authority of Athens. In 338 B.C., Sifnos fell under the rule of Philip of Macedonia and later his son, Alexander the Great. After his death, his many heirs divided the Macedonian lands and the island came under the authority of the Ptolemies of Egypt until 146 B.C. when it was conquered by the Romans.
In 1207 A.D., Sifnos was under the authority of Marco Sanudo, nephew of the Doge of Venice, who had declared himself Duke of Naxos. Later, the island was ruled by a Spaniard, and later given as a dowry to Nicolas Gozzadino of Bologna. Sifnos remained under the influence of the Gozzadini dynasty until 1537, when Pasha Barbarossa fought the Venetians in the Aegean. During the rebellion of 1821, the island joined the fight led by Nikolas Chrysogelas and finally, it became part of the New Greek State in 1832.
Towns & Villages in Sifnos
Kamares: Far from being the port of the island, Kamares is one of the nicest places to stay due to its long beach, beautiful scenery, great taverns and its well-preserved housing architecture.
Appolonia or Stavri: It has been the capital of the island since 1836 and is located in the center of the island. It is a lovely, picturesque village full of narrow stone-paved streets and Cycladic-style houses decorated with bright colored flowers. Also Apollonia is the heart of the nightlife with numerous bars, clubs with live music and cafes.
Kastro: Kastro village is a unique clifftop village situated 5km east of Apollonia. It offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Aegean and has been inhabited since the prehistoric period. Kastro has been built on the ruins of the ancient capital of Sifnos and is the only village of the island with a strong medieval character. Narrow alleys, loggias, beautiful two-storey houses, superb old mansions and 16th and 17th century churches compose the incredible beauty of Kastro. When wandering in the labyrinth of Kastro alleys, pay attention to the ancient marble ruins that are spread around.
Artemonas & Ag. Loukas: The colourful village of Artemonas, which has come to include the village of Ag. Loukas, is located just above Apollonia. This lovely settlement offers some of the most beautiful traditional mansions of Venetian and Neoclassical style. The village is built on the slopes of a hill and is dotted with small paved alleys inaccessible by car. This is the main reason why it remains one of the quietest and most untouched places of the island. There are no bars here, but you can find many excellent taverns and cafes as well as traditional bakeries.
Beaches in Sifnos
Platis Gialos: This is the longest, most beautiful and popular beach on the island and is located 10km from Apollonia. The bay is quite open and, depending on the weather, waves can be pretty big. During high season (July-August) it is always crowded. Everything you might need is here: sunbeds, cafes, taverns, restaurants, hotels and rooms for rent.
Vathi: Vathi beach is found in a lovely closed bay. It is a place of great natural beauty with a sandy beach and clear calm waters. Tourist facilities as taverns, cafes, rooms for rent and hotels are available.
Chrissopigi: There are two beaches in Chrissopigi, which has been named after the monastery that is located there. Apokofto, on the left side of the church of Chrissopigi, is a sandy beach with crystal clear and cold waters, with few trees and two taverns. There are rocks in the most part of the seafloor and "access” to the water is not easy. However, the view to the most beautiful church of the island and the rather wild landscape make it worth a visit. The other beach located on the right side of the church is very small with pebbles and is less crowded than Apokofto. Many people prefer to sit and swim in the flat rocks right below the church, away from the crowded beaches and the sand.
Vroulidia: This is a small sandy beach, not organized. It is not accessible by car and if you want to visit it, you must go by boat or on foot from a rather unclear path. If you manage to find the beach, you will probably spend the day alone.
Faros: The settlement of Faros is located in a close bay, which has three beaches. All three of them are sandy and have taverns and cafes around. The waters are very calm and shallow and it is an ideal place for families.
Top Things to Do in Sifnos
1. The Monastery of Prophitis Ilias (psilos): This amazing monastery is built on the highest peak of Sifnos. It is one of the oldest buildings of the island and the entire complex is surrounded by walls, a large refectory, and underground galleries for the accommodation of visitors. The monastery can be reached on foot by a winding path from the village of Katavati in two hours. It is worth a visit, especially on the day of the celebration of the church. If you are here on that day, when you reach the entrance people will offer you water or wine. After the ceremony, there is food, wine and live music for everybody. Still, whenever you go to Prophitis Ilias, the kitchen and the main church are always open. Either way, stay until the next day. The view is amazing when the sun rises; all surrounding islands start appearing slowly one by one.
2. Eftamartires Church: At the periphery of the settlement of Kastro, there is a small path that leads to a big rock where the small church of Eftamartires lies. The church is well preserved and offers a magnificent view to the Aegean. The small church is locked, but the landscape will make it worthwhile. When the wind is strong, the waves reach the church.
3. Poulati: Poulati is a small bay, ideal for those who want to swim in an alternative place. You can go from Artemonas village by car, and at some point you have to continue on foot. Poulati is not a beach, but a bay with wide and flat rocks, green waters and few people. The rock formations are very wild and unique. If you are not a good swimmer, don’t go to Poulati. Even when the weather is good, there are waves there.
4. Panagia Chrissopigi: The monastery of Panagia Chrissopigi is the most known and photographed site on the island. It is built on a flat rock in the sea and it is connected to the mainland by a small bridge. According to the legend, when the Turks first came to the island, they disembarked there and the nuns of the monastery were the first inhabitants they came across. The nuns ran into the church, in an attempt to save themselves from the Turks chasing them. Then the land opened and the Turks fell in the water.
5. Panagia tou Vounou: This monastery is the oldest on the island. It is built inside the mountain, looking towards the sea. The view is amazing, especially when the sun goes down. There is a big yard where you can sit and enjoy the view.
How to Reach Sifnos
Ferry: There are daily ferries to Milos (2 hours), Piraeus (5 hours) via Serifos (1 hour) and Kythnos (2 hours). Less frequent ferries connect the island to Kimolos (1½ hours), Folegandros (4 hours), Sikinos (5 hours), Santorini (6 hours), Paros (2 hours) and Syros (5½ hours).
Air: You may fly to Milos or Paros, and then take the local ferry to Sifnos.
Getting Around in Sifnos
Frequent buses link Apollonia to Kamares, Kastro, Vathi, Faros and Platis Gialos. The bus station is located in Artemonas and all buses pass through the settlement before they reach their destination.
Weather in Sifnos
The weather of Sifnos is typical of the Mediterranean with a lot of sunshine during the hot months of summer and few rainfalls during mild winters.
Like most of the other Cycladic islands, summer in Sifnos is inseparable from the seasonal north wind, the Meltemi, which blows from the middle of July until the middle of August.
Top 10 Destinations in Sifnos
All Destinations in Sifnos
Map of Sifnos