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A culinary paradise in the Cyclades

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Sifnos: A culinary paradise in the Cyclades

Known for its simplicity, aristocratic Cycladic beauty and distinctive architecture, Sifnos is an island with a centuries-old tradition, famous for its gastronomy and pottery.

It belongs to the Western Cyclades, where it proudly stands between Serifos and Kimolos, making it an ideal destination for those who love the blazing light of the Aegean, the rocky and crystal-clear beaches, the whitewashed villages, and blue-domed chapels, that create the perfect postcard setting.

An island harmoniously combining its cosmopolitan character with alternative holidaymaking, the birthplace of the great chef Nikos Tselementes, Sifnos invites you to explore its ancient paths, to revel in the famous local festivals and to enjoy its authentic landscapes and its tranquillity.

Routes & Attractions

Walk up to the Castle of Sifnos to observe the fortification of the old capital of the island. There you will enjoy one of the best walks on the island, strolling through the picturesque village with the “lozies”, the low gates that once closed to protect residents from pirate raids. Stroll along the serpentine stone alleys of the settlement, to admire the traditional houses and the scattered marble sarcophagi; walk to the ancient Acropolis of the 6th century BC, to gaze at the Aegean.

Take the paved path that starts from the Castle and reaches the chapel of the Seven Martyrs, that stands on the top of a rock. Don’t be intimidated by the many steps, as the magical view of the Aegean will reward you.

The capital of Sifnos, Apollonia, gathers the island’s nightlife, with dozens of bars on its main pedestrian street that is the meeting point for cool cocktails until dawn.

The Monastery of Panagia Chrysopigi, patron saint of the island, is an imposing, whitewashed monastery of the 17th century, one of the most important pilgrimages in the Aegean. The monastery is built on a detached cliff connected to the rest of the island by an arched bridge. Observe the stone iconostasis of the church and the cell that housed the poet and playwriter Aristomenes Provelengios.

A stunning view of Kimolos and Polyaigos awaits at the courtyard of Panagia tou Vounou, near Platis Gialos, built in 1813, donated by the Sifnians of Constantinople.

Visit the beautiful village of Artemonas, with the neoclassical mansions of the early 20th century, and the house where the poet Ioannis Gryparis was born.

The 76 preserved ancient towers of Sifnos, a network of circular fortifications (6th-3rd century BC) on hilltops and slopes, which functioned as a signal exchange system through mirrors or smoke (beacons), are among the most interesting attractions of the island. Visit the White Tower (in Platis Gialos), the Black Tower (in Exambela) and the Tower of Katavati.

Discover the archaeological site of the Mycenaean Acropolis of Agios Andreas, which has been awarded the Europa Nostra Prize (2012).

Beaches & Activities

The most popular beach of the island is Platis Gialos, a long sandy beach with shallow waters, fully organized with umbrellas, sunbeds, changing rooms and showers, water sports facilities, beach bars and restaurants.

The natural bay of Vathi is uniquely beautiful; sheltered from the winds, with shallow waters and tamarisks on the sandy beach, mostly organized, with changing rooms and showers, water sports facilities, cafes and tavernas by the sea.

For relaxation and tranquility, opt for the small, picturesque bay of Apokofto (Chrisopigi), with fine sand, tamarisks that reach the sea and cool turquoise waters. From there you will gaze at the view of the small cape with the famous monastery of Chrysopigi (1650), with its rocks that make it the perfect spot for diving. You’ll find several tavernas along the beach.

Between the port and Agia Marina is Kamares, a fully organized, long sandy beach with shallow waters, reeds, sand dunes with sea daffodils, where you will find cafes and restaurants by the sea.

One of the most beautiful small beaches of the island is Vroulidia, with pebbles, sand and wonderful waters that deepen gradually. The cafes – restaurants that operate on the beach, have umbrellas and sunbeds.

Sifnos has an extensive network of ancient hiking trails 200 km long that connect the largest settlements of the island or run through the countryside of Sifnos.

Tastes of the island

Try the cheeses of Sifnos, such as xinomyzithra, spicy manoura and chloromanoura, as well as the local fine appetizers, such as chickpea balls, cheese balls, caper salad (spread with capers and onions cooked together as a stew), kalasouna (greens pie with rice) and ampelofasoula with garlic sauce.

Typical recipes of the island are mastelo (lamb in the clay pot with dill and wine, baked in a wood-fired oven), the famous chickpea soup in a clay pot, slow-cooked overnight in a wood-fired oven and usually eaten for breakfast.

For dessert, look for loukoumades (with honey, cheese, or sugar), melopita (light cheesecake with "athotyra", honey and cinnamon), the local amygdalota that resembles the marzipans (prepared in casserole or oven-baked), but also the loli (sweet pumpkin pie with yellow pumpkin, cinnamon, clove, honey and raisins).

For fish and seafood head to the tavernas in Seralia, the ancient port of Sifnos, overlooking Paros and Antiparos.

Drink Greek coffee or ouzo in Ano Petali, where the oldest cafe of Sifnos (1900) is located with wonderful decorations.

Traditions & Events

Plenty of festivals are held in Sifnos, where you’ll find 237 churches and monasteries, more than anywhere else in the Cyclades, considering the size of the island. The cost and their host is each time borne by a "panigiras", an ordinary citizen who thus expresses his gratitude to the Saint.

On the eve of the Holy Spirit, volunteers revive the communication system of the beacons in the ancient towers of Sifnos, with lit torches and smoke.

The three-day Festival of Cycladic Gastronomy "Nikolaos Tselementes", with guest chefs, demonstrations of local recipes and cooking competitions, is held every September in Artemonas.

Don’t miss...

Get to know the art of pottery, a centuries-old tradition of the island that dates back to the Early Cycladic period. You can attend a course by craftsmen of the kind in one of the local pottery workshops (tsikaladika), but also buy ceramic cooking utensils or clay decorations from the workshops - showrooms of young potters.

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