I’ve often dreamt of having an idyllic Greek island getaway complete with whitewashed buildings, heavenly beaches and stone paved streets lined by tavernas serving up fresh octopus. I’d resigned myself to having to share this escape with hoards of travelers looking for the same romanticized holiday. I didn’t know that tucked between the popular Cycladic islands of Mykonos and Santorini was Sifnos. This 9-mile long, underrated jewel offered up every Greek island luxury, with a fraction of the crowds.
For three blissful days, we drove through gorgeous landscapes, swam in crystal clear water, and spent each afternoon getting lost in traditional Greek villages- with only a sprinkle of other tourists.
How to get there & Around
Ferry- While this is the only way to reach Sifnos, it’s also a perfect way to start a Greek island escape! We flew into Mykonos and took the ferry from there. It’s a pleasant 2.5 hour ride, passing by several other Cycladic islands. I’m already planning my return to visit to each of them!
Rent some wheels- Part of the charm of Sifnos is getting to explore the various pockets of the island, so I recommend renting a vehicle, ATV, or moped. If you rent a car, make sure to roll the windows down so you don’t miss the strong waft of herbs on your way from one beach to the next. There are rental options throughout the island- just remember to get an International Drivers permit!
Bus- There are buses that can take you around the island as well, though I didn’t take any personally.
Where to Stay
There are several charming villages in Sifnos to choose from, so it’s really just a matter of personal preferences. Some popular options are:
Platys Gialos– We stayed here and booked a lovely guesthouse just down the street from the beach! While I loved being able to walk to the beach, the general vibe here felt more touristy than the rest of the island.
Kamares- A charming port town and your first introduction to Sifnos. It’s a convenient location upon arrival and there’s a surprisingly lovely beach right by the port.
Apollonia- The capital of Sifnos and another popular choice. While this village is inland, there are plenty of shops and tavernas, and a lively nightlife scene.
Faros– Centrally located on the Southeastern end of Sifnos, this picturesque village is known for its three sandy beaches and breathtaking path to the village of Chrissopigi.
Where to Eat:
Sifnos has a reputation of being a foodie-haven, and for good reason. I would gladly go back in a heartbeat just for the cuisine alone. A few favorites were:
Remezzo Cafe- This is where I had my favorite meal in Sifnos! The restaurant opened a week before we went, and served the most mouthwatering octopus I’ve ever had. It also has incredible views of Kastros’ rolling hills. Be sure to stop at their artisanal shop downstairs before you leave. They have a beautiful selection of locally made ceramics, jewelry and clothing.
Lychnos- Tables were placed directly in the sand, just a few steps from the sea. Being a sucker for any meal served on the beach, I was hooked before the first dish was even served. Not only do they get an A+ for ambiance, but the seafood was delicious.
Pretty much any little shack on the beach- Greeks have a way of somehow making the most basic meals taste absolutely decadent. Cucumber and feta sandwich’s from little beach stands quickly became our go-to snack.
What to Do:
Part of the charm of Sifnos is how serene it is. If I ever write a novel and need 2 months of quiet isolation, this would be the place to do it. Sifnos is the ideal place to spend long afternoons reading books in between two-hour lunches, all while enjoying a pristine beach. However, if, like me, you have trouble staying still for that long, not to worry; Sifnos has plenty to keep you busy.
Rent a scooter- They aren’t just a convenient means of transportation, but also my top recommended activity in Sifnos. Our first drive to the beach accidentally turned into a full day of scooting around the whole island, taking in the rich scent of fresh oregano with every turn. However, I only recommend renting a scooter if you really know how to ride one- the swerving roads can get quite steep.
Beach hop- With plenty of white sand stretches across the entire island, you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Here are a few popular options:
Vathi beach– Vathi is a sandy beach located on the Southwestern side of the island. Dotted by convenient tavernas, there are plenty of lunch options to break up a full day at the beach.
Vroulidia Beach- If you like your lazy beach holiday to come with a side of adventure, then I highly recommend a trek to this remote beach. After zigzagging through some picturesque terrain on a mostly paved, narrow path, you’ll come to the top of a steep gravel hill. This brings you straight to the turquoise waters and white-pebble beach that you came here for. Most people park at the top of the hill and walk down to the rocky path to their well-deserved beach retreat.
Platys Gialos- This beach has a long stretch of white sand with a mountainous backdrop. Plus, it’s lined by plenty of restaurants and tourist shops, making it an easy, no fuss option if you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach.
Village hop– Like the beach, any trip to a Greek island isn’t complete without exploring some charming whitewashed villages.
Kastros– This was by far my favorite town in Sifnos. It’s a quintessential Greek village, yet I didn’t have to wake up at sunrise to have it all to myself. This is also where you’ll find The Church of the Seven Martyrs- perhaps the most iconic view of Sifnos.
Apollonia– Despite being one of the most popular villages in Sifnos, I spent very little time here. It’s a charming area with the typical winding stone streets you’d expect a Greek island to have. There are lots of cute shops for tourists and plenty of restaurants and bars. We came here one night for drinks and it was definitely the most lively area we saw at night.
Cherronisos– I adored this quaint fishing town. Located on the Northernmost end of the island, it’s the most remote of any of the villages. Sifnos has two distinct terrains, with one half much more barren and rugged, while the other is lush and floral. Driving across the island to get to Cherronisos gives you a chance to witness the varied topography in all its glory.
Hike to a church- Or 365 of them. Yep, there are enough churches here to visit a different one each day of the year! Many of them are found along Sifnos’ many hiking trails, and come with sweeping views of the Mediterranean sea.
With so many idyllic choices, I recommend visiting more than one island during your Greek holiday. The serenity of Sifnos pairs well with a slightly more lively Cycladic option. We followed our stay in Sifnos with the neighboring island of Milos. Only an hour long ferry ride away, this bigger and busier option perfectly complimented the tranquil start of our holiday.