Sifnos (Σίφνος) is a largely unassuming small island somewhere at the southwest corner of the Aegean, and it is wildly popular with Greek vacationers who flock to it in the month of August to enjoy its reputation as inexpensive and pristine.
We visited Sifnos in June and never felt crowded or uncomfortable. We enjoyed the island’s rugged and abrupt rocky landscape, its unassuming little towns, and its quiet beaches. While the island of Sifnos lacks the special touch of smaller islands, it also lacks the uncongenial character of more popular destinations.
Sifnos is an island with a typical Cycladic landscape at first glance, but the touch of its inhabitants through history has bestowed a touch of individuality on its architecture. Sifnos is a sun-baked rocky mass of earth that lifts itself abruptly from the deep blue water of the Aegean Sea, undistinguished from afar, but once you traverse its little towns, the unique pottery art that decorate the gardens and chimneys instill a sense of warmth in the atmosphere.
While the coastal outline of Sifnos is typically barren, its interior is surprisingly lush (as lush as a Cycladic island could be) with vegetation that gives the landscape a soft visual appeal. Small white isolated churches and villas allow the sunlight to bounce effortlessly off white walls before it becomes absorbed in the humble olive grove leaves.
Certain towns of Sifnos have developed to accommodate the tourists (like Kamares, Platys Gialos, and Vathi), while other ones, like Kastro, have remained pristine and beautiful. In between these two extremes, Apollonia and Faros have evolved in a state that caters to the visitors without losing its dignity.
The main port of Sifnos is the town of Kamares that has developed to accommodate a plethora of small hotels and apartments for rent. The architecture of all these recently constructed buildings has conformed to the cubist Cycladic style, while the number of available lodgings is conducive to good availability and reasonable prices.
Some of the highlights of our trip included our visit to the town of Kastro, swimming at several beaches around Sifnos, dinning at Faros, and strolling the streets of Apollonia.
Visiting Kastro on the East coast of Sifnos on a clear evening at sundown was like stepping back in time. The narrow pedestrian streets wind around the medieval houses leading the visitor through several archways and a wind-swept promenade high above the sea. The view from this eastern end of the town is breathtaking with the wide expanse of the Aegean being punctuated by the little church of the Seven Martyrs.
All towns come alive in a laid-back way when the sun goes down and just about every single restaurant on the island is filled to capacity. At the same time, the trendy bars of Apollonia turn on the lights inviting those who ascend to stroll around its main pedestrian street.