Over time, while dwelling in Syros (the executive capital of the Cycladic group of Islands – Kyklades in Greek), I had heard what a pretty and distinctive island Sifnos was.
Not so far-off, Sifnos is within the chain forming the Cyclades’ western arc and may be seen from the southern finish of Syros some 24 nautical miles away. It was mentioned to have an beautiful dreamlike high quality.
So I boarded the charming “Artemis” ferry, one of many smaller boats within the Hellenic Seaways fleet, for the four-hour trek to Sifnos.
The pleasant port of Kamares on the island’s west coast doesn’t disappoint. As you enter the deep bay, one is taken again by the peak of the rocky hills that kind a grand amphitheatre impact. On the hilltops are a number of tiny remoted white dots which might be Greek Orthodox Monasteries. Typical of the Cyclades, it has a dry rocky terrain that meets a surprising white sandy seashore and the royal blue Aegean Sea.
It’s a favorite with vacationers, however I headed for Apollonia, the capital and the nucleus of a set of villages all inside a two-kilometre radius (Artemonas, Kato Petali, Katavati, Exampelas, Ano Petali). The 20-minute bus trip up a steep and winding highway to Apollonia was an perception into what the island’s topography would provide.
Up into the centre, the rugged rocky panorama is interspersed with inexperienced outcrops of the low peak ubiquitous Skinos plant with the ever-present white with blue Cycladic cubic homes scattered about.
The next day I set off on the three-kilometre one-hour stroll to the island’s greatest vacationer attraction, the Kastro (Citadel) on the island’s east aspect. It affords magnificent panoramic views of the Aegean with Paros and Ante Paros a faint define within the hazy distance.
Kastro is a walled cliff-top medieval village that was as soon as the island’s capital. It’s a magical place, a labyrinth of winding alleyways and white-washed homes hanging off the island’s jap edge. It stays a very powerful medieval settlement within the Cyclades and all of Greece.
It’s best to enter the village by utilizing the peripheral path across the seaside to benefit from the beautiful views of the majestic royal blue Aegean earlier than sighting the church beneath.
The long-lasting Church of the Seven Martyrs is situated beneath Kastro on a neck of land jutting about 50 metres out to sea. While solely small, it’s the most symbolic church on the island and one of the vital photographed spots within the Cyclades.
In Kastro, a espresso or one thing a bit stronger may be loved within the upmarket Dolci Cafe Restaurant perched on the western aspect of the village, providing panoramic views of the hinterland valleys; I recommend a full day needs to be dedicated to exploring this superb settlement, with a lunch at one of many few pleasant tavernas.
Taking the bus from Apollonia (common summertime hourly service) right down to the engaging seashore settlement of Faros approx six kilometres away on the island’s southeast nook, is worth it.
A small yachting marina jetty brings life to the village, and there are two very nice seashores (with a number of tavernas and cafes) related by a path by means of a small headland with homes. Each have tamarisk bushes providing shade for the beachgoers throughout the horseshoe-shaped bay.
An indication confirmed the Path to Chrisopigi, one other well-known church on a slither of land, protruding 100 metres into the ocean. The one-hour stroll alongside the man-made path, which meanders approx two kilometres across the fringe of the ocean to Chrisopigi, is likely one of the most picturesque you might count on in these chic islands. At round 8pm with the setting solar within the west, this was a surreal expertise.
The Monastery of Panagia Chrisopigi – Protector Saint Chrisopgi of the island, is one other well-known landmark on Sifnos. The monastery was constructed on high of an older church and is situated on high of a rock, actually upon the ocean. It’s properly value visiting.
A hikers’ paradise
Sifnos has developed right into a hiker’s paradise with19 designated trails crisscrossing the island. Free detailed maps can be found from the Data Places of work, and so they promote 100 km of trails starting from one kilometre (20-minute stroll) to 15 kilometres (seven hours) which might be very properly signposted.
I selected Trial 5, which begins within the neighbouring village of Katavati. It heads in a south-westerly route ending on the opposite aspect of the island within the bay of Vathi, some 9 kilometres away.
Setting off at 11am on a date forecast to sizzling, I used to be unprepared for the magnitude of the trek, particularly through the day’s warmth.
A pleasant younger Belgium couple coming down from the mountain guided me to the right place to begin. Incredulous that I used to be making an attempt the trek alone, they warned me of the necessity for each water and hat, each of which I had. They’d been on a separate path to the mountain high Monastery of Revenue Ilias, which appeared to hold like a cloud within the sky on a distant mountain high. “Good luck” they proffered.
The terrain turns into rugged away from the city, with the observe following alongside the aspect of a protracted valley. While the paths are intermittently dotted with the welcome crimson and white signposts, it’s simple to get distracted by the surroundings and veer off onto the unsuitable path.
An hour into the stroll, I managed to get misplaced and stumbled throughout an immaculately stored chapel referred to as Agios Efstathios (Agios means Saint), in such a distant location that I couldn’t perceive who would use its divine services, not to mention keep its immaculate situation, I’d see many extra. It appears the Greeks are very spiritual folks.
Additional up the valley alongside the trail got here the genuine mountain man on his donkey, with one other in toe. This was the one out there transport on such a rocky path. The steep observe was beginning to take its toll, and my water provide was waning as rapidly as I. I discovered myself consistently searching for the reassuring indicators, as there was now little margin for error in getting misplaced once more.
These center two hours of the six-hour trek had been essentially the most troublesome, up up up on a really tough and rocky path. Finally, I reached the highest of the mountain and caught my first glimpse of the ocean out to the west.
Much more of a reduction was the cool breeze. While I used to be solely midway there, psychologically, I used to be restored figuring out that the remainder of the hike can be downhill to the ocean. Within the far distance, I may see the faint define of Kimolos and Milos islands to the southwest.
I overpassed the ocean because the observe diverted again inland alongside one other valley. Alongside this part, I got here throughout a tremendous man-made olive grove of approx 20 bushes. Such an uncommon place was completely remoted: the small, well-kept white home with nobody dwelling.
Maybe this was the place the mountain man lived together with his two donkeys. It was such a peaceable setting that I had a 15-minute relaxation and savoured the serenity of the panorama and my final remaining water.
An hour later, I caught the primary glimpse of Vathi Bay roughly two kilometres beneath within the distance, a welcoming and delightful sight.
So it was round 5 pm once I staggered off the observe and onto the beautiful seashore on the bay’s northern finish (an excellent, nearly land-locked bay with a slender entry passage). There have been many yachts moored and other people having fun with the seashore. A nicer swim I doubt I’ve ever had, and the icy chilly Alpha beer at a seaside taverna has by no means tasted higher.
I ultimately left the tranquillity of Vathi on 6 pm bus again to Apollonia.
Sifnos is medium in dimension by Greek requirements, simply 15 kilometres in size and eight kilometres in width, with the very best level being 680 metres (location of the Monastery of Revenue Ilias) and a everlasting inhabitants of approx 2,650 individuals.
It’s recognized for its conventional pottery, many small workshops within the villages, and its climbing trails. It has change into the preferred vacation spot within the Western Cyclades. Guests flock to the island in summer season lured by its charming villages, terraced countryside dotted with historic towers, Venetian dovecotes and lengthy sandy seashores.