Last updated on July 19th, 2021 at 01:50 pm
As you are about to find out, there are many fantastic things to do in Serifos. But we can’t blame you if, once you step foot on the island, all you want to do is put this Serifos Guide aside, sit back, relax and take in the beauty of one of the most authentic islands in Greece.
What if we told you that there’s a simple way to do both? You can check out the top things to do in Serifos AND relax doing nothing but admiring the splendid views.
All you have to do is to close your ears to everyone that says that Serifos is a weekend destination. No, two days in Serifos are not enough. For Serifos Island isn’t just about checking places on your map. Serifos is about appreciating the charm of slow travel; it’s about letting the island gradually make its way into your hearts and stay there for good.
Home to some of the best beaches in Greece and boasting gorgeous island architecture, raw natural beauty and a rich recent history related to the island’s mines, Serifos is a unique island in every way. Here’s what to do in Serifos for a trip you’ll never forget!
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Where Is Serifos
Serifos is part of the Western Cyclades complex, which comprises the most unspoilt islands in the Cyclades. Serifos is situated between the islands of Kythnos and Sifnos. It enjoys an amazing location, ideal for that island-hopping adventure you’ve been always dreaming of.
Top 15 Things To Do in Serifos
1. Wander Around The Two Quaint Old Towns
It may come as a shock, but what we love about the Greek Islands the most isn’t the sea. It’s their architecture, especially in the Cyclades. We are hopelessly and unconditionally in love with the islands’ Old Towns.
Every time we visit a Greek Island, Chora (the Old Town) is where you’ll find us most of the time. Whether it’s a rugged, lost in time whitewashed dream like Chora in Amorgos or a charming town that abounds in elegance and grandeur like Chora in Andros, we simply can’t resist.
Imagine our joy when we found out that Serifos has not one but two Old Towns for us to explore and fall in love with. We’re talking about Kato Chora (The Lower Town) and Pano Chora (The Upper Town). Looking from afar, the two look like one, their sugar cube houses adorning the steep cliff like icing sloppily thrown on a cake.
Kato Chora Serifos
Kato Chora is mainly a residential area, with hardly any restaurants or cafés. It’s a peaceful place, ideal for a stroll early in the morning or in the evening. The main things to see in Serifos Lower Town are the Kato Piatsa (Lower Square), which is dominated by the Church of Evangelistria, the Folklore Museum and the Theatre of Serifos.
A short walk from the entrance to Kato Chora will take you to the paved path that leads to the Old Plystario, a beautiful construction built in the heart of the ravine. This is the old washhouse, where women used to go to wash their families’ clothes. It was built in this location to make use of the stream that runs down this slope in the winter. Strangely enough, although Serifos is a rocky island, it does have running waters.
Ano Chora Serifos
If anyone ever tried to define Greek Island quaintness, a photo of Ano Chora in Serifos would suffice. Complete with maze-like alleys and gorgeous whitewashed houses, Ano Chora is almost painfully beautiful.
Yet the ultimate highlight of Serifos Upper Town is the movielike Pano Piatsa (Upper Square). Dominated by the beyond words charming Town Hall, a neoclassical building dating back to 1908, and the imposing Agios Athanasios Church, Pano Piatsa is one of the most picturesque squares in the Cyclades.
Adorned with traditional tables and chairs of various colours, Pano Piatsa is the place to be early in the morning for homemade breakfast alongside a cup of Greek coffee or in the evening when the square is buzzing with life, showcasing calm island nightlife at its best. Stou Stratou is the most famous café in Pano Piatsa and it’s there that you’ll enjoy either your breakfast or your evening drinks. Speaking of drinks, you must try rakomelo and the local rosé wine there.
Serifos Chora is NOT friendly to people with disabilities or mobility issues. There are far too many steps to go up and down, as well as uneven cobbled streets and paths.
2. Gasp At The View From The Venetian Castle
The Castle (Kastro) of Serifos stands for centuries on end at the top of Ano Chora, overlooking the Aegean Sea for as far as the eye can see. On a clear day, you can see from there the silhouettes of Sifnos, Paros, Antiparos, Milos, Kimolos, Syros, Mykonos and God knows how many other islands floating on the horizon, like enchanting apparitions calling you in a Sirene-like way to go savour their charms.
The Castle is a fortified settlement built by the Venetian Michieli family in 1434. Most of the Aegean Sea islands have similar settlements, not only in the Cyclades but also in the Dodecanese, with the Castle of Astypalaia being the finest example.
As you climb the steps towards the Castle, the first church you come across is Agios Ioannis Theologos, a gorgeous chapel built in the rock. The top of the hill is dominated by the dazzlingly white Agios Konstantinos Church. Enjoying the most jaw-dropping views of Ano Chora and Kato Chora from there is one of the best things to do in Serifos.
Since this is an uphill walk, try to visit around sunset to avoid the scorching sun and to enjoy the golden hour colours. The sunrise from the Castle is said to be a sight to behold but we’ve yet to witness it ourselves. Next time!
3. Learn The Mining History of Serifos
Even if Serifos wasn’t one of the prettiest and most authentic islands in Greece, it would still be worth a visit for its mining history alone.
Katerina and I are utterly fascinated by recent history. Especially when it involves stories about fights for human rights. That’s why we consider Serifos one of the most significant – if not THE most significant – island in the Cyclades in terms of history. Because this tiny island in the Aegean Sea witnessed one of the greatest instances in the Greek labour movement.
The Mining Activity of Serifos
Serifos is often dubbed the Iron Island of Greece, as it has been known for its ores since ancient times. The island’s mining activity carried on throughout the centuries until it stopped in the 16th century when the Ottomans occupied Serifos. However, the mines operated again after 1860. In 1880, Serifos – Spiliazeza, a company of French interests, took over the mines. In 1884, the company commissioned the operation of the mines to the German Grohmann family.
Under the Grohmann administration, the mining activity in Serifos reached its peak. Suffice it to say that the island’s population doubled in 1910 when workers from nearby islands and the Peloponnese flocked to Serifos in search of a job in the mines.
The 1916 Serifos Strike
However, working conditions in the mines of Serifos were cruel and inhuman. Miners had to work from dawn till dusk, often for as many as 16 hours a day. On top of that, they had to walk long distances in the heat to get to the mines from their homes. Many of them died in the galleries. These hardships led workers to go on strike for many days in August 1916.
On August 21, 1916, the last day of the strike, clashes broke out between the miners and the royal gendarmerie, when the latter opened fire against the unarmed workers. The miners responded by stoning the members of the gendarmerie. Five miners and four gendarmes were killed that day near the loading ladder in Megalo Livadi, while dozens were injured on what was meant to be one of the bloodiest days in the history of the Greek labour movement.
After the 1916 strike, the 40-hour workweek was established and the mining activity in Serifos went on under various administrations until it was permanently terminated in 1965.
Where To See The Remnants of The Mining History of Serifos
Nowadays, there are traces of the island’s mining history all over Serifos. Near Chora, you can walk along The Miners Road, a stone-paved path that used to be the only way for miners living in Chora to get to the mines in the southwest part of the island. The latter is in essence a vast open-air museum of the mining history of Serifos.
The most striking remnants of the old mining infrastructure are concentrated around the areas of Koutalas and Megalo Livadi. In the coastal village of Koutalas, you can see many old wagons scattered in the area around a rusty loading ladder, while the nearby slopes are dotted with railway ramps and holes carved in the rock. There are also some abandoned stone huts where miners used to live.
However, for a true trip back in time, there’s no better place than Megalo Livadi, probably the most fascinating of all places to visit in Serifos. The open space near the loading ladder that dominates the landscape of Megalo Livadi is where the events of August 21, 1916, took place. It was there that the gendarmerie opened fire against the miners when they refused to load the newly extracted iron to the ship that would carry it to Western European countries.
Apart from the loading ladder, the area of the old mine in Megalo Livadi has many other treasures to explore, such as old railway tracks, wagons and other machinery. There’s even one of the old mining galleries that leads to Kalogeros Beach at the other side of the hill. That said, we strongly advise against crossing the gallery without a local guide as you may easily get lost inside.
Under the Grohmann administration, Megalo Livadi became the centre of the island’s mining activity. That explains why this tiny seaside village has a school, a police station and a splendid neoclassical mansion that used to be Grohmann’s glorious residence and his company’s headquarters. Now it stands abandoned in utter neglect. Just by looking at it, you feel as though it carries on its derelict walls the suffering of an entire island population.
Next to Grohmann’s mansion, stands the modest marble memorial to the miners who lost their lives during the 1916 strike, while near the school’s entrance at the other end of the beach you can see the statue of Konstantinos Serpas, Head of the Serifos Miners Association and a leading figure in the miners’ fight for their rights.
4. Stand in Awe Before an Epic Sunset At Megalo Livadi
In our humble opinion, Megalo Livadi is the top place to visit in Serifos. First and foremost for its history. But there’s yet another reason. Megalo Livadi is where you’ll enjoy the best sunset in Serifos and one of the most epic ones in Greece.
As we walked towards the iconic loading ladder in Megalo Livadi, it was impossible to ignore the sad vibes we were getting from a place that lived such life-changing moments a century ago. We were walking on soil that was once soaked in innocent people’s blood and we could almost hear the desperate cries for help coming from the dark mining galleries.
Yet, inexplicably, this place filled us with peace. Because it’s so beautiful that we almost forgot everything else. And as we stood by the loading ladder watching the burning sun dive into the deep blue sea, that was the magical moment that Serifos found its very own corner inside our hearts to call its permanent home.
Yes, dear readers, this time it wasn’t a whitewashed Chora that made us fall in love with an island, but a barren slope loaded with history and overgrown with beauty.
5. Choose Among 72 Serifos Beaches
For an island the size of Serifos, it’s hard to believe that this number is actually true. But locals insist and who are we to doubt them? Serifos boasts not one, not two but 72 spectacular beaches to choose from. Many of them are accessible by land but some of the most pristine among them are only accessible by boat.
However, there’s no need to fuss too much over it. You don’t have to visit the remotest beaches in Serifos or the hardest to get to as all Serifos beaches are sure to amaze you.
Our favourite beaches in Serifos are Psili Ammos and Vagia, which happen to be among the easiest beaches to get to. Psili Ammos is a Caribbean-like beach of turquoise waters and sand dunes, while Vagia boasts unparalleled exotic vibes and views of the mining ruins of Koutalas. Other Serifos beaches you should check out are Agios Sostis, Ganema, Sikamia and Platis Gialos.
There are two things we don’t like about beaches in Serifos, though. First of all, you often have to walk via private properties to get to the beach, such as restaurants or hotels. Secondly, many yachts shamelessly tend to anchor near the shore. This kind of spoils the otherwise heaven-on-earth feeling of Serifos beaches, but I guess there’s not much we can do about it, is there?
6. Roam The Island On Foot
Similar to other Cyclades Islands, Serifos is home to a network of paths via which hikers can get to know the entire island on foot. Alongside the island’s ancient paths, there are also some trails that were created when the mining activity of Serifos was at its peak so that workers could walk to the mines from any place on the island. Read more about the island’s paths of iron and stone here to start planning one of the best outdoor activities in Serifos.
7. Step Inside The Prettiest Monastery in The Cyclades
All Greek Islands boast one or more picturesque monasteries that are worth a visit. The Monastery of Taxiarches is hands down one of the best places to visit in Serifos. Built at the end of the 16th century, this monastery is a fine example of defensive architecture.
Nowadays, stepping inside the monastery evokes a unique feeling of calmness and it’s one of the most unforgettable things to do in Serifos. The beautiful interior is more than welcoming and the same goes for the smiling monks and priests that reside in this sacred place of magnificent views.
8. Explore The Island’s Churches
Apart from the Monastery of Taxiarches and the churches in Chora and the Castle we’ve mentioned earlier, there are almost one hundred other churches and chapels that dot the remarkable scenery of Serifos. Whether adorning the villages’ main squares or standing lonely atop windswept hills, churches in Serifos add to the island’s overall charm and provide opportunities for your best Serifos photos.
In the tiny village of Panagia, you can visit the oldest church in Serifos, the Church of Panagia or Xylopanagia. If you want to check out the interior of the church, you have to ask the ladies at the traditional kafeneio (coffee shop) to unlock the door for you. The church used to house gorgeous murals, but most of them are now destroyed.
The quaintest of all small churches in Serifos are the ones that are built at the edge of the shore, such as the pretty Agios Sostis Church on Agios Sostis Beach. On the route towards Megalo Livadi, you can catch glimpses of many other churches, such as Agia Triada and the Monastery of Evangelistria.
9. Visit The Cyclops Throne & Cave
Speaking of the Monastery of Evangelistria, that’s where the easy hike to the Cyclops Cave & Throne begins, which means that this is where you’ll park your car if you’re driving. According to Greek mythology, the Cyclopes were huge mythical creatures that used to live in the southwest part of Serifos. Cyclops Polyphemus was considered the fiercer among all the Cyclopes.
One of the major attractions in Serifos is the cave where Polyphemus was said to live in and his throne, a big stone construction that enjoys unobstructed views to the bay of Megalo Livadi and the Aegean Sea. The Cyclops Throne is also known as Psaropirgos. However, the island’s rich mythology doesn’t stop there as Serifos is also associated with the myth of Perseus and Medusa.
The Cyclops Throne is free to visit and enjoy, but it should be respected and looked after. You are more than welcome to hang around and enjoy the view but please don’t litter and try not to step on the stones with your shoes on. Similarly, don’t litter the Cyclops Cave, even if others before you have done so.
10. Don’t Kiss a Frog But Hear Its Song
The frog has been a symbol of Serifos throughout the centuries. The first references to the island’s frogs are found in mythology, while there’s even a Greek idiom, the Serifian frog, which is used to describe a foolish person. Regardless of whether you’re interested in the history of frogs or not, one thing’s for sure. These little cuties will definitely make you associate them with Serifos one way or another.
First of all, you will hear their song every time you walk near Chora’s ravine, the island’s dam or elsewhere. Secondly, you may stumble upon a startled little guy or two as you wander around the narrow alleys of Chora. Thirdly, you will most probably have a drink or two at one of the most famous Serifos bars: Batraxos (the Greek word for frog). The other most famous bar in Serifos is Gaidaros (the Greek word for donkey).
11. Walk To The White Tower
Since we are on the topic of mythology and history, another of the best things to see in Serifos is the White Tower. Built around the 4th century BC, the White Tower (Aspros Pirgos in Greek) is a fine example of ancient defensive architecture. It used to be a massive construction that most probably functioned as an observation point to control and protect the area’s mines.
Towards the end of the 19th century, when the mining activity of Serifos was at its peak, a small cemetery and a church were built right next to the ancient tower. Nowadays, the tower’s fantastic location offers the most breathtaking panoramic views you could ever dream of.
12. Take a Photo of The Serifos Dam
And since we are on the topic of architecture, why not pay a visit to a modern construction, too? The dam of Serifos was completed in 2003 but no matter its 700,000 cubic metres capacity, it’s not enough to meet the island’s water needs. These are covered by natural water springs and drilling methods. We love visiting dams and we thought you’d find it interesting, too. There, we said it.
13. Savour The Local Food
As we’ve said a million times already, Serifos is one of the most authentic Greek Islands. This automatically means that the island’s food is superb, based on century-old recipes and fresh local ingredients. Some of the things you must try in Serifos are marathotiganites (deep-fried fennel pies), revithada (chickpea stew), fava (puréed fava beans) and mizithra, a type of local cheese.
Some of the best places to try traditional Serifian cuisine are Manolis in Psili Ammos and The Cyclops in Megalo Livadi.
14. Dance At a Local Feast
Greece is famous for its panigiria, the local festivals that coincide with various religious celebrations. Such festivities take place all year long but most of them happen during the summer months. Attending a local feast in Serifos means that you get to savour local food and wine for free while the singing and dancing go on for hours.
Here’s a list of the local feasts that take place in Serifos. Make sure you squeeze one or more into your schedule for an experience you’ll cherish for life.
15. Continue Your Trip To Nearby Sifnos
What’s better than visiting one wonderful Greek Island? Visiting two wonderful Greek Islands! Sifnos and Serifos are less than an hour apart by ferry and they’re both compact islands. Therefore, it makes sense to visit both of them on the same trip. Don’t forget that you’d need at least one full week to appreciate both, though.
Serifos and Sifnos are very similar to each other yet also different in an exciting way. Check out our complete guide to Sifnos and you’ll be convinced that there’s no Serifos or Sifnos dilemma. Just visit them both.
The Ultimate Serifos Travel Guide
Best Time To Visit Serifos Island
The best time to visit Serifos is summer, late spring and early autumn. You should avoid the peak season – mid-July to the end of August – for several reasons. First of all, to keep clear of the crowds. Secondly, because Serifos weather is at its most annoying then, as the northern winds blow fiercely during this time. And, lastly, because it’s too hot to hike in the dead of summer.
How To Get To Serifos
There’s no airport in Serifos. The only way to get from Athens to Serifos is by ferry. You can get to Livadi Port in Serifos from Piraeus Port near Athens either by regular ferry (4 to 4½ hours) or by high-speed ferry (2 to 2½ hours). During the summer months, there are frequent ferries to Serifos from many other islands in the Cyclades, too.
How To Get Around Serifos Greece
Although small, Serifos is filled with wonders. That’s why we recommend you rent a car in Serifos to explore all of its charms at your own pace while enjoying superb scenic routes along the way. Road signs are scarce so keep your Google Maps app handy. If you prefer not to drive, be warned that public transport is rather basic. It will get you from Livadi to Chora and back as well as to some of the most popular beaches.
Where To Stay in Serifos
Most hotels in Serifos are situated in Livadi, the island’s port town that has a long sandy beach and many restaurants and bars. However, if you, like us, prefer to stay at the most picturesque part of the destinations you’re visiting, you should stay in Chora. Keep in mind that accommodation options in Chora are limited. Therefore, make sure you book well in advance.
Alternatively, if you enjoy peace, quiet and the sound of the crashing waves before you surrender to sleep, there are many luxury hotels built on slopes overlooking the best beaches in Serifos.
Stay Sustainable in Serifos
Unlike most of the other Greek Islands, tap water in Serifos is safe to drink. There are also some fountains on the island where you can refill your bottles, such as Kefalovriso Spring in Chora (Lower Town). This way you can reduce your use of plastic while in Serifos. Just so you are on the safe side, double-check with your accommodation in Serifos to make sure that water is indeed safe to drink in the particular area you’re staying.
Why Visit Serifos
Serifos is among the most unspoilt islands in the Cyclades. There are many reasons to visit Serifos, such as its crystal clear waters, stunning island architecture and remarkable history.
Yet there’s one thing about Serifos that makes it stand out. It’s a sweet island. Yes, that’s right; it’s sweet. Rising above its bitter past, with its dramatic clifftop Chora reaching out to touch the clouds, Serifos has the sweet taste of a nostalgic Greek summer. A taste that never fades. A taste that always makes us go back for more.
Which of these 15 amazing things to do in Serifos are you most eager to explore?
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