Last updated on March 3rd, 2024 at 01:44 pm

The Cyclades Islands are world-renowned for their whitewashed streets and gorgeous beaches and we’re here to show you what to do in Sifnos, one of the most stunning islands in the Aegean Sea.

Sifnos is part of the Western Cyclades group, a sub-cluster of the Cyclades Islands which comprises some of the most laid-back islands in Greece, such as Kea, Kythnos, Serifos, Milos and Kimolos. Each of these islands is unique in its own way but all of them share one important thing in common: they are among the most authentic and unspoilt destinations in Greece.

Sifnos is an utterly picturesque island where it’s next to impossible to find something that doesn’t scream beauty even if you try to. This small gem of an island remains off the radar of mass tourism which means that it retains all of its authentic charms, protects its natural wonders and manages to offer high-quality services to those who choose to spend their summer vacation there.

So, let us take you on a virtual trip to this gorgeous island and we’re sure that, once you know what to do in Sifnos, you’ll start planning your first trip there.

This photo shows a small whitewashed church on a slightly steep slope above the sea.
The Sifnos magic

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How Many Days & What To Do in Sifnos

On a small Greek Island like Sifnos, it’s not a matter of how many days you need to see everything. It’s a matter of how many days you want to relax and take in the beauty without rushing things. After all, Sifnos is a great place to enjoy a relaxing summer holiday.

Therefore, although you won’t need more than three days to check out all the major attractions in Sifnos, you’ll probably want to plan a longer holiday there to recharge your batteries and forget about your daily life pains for a while.

If you’re wondering what to do in Sifnos other than lying in the sun, you should know that the island has many treasures in store for you. From gazing at the amazing traditional architecture and swimming in the waters of some of the best beaches in Greece to eating delicious food and learning about the locals’ ancient crafts, the list of awesome activities in Sifnos is a rather long one.

This is a panoramic shot of Artemonas village.
Sifnos hides many treasures in its gorgeous villages

17 Fantastic Things To Do in Sifnos Greece

1. Swim, Swim And, Then, Swim Some More

No matter its small size, Sifnos has a surprisingly large number of beautiful beaches. Wherever you decide to go swimming in Sifnos, the crystal clear waters and pristine bays await you. If you’re wondering which Sifnos beaches stole our hearts though, these would be Glifo, Cheronissos, Kamares, Platys Gialos and Apokofto Beach.

This is a panoramic view of Glifo Beach. It is a sandy beach with trees surrounded by rocky hills.
Glifo Beach

2. Eat All The Local Food

Sifnos is the birthplace of Nikolaos Tselementes, a Greek chef who changed Greek cooking forever. In 1932, Tselementes published a Greek cookbook for the first time, in which he introduced new recipes. Inspired primarily by French cuisine, he infused Western touches into the predominantly Eastern cuisine of Greece.

To a great extent, the Greek cuisine as we know it now, this mouthwatering blend of Eastern and Western tastes and aromas, owes its existence to Nikolaos Tselementes. This is why every household in Greece, especially until the 90s or so, had a copy of Tselementes’ cookbook. The latter is such an important element of Greek pop culture that tselementes is a synonym for a cookbook in Modern Greek.

Sifnos Island and its people honour their prodigy in more ways than one. First of all, the quality of food served throughout the island is superb. Secondly, food in Sifnos, although traditional and authentic, almost always comes with a little twist, perhaps as a way for locals to pay homage to their favourite child, the person who civilised the Greek palate, as the Press of his time put it.

This is a close up of a meze dish at Drakakis in Apollonia. It's a small clay pot covered with freshly baked pastry.
Meze dishes with a twist at Drakakis in Apollonia

But the utmost celebration of Tselementes and his work takes place in Sifnos every September when the island holds the annual Festival of Cycladic Gastronomy. During this festival, locals and visitors alike have the chance to taste unique dishes from every Cycladic island, drink local wine and dance to traditional music. This sounds like a valid reason to visit Sifnos in September if you ask us.

What To Eat in Sifnos

Sifnos food is one of the top reasons to visit the island. Blessed with exquisite fresh produce, Sifnos is also vegetarian and vegan heaven. Let’s have a look at some of the local delicacies you must try there.

The ultimate dish to try in Sifnos is revithada. Splashed with Greek olive oil, revithada is a chickpea stew slow-cooked to perfection for an entire night. For this reason, your best shot to try revithada is Sunday at lunch because most traditional restaurants in Sifnos prepare revithada on Saturday night. There are no words to describe how exquisite this vegan dish is.

This is a close up of revithada served in a clay dish at Simos restaurant in Kamares.
Revithada or chickpea soup at Simos, a family-run restaurant in Kamares

Another chickpea-based recipe you should try is fried chickpea balls or revithokeftedes. These may or may not include cheese so, dear vegans, watch out.

Speaking of cheese, the different types of local cheese in Sifnos, such as gilomeni manoura, xinomizithra and chloromanoura, are not to be missed. Don’t worry, you don’t have to learn – or pronounce – these difficult names. Just ask for local cheese or ntopio tyri (ντόπιο τυρί) at any local restaurant. No matter which type they have available, you’ll love it.

This is a close up of a dish containing soft local cheese.
Soft local cheese

For dessert, you have to try melopita. This is a cheesecake-like treat made of local cheese and honey. Last but not least, Sifnos is renowned for its wide selection of freshly baked cookies which come in many shapes and flavours, with a certain fondness for almonds.

This is a close up of bags containing local cookies on sale in Gerontopoulos Pastry Shop in Apollonia.
Local cookies at Gerontopoulos Pastry Shop in Apollonia

3. Visit Chrissopigi Monastery

The absolute highlight of Sifnos is the picture-perfect Chrissopigi Monastery, the ultimate symbol of the island. Built in 1640, the Monastery of Panagia Chrissopigi is among the most important places of worship in the Cyclades Island group. Legend has it that it’s connected to many miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary.

A visit to the Monastery of Chrissopigi is one of the best things to do in Sifnos for the wonder of its architecture and natural surroundings alike. Chrissopigi Monastery is also a very popular church for couples who want to get married in a site of absolute serenity and beauty.

This is a panoramic view of the all-white Chrissopigi monastery.
Chrisopigi Monastery

4. Admire The Gorgeous Churches

Apart from Chrissopigi Monastery, the beautiful Greek island of Sifnos is home to many other churches worth checking out. There are as many as 235 churches in Sifnos. Everywhere you look, you will see a quaint church or two whitewashed to perfection.

Hands down the most picturesque of all Sifnos churches is Efta Martires (Seven Martyrs) Church in Kastro, yet another popular site for weddings. The Church of The Seven Martyrs is built atop a rock with dramatic views of the endless blue sea and Kastro. You can walk to the church via a fairy-tale footpath that starts from Kastro.

This photo shows Katerina posing in front of the Seven Martyrs Church. She is wearing a light blue floral top and she is looking towards the sea.
Church of Seven Martyrs

5. Lose Yourselves in Medieval Kastro

Kastro is one of the best places to visit in Sifnos. It’s the oldest settlement on the island and one of the finest examples of medieval urban planning in Greece. Kastro is the Greek word for castle. The settlement retains all the characteristics of a once-fortified town: narrow streets, small courtyards and arched gates. Kastro is a truly enchanting place to wander around.

This is a photo of one of the main streets in Kastro. It is lined with traditional whitewashed buildings on both sides.
Enchanting Kastro

Life in Kastro seems to have remained the same as it was centuries ago. Walking around the whitewashed alleys and hearing nothing but the wind carrying around the casual chats of locals is mesmerising. Make sure you walk the circular path inside Kastro and, if possible, look towards the Seven Martyrs Church at sunrise. Last but not least, Kastro has its own beach, the untamed Seralia Bay.

This is a snapshot of the path that encircles Kastro. There are charming old buildings on one side and unique views of the sea on the other.
Walking along the circular path in Kastro at dusk

6. Find Cuba in Sifnos

We’re pretty sure you read this headline twice to make sure you got it right. But it’s true. There’s a tiny piece of land on Sifnos Island that will teleport you to the Caribbean. This is Cavo Sunrise, a bar which has become something of a legend, one of the top things to see in Sifnos in its own right. Yet you’ll never hear anyone call this place by its name as everyone calls it Kouvanos (The Cuban Guy).

It turns out that the Cuban guy is not Cuban at all. Kostas from Sifnos is the proud owner of the best Cuba-themed vintage bar in Greece. The bar’s interior walls are covered with newspaper clippings about Che Guevara and Fidel Castro while the floors are decorated with heaps of empty Havana Club bottles.

This is a photo of the interior of Cavo Sunrise bar. There are newspapers hanging on the walls. They have pictures of Che and Fidel Castro on them. If you're wondering what to do in Sifnos in the evening, this bar is the ultimate place to be.
Outside Cavo Sunrise looking in

The go-to drinks at Cavo Sunrise are only two: Mojito and Cuba Libre. Both come in huge sizes at ridiculously low prices. Nothing beats having a drink at one of the bar’s quaint tables as the sun sets over the Aegean Sea, giving way to the sweet darkness of the island. If you add a casual chat with Kostas to the equation, you’re in for an epic experience.

This is a close up of a tray containing drinks, snacks and a large hand sanitizer. The tray sits on an outside table at Cavo Sunrise bar. In the background, Maria waits to drink her cuba libre.
Summer 2020 was all about hand sanitisers and Cavo Sunrise complied with the rules

7. Stroll Around Artemonas

Artemonas is one of the most enchanting places to visit in Sifnos. It’s an exceptional village with unique architecture in the heart of the island. In Artemonas, instead of the typical small whitewashed buildings, you will mainly stumble upon impressive mansions surrounded by gorgeous gardens. Yet, the village has its fair share of blue-domed churches, too.

Artemonas breathes an air of old-fashioned splendour that’s hard to miss or resist. Last but not least, Artemonas hosts two very special annual events. A huge street party that goes on till the early morning hours every August and the aforementioned Festival of Cycladic Gastronomy every September.

This is a close up of an impressive white mansion in Artemonas. There is a brightly coloured bougainvillea next to it.
One of many charming mansions in Artemonas

8. Explore The Lesser-Known Villages

Many other lesser-known villages in Sifnos are worth visiting, too. Our favourite among them is Exambela, a breathtakingly beautiful small village and the actual birthplace of chef Nikolaos Tselementes. Other picturesque villages that you should check out if time permits are Katavati, Ano Petali and Kato Petali.

This photo shows the white buildings of Exambela Village from a distance. In the foreground, a glorious dry stone wall.
Exambela Village

9. Spend a Lazy Day in Cheronissos

Cheronissos is a beyond-words picturesque fishing village that is unbelievably authentic and unspoilt. The best way to enjoy Cheronissos is to spend a day doing nothing but swimming in the village’s incredibly crystal clear waters, reading a good book in the shade and nibbling on meze dishes at one of the two great restaurants on the beach.

As a bonus, the drive along the island’s main road to Cheronissos is an amazing one. This part of Sifnos boasts a breathtakingly beautiful natural landscape.

This is a panoramic shot of Cheronissos. We can see the beach with the emerald waters as well as a couple of buildings right on the beach.
The crystal-clear waters of Cheronissos

10. And a Lazier One in Faros

Yet another fishing village that stole our hearts is Faros. More bohemian than Cheronissos but equally laid-back, Faros offers the opportunity for an unforgettable day that has it all. Swimming in the calm waters of either Glifos or Faros Beach (or both), an easy hike to Chrissopigi Monastery and a seafront meal.

This is a panoramic shot of Faros village. The all-white village is amphitheatrically built and the last houses almost touch the sea. In the foreground, a traditional fishing boat.
Quaint Faros

11. Take in The Views From Agios Simeon Monastery

No guidebook will tell you that the perfect place for the best panoramic views of the entire island of Sifnos and beyond is Agios Simeon Monastery. Nor that the drive from Agios Simeon Monastery to Kamares Port is probably the most scenic in Sifnos.

Built atop one of the highest points in Sifnos, Agios Simeon Monastery offers spectacular views, especially to Kamares Port. Probably the best time to visit is sunset to enjoy the golden hour from the ultimate vantage point. Once up there, take a short walk to the spot where a beautiful map of all the surrounding islands is located. The map will help you spot the islands on a clear day.

This photo shows the panoramic view of Kamares Port from Agios Simeon Monastery.
View to Kamares from Agios Simeon Monastery

12. Visit a Pottery Workshop & Buy Ceramics

Sifnos Island has a very long tradition in pottery that dates back to ancient times. Local craftsmen continue to produce top-quality handmade ceramics that range from cooking utensils to decorative items.

When in Sifnos, don’t miss the chance to – literally – take a piece of this beautiful island back home with you. Buy an earthenware pot or other ceramics from any local pottery workshop in Sifnos. This way not only do you support the local economy but also contribute to the preservation of this ancient craft.

There used to be many pottery workshops in Sifnos. Sadly, there are only about twenty of them scattered across the island now. The two oldest are located in Cheronissos and Tsopos Beach. During our recent trip to Sifnos, we had the pleasure of visiting the latter for a closer look at the wonderful artefacts and the workshop itself. Atsonios Ceramics is a family-run business in continuous operation since the late 1800s.

This photo was shot inside the workshop of Atsonios Ceramics. There are pots of all sizes and uses piled up there. Visiting a pottery shop is one of the best things to do in Sifnos.
Countless clay pots at Atsonios Ceramics

If you’re making the trip to Atsonios Ceramics in Tsopos Beach, make sure you have enough time to visit nearby Vathi as well. Vathi is a seaside village, home to a long beach with fine golden sand, one of the best restaurants on the island (Tsikali) and the super quaint Taxiarchis Church.

This image shows the beach and Taxiarchis church in Vathi.
The beautiful Vathi Beach

13. Hike The Quaintest Paths

Sifnos boasts a network of old walking paths, all signposted and well-maintained. Walking around Sifnos is a unique hiking experience for all nature lovers. There are many routes to follow, the easiest of which include hikes such as:

  • Faros Village – Glifo Beach – Chrissopigi Monastery
  • Artemonas – Panagia Poulati Church – Kastro
  • Artemonas – Apollonia and many more.
This photo shows the starting point of the path that leads from Glifo Beach to Chrissopigi Monastery. It is a slightly uphill paved path with fantastic views of the sea. If you're wondering what to do in Sifnos, hiking is a great option!
The starting point of the hiking trail that leads from Glifo Beach to Chrissopigi Monastery.

14. Attend a Traditional Festival

Sifnos is renowned for its traditional festivals or panigiria as we call them in Greek. These are related to major or lesser-known religious holidays. During any traditional religious festival in Sifnos, locals and visitors who attend are served red wine, revithada and other local dishes, while live music and dancing can go on until the early morning hours.

There are many traditional festivals in Sifnos, especially during the summer months. The grandest of all is, of course, the one held at Chrissopigi Monastery. It takes place every year on the day of the Assumption. The latter is a moveable feast in the Greek calendar (May or June).

This is the interior courtyard of Chrissopigi Monastery. The white building shines bright under the afternoon sun.
The interior courtyard of Chrissopigi Monastery

15. Discover The Ancient Watchtowers

Sifnos is home to 76 ancient watchtowers that dot the island’s gorgeous countryside. The circular constructions were all built between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC. Yet only a handful of them have survived to this day.

The three best-preserved towers in Sifnos are the White Tower near Platis Gialos Beach, the Black Tower in Exambela Village and the Tower of Katavati Village. If you go hiking in Sifnos, you will most certainly stumble upon signs indicating the exact locations where the watchtowers once stood but don’t expect any proper archaeological sites.

This image shows one of the island's round stone watchtowers. It is built on a low hill surrounded by low vegetation and dry stone walls. In the background, the sea and a white windmill.
One of the island’s ancient watchtowers

16. Fall in Love With The Kittens

Greece is famous for having the friendliest kittens on earth. Sifnos couldn’t be an exception. Everywhere we went around the island, we seldom walked alone. Almost always, we’d have a furry companion lead the way, stopping now and then to claim our attention and hugs, both of which were never hard to get.

This is a close up of a cat as he enjoys Maria petting him on the head.
We met this guy at Chrissopigi Monastery and he never left our side during our visit

17. See & Be Seen in Apollonia

Probably all the other guides you’ve read about the island list Apollonia as the top place to visit in Sifnos. Yet, to us, Apollonia felt rather at odds with the rest of the island as its authentic character is sometimes lost or, to put it more accurately, hidden behind trendy neon signs and pretentious facades.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Apollonia, though. The capital of Sifnos, Apollonia is indeed a pretty island town where you can admire gorgeous traditional architecture once you manage to look past certain cacophonies.

Furthermore, Apollonia is the best place to enjoy the Sifnos nightlife. Some of the best and oldest bars are Doloma, Mantalou and Argo. All three of them are located along Apollonia’s main street, colloquially known as To Steno – Greek for The Narrow Alley.

This photo shows a quaint alley in Apollonia. There are traditional buildings on both sides of the street. Tables and chairs are placed near the walls.
Apollonia and its island architecture

Travel Resources For Sifnos Island

Sifnos Travel Guide

How To Get To Sifnos

There is no airport in Sifnos. The only way to get to the island is by ferry. Kamares Port in Sifnos connects to the ferry port of Piraeus in Athens by both highspeed and standard ferries. You can also take a ferry to Sifnos from various other islands in the Aegean Sea, such as Serifos, Santorini or Paros, if you’re visiting Sifnos as part of an island-hopping itinerary.

Book your ferry tickets to Sifnos Island here.

This photo shows the main street at Kamares Port. It's lined with shops and restaurants.
The main street at Kamares Port, lined by souvenir shops and mini-markets

How To Get Around Sifnos

In the high season, public transport in Sifnos is frequent and reliable. From Kamares Port, you can reach the capital of the island Apollonia or the village of Artemonas by bus. From there, you can continue to other locations such as Kastro, Platis Gialos, Faros, Cheronissos and Vathi. However, if you want to enjoy absolute freedom to explore all the treasures this little island hides, a good option is renting a car.

This is a panoramic view of the road that winds its way through mountains and hills. This shot was taken near Cheronissos.
Driving in Sifnos is a fantastic experience

Where To Stay in Sifnos

Finding a good place to stay in Sifnos is easy as there are many amazing Sifnos hotels. That said, there is one hotel that stands out.

The best boutique hotel in Sifnos, Verina Astra is in Poulati, near Artemonas. Set on a hill overlooking the Aegean Sea, the complex is built in such a way that all of its suites enjoy beautiful views of the vastness and utter beauty of the deep blue sea beyond. All the suites are smartly decorated, impeccably clean and utterly comfortable, with private terraces.

The hotel also features a superb infinity pool with stunning views of the Aegean Sea, the island’s gorgeous castle and Panagia Poulati Church. Breakfast at Verina Astra is a feast of homemade delicacies, all prepared with care and the best local ingredients.

This image shows the infinity pool at Verina Astra Hotel at sunset with a rising full moon in the background.
Sunset at Verina Astra Sifnos, one of the best hotels in Sifnos

Verina Astra Sifnos is one of our favourite boutique hotels in Greece because it’s true to the values of responsible tourism that we fervently support. This is why we wrote a guide to Verina Astra Hotel, as part of our quest to promote ethical yet extraordinary accommodation options that enhance your travel experience in more ways than one. You can read our Verina Astra guide here.

This photo shows a terrace at Verina Astra Hotel with unobstructed views of the sea.
Verina Astra Hotel

Where To Eat in Sifnos

Sifnos is a culinary heaven. Therefore, you can’t go wrong with any Sifnos restaurants. Below you’ll find a small selection of the places where we tried some of the best food in Sifnos.

This is a shot of the outdoor space at Mosaico restaurant in Artemonas Village.
At Mosaico in Artemonas, we ejoyed some our best meals in Sifnos

What’s So Special About Sifnos?

Now that you know what to do in Sifnos, you may still wonder why choose this island over any other for your summer vacation. Although all Greek Islands are great summer destinations, Sifnos is the perfect island to enjoy a quintessentially Greek summer vacation like no other. Why? Because it’s an island of great and indisputable beauty, abundant in pristine sandy beaches and famous for its fantastic local food.

What more do you need for a real vacation than this Holy Trinity of beauty, beaches and food? Oh yes, a couple of drinks, too. Off to the Cuban Guy then!

Seven Martyrs Church at dusk.
Seven Martyrs Church at dusk epitomises the magic of Sifnos

WORDS & EDITING: Maria
IMAGES: Katerina

Disclosure: For the needs of writing this article about what to do in Sifnos, we were hosted at Verina Astra Hotel. However, as always, we express nothing but our honest opinion about the experience we had.

7 Comments

  1. Mariam Samuel Reply

    could you explain a bit more how to get there. Which airport, Ferry to pick. Thanks

    • Hi Mariam, thanks for your comment! There’s no airport in Sifnos, you can get there by ferry from Piraeus Port near Athens. There are regular ferries and high-speed ferries to choose from, depending on your budget and time 🙂

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  5. Ceri Stannah Reply

    We found your article invaluable whilst staying in Sifnos. We too stayed at the Verina Astra and loved it. It’s a very special place

    • Hi Ceri, thanks so much for your lovely comment! We’re very glad our article helped you enjoy Sifnos to the fullest. As for Verina, it’s indeed special and we can’t wait to go back!

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