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About Sifnos island, Greece

Sifnos is a small island of the western Cyclades, close to Kimolos, Serifos, Paros and Milos, all of them at a distance less than 20 nautical miles. The island is wedge-shaped; its extent is 74 square kilometers, the coast line reaches the 50 kilometers and the highest point is the top of Prophetes Elias (Prophet Elijah), of an altitude of 680 meters. The island counts some 2.500 permanent residents, mostly occupied in agriculture, stock breeding and fishing; pottery is also a traditional occupation, whereas recently, seafaring and tourism add a lot to the income of the people.

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The coast line varies a lot: as the sea penetrates deep in the land, it forms several small coves with sandy or rocky beaches, usually hidden from the open sea.

The small island, although rocky, is pretty fertile and produces several agricultural products and handicrafts for which it is quite well known: savory honey, various types of cheese, figs, traditional sweets and hand woven textiles. But above all, Sifnos is famous for its pottery, a traditional activity with products exported all over the Aegean Sea.
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The history of the island is long and goes back to the remote past. In what concerns its name, scholars seem to agree with the tradition of Mythology that the island owes its name to Sifnos, the first settler of the island who was a son of Sounios, a mythic hero of Attica. During the Archaic and Classical times the place knew affluence and prosperity, thanks to the gold and silver mines it exploited. Its flourish lasted as long as the ore deposits and when they were all consumed the island declined. As a result, during the Roman and the Byzantine periods it had been used as a place of exile and suffered numerous pirates’ raids and attacks from various invaders. The Byzantine domination was succeeded by that of the Francs and later on by the Ottomans, whose domination lasted until the National Greek Revolution of 1821. Sifnos was then included in the territory of the newly founded Greek State and ever since its destiny and development is common with that of the rest of Greece.

Today the island makes part of the Prefecture of Cyclades. A lot of tourists, both Greeks and from other countries visit Sifnos, especially in summer. Nightlife is more intense in Appolonia, the capital and Kamares, the port of the island. The rest of the villages, although relatively quiet, also offer opportunities for amusement and nightlife.
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All year round, Sifnos is connected by ship with the port of Piraeus and with the islands of the line of Melos; in summer, the service is daily and pretty frequent. The duration of the trip varies from two and a half hours (by high speed and catamaran) up to five hours (by conventional ferries). In summer there is also connection with most of the rest of Cyclades and with Crete, either directly or via Melos. During the rest of the year these connections become less frequent or do not exist at all, following the demands of the period.

Sifnos does not have an airport; for emergency cases there is a heliport southern to the village of Exambela. You may also arrive by plane at Melos or Paros and then catch the boat to Sifnos.

All the villages of the island are connected by public buses, running frequently in summer and regularly in the rest of the year. There are also some ten taxis. However, the best way to discover the island is to walk everywhere, following the old scenic footpaths that lead to places inaccessible by other means of transport: it is in that way that you may visit old small country churches, ruins of ancient and medieval towers and castles and climb low hills from where you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the Aegean. Sifnos is indeed the ideal island for the fans of walking and hiking.

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Shopping – Local Products

Leaving the place of vacation everyone brings along some souvenirs reminding the moments of relaxing. When at Sifnos you have several choices for souvenirs and gifts. First of all, you should not miss to buy some ceramic pieces, in traditional or more up-to date designs and shapes. You will find a lot, of various shapes and decoration, all of them beautiful, some simply for decoration, others for everyday use. You will also find nice hand woven textiles and nosebags, which, apart from being beautiful, they will also prove very useful.

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Don’t forget to bring along, or at least taste on site, some of the agricultural and dairy products. Sifnos has excellent honey, among the best varieties of Cyclades; you will also find strong and tasty wines and various kinds of gorgeous local cheese, savory caper and sweet figs whose taste you will remember for a long time. And, of course, the “must” is to bring along the local sweets: “amygdalota” and “bourekia” (soft sweets with almonds and sugar), “kourambie”, “pasteli, made with the tasty local honey and sesame, “melopitta”, the famous local honey pie, as well as various kinds of sweet rolls. All of them are gorgeous and of excellent quality: once you taste one you will feel like eating them all!

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