Sifnos

A surprisingly green island for the Cyclades, Sifnos offers a good variety of peace and quiet and things to do. Even though it is a popular island, both amongst Greeks and foreigners, it has kept its originality and is resisting the commercialisation many other islands have suffered.

The locals on Sifnos live off agriculture, the natural source of aluminium and tourism, and the olive trees grow practically everywhere. In ancient times it was famous for mining gold, silver and iron.

A striking feature of this island is the many churches: there is a church for each day of the year, and most of them are only open on that day.

History

: Mythology has it that the island got its name from its first settler, Sifnos, who was the son of the hero Sounio. Although the island might have been inhabited in prehistoric times by different peoples, the most certain is that Aegeans and Minoans, Cretans, settled here in the 2nd Millennium BC.

Sifnos was one of the richest islands in ancient times because of its natural resources of gold, aluminum and silver. As far as we know, its first inhabitants came in around 1000-900 BC. and they soon discovered the precious metals. Trade went on with many of the other Cycladic islands, as well as with cities on the mainland.

According to mythology, the locals would give a golden egg to Apollo each year, but when the gold mines were almost depleted, they tried to fool the god by painting as stone in stead. This angered the god so much, that he sent the tyrant Polycrates who took all precious metals from the island.

The Romans used this island as a place for exiles, and later on, it went through the same problems with Venetians, Turks and pirates as the the rest of the Cyclades. It was liberated in 1830.

What to see

  The capital of the island is called Apollonia, after its ancient patron god, and here there is an art museum. The old part is called Artemonas, and there might have been a temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis here.

Kastro is the old capital, and the Ventian citadel here dates back to the 14th century. There is a small archaeological museum here, and the village itself is well worth a visit.

Panagia Vouno, (The virgin of the Mountain) is a fascinating church that is usually open in the mornings.

The monastery of the Virgin Mary of the Golden Well (Panagia Chryso-pigi) is situated just outside Faros and is open to the public. Don't forget to wear proper clothing though. The icon of the Virgin here is said to have healing powers.

What to do

: The days on Sifnos are best spent relaxing by the sea, and perhaps taking a few long walks.

Beaches

The best beaches are at Faros, but Kastro and Platys Gialos are also to be recommended. In Kamares there is a beach as well, but the sand is not as fine. Chersonissos is a lovely bay and Vathy is nice and quiet.

Nightlife

: You'll find the bars in Apollonia and a couple of discos also run during high season. The nightlife is no the wildest, but you can have a good time until late. Backpackers tend to like the few places in Kastro.

Food

Most taverns you'll find in Kamares and Apollonia, as well as a few pizza places. There are also some lovely little fish taverns in Kastro and Faros. Sifnos is reputed for its good food, and many chefs come from here.

Shopping

Ceramics are the island's specialty, and you'll find most shops in Kamares and Apollonia. You'll also find beautiful textiles and carpets.

Getting Around

There local buses are very good, and take you to many beaches and the most important villages. There is also a boat that can take you from Kamares to some of the beaches. Cars and bikes can be rented.

Getting there

The are quite good connections with other islands as well as the mainland from Sifnos. To get here it is probably best to take a direct flight to Athens and from Piraeus the ferryboat (5h) or hydrofoil (2h). Alternatively you can go to Milos or Paros, the latter is a bit out of the way though.

Facts about Sifnos

Size: 90 sq. km
International code: 0030
Population: about 2500
Doctor: 31315
Cash machine: Yes
Port Police: 31617
Internet cafe: Yes 
Police: 31210
Highest Mountain:
Rooms information: 31333 
Airport: No
Bus company:  
Tour Operators:
Telephone company (OTE):
Price rate: Above average
Coast guard:

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