Sifnos Island Guide

Sifnos Island Overview

Once you’ve discovered Sifnos, it’s hard not to make it part of every Greek holiday. I first visited as part of my Western Cyclades Tour in 2020, returned in 2021 as the climax of my extended Greek Summer Vacation, visited again in September 2022 and have just returned from another 5-day trip in June 2023. I can’t stay away.

It’s hard to explain why some places give you such a good feeling from the very minute you arrive. Stepping off the ferry in Kamares and walking down the main road through the village for the first time, I had an overwhelming sense of belonging. Judging from its growing reputation, I suspect I’m not alone.

So much about Sifnos is “just right”: the island is neither too large as to feel challenging to navigate nor so small that you’ve seen it all in a couple of days. The resorts and villages feel alive with activity, but not so crowded that you don’t want to be a part of it. The food is excellent and plentiful without being pretentious or overpriced. The beaches are spacious, sandy and magnificent. It is, in every respect, the ideal Greek destination for anyone wanting an authentic experience without any compromises. Nobody knows how long it can remain unspoiled, but we advise visiting this amazing island as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.

Getting to Sifnos

By Ferry

With no airport, you’ll arrive on Sifnos by ferry. In high season, these run daily from Piraeus and connect with the neighbouring islands of Serifos and Milos. Use the search box below to find ferry tickets and price details. However, be aware that routes for each summer season tend to be confirmed at the start of each calendar year between January and March, so if you don’t see availability for your chosen dates, it may be too early. You’ll need to check back again later.

Ferries take between 2.5 and 6 hours, depending on the speed of the boat and the chosen route.

By Plane

Although you can’t fly directly to Sifnos, it’s possible to avoid a lengthy ferry crossing by taking an internal flight to the neighbouring island of Milos. From there, it’s a quick 40-minute hop by ferry to Sifnos.

Where to Stay on Sifnos

Kamares

Given that Sifnos lacks an airport, the first resort you’ll experience on arrival is the port town of Kamares. A small but inviting village, most buildings are situated on the southern (port) side and spread both inland and uphill. The small main road narrows as it approaches the port, making ferry arrival and departure times feel a bit crowded. Otherwise, the village is peaceful and has just the right activity level to be atmospheric without feeling busy.

With its west-facing bay, you get the benefit of the late afternoon and evening sun, making it an ideal spot for extended sunbathing or an idyllic pre-dinner sunset cocktail at Captain’s Bar.

The large, golden sand beach is one of the nicest you’ll find anywhere in Greece and our favourite spot on the island. The calm and shallow water makes it family-friendly and great for swimming. The beach is perfect for its lack of buildings – a single hotel (Hotel Boulis) sits behind the beach slightly south of the centre. Still, otherwise, there are only dunes and vegetation, making it feel natural and spacious.

For such a small resort, there are plenty of great dining options, albeit with a leaning towards Italian cuisine: Passione Italiana, Camaron and Da Claudio being three of our favourites. Several beachfront tavernas/bars offer sun loungers and good food and drinks in the daytime and evenings. ‘To Kohyli’ and ‘Kyma’ are our top choices.

Accommodation in Kamares is split between the south and northern sides of the bay, with the northern side tending to feature more self-catering villas and apartments. The northern side is quieter but at the expense of a slightly longer (but only 5-10 minutes) walk to reach the majority of shops and restaurants. We’ve chosen to stay at Hotel Boulis several times and have always enjoyed its central location right behind the main beach and superb restaurant.

Overall, Kamares is our favourite resort as it seems to have everything: good food, a superb beach, access to the ferry port and regular bus connections to the rest of the island, all while not being overcrowded or too expensive.

Apollonia and Artemonas

The island’s capital, Apollonia, is inland, 15 minutes by local bus from Kamares. A traditional Cycladic village, its narrow painted streets hide an excellent selection of shops, cafes, bars and tavernas. It’s not a big village but feels more extensive as it spreads to the south, blending into Katavati and Exambela and north into Artemonas. Accommodation here mainly comprises small apartments and studios, though you will find a few hotels outside the village centre.

Although we’ve always preferred to stay close to the sea, it doesn’t suit everyone, and for those who prefer a more central base, the capital is an excellent choice. Many of Sifnos’ superb hiking trails start or finish close to Apollonia, so it’s an ideal base if you like to be active. Though situated in Artemonas, the main bus station passes through the capital on most routes, meaning you don’t need a hire car or transportation to get around.

Apollonia is also where you’ll find most shops on the island. While it’s not a retail therapy paradise, a good selection of boutique jewellery, clothing, and art shops is worth exploring on an evening stroll as you contemplate (or digest) your evening meal. You’ll also find a small but pleasant selection of bars, some with impressive rooftop views, where you can while away the evening enjoying a cocktail or three.

Platis Gialos

Besides Kamares, Platis Gialos is the most popular beach resort on Sifnos. Located in a wide bay to the island’s southeast, it features some of the best restaurants and is widely famed for its cuisine, particularly seafood. The beach isn’t quite as impressive as Kamares, in our opinion. However, it is still lovely with soft sand and shallow water – it’s just rocky in the centre and relatively narrow in places, backed closely by beachfront cafes, shops and tavernas, meaning it lacks the open and spacious feel of Kamares.

Due to its popularity, the local bus service makes very regular connections here to Apollonia and Kamares, so if you choose Platis Gialos as your base, it’s easy to get around. The resort may look out of the way, but due to Sifnos’ small size, Platis Gialos is less than a 15-minute drive from Apollonia and only 25 minutes from Kamares.

Vathy

Vathy (also spelt Vathi) is known for its peaceful setting and is popular with those seeking a quieter, more secluded base. Elies Resort, one of the few luxury hotels on Sifnos, gives Vathy a rather upmarket reputation, and the wide bay is often home to a few luxury yachts in high season. However, the resort is very low-key, and its shops and tavernas are all reasonably priced.

Here, you’ll find another great sandy beach, better than Platis Gialos (but still no match for Kamares), though the sea is not as shallow and is slightly less clear.

The local bus serves Vathy three times daily in high season, so you can still access the resort by public transport, though connections are not as frequent as other resorts. Hence, it tends to favour those with their own transportation or tourists who are happy to stay in the resort and relax in the quiet atmosphere.

Cheronissos

Cheronissos is a tiny fishing village set in a deep, northwest-facing bay at the very northern end of Sifnos. The beach is small but sandy and with crystal clear water for swimming. Primarily recognised as a day-trip destination, there is accommodation in Cheronissos but only a couple of tavernas and one mini-market, so it best suits those who like to prepare their own meals. However, you can still get to Apollonia by car in 20 minutes due to the island’s relatively small size.

Kastro

If you’re looking for something different, the ancient capital, Kastro, might be your thing. Completely pedestrianised, it’s full of narrow, winding pathways. A few tavernas can be found here, along with a small selection of accommodation. You’ll experience fantastic sights, including the iconic Church of the Seven Martyrs. A local bus service connects Kastro with the rest of the island – it’s just 10 minutes from Apollonia, so you won’t feel too secluded.

Church of the Seven Martyrs, Kastro, Sifnos

Things to See and Do on Sifnos

Aside from the great beaches and superb food, Sifnos is also known for its excellent network of hiking trails. These cover most of the island, are well-signposted and easy to follow. The excellent Sifnos Trails website is the best resource if you’re interested in walks on Sifnos.

Other notable attractions include the Church of the Seven Martyrs (pictured above) in Kastro, Chrisopigi Monastery on the southeast coast between Platis Gialos and Faros (pictured below), and the archaeological site of Agios Andreas, where you’ll find the Mycenaean Acropolis ancient ruins.

Chrisopigi Monastery
Chrisopigi Monastery

Sifnos Video Guide

Check out our YouTube island guide for Sifnos:

Sifnos Dining Options

One of the best things about Sifnos is its selection of great restaurants. In Platis Gialos, you’ll find some of the best fish tavernas anywhere in Greece: Omega3 and Yalos Seaside Obsession being two of the highlights. In Kamares, great Italian restaurants are abundant: our favourite is Passione Italiana, followed closely by Camaron and Da Claudio.

Getting Around Sifnos

Sifnos has an excellent bus network. Combined with its relatively small size, you can access most resorts on the island by public transport in under an hour. You’ll need your own set of wheels to see more remote sights, such as Agios Simeon or Agios Andreas. There are plenty of cars, quad bikes and moped rental shops to choose from, primarily based in Kamares, close to the port.

Sifnos: Conclusions and Alternatives

Though Sifnos can no longer be considered ‘undiscovered’, it’s still unspoiled with an authentic Greek charm that will appeal to anyone wanting to taste the real Greece. Having no airport is a blessing, as it keeps away the masses of fly-and-flop tourists, but it does mean a bit of planning and a ferry ride to get to and from the island.

We’re so glad we visited Sifnos in 2020 and have loved returning many times. If you’ve visited Sifnos and want to try somewhere with a similar vibe, these options would be worth considering: Amorgos, Folegandros or Milos. They’re all different in their ways but share an authenticity and lack of mass-market tourism that make them viable alternatives.

The interactive map below shows some of our favourite hotels, restaurants, beaches and places of interest on Sifnos. Click the markers to see more details.


Sifnos Blog Posts

  • Day 6: Last Day on Sifnos and Travelling Home
    This post is part of a series called Sifnos 2023 Friday 23rd June 2023 Soaking up some last-day sun Today was going to be a long day. Our return flight…
  • Days 2 – 5: Exploring Sifnos
    This post is part of a series called Sifnos 2023 Monday 19th – Thursday 22nd June 2023 A Condensed Trip Report I’ve collated the days we spent exploring Sifnos into…
  • Day 1: Flight to Athens, Piraeus and Sifnos Arrival
    This post is part of a series called Sifnos 2023 Sunday, 18th June 2023 An Early Start I woke to my alarm at 1:30am having had very little sleep. Our…
  • Day 84: Sifnos Troulaki Monastery and Kamares
    This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Saturday, 10th September 2022 Early Sightseeing We still had a few hours left on the hire car, having picked it…
  • Day 83: Sifnos Sightseeing
    This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Friday, 9th September 2022 Car Hire It was Marion’s first time on Sifnos, so we wanted to get out and…
  • Day 82: Mum and Dad Arrive on Sifnos
    This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Thursday, 8th September 2022 Hotel Breakfast Hotel Boulis offers breakfast for an extra few euros per day. It’s a basic…
  • Day 81: Piraeus to Sifnos
    This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Wednesday, 7th September 2022 Budget Breakfast and Early Ferry We woke to a 6:30 a.m. alarm before our 8 a.m….
  • Day 73: Homeward Bound
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Thursday 16th September 2021 Bonus Beach Time Did I say yesterday was our last time on the beach? Whoops!!…
  • Hotel Boulis, Kamares, Sifnos
    Review Rating: 4.5/5 Date of visit: September 2021 Having first visited Sifnos in 2020 and fallen in love with the island, to say I was excited to return would be…
  • Day 72: Our Last Full Day
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Wednesday 15th September 2021 A Brief Reflection After 72 days in Greece, today is my final full day here….
  • Day 71: More Sifnos Sightseeing
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Tuesday 14th September 2021 Morning Church Hike I forgot to mention in yesterday’s update that, prior to visiting Agios…
  • Day 70: Exploring Sifnos by Car
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Monday 13th September 2021 Finally Exploring the Island If you’ve managed to get through all the recent Sifnos posts,…
  • Day 69: Sun, Sand and Sea on Sifnos
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Sunday 12th September 2021 Another Typical Beach Day Okay, so after much promising that these posts will get more…
  • Day 68: Bus Trip to Apollonia
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Saturday 11th September 2021 Booking our Covid tests…or not! After the usual hotel breakfast at 8, we chilled out…
  • Day 67: Mum and Dad’s First Full Day on Sifnos
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Friday 10th September 2021 Sunshine is Back After a slightly cloudy day yesterday, today saw the return of clear…
  • Day 66: Mum and Dad Arrive on Sifnos
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Thursday 9th September 2021 Planning for New Arrivals My parents had arrived safely yesterday afternoon in Athens and had…
  • Day 65: Sifnos Sunshine
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Wednesday 8th September 2021 Blue Sky at Last After nothing but cloudy mornings since my arrival on Sifnos, it…
  • Day 64: More Clouds Over Sifnos
    This post is part of a series called Greek Odyssey 2021 Tuesday 7th September 2021 Hotel Breakfast at Boulis I woke early to another slightly cloudy morning on Sifnos. It…

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