To me, the most beautiful of the Cyclades island complex but also Greece.
Welcome to Serifos! To me, the most beautiful of the Cyclades island complex but also Greece. It’s not that I don’t like the other islands, it’s just that Serifos had me from the very beginning, when I first visited ten years ago. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you will share the same opinion but as in all cases, there are fanatic supporters as well as haters. Either way, I happen to be a fanatic who will try to make you see that you need to visit.
What I cherish more in the island is its people. They are always smiling, welcoming and willing to open their doors to you with no second thoughts. They can instantly make you fit in any group of people and feel mostly comfortable. This year, I had the chance to attend a local festival for the 15th of August, at the Agios Nikolas church, in Pyrgos. There, I met Ms.Eleni, who talked to me about love and companionship. She’s a person who has been to no other place other than Serifos in almost 85 years. Although delicate and petite, she is a ball of fire with a vibrant stare and a captivating smile. I could sit there listening to her stories, all day long. I fell in love with her, just as I fell for Serifos.
Arriving at Serifos in just a few hours from Peiraius port (fast ferry is aprrox. 2,5 hours and regular is approx. 5,5 hours) and as you reach the dock, the main town (Chora) greets you from above. It is said by both fans and haters it is the best Chora in Cyclades. Apart from being a natural harbour, Livadi is consequently the busiest part of Serifos in terms of tourist traffic. Here, you’ll find many little souvenir shops, options for food, coffee and drinks, tour operator offices, the one and only bank on the island, as well as the only gas station and pharmacy. Also found here is the very popular Yaught Club for coffee and breakfast in the morning and cocktails in the evening. For meat lovers and Greek cuisine fans, Mpakakaki is the most renowned place to go. Leaving several times throughout the day from Livadi, there are plenty of bus tours too for you to take and explore the island’s beaches, on a very reasonable ticket fare. Accommodation wise, Livadi offers a variety of choices on rooms to let, but if you feel more like something on the simple side and a notch more quiet, just around the harbour, in Livadakia, you can always camp, since it is one of the most organised and clean camping sites in the Cyclades. However, there are also plenty of studios to rent there with gorgeous views of the sea.
In Chora you will probably find the hospitality you are seeking and you will get to feel like an actual local. Being built on a rocky cliff, access is pretty difficult, with sharply uphill built steps and trails you will definitely get to see what it is to be an islander, while meantime, the strong winds of the Aegean will also be blowing from all directions. Located far away from the touristy area of Livadi (probably the only one of the island), you’ll be able to wake up early in the morning (06.00) to witness how during sunrise, the white little buildings literally bathe into the colours of the light as the sky turns yellow, fuchsia, purple and then finally blue. You’ll sit at the Kafeneio, with mr.Antonis and his friends who still joke around like when they were kids. Ms. Eleni will serve you Greek coffee and you’ll just stay there listening to them and the news from around the island.
Chora is a place to also visit because of its picturesque set-up, the view over the harbour and its nightlife. There are people sitting around the squares, in the narrow streets and on top steep staircases enjoying their tsipouro at Stratos or a cocktail at Gaidaros and Aeriko bars. For those night crawlers Vatrahos will be playing funky sounds till the first morning light. A must-see spot when in Chora, is undoubtedly the view from the castle at Agios Georgios and the freshly baked chocolate croissant from the bakery at the entrance of the upper Chora that operates 24/7. That’s where you’ll buy bread for your midday sandwiches and cereal bars to get you through the day. Chora is connected with Livadi by bus till late at night, so there is no reason to worry even if you don’t have a car or bike.
Although quite small, Serifos is an island where young and joyful people have recently set several cute little shops. In Livadi, “Theta” and “Vous” both have a great selection of clothing, beach towels, accessories and jewelry. In “Kerameio” you’ll find handmade jewelry from ceramics and other materials as well as pottery. In the upper part of Chora, “Le Cotecheri” collects garments from all over the world and at “San Paramithi” you’ll find pretty little gifts. Interesting choices for jewelry are “Fe” and “Thimisis” where there are also art pieces that are noteworthy and last but not least, “Thidyra” for more clothing and jewelry options.
Serifos is known for its authenticity and that is one of the main reasons I am so fond of this island. The beaches are not organized and the general approach is not being a tourist trap kind of island. It is a generous island that offers many options but at the same time makes you respect it more. There is a plethora of beaches for all tastes but also for all types of weather. You’ll have at least two to three choices depending on whether it’s northern wind blowing or come from the south. Our first and most favorite is Agios Sostis, but Lia (morning hours mostly recommended, it’s quieter), Ganema, Vagia, Psili Ammos, Kalo Ampeli, Agios Ioannis, Kentarhos, Sikamia and Platis Gialos are all worth checking out as well! This year though, the absolute highlight was Maliadiko beach, which I hadn’t visited the previous years. A beach with vivid green colored waters, perfect ground to set a tent (it’s the only beach that free-camping is actually allowed) and lots of space for all to enjoy. It’s located just after Koutalas where there’s a pebbled trail leading to this little paradise. In case you prefer the volume even lower, you can always follow the path right on the end of the beach that leads to another beach where otherwise you can only access by sea.
Over the last few years, a running and swimming race has been taking place, called the Serifos Sunset Race (5-10-20km and 1-3km respectfully) consisting of a children’s category too. It’s a good excuse to visit the island on September. Every summer, Kerameio on the way to Chora, offers pottery classes making it a great opportunity to learn firsthand what this art is all about and even create your own pieces. Also, there are numerous tracked down trails all over the island for hiking lovers, with the one connecting Livadi to Chora, being the easiest.
As in every island, in Serifos too during August and mostly around the 15th of August, many local fiestas take place. In Serifos in particular, the Holy Mary’s Fair goes on for three days with musical instruments and lots food. Every night, a different village and church host their fiesta, organizing the whole thing and repainting the church. The goat gets in the oven from the early morning hours, then follows the service and finally people gather around a very long table and everyone participates for the best possible outcome, serving food and wine to all. After wine comes Shuma and the orchestra leads the dance till sunrise.
Try not to miss eating at The Cyclops in Megalo Livadi, he’ll greet you with the biggest os smiles and treat you tremendously well. In Chora, you;ll have the best breakfast at Stratos and for traditional Greek cuisine, try Marathoriza. In Livadi, Mpakakaki is a meat lover’s heaven, Hedrolithos is the choice for Modern Greek cuisine, and we also recommend Aloni for Greek flavors. If by any chance you find yourself in Psili Ammos, do grab a bite (or two) at Stefanako’s, ideally the tomato salad and the fried fish.
The Yacht Club in Livadi seems to be favored by all for its tasty cocktails and groovy music. Aerino is pretty much and old time classic option in Chora with great and funky sounds, especially if you’re lucky and get a table at the rooftop during sunset. The most recent addition to Chora’s nightlife, is Gaidaros offering delicious cocktails for people to enjoy on the steps leading to the Castle. Strato’s Kefeneio is the place to be for rakomela and Greek meze bites and Vatrahos is where you’ll end up after you’ve checked the other bars in Chora.
Writer: Christos Tzoutis
Editor and Translation: Anna G. Metaxas
People and actions that we love and they love us back