Serifos is a beautiful Cycladic island that fortunately has only been mildly developed, thus maintaining many scenic corners worth exploring.
The ‘postalia’ (what the seamen call the passenger boats) coming and going from the port, the slow morning pace – in Serifos everyone stays up late – the lazy movement, the caiques bringing in the daily catch softly rippling the bright blue Aegean waters. This is what you look at, seated at “Captains” at the island’s port, drinking freshly squeezed juice and iced coffee, eating eggs and bacon, warm, fluffy bread with butter and marmalade, and yogurt with honey and walnuts.
If you want to spend your holiday in the Cyclades while at the same time avoiding more cosmopolitan destinations without however compromising on the Cycladic experience, then you need to visit Perseus’ island – also known as the “Iron Lady” due to its old metal mines.
Arriving in Serifos
Serifos is a stone’s throw from Piraeus if you get the speedboat, arriving after just 2,5 hours, instead of the 4,5 hours if you get the regular boat. Right off the boat at Livadi, in the southeast, the island’s port, you’ll understand that nightlife and general activity centres around Livadi. Most supermarkets, grocery stores, souvenir shops, and boutiques are located here, as are most of the taverns, cafés and bars.
However, Serifos is the island with the most beaches in the Aegean – 72 in total. Most of them are stunning, something everyone acknowledges. According to the Sunday Times, in a vote held in 2003, Psili Amos was named the best beach in the Mediterranean. It’s true, you’ll be impressed by the variety of the beaches here; some easily accessible, others only accessible by boat, some with fine sand, others pebbled, some bare, with no shade under the hot summer sun, others scattered with tamarisk trees providing natural shade. And all of them unique, offering a special experience.
And it’s not just the beaches. The Hora is like whipped cream on a chocolate cake, almost floating between the blue sky and the blue sea. Bright white, windswept, and sparkling clean, with its little restaurants and bars, it’s one of the most impressive Horas in the Aegean. Its elevated streets, bougainvillea-covered corners, blooming gardens, little churches springing up in unexpected places (116 in number), chapels on the hilltops, all add to its attractiveness.
Amphitheatrically built on a hill above the Livadi bay, with the road from the port to Hora scented by the thyme, oregano and capers bushes. You get there within minutes, while the recent constructions have almost united the two villages. A stroll around the castle will reward you with amazing views and incredible sunsets, while at night you’ll be able to see the lights on Sifnos.
Apart from its dreamy Hora, Serifos is scattered with small villages worth visiting, like Rammos, sparsely populated Agios Ioannis on the homonymous beach, Kentarhos in the verdant valley, or the imposing Megalo Livadi. It’s worth visiting the abandoned mines (part of the island’s recent history, from the early 20th century) where you’ll see wagons, old tracks and a loading dock.
The road network allows you to see almost the entire island: depending on the spot the view becomes otherworldly or romantic. In addition, for hiking aficionados, there are many trails in Serifos, some of them paved, that lead to secluded beaches, village ruins, or forgotten chapels.
Koutala is one of the best-known beaches in Serifos, with sand and pebbles, tamarisk trees and a tavern. Ganema is reached via a dirt road, and is not serviced, while in Vagia there are some umbrellas on the pebbled beach, serviced by the hotel there. It’s worth noting that it’s the only smoke-free beach in the Cyclades, and, in fact, the whole of Greece, as part of the environmental program Sea Change Greek Islands.
In Agios Sostis, there are in essence two different beaches at the same bay: one protected, and the other one, just a five-minute-walk away, a sandy beach with tamarisk trees. Psili Amos, that we mentioned previously, has turquoise waters and tamarisk trees, with sand dunes at the back, and is not a managed beach.
Kentarhos beach has emerald waters and a few tamarisk trees, but it’s one of the hardest beaches to access, as you need to walk on a cobblestone path and then on a trail. When you get to the beach, you’ll feel like Robinson Crusoe: alone under the blue skies, on the bare Cycladic landscape.
Sikamia has white pebbles and sand. Votsaloti is only accessible by water, but has exotic, turquoise waters, fine pebble and some natural shade. Apart from the serviced port beach, Livadi, Avlomonas and Livadakia have easy access from Hora. A bit further away you’ll find Karavi: that’s is accessible either by car or on foot. For quieter vibes, the secluded Kalo Ampeli is only a 20-minute-walk away, and offers a volcanic setting, similar to Volakas in Tinos, with no shade. It’s best to visit by boat and bring all necessary provisions.
To get to the remote, impressive Lia beach you need to walk too. For the very brave, finally, there is Aspros Kavos, not really a beach, but an impressive bay, protected from the wind and relatively accessible rocks that you dive off into the bright blue waters. It resembles Matala, Crete, a bit, with holes in the rocks and a wild feel.
The gastronomy of Serifos is not very unique, but it’s worth trying the ‘marathotiganites’ (fennel pancakes), the chickpea stew, the xynomyzithra cheese, as well as the local sausage.
“Metalio”, in Livadi, is one of the best and oldest taverns on the island. It stays open in the winter too, serving modern cuisine that includes meat dishes, risottos etc. “Aloni” is on the road to Hora, with a view of the sea and of Hora, serving grilled meats and with amazing fried dishes. “Rizes” the restaurant of the homonymous hotel, has a great view, tasty food and refreshing cocktails. “Porto Vecchio” is a good Italian restaurant with tables on the beach, while “Blue Bamboo” serves Asian food in an atmospheric garden, with a great wine list.
Other taverns in Livadi, with tables on the beach, are: the good fish taverns “Takis” and “Lepi Lepi”, “Thalami” with Greek casserole dishes made using great ingredients, and “Bakakaki” that specialises in grilled meat.
Other places worth checking out:
All-day “Idrolithos” on Meli’s rooftop terrace.
“Marina”, at the marina, with Greek cuisine.
“Tootsie” for good souvlaki and grilled meat.
All-day “Kalma” that serves anything you might crave, located right on the beach.
“Kampia” in Rammos, with great grilled meat.
“Pantelis” with a view of Hora, serving great meat, delicious casserole dishes with local, sophisticated ingredients and wines from small wineries.
“Chill&co resto bar” with modern minimal aesthetics and great cuisine. It’s also a hotel.
“Alexandros” a restaurant with great Greek cuisine, on the beach in Livadakia.
“Vassilia on the Beach” in Livadakia, a nice beach bar.
At Pano Piatsa, “Louis” is a restaurant serving Greek dishes and meze. The café-bars “Barbarosa”, “Thidira” and “Stou Stratou” are also good choices. In Kato Piatsa, at the bus stop, “Marathoriza” serves good Greek food, while the bars “Vatrahos” and “Gaidaros” stay open late. If you’re in Hora, “Plakes” serve great casserole dishes.
At the various beaches: “Nikoulias” on Platis Gialos, and “Stefanakos” on Psili Amos, with Greek cuisine, casserole dishes and fish. “Kiklopas” on Mega Livadi with great fried fish and seafood, and the new “Saan” in Ganema, open from noon till nigh with sunbeds, the best beach bar on the island. Wood décor, laidback vibes, gauze awnings dancing in the wind, serving burgers, pizza and pasta. Further up, you’ll find “Pezoulia” with traditional cuisine, large servings and a great view. Finally, in Koutala you’ll find “Porto Cadena Koutalas” serving casserole dishes, seafood, and good fried fish.
Rizes Just outside Livadi, with impressive, large rooms and apartments, a wonderful pool and stone and bare concrete elements. One of the best on the island. They offer personal training and yoga.
Coco-Mat Eco Residence The building was built in the early 20th century and housed mine workers. Now it has been renovated following the principles of bio-climatic architecture to create a small summer paradise. All the residences have two storeys, and the gardens have sea views. The beach bar and lounge are among the most beautiful we’ve seen.
Chill&co Modern, atmospheric, minimal, youthful, fresh and chill, right on the Livadi beach.
Koralli Bungalows In the traditional Cycladic style, youthful and fresh, with bungalows, offering modern camping, a pool, and a restaurant. Located in a verdant plot with natural shade, right next to Livadi beach.
Vassilia on the Beach On Livadakia, the beach next to Livadi, right on the beach.
Aigaio Cycladic architecture, simple, clean and well-kept rooms. Amphitheatrically built over Livadakia, with a great view.
Indigo Minimal and youthful, well-made, in the centre of Livadi, offering both rooms and apartments.
Kalami Suites Suites of varying sizes for every need. They promise peace, quiet and privacy, in soft Cycladic style. Located in Avlomonas, next to Livadi.
Ammoa Feelgood Vagia Refined structures with stone and bare concrete, as well as reeds, providing a zen feel right on the Vagia beach.
Pende Villas, Suites and Natura Residences Offering villas and suites at Livadakia, while Keli and Mantri are renovated solitary houses in Kalo Ampeli, for travellers who don’t want mainstream solutions.
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