Race on a Greek Island

Love running? Wouldn’t you love to race on a Greek island course through a stunning, environmentally protected area of secluded beaches and rocky slopes? All the while the sun sets around you melting into a swirl of red and orange on the horizon. Welcome to the Serifos Sunset Race experience.

Serifos Sunset Race Day 2015

Throughout the years I have been coming to Serifos, September has always been the best time.  Less crowds, beautiful weather, near empty beaches and a warm inviting sea.  So, when grey skies and stormy clouds loomed above as race participants arrived on the island that Friday night, I was hoping for a change.


Race on a Greek Island

What makes this race unique over the new up and coming Greek island races is that it takes off during the sunset hour.

We gathered on the main island road that hovers above the beautiful Vagia beach, a beach tucked between the characteristic rocky slopes of the Cyclades.  The weather gods smiled down on Serifos just in time for the race.  A rain-free sky with streaks of pretty clouds was back lit by a strong sun that seemed ready color the horizon.

It was just those hills!  It was my second time running the Serifos Sunset Race 5K so I should have been more prepared for them.  In the end, we all ran under a beautiful sky that morphed into a blaze of gold and orange by the time we reached the finish line.

Serifos Sunset Finish Line

The finish line ended right on one of the best beaches on the island.  As runners dashed to the end, the Vagia beach party grew.  There were snacks, refreshments, good music, happy crowds and a great view. Much of the running crowd jumped right into the sea for refreshing post-race swim.

Stef and I participated in the first Serifos race, three years ago, to support “our” island as Athenian locals, and our good friends were organizing what was then a novel new idea.

More on the Island Race Travel Trend

During the Serifos Sunset Race weekend, my CNN travel article about how the Greek island races are really the next big thing was published. You can find it here.  I’m quite proud of how the Serifos race has grown in a few years. This year it attracted almost 200 participants compared to 50 folks in the first year.  Plus, there were swimming races added to the roster and other sponsored events, like the beach party.

calma ssr swim races
gathering to watch the swimming competitions

As I wrote in the CNN piece, there are now a circuit of island races that range in size and scenery. If you love running, this is certainly one great way to discover Greece.  You can check Runningreece website (in English) for a list of all of them throughout the country.


I’ve ran a few races in Athens which were all great. I’ve also run in the Spetses Mini-Marathon, the oldest in the race circuit and the largest. Overall, the island races have a more intimate feel and well – they are the Greek islands; a perfect getaway experience.

Race on a Greek island by signing up here! Or online...
Race on a Greek island by signing up here! Or online…

How to Get to Serifos

The only way to travel to Serifos is by ferry or private boat/yacht. The island does not have an airport.

The frequency of ferries depends on the season. Ferries leave from the port of Piraeus in Athens.  The trip lasts anywhere from 2.5 to 5.5 hours, depending on if you book a seat on a fast or slow ferry. For updated ferry schedules check www.openseas.gr.  I usually take the SpeedRunner which is about a 2.5 hour journey (45-50 Euro each way).

There are regular connections to the other west Cyclades, including Milos, Kythnos and Sifnos.

Where to Stay in Serifos

High End: Rizes Hotel is a four-star hotel with a beautiful pool, individual plunge pools, a great view, excellent buffet breakfast and a beautiful view to the Chora and the Aegean Sea. From €100 a night, depending on the season.  Coco-Mat, the luxury Greek brand, also has a small boutique hotel right on Vagia beach.

Mid-Range: The Livadi is ideal for a convenient stay, especially for those without a car. You’d be within walking distance to everything: beaches, eateries, nightlife and the ferries. For an atmospheric apartment stay with lovely amenities, I recommend Indigo  and Aliktypo Studios. From €80 a night, depending on the season.

Basic: For a basic clean rooms, no frills, I recommend Ms. Lambrini’s Cavo d’Oro (+30 2281 051160). From €50 a night, depending on the season.

More on what do to and see in Serifos — check more posts on this blog! Click here.

Have you ever traveled to race on a Greek island? Or any island in the world?

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