Serifos is an “undiscovered” Greek island where the top things to do revolve around appreciating its undeveloped wild landscape, stunning beaches and authentic Cycladic island atmosphere.
Authentic, Wild and Beautiful: Serifos Island
Most international travelers have not heard of Serifos, a small island in the west Cyclades. It’s a dry island with lovely hills and beautiful whitewashed sugar cube houses dotting the landscape, just like its famous island chain sisters Mykonos and Santorini.
I really love that Serifos is calm and quiet, and it isn’t touristic. It does have a tourism season with great things to do, but I’ve never felt crowded here. It is a simple Greek island getaway.
Most of the visitors are Greek and French, some Italian. It’s very rare to hear American accents or any type of English accent. It always kind of takes me by surprise when I do. To sum it up, one American tourist who hopped off the ferry asked me which island she was standing on and realized it was the wrong one!
The fact is some Greek islands, like Serifos, aren’t on the international travel circuit, and that’s totally fine. Serifos manages to keep its wild charm which makes it a great option for travelers looking for an authentic Greek island that has not been hit by mass tourism or commercialism.
While I have blogged many times about the culture of Serifos, as well as things to do and see, I’ve never summed it all up in one post. So, here we go with my top 10 list of things to do on Serifos island.
Top Things to Do on Serifos Island
Head to the Beaches of Serifos
Serifos has truly lovely beaches, and they are by far the island’s best asset. I always advise people that enjoying the “unspoiled” beaches are one of the top things to do on Serifos.
The island isn’t so “developed” like other islands that boast major restaurants backed by fancy names. There aren’t any sparkling trendy beach bars or any beach bars for that matter! While dining at impressive restaurants and hanging out at island beach parties are definitely fun, it’s just not what Serifos has and I have come to love that.
The beaches are pretty much just as nature left them. We go prepared. If we know there isn’t a beach cantina to grab a cold drink or taverna for a meal nearby, we simply pack a cooler of sandwiches and drinks and spend the day in peace and quiet.
I compiled a comprehensive list of all of the beaches to suit your beach style at: Best Beaches of Serifos. Just beware of the meltemi (summer winds). Depending on where they are blowing, there may be some beaches that are better to visit than others on that day.
Walk to the Best View of Serifos
If you love walking to great views, it happens to be one of the top things to do on Serifos. The hilltop Chora (main town) of Serifos was once built inside a Venetian fortress, to protect locals from pirates.
There isn’t much of that wall left but you can walk through what remains and have wonderful photo opportunities at the same time. The view on the short hike up is simply stunning. I always appreciate it when I’ve made it to the viewing point.
For more on this experience and tips, check out my post: The Venetian Castle of Serifos
Get Lost in Serifos Chora
Throughout the Cyclades one of the unique things you can do is get “lost” in the fantastic whitewashed villages. In Serifos, the whitewashed Chora is unique because it cascades down a mountain side. The Chora is divided into two sections: pano and kato (upper and lower).
In the Pano Chora you’ll find the Venetian fortress (mentioned above) and it leads down to Pano Piatsa (upper square), a main square with a historic neoclassical dimarheio (town hall) and Agios Athanasios church. There are also wonderful cafes and a shops around the square to check out.
In the lower part, called Kato Chora, you can simply walk through and admire the Cycladic style architecture and see locals going about their daily business. The houses are tiny and incredibly cute! You may even peep in a few — if the windows or doors are wide open. The Church of Evangelistria is also located in Kato Chora.
In Chora, donkeys are used to move luggage, heavy items or building materials throughout the small cobbled lanes and steps. Stop at some point for a scenic coffee break, visit the small Folklore Museum of Serifos, pop into the traditional brick oven bakery or stop in one of the few tiny gift shops to buy local products to take home.
For full details on what you will find in Serifos’ fantastic and unique Chora, read my post: The Cascading Chora.
Hike the Mining Caves of Serifos
Rich in ore and minerals, the island was once home to a mining industry that thrived. The mining trail is one of my favorite hikes and one of the top things to do on Serifos.
The rusted out remains of this era are literally spread out over a lush field by a beach, proof the mining town once bustled with activity. Follow the mining trail and walk among rusty old mining cars, train tracks and broken but scenic rail car bridges.
For more on this experience and tips visit: Hiking the Mining Caves of Serifos.
Hike the Monopati of Serifos
Serifos is a favorite for European hikers. I often see them trekking it from beach to beach (just a few kilometers) rather than waiting for a bus. Still, I couldn’t do that in the summer heat!
Besides taking beach treks or the hiking the mining caves you can also experience another great hike called the Monopati.
The Monopati refers to the old trail that the mining worker community used walk to work, at the aforementioned mining caves. That view… stunning.
For more on this experience check out my post: Hiking the Monopati Trail in Serifos.
Enjoy the Quiet Greek Beach Taverna
Another one of the top things to do on Serifos is to sit back and enjoy a lovely Greek meal with a beach view and peace and quiet. The island has a few wonderful quiet beach tavernas, each one run by a local family.
There are two on Psili Ammos beach, one is called Stefanakos and the other is Manolis. There are secluded scenic ones overlooking the quiet less frequented beaches named Sikamia and Plati Gialos.
On the western side of the island, I always love the sand at your toes atmosphere at the tavernas on Mega Livadi beach. There you’ll find Kyklopas which is next door to another called Marditsa.
Along Avlomonas beach in Livadi, there are several beach taverns to choose from as well.
Stroll Serifos Harbor at Night
Livadi is the harbor district of Serifos, and in the summer it is hopping from day to night. You’ll find kids playing in the streets, waiters rushing – dodging the slow summer car traffic – to and from each restaurant kitchen to the waterfront dining tables.
Definitely head to the Yacht Club (a Serifos institution) for a drink at night or dancing. It has a fun atmosphere and where everyone gathers. The DJs play funk, rock and some pop. Also, head to nearby Shark for nice balcony seating outdoors and for dancing indoors too.
Pano Piatsa by Midnight
The other main nightlife hub is the aforementioned Pano Piatsa, the main square of Pano Chora.
By midnight, in the summer, most of the seats will be taken. It is full of energy as families, couples and groups of friends all share laughs over a bottle of rakomelo (honey infused Greek spirit) or mezes (Greek appetizers) or just people watch. Sitting in the square late at night is one of the most authentic and beautiful Greek summer atmospheres you can find in the Cyclades.
Discover the Churches of Serifos
Driving or hiking around the island, like many other islands in the Cyclades, you’ll bump into beautiful gleaming whitewashed Greek Orthodox churches. There are more than 100!
The most important monastery, which you can visit, is the 16th-century Monastery of Taxiarches near Galani village, pictured below.
Try the Local Serifian Specialties
Another one of the top things to do on Serifos is to try the local dishes. The island has some excellent restaurants and tavernas.
Ask for dishes that incorporate local foods like marathotiganita (fennel fritters), local soft white cheese called ksinomizithra and kapari (local capers), apaki (cured pork), and sun-dried tomatoes.
Check to see if any delicious homemade pastaki Serifou (Serifian pie) is left. This dessert either made with chocolate pudding or fruity gelatin. Delicious!
For a full rundown of the best restaurants in Serifos to visit check out my earlier post: Best Restaurants in Serifos.
Fun Facts About Serifos
- Serifos is associated with one of the greatest heroes of mythology: Odysseus, the young hero turned king.
- The Cyclops, the famous one-eyed giant from Greek mythology, was said to live in its caves.
- You have surely have heard of Medusa? Well, this is her island. According to Greek mythology, she had the face of a beautiful woman but snakes instead of hair. Anyone who looked into her eyes would immediately turned to stone.
- Serifos was once called the “iron island” due to its rich natural ore.
- A frog was imprinted on the first currency coins of the island. You may see this symbol as you explore Serifos.
- Serifos is included in the Natura 2000 network of the European Union to protect the island’s rich fauna and flora.
- Psili Ammos is an accredited Blue Flag beach meaning it has met strict criteria for beautiful clear and clean waters.
- Serifos is on the Greek island races map thanks to its beautiful landscape. Check out the article I wrote for CNN Travel: Running the Greek Islands.
How to Get to Serifos
To get to the Greek islands, many international travelers arrive by air, usually with a change in Athens or another major city. There are some direct seasonal flights to certain island destinations too. You can find the best flight deals with Vayama.
The only way to travel to Serifos is by ferry or private boat/yacht from the port of Piraeus in Athens. 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
Boutique: 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. 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.
Have you been to Serifos? I’d love to hear what you did and saw. Please feel free to comment by scrolling down to the comment box below.