Top Reasons Why You Should Visit Serifos, Greece
The main town (Chora) on Serifos presents the picture-perfect image of a traditional Cycladic island | © freeartist / Alamy Stock Photo
Head to authentic Serifos for wild nature, abandoned mines, castles, vineyards, mythology and a classically Cycladic town oozing with Greek charm.
There’s so much to discover in the rugged hills of Serifos, where wild nature sprawls untouched over the hills and coastlines. Hike the peaceful island to abandoned mines, hilltop monasteries, ruined castles and the mythological Cyclops Throne. When you’re not exploring, tour wineries or drink frappés in the buzzing town square where white cubic houses – a classic site in the Cyclades – dot the hills. No doubt about it – Serifos is an authentic, wild island with secrets at every turn.
For the authentic old town
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The Chora (old town) is a cluster of white, cubic buildings climbing the rugged hillside: the picture-perfect image of a traditional Cycladic island. The town is perched above the port but with no airport or cruise ship dockings, Serifos has fewer visitors than other islands in the Cyclades. It’s a gorgeous, unspoiled example of authentic Greece. While away an evening in the atmospheric square where tables spill out of tavernas by the classic church, soaking up the perfect backdrop for a night of souvlaki and local wine.
Because the nature is wild
As a quiet island, most of the activity on Serifos is focused in and around Chora. The rest of the island is largely undiscovered and wild. Expect wonderful rural views: endless hills dotted with solitary white houses that seem to add to the vastness. Keep your eyes peeled for monk seals, dolphins, hedgehogs and eagles.
And that means great hiking
Church, Historical Landmark
Serifos’s hills are not signposted – it really is an island that’s yours to explore. When the weather is cool enough (we don’t recommend hiking here in the hot sun), walk from the port to Chora through rolling hills with fabulous island views at every step. Discover remote churches as you go, like Agios Konstantinos. There are over 100 dotted throughout the landscape.
To see the abandoned mines
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Serifos has a long, tumultuous history of mining that spans from ancient times. The trade brought wealth to the island over the years but, in 1916, workers held a strike because of poor working conditions. Police and miners clashed, resulting in deaths – and you can visit a moving memorial to those who lost their lives. The mine, in Megalo Livadi, is now abandoned, but you can still see it, including the old tracks and rusted carts. Immerse yourself with a stay in one of the stylishly renovated miners’ cottages.
To discover castles
Atop a hill overlooking Koutalas Bay, you’ll find Grias Castle. The Venetian structure now lies in ruin, but you can see the remains of buildings, defence walls and a Christian basilica. The name translates as “castle of the old woman”, and it was believed to protect the island’s trading ships. Due to its high position, it’s a beautiful place to watch the sun sink over the Aegean.
And this hillside impressive monastery
Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Monastery
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Rising above Galani village in northern Serifos, you’ll find this historic monastery built in 1572. The Monastery of Taxiarches is open to the public, so you can visit and learn about its tumultuous history, involving treasure storage and pirate raids, hence the unusual fortress-like architecture. Inside, find murals, sculptures, marble detailing and an impressive library.
You can explore the wild beaches
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If you’re looking for sunbed-strewn, music-pumping tourist beaches, then you should probably head elsewhere. The beaches on Serifos are mostly wild and remote with nothing but the sand, sea and hills that nature gave them. That’s what makes them so tantalising. Absorb the raw natural beauty of Greece at spots like Kalo Ampeli (south), Sikamia (north) and Agios Sostis. The latter is near the busy port town of Livadi, so it can get more crowded than others. Still, the nature is untouched, and the cliff jutting out to sea is a special sight with a small chapel perched on its rocks.
To sip organic local wine
Chrysoloras Winery not only offers wines as delicious as any in the world, it also promotes sustainability. Sit in the sunshine overlooking the beautiful vineyards that cascade down the hillsides and sip organic wines knowing the grapes are grown in a waterless, low-yield manner. Check out the building’s small exhibition space to learn about the processes and, of course, don’t miss the tasting room.
You can sit on the throne of mythology
Historical Landmark, Natural Feature
Take your place on a giant stone armchair-shaped structure and imagine yourself as the Cyclops who, legend has it, would sit there and look out to sea. You’ll see why when you check out that view; he had the best seat in the house. Further down the hill, find the Cave of the Cyclops, no longer accessible but once full of utensils and fossils according to the history books. The site is near Megalo Chorio. Beware: the road leading to it is a little tricky.
And you’ll definitely satisfy your sweet tooth
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Alongside the abundance of delectable seafood, meat and homemade stew offerings, Serifos is known for great amygdalota: sweets made from almond paste. The little nuggets are chewy and light, tasting similar to marzipan – and they go perfectly with a small, strong cup of Greek coffee.