Going solo to a Greek island is one of my favorite things to do in Greece. I tend to go for more extended periods of time and travel slower as a solo traveler. However, deciding what to do when making all the decisions as a solo traveler can be daunting.
Sifnos island is a great Greek island to go solo on. Sifnos is located in the Cycladic island chain in Greece and is about a two-and-a-half-hour fast ferry ride from the port of Piraeus near Athens. Making it an ideal destination for a solo trip that is easy to reach from Athens. Several nearby islands, such as Serifos and Milos, would make for excellent next stops on a Greek island-hopping adventure.
The island of Sifnos is known for its hiking trails, gastronomy, stunning villages, many churches, and beautiful beaches. You will never run out of things to do in Sifnos. Here are all the things I recommend to do in Sifnos as a solo traveler.
Solo Things to Do in Sifnos
Visit the Capital Village of Apollonia
Apollonia is the stunning capital village of Sifnos and the largest village on the island. It is located in the island’s center and is easily reached by bus or car. The village is ideal for taking striking photos of Cycladic architecture and many classic Greek Orthodox churches.
Besides taking photos in Apollonia, Sifnos, there are several other things to do there. Walk the “Steno” (narrow in Greek) that runs the length of the village. On this walk you can shop, have a bite to eat and admire the beauty. Make sure to walk the steno in the evening as that is when it comes alive with locals and tourists alike. After dinner, you can sit at a rooftop bar to see all the action from above.
Make sure to stop at Maria’s shop for the cutest handmade backpacks. Kyria Maria has been handmaking bags in this tiny shop upstairs for 27 years. The quality is excellent, and they make a great gift for someone back home. You will see it on the right when heading up from the bus stop on the Steno.
Swim at Kamares Beach
As you arrive on the ferry to Sifnos, you will see a long beach in the port. This is Kamares Beach, the largest beach on Sifnos. While this beach isn’t as beautiful as some on the island, I enjoyed swimming here. It is also a great place to people-watch and relax.
Sifnos beaches are not as organized as some islands in the Cyclades, so be sure to bring your own beach towels and find a shade tree at Kamares. Some sunbeds exist, but I loved sitting on the sand under the trees.
Visit Chrysopigi Monastery
Chrysopigi Monastery is in a picturesque location on the southeast part of Sifnos. You will see that there is a split in the rocks. Legend has it that when nuns lived at the Monastery in the Middle Ages, they would hide when pirates invaded. One nun didn’t leave in time and prayed for the Virgin Mary’s help. The island split, making the pirates fall into the sea.
The church is tiny but is beautiful. Make sure to look up to see the chandeliers make of tiny ships. Keep in mind that at Greek churches, you need to be modestly dressed so wear a shirt with sleeves and maybe some longer shorts.
Relax at Apokofto Beach
Right next to Chyrsopigi Monastery, is a small tree-lined beach that is great for swimming. You can walk from the monastery if you want or drive down the road. Keep in mind that the parking area is not paved but is well-packed sand.
There are some rocks on the beach and in the water, but once you get past them, the water gets deep enough to swim quickly. It is a refreshing place to cool off. Chrysopigi Taverna, at the end of the beach, also serves a nice lunch. Can’t beat a seaside taverna, in my opinion.
Visit the Kastro
This once walled village offers panoramic sea views and narrow alleyways to explore. A village has been at the hilltop Kastro location since prehistoric times. While the biggest thing to do in the village is to admire its beauty and charm, there are a few things to check out here.
In the summer, there is a small gallery that hosts local artists. It is located in a government building with blue shutters. It is right next to where the bus drops you off. Then you can walk around and see a few of the small shops in the village.
For a small village, there are plenty of churches to explore. Depending on the time of day, they may or may not be open, so you may have just to be happy with seeing the outside. If you come in the evening, be sure to stop at the Kaovos Sunrise bar for a €5 drink and a spectacular view of the sunset, or if you stay long enough, sunrise!
Hike to the Church of the Seven Martyrs
Walking through Kastro, you may have caught a glimpse of the Church of the Seven Martyrs. This small church sits on an islet right on the edge of Sifnos.
At one of the hotels I stayed at in Kamares, the receptionist told me there weren’t always stairs to the church, and you had to scramble down the rocks if you wanted to visit! Now, there are stairs that are pretty easy to hike, even if it looks a bit scary.
Be sure to take photos of the church from Kastro as well. Visiting during the golden hour before sunset is good as it is cooler and the light is fantastic.
Get Lost in Artemonas
This quiet but equally beautiful village is worth a stroll for its scenery. Every corner reveals another pretty house or charming door. If you walk all the way to the top of this only slightly hilly village, you will be rewarded with views of the Aegean and a classic Greek windmill!
Artemonas has several great places to eat and serves as the home to the Gastronomy Festival, which happens in September every year. The festival dates change yearly, so check the dates before you book your tickets. But it is not to be missed as Sifnos has some amazing local specialties.
As I mentioned above, Sifnos has many wonderful foods to try. One food to try is Mastelo. It is slow-cooked lamb, usually cooked in a clay pot. Because it is slow-cooked, it falls off the bone and is extremely tender. Not every restaurant will offer it, though, because it takes so long, but try to find one that does.
Swim at Faros Beach
Here is another one of Sifnos’ amazing beaches. Faros is a small village near Chrysopigi and offers two small beaches separated only by a spit of land. Each of them makes up Faros Beach. There are some trees to offer shade and a few tavernas for your lunch.
If you haven’t rented a car, Faros Beach is accessible by bus, but the timings may be limited. Be sure to check before you go, or you will have to hitchhike back, as I discovered when two French people asked me for a ride.
Look for Ancient Towers
Ancient towers dot the island of Sifnos from north to south and east to west. Only a few are discernable as towers at first glance, and some are just a pile of ancient stones.
These 77 towers were built for communication, and now, each year, 50 days after Orthodox Easter, residents trek to them to light signal fires in the early evening. Each tower was round and has been mentioned in several books as early as 1718.
Many of the towers are located on hiking paths that are all over the island. However, I don’t recommend hiking solo, so look for the ones near the roads. Many are marked with archaeological brown signs in Greek and English.
Watch the Sunset at Kamares Beach
Kamares Beach is the best spot on the island to watch the sunset. The sunset is right between the two points, and the colors are amazing. Make sure to watch for some time after the sun goes down. I recommend staying about 30 minutes after to get the best results.
There are several bars and restaurants along the beach so that you can have a glass of wine or beer with your sunset. See below for my restaurant recommendations.
Admire All the Churches
Blue and white churches abound on the island. And unlike on some islands, they are easy to get to in Sifnos. They won’t all be open, though. It is worth going by the ones you find interesting to see if they are though. When I was in Apollonia last, one was open as they were doing some work that isn’t normally open. I found out that it was actually a private church. Private churches in Greece are common, and most are pretty small.
Enjoy Platis Gialos Beach
This long beach is a great place to spend the day. The Platis Gialos beach has soft golden sand, and the water is nice and deep enough to swim. There are plenty of tavernas serving food, so you can have lunch there as well. Many of them will have sunbeds for rent. Make sure to ask the price before you sit, though. Some are expensive, so it’s best to check first.
Walk to the Other Side of Kamares Beach
At the other end of Kamares Beach is Agia Marina. While it isn’t a true village, it offers some great views of Kamares, especially if you walk to the end of the road near the exit of the bay. It also is a great place to watch the sunset.
You can walk up the stairs to a small church for another view. It is a nice area to take photos of some of the traditional houses and there are a few hotels on this side if you want a really quiet vacation.
Take a Day Sail
Sifnos has so many small islands surrounding it that it is worth taking a day sail. One of the most popular places to go is Poliegos. This uninhabited island is stunningly beautiful and has crystal-clear water to swim in. Other options include Milos, Kimolos, and hard-to-reach beaches on Sifnos.
It is important to note that many of the day sails leave from Platis Gialos not Kamares. If it is for an all-day sail, they leave in the morning and return in the evening. Make sure to plan how you will get there. If you haven’t rented a car, check the bus schedule or arrange a taxi through your hotel.
Shop for Pottery
Sifnos has a long history of pottery production. There are shops in all the villages. A piece of pottery makes a great Sifnos souvenir or gift for loved ones back home. And if you find a piece you can’t fit in your suitcase, most shops will ship it to you.
Where to Eat in Sifnos
Given Sifnos’ reputation for gastronomy, there are so many great restaurants to eat at. I have been to Sifnos three times now, so I have had a chance to eat at many of these restaurants.
This small beachfront restaurant at the Agia Marina end of Kamares beach has a gourmet twist on classic Greek food. The food was outstanding, and the sunset view was the best on the island.
Much of Kafenes’ menu is from local sources and is classic Greek food. This place was highly recommended by several locals and visitors when I was there. The food was great, with excellent wine. It also offers a great view of the sunset.
Kafenes is located inside Hotel Boulis. I highly recommend reservations here, which can be made by dropping by the day before.
One can’t help but be stopped by the charm of this kafeneio right in the heart of Apollonia. Everything I ate here was excellent. While they had many traditional Greek dishes, they also had a local spin on things. Definitely try one of the outstanding salads! Go early if you don’t want to wait for a table or food.
I had a fabulous salad at this restaurant. It also offers great views of Apollonia and Artemonas. Botzi 93 also has great cocktails and would be a great place to have an after dinner drink!
This family-run taverna grows much of what they prepare in the garden right next to the seating area. They serve traditional Greek dishes and specialize in Sifnos dishes. The restaurant is located deep in the village, and walking there feels like you are walking to a friend’s house for dinner. Even the atmosphere felt like someone’s home, with the neighbor’s goats bleating as the sun goes down.
Moasico Cafe is a meze place, so it is best with others. However, I found a few small dishes to order to create an amazing meal on my own. Everything looked amazing, and I loved sitting and watching people walk by the restaurants with their families and friends.
Where to Stay in Sifnos
These luxury residences are located near the village of Exambela. Each residence has a kitchen, one of them has a private pool, and one has a jacuzzi. The property offers stunning views of the village of Kastro.
The residences each have a private entrance as well as a semi-private patio. Sigma Residences has a pool that overlooks the valley with an infinity edge, so you get the amazing view. There is also an outdoor gym if you want to get a workout with a view.
The service at Sigma is top-notch as well. They can bring you a breakfast basket upon request and stock the kitchen (for a fee) before your arrival. And, of course, they can arrange transportation around the island for you. You will not want for anything while at Sigma Residences.
This family run hotel is ideal if you are on a budget. It is located right next to Kamares beach, the bus stop and many restaurants. This means you could spend much of your time in Kamares relaxing and also with easy access to the public bus.
The hotel is a bit older but very clean and with extremely friendly staff. It is great for a longer stay as they have kitchens in the rooms and the rooms are good sized.
How to Get to Sifnos
Sifnos has no airport, so the only way to get there is by ferry. From Athens, there is both the slow and fast ferry to Sifnos. The slow ferry is very long, so I recommend the fast ferry if you are short on time. It only takes about 2 and a half hours from Piraeus.
How to Get Around Sifnos
Sifnos has a public bus system, but the schedule can be limiting. Your best bet is to rent a car. This way, you can explore where and when you want. When I went, I rented a car for only some of the days and took the bus for the others. I used the car on days I wanted to explore places the bus either didn’t go or didn’t go to frequently enough.
How Many Days Do You Need in Sifnos
Some say three days is enough in Sifnos, but I think you need five days to explore Sifnos fully. This also ensures that you have time to relax. I am not into rushing while I am on holiday, and Sifnos is definitely a place you want to relax and unwind on.
No matter how long you choose to spend on Sifnos, you won’t regret it. Sifnos is still yet undiscovered and maintains its lovely Greek charm with an amazing food scene. Spending you solo Greek vacation on Sifnos will be something you never forget!