THE ISLAND OF SERIFOS, HOMELAND OF PERSEUS, CYCLOPS, AND MEDUSA.
Serifos island is shrouded in myths and secrets. The famous hero Perseus grew up here, who later, with the head of Medusa, turned the cruel king Polydectes and his courtiers into stone, and, later, blinded the famous Cyclops Polyphemus.
Nowadays, you can find these mythic heroes in the names of many hotels, taverns, bars. We even had a WI-FI code in our hotel – Perseus.
The island of Serifos is one of the pearls of the Aegean Sea and the Cyclades Archipelago, a place for those who are looking for something that goes beyond the usual famous resorts. Although Serifos island is called the younger sister of Mykonos and Santorini, it is not affected by tourism. The first thing that catches your eye when you get closer to the island is its mountain terrains, with very little greenery, landscape, painted in the color of ocher. Then on the horizon you can see a small lively port town of Livadi appearing and at the top of the mountain, hovering over the whole island, is the main administrative center, the capital of Serifos – Chora.
Serifos is an amazing island for those who try to achieve complete solitude with nature, to feel real freedom and relax the body and soul. The island is perfect for holidays with children or for romantic couples (as we are?), but Serifos could be a little bit “boring” for young people. This is also a perfect destination for the weekend tours, as Serifos is located not far from Athens.
HOW TO GET TO SERIFOS
Getting to Serifos is quite easy and it was one of the reasons why I chose Serifos for my three-day mini vacation. Both the high-speed ferries (about two and a half hours) and the cheaper but slower ferries (about four hours) depart several times a day from the main port of Piraeus in Athens.
Serifos island is linked by ferry also to other the Cycladic islands, such as Folegandros, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Koufonissi, Kythnos, Milos, Paros, Santorini, Sifnos, Sikinos, Syros. Therefore, it is a great opportunity to make a multi-islands trip, if your time allows.
Check the ferries schedule on www.viva.gr
To get to the island of Serifos, we used a high-speed ferry SEA JET, and we back with a slow ferry ZANTE FERRIES. What can I say (it’s my own opinion) – we definitely liked the slower one, less swayed, less cold inside from the air conditioner as it was in SEA JET (guys, we really froze inside SEA JET but we stayed warm using our beach towels?) and we got just amazing seats overlooking the sea. By the way, we took our VESPA bike with us from Athens, in order to explore the island better. You can rent also a motorbike, a bicycle, a quad bike or a car on the spot.
WHERE TO STAY IN SERIFOS
Most apartments and hotels are located in the port area of Livadi but don’t expect many options, therefore it is better to book your accommodation in advance.
Despite the small stream of tourism, there are several luxurious residences and villas on the island. Take a look at the Coco – Mat Eco Residences and the Theros Five Villa on Vagia Beach (the first non smoking beach in Europe) or the Serifos Dream Houses on Ganema Beach.
You will find a greater variety of villas between Livadi and Megalo Livadi areas with a stunning view of the Sea or located right on the beach front. Don’t worry, you can reach any villa or apartment by taxi from the main port or by renting a car.
For our stay, I chose a cozy small hotel called “Cristi rooms” within walking distance from the port and with a panoramic view from the balcony of the main city and port! In the hotel we were met by the hospitable hostess Stamatina and got a key to our room No4. The room was not big, painted and decorated in Cycladic style but with a spacious balcony. It had all amenities: a private bathroom, a small fridge and TV, an air-condition, a mirror and some chairs….wait…what is it? A Queen size bed? Yep, after our King size bed at home, we slept like Honeymooners near each other but it was ok!
By the way, a sweet surprise was expecting us on each pillow and an iron ore (if I am not mistaken) neck pendant on the bedside table. It was so sweet! You can also have a breakfast at the hotel but we decided not to book it, in order to sleep longer.
There was a parking lot and Livadakia Beach just few steps behind our hotel. What is also a BIG plus for our hotel.
WHERE TO EAT AND WHAT TO TRY IN SERIFOS
In local taverns you can try a lot of interesting dishes that are not preparing in any other region of Greece. A very popular meat delicacy is louza – small slices of dried pork, richly flavored with spices. Vegetarians will surely like revifada, a common chickpea dish. The important components of the national gastronomy are various cheeses. With some varieties they bake incredibly delicious cakes. Serifos island produces very tasty honey, on the basis of which local sweets are prepared. Be sure to get a jar of honey from wild lavender. Serifos island is also famous for its almonds. Douring your meals try the local dry white and pink wine, they are really good.
So, where you can taste the best dishes in Serifos?
First, let’s start with breakfast. As I told you before, we didn’t get the breakfast deal at our hotel, so we ate out in town.
In our first morning, we took off to Chora to have our breakfast, and at the same time to stroll around the town. We visited one of the most popular cafes Stou Stratou on the main square. The cafe is located in a historic building with a very friendly atmosphere. The most important thing is to hurry up and find a table in the shade. We had a pretty good and tasty breakfast, orange juices and cold coffees. The service was fast and the owner of the cafe was very nice and attentive. We recommend it 100% for your breakfast in Serifos island.
On our second day we decided to go for breakfast closer to the sea in our port town of Livadi. Most cafeterias are located at the waterfront and many tables are right next to the emerald waters of Serifos. To my surprise, ALL cafes provide breakfasts and have pretty good choices. Most importantly, to be lucky enought (as we were?) to get a table closer to the sea.
We chose the Passaggio café, as I had read good reviews about it. We got our rich American breakfast for 10 euro per person with small extra 2 euro for cold special coffee. I really liked everything.
For lunch, you can choose one of the taverns located near the most famous beaches. Since we had quite hearty breakfasts, we skipped lunch and mostly visited the taverns and restaurants for dinner.
On the first evening, of course, we went to the fish tavern. We were advised to go to the Kalis Seafood Restaurant not far from our hotel. Good thing that we came early, because after 9 pm all the tables were already booked. You can choose fresh fish for grilling or order dishes from the menu. We chose the fish Fagri (which I advise) and it was grilled very tasty. Be sure to try their appetizers and mezes. If you order fresh fish, salad and several starters, count on an average bill of about 100 Euros for two people (without alcohol drinks).
On the second evening we chose the restaurant Metalleio overlooking the city. The restaurant was a higher level than the previous on, the menu – not rich, but quite original. The meat was cooked perfectly but the sauces were a little bit specific, so, this place is up on you.
In general, I have to mention, that Serifos island is a very “tasty” island and there is really a wide variety of places where you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Oh, do not forget the dessert. In Livadi area, we found several pastry shops and a rather large variety of ice cream.
WHAT TO DO IN SERIFOS
Although the island of Serifos is not the most hyped tourist island, you can’t even imagine how many things you can do and see here.
So, let’s see what to do in Serifos…
As soon as we arrived on the island, first of all we decided to explore Serifos by our VESPA. Guys, I cannot explain you a sense of freedom that we have experienced. You feel like on a desert island, only you, the sea and the rocky island. Unforgettable emotions! For more than an hour of our ride, we did not see either a single car or a human. Total privacy with a nature.
So, my advice is to rent a car or a motorbike in order to “feel” the island better. You can easy find some rent a car companies in Livadi or book online in advance.
Another way to stroll Serifos island is hiking. You will find endless trails everywhere on the island, but do not forget about comfortable shoes and a hat on your head.
Be sure to visit the capital of Serifos – Chora, where we headed on the second day! The town is conventionally divided into lower and upper Chora. The old castle is partially preserved here, it is located on a high hill and is surrounded by many very diverse buildings. The beautiful church of St. Konstantinos is one of them, where we strolled for about an hour, as we could not admire the panoramic views of the sea and the closest islands.
By walking through the narrow streets, you will reach the main square Agiou Athanasiou around which is also a lot of interesting historical monuments. Such as the 17-th century Metropolitan church, the building of the old Town Hall and several cafeterias, open right in the historical buildings. The last ones caused me complete delight, as each café had its own colorful color of tables and chairs, it was a real rainbow! Do not forget to find the windmills, although they are not operating, it is a local landmark….
I advise you also to visit the Monastery of Taxiarches or at least make a stop near it, as we did to admire its power. This is, by the way, one of the treasures of the island. The monastery is located near the village of Galani and the road from Livadi took us about 40 minutes. This is a functioning monastery, but visitors, especially women, are not allowed to visit it every day and only at certain hours. The monastery, dedicated to the archangels Michael and Gabriel, the patron saint of the island, is very beautiful. We were delighted with its defensive white-painted walls with bas-reliefs and frescoes. The locals say that inside the monastery is even more beautiful and impressive; it’s a pitty we didn’t manage to get inside.
It is worth visiting the ruins of an ancient fortress the White Tower, near Megalo Livadi, supposedly built around the 4th – 3th centuries BC. Nowadays you can admire only the remains of the walls and foundation of the once magnificent fortress.
Do you remember, that Cyclops lived on Serifos? So, in one of day we went in search of the famous “Throne of Cyclops” (Are you a fan of the “Games of Thrones” as I am?) or Psaropyrgos. I must point out, the road there was not the easy one. This place is located near the Monastery Evaggelistrias. As soon as you drive off the main road towards Megalo Livani, a dirt road begins. It was not the most pleasant driving, so we decided to leave the bike near the Monastery and continue walking. We walked, walked, walked and finally, we got to a huge structure about 9 meters high. For centuries locals believed that such a tall building was simply impossible to build by a human. From the “Throne of Cyclops” we watched just a fascinating sunset…
If you have more days on Serifos, stroll through the ancient village of Koutalas, where the ruins of the Kastro tis Grias fortress are preserved. Literally, the name translates as the “Old Woman’s Fortress”. We managed to see it only from afar.
Nearby you can find an outstanding natural landmark – the Cyclops Cave.
While exploring the island you will repeatedly encounter remnants of the mines and equipment that look, from the one side, fascinating but from other, a bit frightening. In the 11th century, iron ore was actively mining on the island. The slaves used to work here, until they temporarily closed the mines in the Roman era. They were reopened in the Venetian times, however, due to the frequent of pirated the mines had been closed again. They were reopened again after the Greek revolution but again there were terrible working conditions and after a great fight between the strikers and the police (four people were killed) work in the mines slowly subsided. However, the residents of Serifos island don’t forget their fights and in Megalo Livadi you will find a memorial to the miners.
Want to see more? Be sure to visit the Archaeological Museum, the local Folklore Museum in Chora, as well as the Schiller School in the village of Megalo Livadi.
Don’t miss many festivals and concerts that take place in Serifos in the summer, and especially in August. For example, the festival “Ktitores”, where all visitors are treated with local cheeses, salads and wine.
THE BEST BEACHES IN SERIFOS
Almost the last point, but the most important one is, of course, the best beaches in Serifos , which are worth visiting.
Did you know that there are officially forty beaches on the island? but the locals number them at about seventy-two! With blue and turquoise water, shallow and deep, sandy and pebbly, organized and wild, in general, for every taste.
The main beaches of the island you can reach on foot, by bus (from Livadi port), by taxi or by boats.
Serifos Scuba Divers Club is located in Livadi, where you can order a dive on a selected set, rent diving equipment or undergo training in the basics of scuba diving with issuing an international license that will allow you to dive anywhere in the world.
The first beach we visited was Livadakia beach, right behind our hotel. The long sandy beach with turquoise waters and trees in a row for a shadow is perfect for spending a whole day on the beach. There you will find also several taverns and free sun beds.
Another closest sandy beach to the village of Livadi is Avlomonas beach, very popular among families with children. On the beach area you will find many bars, taverns and apartments/hotels with umbrellas and sun beds, but as for me Livadakia beach is much more beautiful and cleaner.
You defiantly have to visit Psili Ammos beach. It is the “famous” beach, which was twice recognized as the best beach of the entire European coast. The beach located a short drive from Livadi, and most often crowded with tourists and locals, especially at weekends. The beach is surrounded by a tamarisk grove, and on the coast there are several restaurants and taverns (well known for tasty fish and seafood dishes).
Agios Sostis beach is another quite popular place, mostly among young people. There is a quite large parking, just 500 meters from the beach. Many tourists are attracted by this sandy beach interspersed with small pebbles and its secluded bay hidden from the winds and high waves with natural shade.
Agios Ioannis beach is located near the beach of Psili Ammos. It is surrounded by tamarisk trees as well, and due to the high waves and the deep sea, it is popular among active tourists.
Sikamia beach is a secluded unorganized sandy and pebble beach located on the northwest coast, not far from the historical village of Galani. This is one of the largest beaches of Serifos. Due to the difficult road it is not easy to access it. Since it was rather windy, we just took some photos, shot a couple of videos against it and went further.
Mega Livadi is located on the southwest coast of Serifos. Right on the shore, you can see abandoned industrial buildings, rusty trolleys and rails leading to the mines. Such an unusual open-air museum attracts an additional tourists to this place, so the beach is always quite crowded.
Vagia Beach is located on the southern coast of Serifos. One of the most popular beaches of the island due to its convenient location and the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. The beach is included in the list of protected objects of the environmental organization Natura 2000, which monitors the preservation of the natural territory, controls the buildings and monitors the state of the environment. By the way, this is the first beach in Europe, where smoking is prohibited and the famous Coco -Mat Eco Residences Serifos hotel is located here.
Ganema beach is a wide beach, on which glittering pebbles, golden sand and colorful shells mixed. It is one of the quietest beaches on the island and the best place to meet the sunsets.
Koutalas beach is a long sandy beach located in the southwestern part of the island, opposite the village of Kutalas. On the left side there are pebbles, and on the right side it sandier.
If you have more days on the island, you can also visit the following beaches: Alevrakia, Aspros, Kavos, Avessalos, Gialoudi, Kalo Ampeli, Kalogeros, Karavas, Karavi, Lia, Malliadiko, Skala and much more.
NIGHTLIFE AND SHOPPING IN SERIFOS
This is a mostly relaxed island. So nightlife in Serifos is a chilled and it’s mainly concentrated in the harbor are of Livadi port. For good cocktails check such places as the Shark Bar and the Yacht Club Serifos.
If you want to reach new “heights”, go to the main town Chora to a cute little Cycladic bar the Aerino where you can enjoy great drinks and funky music. Just be sure to find a place on the terrace.
Do not expect for some grand shopping in Serifos, but you will find several nice boutiques with handicrafts in Livadi area or in Chora.
Serifos is an island of natural beauty for tourists who managed to see the most famous parts of Greece and are now looking for something special. Still far from mass tourism, Serifos island managed to preserve the traditional character and unspoiled landscapes. It is equally good for families and couples, active tourists and lovers of contemplative holidays – for all this the island of Serifos received the unofficial title of the “island of contrasts”.
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