Greece holidays in Serifos Island. A quintessentially Cycladic island of brilliant light, clear water and a refusal to change with time.
Some islands remain essentially unchanged. Compared with most of the islands in the Cyclades, Serifos is a holiday destination for those looking for something above and beyond the glittery facade of famous resorts of the Aegean. The landscape here varies with the light. If you like rugged countrysides, the seemingly fossilised shapes studding the hills will speak to you. In the port of Livadi, memories of older, more innocent times will come flooding back.
You’ll fall in love again at the beaches with their blue-green waters. Then there’s Hora, the island’s town, blindingly white as it pours down its conical hill. There is a special gravitas to this place, which awakens intense feelings. Those who seek out holidays untouched by mass tourism will feel it too.
What to do in Serifos
Take your pick: blue or green, shallow or deep waters, sand or pebbles, shaded or not, blessed by a chapel or outfitted with a taverna. Lia, Koutalas, Vagia, Ganema, Kalo Ambeli, Psili Ammos, Sykamia. You’ll need several summers to explore all 40 of Serifos’ officially recognised beaches – though the locals speak of 72 – unless you come by yacht.
Stairway to the castle
Whitewashed houses cling to each other as they perch on the rim of vertical rocks. Facing east, they seem to tumble down the slope, solid and fluid at once. They rest on the traces of the ancient town, referred to by Xenophon. A stairway leads higher and higher to the Venetian castle that encloses the chapels of Agia Varvara, the Saviour, Agios Konstandinos and Agios Ioannis. The view from here is stunning.
Upstairs-downstairs… in Hora
Greeks and foreigners bought and renovated many of the abandoned houses in the upper town – Ano Hora – and have brought them back to life. The main square, Pano Piatsa, is dominated by the church of Agios Athanasios and the neoclassical Town Hall. At night it becomes one big party as the tables fill with appetisers, ouzo, coffees and drinks. To avoid the heat, walk down to the lower town – Kato Hora – in early morning. It’s a Cycladic maze of whitewashed alleys and small courtyards and cascading bougainvillea, a startling contrast with the bare expanse of mountains beyond.
The mining museum
The open-air mining museum, and chats with former iron miners, will give you insights into the island’s main source of income in years past. At sunset, wander over to the impressive loading rig that juts out over Megalo Livadi bay. The hillside above it is rust-coloured, decorated with rails, wagons and old tunnel mouths.
Hidden gems of Serifos
The monastery of the Taxiarchs
Crenellations, battlements and high walls make it look more like a mediaeval castle. The most important monastery on the island, it was built in the 16th century and the view from the abbey is worth the visit.
The throne of Cyclops is at Cape Kyklopas, a spectacular location with a panoramic view of the southwestern side of the island. It really does look like a giant armchair and you can’t help but wonder: Just how did those seven huge carved boulders get up there?
View from above
Take the stone path the old miners used between the heliport and Hora at sunset and you’ll see a magical side to the island. This is the only spot where you can witness the town from above.