This summer, the action in the Greek islands is in flux. Traditional destinations like Mykonos and Santorini have seen a massive spike in visitors, while other islands are still being discovered and brought to our attention. This is all good news for the traveler, as it opens up a new set of options and possibilities. And let’s face it; Greek islands are so nice, you want to see as many as possible, so why not indulge in the lost art of island hopping? Or at the very least, try to not get hung up about seeing Santorini and Mykonos. You’ll be more than rewarded. Aaand you’ll be able to show just how cool you are by spurning mainstream places in favor of more obscure ones, casually observing how last year Mykonos is, over a dinner party. Mmm, yes, rather, dahling!
So, then. Forget about romantic sunsets in between another thousand or so selfie stick wielding tourists. Forget about the 50 euro price of admission for an umbrella and two chaise longues. Forget about all the riff raff getting in your photos. Take a stand. Say enough is enough! I want my horiatiki sans the euro trash play by play commentary. I want a real slice of Greece, for me!
If that’s you, we say: good on ya, mate! And we’ll proceed to point you to the right direction; Sifnos!
Unlike most other islands, Sifnos does quite well without tourists, thank you very much. Sifnos does not cater to tourists. Tourism is seen as nothing more than a nifty bonus to subsidize their income. It is not your typical Greek island. People live, and work there. And they do so willingly. Main occupations? Farming and pottery. Your main occupation? Eating your way through the island’s fish reserves and acquiring a nice crimson hue.
Sifnos is the home of Nikos Tselemntes-the first Greek celebrity chef back some 80 years ago-and predictably has a robust culinary tradition that includes a very healthy obsession with chickpeas. I mean, Sifnians love it. There is a dizzying amount of varieties of chickpea soup, chick pea mash, chickpea pie in the oven and so on. You get the picture. Chickpeas good! That’s not to say they eat nothing else. Heck no. Meats and fishes are all part of the menu, and while you’re unlikely to savour the transcendent Naxian or Cretan cuisine, you really can’t go wrong in any part of Greece when it comes to food. Omega3 restaurant in Exabela village does molecular seafood, so yeah. If its good enough for Tom Hanks, its good enough for us plebs.
But the truth is that Sifnos’s tranquility will leave you in a state of deep trance; food will just be food. You’ll be wanting to enjoy the other sensory experiences; birds chirping, the smell of oranges and the sea, the mystical sunset and the utter sense of peace that comes with a Greek holiday experience.
As is tradition, Sifnos also boasts a superb set of beaches. Scattered around the isle are Cheronissos, Apokofto, Poulati and Vathi beaches, amongst many many more. All with varying degrees of organization and make up. Some are pebbly, others are sandy and others are rocky. Pick your spot and kick back. Word to the wise; Kamares beach on the port is actually really sweet despite the fact its first beach you see when you get to the island.
Nightlife in Sifnos is surprisingly good. You’d expect Sifnos to be more like Milos; as in no nightlife whatsoever, but alas, you’d be wrong in that assumption. The village of Apollonia up in the mountains is stacked with lively bars and outdoor cafes as well as the odd disco or two. There’s even an outdoor cinema with a couple of movie screenings per evening, which is a great way to start a night out, quietly sipping ouzo from your flask while watching a flick under the stars.
There is fun to be had, and much of it debauched. But at the same time, there is none of the hectic, manic and downright atavistic tendencies associated with islands such as Mykonos or Ios. In Sifnos, you’ll see your fair share of pretty people, but they wont be looking down on you from their designer sunglasses. Sifnos tends to level the playing field for everyone. Which is just swell.
In many ways, Sifnos offers the true Greek experience, without breaking the bank, either. Great food? Check. Dope beaches? Double check. Nightlife? You better believe it.