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Sifnos is an understated island in the Aegean Sea perfect for unwinding. One look at its clean and beautiful waters and three picturesque villages and you’ll want to grab a straw hat and a sand-covered novel. It also happens to be one of the culinary centres of the Cyclades, and the birthplace of Greece’s most famous chef, Nikolaos Tselementes, who in the 1930s wrote the first official Greek cookbook.
The three main villages – Apollonia, Artemos and Kastro – appear as clusters of white- washed houses interlinked by rugged valleys, terraced olive groves, almond trees and oleander bushes. This is the land that cultivates the ingredients used in so many of the island’s traditional dishes.
Sifnos was barely on the tourist map until recently, and even today, it’s a destination more for Greeks than foreign tourists. One of the things Greeks come to Sifnos to do is eat, and eat well. Typical dishes include clay pot slow-cooked chickpeas with onions, wild mutton and briny caper salads, washed down with chilled glasses of unsophisticated but delicious local wine.
Gaining traction from their traditional Sifnian dishes, the island is dotted with restaurants that are taking cooking to the next level, but still using traditional ingredients.
The Perfect Day
Wake up at Elies, a 33-room boutique hotel built right on the beach in Vathi bay. Throw off your crisp, white linens and open the blinds. The beach is only a few steps away. Go for a dip and have a breakfast of bread, local cheese and coffee.
Enjoy the beach at Vathi, or if you’re looking for something more secluded make your way to Vroulidia beach on the north side of the island. Sifnos is known for its beautiful waters so make sure you spend as much time at the beach as possible.
For lunch head to Ω3 on Platis Gialos for Greek tapas. There will be plenty that you’re familiar with – like taramasalata or orzo with crayfish – but make sure you order the seabass ceviche with local cucumber as well as the smoked mackerel. Knock it back with several glasses of chilled white wine. Eat your fill and enjoy yourself.
Next head back to the beach for a quick swim or some reading. A nap under an umbrella is obligatory. Burn off lunch when you wake up with some volleyball or paddle ball.
After a long shower go to Isalos – a bar and restaurant on the beach – where you can drink a sunset cocktail. Eat a casual dinner at Lebesis Tavern, order the chickpeas, caper salad and mastelo cheese. Then go to Apollonia village for drinks – try the tiny bar called Adiexodo first and then make your way through the rest of them before you climb back into bed and sleep your fill.
Vathi, Platis Gialos for the social scene or Vroulidia for seclusion.
Book a local cooking class.
How to Get There
Again there is no airport on the island, but it’s around a three- hour ferry ride from Piraeus, Athens.
How to Get Around
Rent a car or a motorcycle.
What to Pack
Something that stretches – a maxi dress or loose linen trousers.
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