Laid-back, discreet and utterly charming, Serifos is the perfect first stop on the tour of the Cyclades. It’s located close to Athens accessible via an easy ferry ride, taking less than 2 hours’ from the mainland (the Serifos ferry usually leaves Athens first thing in the morning or mid-afternoon or you can take a 4-hour ferry from Santorini). Known as the ‘Iron Lady’ for her mining past, the landscape is beautiful and surprising but almost barren in places. The island is tiny (you can drive round the whole of the island in under an hour), beaches are sandy and the water is crystal clear. We found the people here incredibly warm and welcoming so lunchtime pit stops down bumpy tracks become long drawn out lunches with cheery locals keen to share their delicious food and local delicacies with you with their dog at your feet!
- Book in a wine tour and tasting at Chrysolouras winery between 6 – 9PM but prepare for a nail-biting drive up and down
- Dress modestly for a visit to the Monastery of Taxiarches. Ring the doorbell (!) and take a sneak peek inside if the priest allows
- Take the bus from Livadi up to the dizzying heights of Chora for incredible views and a slice of fennel pie at Stou Stratou
With one of the prettiest port towns of them all, Sifnos delights from the moment you step off the boat and it certainly stole my heart. A short 45-minute journey on from Serifos (on that same ferry that departs from Athens), you are also close to Paros and Milos here so it combines well with these islands for an island-hopping tour. Slightly more on the tourist route than some of the other islands we visited, the island remains uncrowded for the most part as long as you stay off the beaten track. Getting around with a car is very easy though. We loved the picturesque laid-back fishing village of Vathi with its sandy beach and friendly service and and having sundowner drinks perched atop the medieval walls of Kastro has to be experienced to be believed. The island’s culinary fame is down to one man, Nikolaos Tselementes, a Sifnian chef who wrote the most famous Greece cookbook, and foodies are drawn here for the plethora of fabulous restaurants. In fact, we had just missed Obama who had been dining at Cantina the week before us!
- Don’t miss dining at Cantina – a Sifnos institution, reservations are hard to come by so must be booked well in advance
- Head to Astro in Kastro for dinner. Their roasted tomatoes with stuffed rice was one of the best dishes we had on our trip
- Keen swimmers should head to Chrisopigi, a monastery which juts out on the rocks to the right of Apokofto Beach
Known for its photogenic features and dramatic moonlike coastline, Milos has become the dream-Instagram-scape where picture perfect photos combine to make the ultimate holiday snaps. It was probably the island I was most looking forward to visiting but, full disclosure, it was by far the most disappointing. Perhaps I had expected Milos to match up – or even exceed – the other islands we had visited already, but we were met with hordes of crowds (and I mean HORDES) and the shock of the crowds, disappointing restaurants and slightly bewildering landscape meant that we were struggling to see what all the fuss was about. Now, I hasten to add that everyone gets around here on ATV’s / quad bikes, but driving long distances through sandy quarries in the heat of the midday sun certainly did not appeal so we rented a car. We did feel a little smug with our A/C passing endless teenagers taking selfies on their quad bikes but we continued to feel disappointed with each beach and town that we visited. The hotels here are also vastly more expensive than anywhere else we saw so I’m afraid to say I would struggle to recommend Milos and wouldn’t return myself.
- For those looking for photos for Instagram, be sure to visit the moonlike volcanic rock formations at Sarakiniko
- You can explore much more of the island on ATV’s, Empourias Taverna being one of those restaurants found at the end of a track
- Head to Mandrakier to see the colourful houses and have lunch at Medusa Restaurant overlooking the sea
Surprising me at every turn, Folegandros is the island that just keeps on giving. From unspoilt beaches with white sand underfoot, boat trips to crowdless grottos and one of the prettiest Chora’s I ever did see, this is the island that has it all. If you want peace and respite away from the likes of Mykonos and Santorini, Folegandros is back-to-basics, Cyladic island heaven. To me, it felt like the Capri of Greece (without the hordes of crowds and crazy prices). With only three towns to its name, you can drive the length of the island in its entirety in fifteen minutes. Spend your days swimming in crystal clear waters, sipping a lemoncello spritz aside the freshest seafood before an evening spent in a town that feels like it’s straight out of a film set, perched on a cliff 200 metres above sea level.
- Make sure you explore Folegandros by boat. Many of their best beaches, like Katergo, are accessed easiest by sea
- Either way, finish with lunch at Papalagi for the freshest seafood and insane views (you can also walk here from Agali)
- For a taste of all things authentically Greek, spend your evenings dining in the various squares of Chora
A hop, skip and a short jump from Paros, Antiparos is the island suited for discreet and discerning travellers, for those who are keen to avoid the hustle and bustle of the busier Cycladic islands and blend in with their surroundings. Put firmly on the map by Tom Hanks and his recent house purchase, there has been a plethora of celebrities following him to snap up a piece of the action and the island plays host to a multitude of well-known names. But if you can’t quite stretch to buying real estate here, instead take the easy 8-minute ferry ride from Paros and soak up the Mustique atmosphere yourself, with its amazing beach clubs, crowd-free beaches and incredible restaurants. Take a boat to the uninhabited islet Despotikó to see the ruins of a temple Apollo discovered or settle in for an afternoon at Captain Pipino’s. Either way, this really is a place where time stands still.
- Head to the sheltered Apantina beach for an all-day experience at Beach House
- Visit Antiparos cave which you’ll find in the middle of the island which is full of stalactites and stalagmites
- Don’t miss sundowner cocktails at The Rooster which is easily the best place to watch the spectacular sunsets
We stayed in a selection of incredible hotels and apartments during our stay. Please get in touch today for help planning your Greek getaway. We work with a variety of accommodation to suit all clients and budgets.