Looking to introduce your children to the magic of the Cyclades but concerned about the crowds on Mykonos or Santorini? Sifnos might just be for you.
With pretty whitewashed villages, delectable traditional foods and plenty of unspoiled sandy beaches with clean, shallow waters safe for kids, Sifnos is an ideal getaway for families seeking laid-back, tranquil holidays in a postcard-perfect setting.
Chic and cosmopolitan, but at the same time decidedly familial and low-key, it’s an island perfect for long days at the beach with seafront lunch breaks in your swimsuit.
Evenings can be spent taking leisurely strolls along the traditional cobblestone streets of scenic villages and beyond, followed by dinner at a taverna.
Top Family-Friendly Beaches
Kamares, the wide, sheltered sandy cove by Sifnos port, is by far the island’s most popular family spot, with clean and shallow waters and sun loungers and umbrellas to be found at various points. Several cafes and tavernas line the shore, allowing parents to sip iced coffees while watching their kids play right next to them on the sand.
There are plenty of hotels, rooms and stores here too, catering to every taste and need, and buses departing to most parts of the island. Aghia Marina, on the far side of Kamares is another popular spot for families seeking more quiet.
Quality accommodations, as well as tavernas and cafes, can be found here too. At Apokofto beach you can relax on the fine sand under the shade of trees growing only a few meters from the water’s edge, with a view of the lovely monastery of Panagia Chryssopigi in the distance.
Another popular family swimming spot is Vathy, a 1.5km shoreline with crystal-clear shallow waters and a variety of pretty seafront tavernas.
Strolls and Food
Evenings are best spent combining a sightseeing stroll and dinner. Apart from classic island fare such as fresh fish, Sifnos is known for its juicy capers, sharp and creamy myzithra cheese, crisp chickpea croquettes and chickpea soup that locals traditionally eat for Sunday lunch.
Artemonas is by far the prettiest village, with a wonderful assortment of tavernas such as Mosaico for meze dishes and Chrysso for lamb chops. But the stop your kids will probably most love you for is Theodorou sweet shop, famous for its homemade almond sweets and nougat wafers. Every September the village also hosts the island’s culinary celebration of Nikolaos Tselementes, (the chef who changed the course of Greek cuisine in the 60s and who is a native of Sifnos’s Exambela village).
Apollonia, the island’s capital, is by far the busiest village, and is great for shopping, people-watching and finding more international cuisine if your kids are missing pizza or burgers. Being Sifnos’s top nightlife destination, you can also stop here for a sly cocktail at one of the many bars lining the main street.
Kastro, with high walls, narrow passageways, labyrinthine streets and sweeping sea views, is known for its singular (many say ‘mysterious’) ambiance. Visit the Archaeological Museum and eat at one of the taverns serving fish just plucked from the sea, such as Captain Sifakis Fish Tavern, or dine on traditional specialties at Astro or Leonidas. Kastro can be reached by foot along an old flower-filled path from Apollonia (not ideal for very young children), by bus from Kamares or by car.
Sifnos has no airport, but its neighbor, Milos, a one hour ferry boat ride away, has a domestic airport that’s reachable from Athens. By sea, ferry boats to Sifnos from Athens take between 4-8 hours depending on the boat and schedule, or three hours by high-speed catamaran vessel.
For families that love taking to the hills as well as the beaches, one major selling point of Sifnos is is its extensive network of walking trails. Thanks to Sifnos Trail’s, a project launched in 2015 by the local municipality, 100km of trails on the island have been renovated and signposted offering a myriad of easily-navigable options for walkers.
Maps of the network are also available on the municipality’s user-friendly site, as are notes on each trail, including whether they are kid-friendly.