Relatively less touristic than most other Cyclades, Serifos is a surprisingly green island with fertile valleys and a coastline full of bays and coves. Raw beauty and old traditions against wild mountains over 75 square kilometres and barely 1200 inhabitants make Serifos a natural hideaway for those who would rather avoid the tourist crowds.
The capital of the island, Hora, is built on a rock of sorts and dominated by a Venetian castle. Below and some five kilometres away is the coastal town of Livadi, protected from the north winds by the gulf. Wonder through the mills area at the entrance of the village, which features a main square with cafes and reflects the daily, laid-back life of the islanders.
Walk through the paths and dirt roads of Serifos to unveil its little sandy beaches and bays, observing the other islands around you as you make your way. In the distance the experienced traveller may differentiate the islands off the coast, those being Kimolos, Kythnos, Milos, Paros, Sifnos and Syros.
Photo : www.discovergreece.com
From an environmental perspective the island features special ecosystems underground, protected by legislation, in addition to the southern part of the island falling under the Natura 2000 network. The small islets around Serifos (Mikronisi, Serfiospoula and Vous) are all officially declared as regions of particular natural beauty.
You must sample the bread, honey, almonds and sweets of serfios. Food blessed by the sun such as sun-dried tomatoes and the sun-baked ham called loutza are a must, so is the chickpea stew called revithada. Fried fennel balls or marathotiganites are also something almost unique to this island.
Fresh fish, local cheeses, home-grown vegetables and local meats are all of the highest quality and worth sampling. On the sweeter side, the sweet cheese pies called kaltsounia and the sweet almond macaroons called amygdalota must also figure on the menu of the eco-hungry. Honey and honey-based desserts are part of the local cuisine and should not be missed.
Lastly, there are some excellent wines from the island, some with a strong bouquet that will delight. Tasting the different wines and finding your favourite is highly recommended.
While the island is famous for its beautiful, golden beaches, only a few know that its true beauty is revealed while walking across the several-hundred-year-old trails. Moving alongside terraced agricultural land, bubbly springs and archeological remains, the trails of Serifos unveil the secrets of one of the most surprising islands of the Cyclades!
Trail 1: Chora - Kallitsos
Linking Chora, the capital, to the village of Kallitsos, this trails has been one of the main roads that villagers used in older times, some still use it today to reach their fields. It was also one of the main commercial roads, linking the northern villages to the capital. The impressive stone paving testifies of the importance given to safe and fast communication.
Trail 1a: Livadi - Chora
This trail used to represent the main link between the capital Chora and Livadi, the main port. It is a large paved path that is largely in use today too. The trails meanders through the capital’s narrow streets, and then continues downward to the port, passing by some important sights like old mansions, the old school, the ethnological museum as well as some springs.
Trail 2: Chora - Gyftika
It is said that this is the most impressive trail of the Aegean Sea! Some might agree, some might not. In any case, walking from the region of Gyftika down to Chora (the capital) through trail 2 is a must for anyone who visits Serifos. The large trail is literally built on a rocky cliff. As you descend, the views of Chora that look like snow on a mountain with the blue sea in the background are astonishing.
Trail 3: Aspros Pyrgos - Koutalas
Serifos’ history was from antiquity until a few decades ago associated with metallurgy. Trail 3 passes by one of the main iron mining areas, where you can still see what's left of the old open air metallurgy site. Rail lines, cables, rusted trucks and old buildings are still there to testify to the intensity of the extraction of iron. At the top of the trail, the White Tower (Aspros Pyrgos), built about 2500 years ago, shows how important this region has always been.
Trail 4: Gyftika – Varsamo - Panagia
This trail links the region of Gyftika, which is the highest settlement of Serifos to the picturesque village of Panagia, passing by the spring of Varsamo. The trail moves from the highlands of Serifos down to the cultivated fields. Due to the lack of roads, people still access their land in the traditional way by foot and by donkey! Very little has changed on these slopes since antiquity, and this trail can easily be seen as a trip back in time.
Trail 5: Panagia - Sykamia
After visiting the beautiful church of Panagia, in the village by the same name, descend through trail 5 to the bay of Sykamia. Once at the bottom of the valley, the environment changes totally compared to the rest of the island. The trees are tall, there is water everywhere and you'll discover one of the best spots to hear the croak of frogs. These small creatures were largely appreciated in antiquity in Serifos, decorating the islands coins.
Trail 6: Pyrgos – Galani - Sykamia
From the village of Pyrgos, the trail goes down to a valley where one of the first prehistoric settlements of Serifos was built. Today the area is covered with agricultural terraces and some old ruins and chapels. The trail gains in height again to reach the village of Galani, the best place to extract Galena which is an important source of silver. Leaving the nice village of Galani behind, the trail descends gently towards the bay of Sykamia, passing by the most colorful areas of Serifos, rich in volcanic stones and euphorbia plants.
Trails 7, 8, and 9 are still under development.
Trail 10: Kallitsos – Profitis Ilias - Kallitsos
This is a circular trail at the north of the island. It crosses many different landscapes of Serifos, boasting small oak tree forests, water springs, typical Mediterranean vegetation and volcanic soil. It starts at the village of Kallitsos. A few hundred meters over Kalitsos, you can see a round building, representing one of the oldest windmills of the Aegean Sea. Later the trail passes by the ruined village of Ksero Chorio. The nearby winery of Serifos is a good stop to taste local specialties. Descending further down, you might notice some ancient steps carved on the bedrock. That's because the trail has been used for many thousands of years…
As everywhere on the islands, there are always some nice beaches to be discovered. The ones at Psili Ammos and Livadaki are particularly beautiful, so is Agios Ioannis on the east coast. In the south-western part of the island Mega Livadi and Koutalas offer good swimming opportunities. Other secluded bays like Sikimia can also be discovered and enjoyed almost in solitude.