An Insider’s Guide To Serifos

“I will never forget my first trip to Serifos, because it changed the way I thought about life. We arrived in the late afternoon, the sea dancing in the sunlight beneath the ferry, my eyeline drawn to the whitewashed Chora that seemed to tumble down the steep hillside above the harbour like a waterfall. Bessy picked us up and drove us the 25 minutes to Mega Livadi, curving around the island’s southern contours as civilisation appeared to melt away.

Finally, we arrived at Megalo Livadi, and our home for the week, which perched like an eagle’s nest, high up on the rocks with views of the sea from every window. Across the bay, steep hillsides rose dramatically out the sea, pockmarked in places from the village’s years as the heart of Serifos’ mining industry. Vasilis, Bessy’s husband, sent our luggage up in an old mining cart, and they said we should join them for dinner at the main house.

That evening set off a series of moments throughout our stay and a beautiful friendship with Bessy and Vasilis. One that I cherish more with every year that I visit, and that has trickled down to their son Marinos and his Olia. It was also the moment that my regular flirtation with Greece crystallised into a full-blown love affair, charmed by its islands, its people and, most of all, their filoxenia.

Every year that I come to Megalo Livadi, I discover something new (for me) on the island, adding layer after layer to my Serifos experience. But it is the house, and the family who live there, which I long to return to each summer, hoping nothing has changed in the slightest. Because, for me, this is a small corner of paradise. The classic Greek summer. Heaven on earth.”

Where to Stay

“It has to be Faros Villas. The guesthouse is perfect for couples as it feels very secluded and romantic— and gets the best sunset. Or you can take the whole of the main house with family or a group of friends. It teeters over the edge of the sea in this calm bay and you see glittering water everywhere you look. The nearest shop is back in the port (Livadi), so it’s a place where you can forget the rest of the world and live the Greek island dream. At lunchtime, strolling down to the beach for fennel fritters, calamari and a jug of local wine under the trees at Kyklops. Buying fresh fish off the boat that pulls into the bay every three days and cooking it up for dinner. Mixing G&Ts at ‘Bill’s Bar’ and watching the hillsides turn pink, pale gold or blazing orange, depending on the season.”

Eating & Drinking

“One of the things I love about Serifos is that there aren’t any ‘must-visit’ restaurants or bars. You choose where to eat depending on the wind, where you want to swim and how far you’re willing to drive that day. The tavernas are mostly family-run and low-key, feet-in-the-sand kind of places. Kyklops in Megalo Livadi is the easiest choice for days when you don’t want to venture far from the house. Just beyond the port at Psili Ammos is Manoli’s, which has its own boat so you know you’ll find fresh fish. Over on the northern side of the island at Nikoulias; have a quick swim at Platis Gialos and then walk up to your table for prawn saganaki. Nearby is Sikamia and Anna’s, where most of the veg is grown in the garden beside the taverna and there are some great, hidden swims nearby. On the way to both Nikoulias and Anna’s, you should stop at the 16th century Monastery of the Taxiarches (it’s open until 1.30pm).”

What to Do

Wine tasting

“The best new thing I did this year was the wine tasting at Chrysoloras just before sunset. It’s super informal, with a scattering of tables outside the winery, and magical views across the vines and the sea. Make sure you take home a bottle of the Oranz.”

Boat day

“On a perfectly still day, we rented a boat with Tan Cruisers and took it over to the uninhabited island of Polyegos, where the chalk cliffs make the water brilliantly blue. Afterwards, we hopped across to neighbouring Kimolos for a long lunch at To Kyma. Order the prawn orzo dish if they have it.”

Walk around Chora

“Go early in the morning to avoid the heat. Stop off on the way at Kerameio in Kato Chora (lower Chora) to buy beautiful Serifian pottery and then park up just beneath Pano Chora (upper Chora). Start with a frappe and fennel pie at Stou Stratou in the main square, before winding up and up the steep whitewashed steps (stopping at the many shops along your way) to the 15th century Venetian Castle, where you will find a panoramic view of Serifos below.

Closer to home, you can walk around the ruins of Megalo Livadi village, which used to be the mining hub of the island. On the other side of the bay, walk or drive up to explore the Evangelistria Monastery and the Throne of Cyclops — and time it with sunset for the best views.”

Where to Swim

“My number one spot is right beneath the house, first thing in the morning. If I’m in the mood for more exertion, I’ll swim to the beach and back. Otherwise, I love the gin-clear, calm waters at Ganema and the soft, sandy beach at Kalo Ambeli, which requires a tiny hike down to it. At Sikamia, I prefer to take the footpath at the far right end of the beach, following the headline around to the quiet bliss of Paralia Skalia.

How To Get There

The easiest way is to fly to Athens, where you can then take a short two-hour ferry from the port of Piraeus to Serifos. If you have any time to kill, stop in for lunch at the old port at Papaioannou for a delicious fish lunch, right by the promenade.

When To Go

Serifos is far less crowded than many Greek islands, even in August, but my favourite time to visit is either June when the evenings are light and long; or in September, for warm seas and burnt orange sunsets.

We keep you posted

Sign Up for the latest travel news, including travel advices, inside guide & tailor-made experiences, curated by our experts.