Today I’m continuing to share my Going Greek sailing story. This week is all about our visit to the island of Sifnos in the Cyclades islands… the island I was most excited to visit during our visit to Greece due to my mom’s history with this very place!
As much as I am a planner, traveling with a plan isn’t always the best way… as I was to discover during our day on Sifnos!
After sailing through a morning of scattered showers (with a brief dolphin escort!) we arrived at the port of Kamares, chased into the harbour by the enormous inter-island ferry maneuvering to parallel park alongside the dock…
After completing all the necessary sailing tasks involved with arriving in a harbour, we found ourselves located right opposite a bus stop. With the next bus arriving in 20 mins time we hurriedly grabbed the essentials needed for island exploration – camera, walking shoes, warm top, hat and wallet – before stepping aboard along with all the locals making their way up to the highest town on the island.
The bus from Kamares was travelling to Platy Yialos on the opposite side of the island via Appollonia where we hopped off to explore the town. Arriving during siesta, the afternoon was stifling and still. With not much happening – and the bus now on it’s merry way down the hill – there was only one thing to do, explore where we were!
Fortunately an app I had downloaded on my phone (Sifnos by GreekGuide.com) made mention of a walk between the island’s beautiful capital, Apollonia, and Artemonas, the largest village on the island and within a few minutes we’d spotted a sign pointing us in the direction of the path…. (just near the local bus stop and next to the cafe on the corner beneath the large vine – featured in the photo below!) and so we set off on the walk from Appollonia to Artemonas.
The walk from Appollonia to Artemonas
Once again we found ourselves joined by Raisa, an amazing photographer who enjoyed capturing every corner as much as me! This suited me perfectly as I was always assured that even if I’d been left way behind due to my endless photo-taking ways (every door, window, step, wall was as pretty as a picture!), I would soon find myself caught up to Raisa who was photographing another pretty picture just around the corner! Poor Brad!
We set off on the well marked walk between the two Greek villages and, as I was to discover, the unplanned can prove to be the main highlight of your entire trip!
Criss-crossing the island are over 100km’s of trails that take you back into the history of the island, while affording an incredibly picturesque way to see local life unfolding as it has for centuries – something you certainly don’t see when you stay in the bus or stick to the main tourist traps.
As we walked along the age-old flagstone paths, laid by farmers and shepherds who called these hills their home and worn smooth from the endless foot traffic of years gone by, we passed white-washed cottages, secret courtyards, centuries old churches, bright blue doorways, tumbling bouganvilla, creeping vines, hand-painted shutters, fields of fig trees and an occasional donkey.
I snapped away with delight. This was the Greece of my dreams and I was enchanted. I’m sure I was not the first to fall in love!!!
As we walked the path following the red and white route markers, we were treated to views at every turn, hillsides dotted with blue domes, white cottages strewn like popcorn across the valley, craggy cliffs with glinting monasteries, and glistening coves in the far distance.
The pathway cut through various farmsteads and lining the route were ancient handmade stone walls, carefully laid hundreds of years ago, adding to the rural character of this path just a short walk from the main town.
I couldn’t help but imagine the dedicated stonemasons who crafted these walls to protect their families, crops and livestock. How long ago were these stone walls laid? And how long did it take to create these windy walls linking the two villages?
Stepping back in time we even came across a pack donkey having his afternoon snooze while his master did the same…
After our silent meander through the Sifnos countryside, where the buzzing cicadas were our only companions, we found ourselves once again amidst a labyrinth of alleyways and courtyards, surrounded by whitewashed churches, homes and an occasional shop – all squashed right on top of each other.
The alleys of the town were deserted and the windows shuttered, indicating that siesta was still in full swing. Our only company a few stray village cats and the occasional giggling child who’d managed to escape the siesta ruling and was taking full delight in the freedom of the town!
As luck would have it we stumbled across a tiny cafe, just opening its’ doors after siesta, and serving the most delicious ice cream we’d ever tasted!
A visit to the loo afforded us a sneak peek inside one of these simple, yet stylish homes which as been turned into a new eatery…
As we continued our walk along the cobbled streets to find the bus stop (and our lift back to Kamares), we followed the meandering alleys and at every turn there was another beautiful surprise…
Impressive old mansions. Verdant gardens. Churches with blue domes. Secret courtyards filled with potted geraniums.
Every crumbling stone wall seemed to groan under the strain of a tumbling bouganvilla or heavenly-scented jasmine.
After our afternoon in Appollonia & Artemonas it was easy to see why these are some of the prettiest villages on the island – unpretentious, yet bursting with beauty, I certainly would be happy to spend much more time exploring them both.
After hopping aboard the local bus to head back down to Kamares we decided to step off again in Appollonia to look around and visit one or two of the local shops that had been closed on our earlier visit… only to realise a few minutes later that the bus we’d got off of was the last one for quite a while heading down the hill!
Our souvenir shopping done, we realised that the only way we’d make it back to the boat by sunset was to walk the 5km back!!! Another unforeseen adventure!
Fortunately we’d now broken our walking sandals in and the route was all down hill… and very pretty!
Crumbling dovecotes, terraced hills, olive groves and moody skies (even a splattering of rain) made this a memorable way to round out our time exploring the interior of Sifnos…
Getting to Sifnos
From Athens, Sifnos is three hours by catamaran or five hours by ferry. For boat schedules check out openseas.gr.
For maps and hiking trails visit Sifnos Trails
Visit Get My Guide to book speed boat tours to explore the coastline of Sifnos or neighbouring islands.
If you enjoyed this trip around Sifnos island with me be sure to check out the rest of my Going Greek travel blog series where I share more about our sailing holiday around the blue and white islands of the Cyclades!
If you enjoyed this post about the walk from Appollonia to Artemonas please consider pinning it to Pinterest using the graphic below so you can find it again for when you plan your visit to Sifnos or so that others can find it and plan their own trip. Thanks so much!
Images: Kathryn Rossiter