It is so close to Athens, and yet Serifos is one of the least touristic islands of the Cyclades. Perhaps for this reason, visitors are undisturbed as they enjoy the island’s more than 30 beaches, the picturesque town of Chora that is perched atop a hill, and the rest of the attractions of the island.
Located between Kythnos and Sifnos, Serifos is one of the Western Cyclades. The ferry from Piraeus takes just 2.5 to 4 hours to reach the port of Serifos. Nevertheless, what you will see in Serifos is an island with a moderate degree of touristic development which respects its natural beauty. Without many multicolored billboards, with unspoiled beaches and accommodation that is incorporated into the natural surroundings both architecturally and aesthetically, Serifos retains its color and its traditional atmosphere.
For example, none of the 30+ beaches of the island rents umbrellas or sun beds or includes beach bars. Also, most of the island’s businesses are small scale, from hotels to restaurants and cafes. Most of the shops are concentrated in Livadi and Chora, and almost all have their own character, whether more traditional or more modern.
The two main settlements of the island are Livadi, which is also the port of Serifos, and Chora, which is 5 km from Livadi and is divided into Kato Chora and Ano Chora. Beyond that, you will find small settlements scattered along the coast of Serifos and inland, the largest of which is Megalo Livadi on the southwest side of the island. The beaches are spread throughout the island; those that are close to Livadi are most easily accessible, while many others are only accessible by dirt road or footpath or by sea.
The port of Serifos is also the largest settlement on the island. Arriving in Serifos, a visitor first sets eyes on Livadi.
Along its coastal road you will find cafes, restaurants, and a mini market, while you will see the sandy beach of Avlomona to the right, where the settlement ends. Livadi offers the most options for both dining and nightlife on the island. On the west side, it almost runs into Livadakia. Livadakia does not have a downtown area or shops, but it does feature many rooms for rent as well as the island’s campsite and a large beach with sand.
Towering above Livadi, Chora is one of the most beautiful and picturesque towns of the Cyclades. Its history is lost in the mists of time, and the only witnesses of the story are the few remains of the Castle atop the hill and the Loggia (Entrance) a little lower. From any point in Chora, the view of the sea or hinterland of the island is magnificent. Because of the altitude, it is quite warm at midday, but the evenings are cool. Visit the four small churches on the hilltop, and at the same time admire the view of Livadi from the edge of the cliff.
It is almost certain that you will get lost in the steep, narrow alleyways of Chora. But this is the way to discover small shops, traditional Cycladic houses, and beautiful spots. The main square of Ano Chora, Plateia Agiou Athanasiou, is full of life every night. The bars that serve raki with honey, appetizers, and tsipouro stay open until late at night. It is worth visiting the old windmills at the entrance of Ano Chora, as well as the Archaeological Collection which features findings from various parts of Serifos.
Kato Chora is even more traditional, with its narrow blue and white alleys that create postcard images. There are not many shops here, but you will find the Folk Museum, the small theater, and the elementary school.
The settlement on the west side was the center of mining activities on the island. Beginning in 1880, the Serifos-Spilialeza mining company, a French enterprise, was active near the village. In 1885, the company passed into the hands of the German Gromman family, where it remained for decades. In 1963, the company stopped its mining activities.
In Megalo Livadi, visitors will see both the bust of Konstantinos Speras and the memorial to four dead workers. The inhumane exploitation of workers in the mines led to the establishment of a union and the declaration of a strike led by trade unionist Konstantinos Speras. The strike began on August 7, 1916 with the main demands being the introduction of an eight hour work day, a wage increase, and any measures necessary for the safety and protection of workers. On August 20, a police squad arrived in Serifos and opened fire, resulting in the deaths of four workers: Michalis Zoilis, Themistoklis Kouzoupis, Michalis Mitrofanis, and Giannis Protopapas. The strike of Serifos was one of the first organized workers' protests in Greece, and it opened the way for the introduction of an 8 hour work day.
In the surrounding area, from Koutalas to Megalo Chorio and Megalo Livadi, visitors can see remnants of mining activity, including loading decks, wagons, and machinery. It is very interesting to tour the excavated mountain above Megalo Livadi. You can enter the tunnels if you are prepared with safety helmets, flashlights and guides that know the burrows where the miners worked, lived and breathed.
Serifos features more than thirty beaches, each one more impressive than the last, all of them undeveloped and freely open to all visitors. It is a good idea to take your own beach umbrella and provisions, since they will not be available on the beach. The most easily accessible beaches are the most famous and popular ones, such as Psili Ammos, Livadakia, Vagia and Ganema.
But it is worth walking down trails, driving on dirt roads, or hiring a boat to visit more remote beaches such as Lia, Agios Sostis, Malliadiko, Skala and Alevrakia. On many of these beaches, you will be on your own, even at the height of the tourist season.