Serifos, Kythnos's southern neighbour in the west Cycladic chain of Greek islands, boasts fascinating walking trails across wild countryside to a working monastery, a professional winery, and along 100-year-old paths used by iron ore miners up until the 1960s. Kythnos Hiking (https://kythnoshiking.com), the walking tour operator, also runs hiking holidays on Serifos. Here are some of the highlights.
1. Long Livadi beach
Livadi beach is a long curved sandy beach near the Serifos port and the location of Hotel Maistrali (www.hotelmaistrali.com) where walkers usually stay. The hotel is the big building in the background. The hotel is family-run and has clean fully-appointed rooms. The beach at the port end has many restaurants and bars which get lively in the height of the summer.
2. Neat path up to Hora
The Hora, the island capital, on Serifos is a stunning village above the port and Livadi beach. Some say it is the most impressive in the Cyclades, probably because it is seen from the ferry on arrival and is not hidden in the hinterland. There is a pleasant path all the way up to the Venetian castle on the summit, past churches, schools, a museum and squares.
3. Miners walk above Hora
Above the Hora and its well-preserved series of windmills, an old miners path heads to the many mines that pock-mark the south west of the island and its countryside. The view of Hora itself, Livadi below, and Sifnos in the distance is spectacular. Much of the walk is on the original stone path before it veers off in different directions.
4. Beaches in the south
Our miners walking trail ends down on Koutalas, one of a triplet of beaches in a bay also containing Ganema and Vaia on the left in this photograph. Above Koutalas are narrow rail tracks used by the miners that run into caves as well as the remains of heavy duty equipment for getting the iron ore into ships in the bay. The beach itself is backdropped by tamarisk trees,
5. In the footsteps of mine owners
After a hard walk it is time for a fish lunch at one of the taverna at Megalo Livadi, a small beach and former mining centre for loading ships, the mining company's headquarters and a small museum which explains the mining history of the island. The beach is short but just right for a quick dip after the walking and before lunch.
6. Kallitsos hangs on hillside
The white-washed village of Kallitsos hangs on the side of a hill and is visible from the ferry coming across from Kythnos. It is a worth a walk through but is short of shops or a place for a coffee. Our trail usually descends here from a high trail from Hora and on the way to the monastery and winery a bit further to the north of the island.
7. Working monastery
The Taxiarches Monastery has a long history back to the 16th century and was often attacked by Turkish raiders, thus the monastery temple is protected inside a castle structure with just one small door for entry. There are many cells that were used by monks but today only two monks operate the monastery and support surrounding churches.
8. Winery is a high spot
On a spring day, the vines at the Chrysoloras winery (www.chrysoloras.gr/) have yet to start their growth but look well-organised on their hillside 300 metres above the sea. Chrysoloras produces red, white and rose wines at his premises on the hillside. Wine-tasting takes place in a small bar area on a floor above the production and often includes Chrysoloras's own cheese.
9. Top Mediterranean beach
Psili Ammos beach (literally fine sand) is quiet in the spring, as in the photo, but the shallow, sandy beach bustles in the high season packed with sunbathers, swimmers, and those dining in one of two taverna. Lauded as a top Mediterranean beach in newspapers, the beach attracts yachts and motor yachts which anchor off the beach in numbers.
For more information and to book your hiking on Kythnos or Serifos here. The site includes sample itineraries for both islands. We hope to start tours from mid-May, virus permitting.