Sikinos is a small, quiet island located in the Cyclades of Greece. While it may not be as popular as other nearby islands like Santorini and Mykonos, it offers visitors a chance to experience authentic Greek island life without the crowds. Here are some of the top things to do in Sikinos, including the main tourist sites, best beaches, best restaurants, and the best places to stay on the island, as well as information on ferry services to other islands.
Sikinos is a small Greek island located in the Cyclades archipelago, which has a rich and fascinating history. Despite its small size, Sikinos has been inhabited for thousands of years and has played an important role in the cultural and political life of the Aegean region. In this article, we’ll explore the island’s history from ancient times to the present day.
The earliest evidence of human habitation on Sikinos dates back to the Neolithic period, around 4000 BCE. Archaeological excavations on the island have uncovered several settlements and burial sites from this period, indicating that the island was home to a thriving prehistoric community.
In the Bronze Age, Sikinos was part of the Minoan civilization, which dominated the Aegean region from around 2000 BCE. The island’s strategic location between Crete and mainland Greece made it an important trading hub, and Minoan merchants regularly visited Sikinos to exchange goods and ideas.
During the Classical period, Sikinos became a center of worship for the god Apollo, and the island’s main town, Chora, was home to a famous temple dedicated to the god. The temple attracted pilgrims from all over Greece, and Sikinos became known as a place of spiritual significance.
In the Byzantine era, Sikinos was an important outpost of the Byzantine Empire, which controlled much of the Aegean region. The island’s strategic location made it an ideal base for patrolling the surrounding seas, and the Byzantine authorities built several forts and watchtowers to protect the island from invaders.
In the 13th century, Sikinos came under the control of the Venetian Republic, which ruled much of the Aegean region at the time. The Venetians built several fortifications on the island, including the castle of Kastro, which still stands today.
During the Ottoman era, Sikinos was largely left to its own devices, and the islanders developed a distinct culture and way of life. The island was known for its skilled sailors and merchants, who traded with other islands and mainland Greece.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Sikinos experienced a period of economic and cultural growth, with the construction of new roads, buildings, and public works. The island’s population grew rapidly during this time, and many Sikinians emigrated to other parts of Greece and the world in search of better opportunities.
Today, Sikinos is a popular tourist destination, known for its picturesque villages, beautiful beaches, and rich cultural heritage. Despite the changes of the modern world, the island’s history and traditions remain an important part of its identity, and Sikinians continue to celebrate their heritage through music, dance, and other cultural activities.
Sikinos may be small, but it has plenty of history and culture to explore. Here are some of the must-visit tourist sites on the island:
- Panagia Pantanassa Monastery: This monastery is located in Chora, the main town of Sikinos. It was built in the 18th century and is known for its beautiful architecture and stunning views of the surrounding area.
- Church of Episkopi: This church dates back to the 3rd century AD and is one of the oldest churches in Greece. It is located in the village of Episkopi and is known for its impressive frescoes and intricate architecture.
- Castle of Sikinos: This medieval castle is located in Chora and offers visitors a chance to step back in time and explore the island’s history. The castle was built in the 15th century and offers panoramic views of the Aegean Sea.
- Folklore Museum: This museum is located in Chora and offers visitors a chance to learn about the island’s history and culture. It features exhibits on traditional crafts, costumes, and daily life on Sikinos.
Sikinos may not be as well-known for its beaches as some of the other islands in the Cyclades, but it still has some beautiful spots to relax and soak up the sun. Here are some of the best beaches on the island:
- Agios Georgios Beach: This sandy beach is located on the southern coast of the island and is one of the most popular beaches on Sikinos. It offers crystal-clear waters and stunning views of the surrounding cliffs.
- Dialiskari Beach: This secluded beach is located on the northern coast of the island and is only accessible by boat or by foot. It offers a peaceful retreat from the crowds and is perfect for those looking to escape and relax.
- Ai Giannis Beach: This beach is located in the village of Ai Giannis and offers visitors a chance to swim and sunbathe in a picturesque setting. The beach is surrounded by traditional tavernas and cafes, making it a great spot to grab a bite to eat.
Sikinos is known for its delicious food, and there are plenty of restaurants on the island serving up traditional Greek cuisine. Here are some of the best restaurants to try:
- To Psaraki: This restaurant is located in Chora and is known for its fresh seafood and stunning views of the Aegean Sea. The menu features a variety of traditional Greek dishes, including grilled octopus and stuffed vine leaves.
- Manalis Winery and Restaurant: This restaurant is located in the village of Episkopi and is known for its homemade wine and delicious food. The menu features a variety of dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, including grilled lamb and fresh salads.
- Taverna Tis Marousas: This traditional taverna is located in the village of Kastro and offers visitors a chance to sample some of the best local cuisine on the island. The menu features a variety of traditional Greek dishes, including moussaka and souvlaki.
Best Places to Stay
Sikinos may be small, but it has plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. Here are some of the best places to stay on the island:
- Sikinos Hotel: This hotel is located in Chora and offers comfortable rooms with stunning views of the Aegean Sea. The hotel features a swimming pool, bar, and restaurant, making it a great spot to relax and unwind.
- Aneroussa Beach Hotel: This hotel is located on the southern coast of the island and offers direct access to Agios Georgios Beach. The hotel features comfortable rooms with sea views, as well as a swimming pool, bar, and restaurant.
- Gerofinikas Boutique Hotel: This hotel is located in the village of Kastro and offers visitors a chance to experience traditional Greek island life. The hotel features charming rooms with traditional decor, as well as a swimming pool, bar, and restaurant.
Sikinos is well-connected to other islands in the Cyclades and mainland Greece, making it a great base for exploring the region. Here are some of the ferry services available from Sikinos:
- Ferry services to other Cyclades islands: There are regular ferry services from Sikinos to nearby islands like Ios, Santorini, and Mykonos. These ferries run throughout the day during the summer months, and less frequently during the off-season.
- Ferry services to mainland Greece: There are also ferry services from Sikinos to ports on the mainland of Greece, including Piraeus and Rafina. These ferries run less frequently than the services to other islands, so be sure to check the schedules in advance.
- Recommended ferry companies: Some of the most popular ferry companies operating in the Cyclades include Blue Star Ferries, SeaJets, and Hellenic Seaways. It is recommended to book your ferry tickets in advance, especially during the busy summer months.
10 Interesting facts about Sikinos
- Sikinos is one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades archipelago, with a population of around 250 people.
- The island has a long history dating back to prehistoric times, with evidence of Neolithic settlements and Bronze Age trade.
- Sikinos was an important center of worship for the god Apollo in ancient times, and the island’s main town, Chora, was home to a famous temple dedicated to the god.
- The Venetians ruled Sikinos from the 13th century until the Ottoman Empire took control in the 16th century.
- Despite its small size, Sikinos has a rich cultural heritage, including traditional music, dance, and festivals.
- The island is known for its picturesque villages, which are built in the traditional Cycladic style of white-washed houses and narrow alleyways.
- Sikinos has several beautiful beaches, including the secluded Agios Georgios beach, which is only accessible by boat.
- The island is famous for its local wine, made from the rare Fokiano grape variety.
- Sikinos has several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the surrounding islands.
- In recent years, Sikinos has become a popular destination for eco-tourism, with several initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable tourism practices on the island.
Sikinos may be a small island, but it has plenty to offer visitors looking for a quiet, authentic Greek island experience. From the stunning beaches to the historic sites and delicious food, there is something for everyone to enjoy on Sikinos. And with regular ferry services to other islands and mainland Greece, it’s easy to use Sikinos as a base for exploring the region. So whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an opportunity to immerse yourself in Greek island culture, Sikinos is definitely worth a visit.