It is already August and we are still searching for the ideal island escape to enjoy the sun and the sea. In case you are looking for something really off-the-beaten-path, check out the island of Sikinos, a “time-machine” floating in the Aegean Sea.
Sikinos is one of the few Cycladic islands still retaining their original raw beauty, waiting for the decisive traveller to experience it to the fullest. More than 8 hours away from the port of Piraeus, Sikinos is not a typical Cycladic destination and surely requires quite some patience to get there. Situated between Ios and Folegandros, this small piece of land offers one of the most authentic experiences rare to be found in the Cycladic region. According to ancient Greek mythology, the island took its name from Sikinus, the son of the king of Lemnos, Thoas. According to the myth, Hypsipyle, the daughter of King Thoas, saved her father from the wrath of the Lemnian women by putting him on a small raft and sending him away from Lemnos. Thoas travelled through the Aegean Sea, only to reach the shores of a small island where he was saved by local fishermen. Later on, his son Sikinus became the ruler of this small island. Despite its small size and remoteness, Sikinos was always inhabited by people, offering the opportunity to the modern traveller of choosing among a range of sites covering the thousands-years history of the island. Let us introduce you to the ancient island of Oinoe, nowadays Sikinos and explore the island and what it has to offer!
Reaching the island
The only way to reach the island from Athens is by ferry from the port of Piraeus. Your trip is going to take you more than 8 hours depending on the weather conditions and the stops the ferry line is gonna make. If you decide to visit Sikinos departing from another Cycladic island you will definitely need much less time but unfortunately, the island does not have an airport making the ferry the only way of getting there. Once you reach the island though, you will immediately get captivated by the energy of Sikinos and its raw, unspoiled beauty. Renting a car is not the best option since the whole road network is about 15 km. The island has just three settlements, the port which is called Alopronoia and the two mainland connected settlements of Kastro and Chorio, operating as the Chora of Sikinos. The rest of the island is covered by a rich traditional path network that will take you to the most remote places of Sikinos with pristine beaches and untouched landscapes. Make sure to provide yourselves with a walking trail map and explore what the island has to offer.
The church of Episcope
The site of Episcope is located at the south part of the island, where the ancient city of Sikinos used to be. You can get there either by car or through the trail starting from Chora. If you choose to follow the traditional trail, make sure you get enough water with you to survive the approximately 1 ½ hour walk. When you reach the site you will discover the church of Episcope, a 3rd-century Roman mausoleum converted into a Christian church. The particular architecture of the monument reflects vividly how people continued to use a building throughout the centuries. Few of those monuments remain as intact as this one offering you the chance to witness first hand the history of Sikinos. While there, do not miss the chance to explore the area, discover remote byzantine and post-byzantine churches and many more.
The monastery of Zoodohos Pigi
Right next to Chora, there is the monastery of Zoodohos Pigi. Originally founded in 1690, it operated as a nunnery offering security to the people of Sikinos. Its castle-like architecture made it an ideal shelter in times of need when pirates used to ravage the island and capture the islanders as slaves. Underneath the monastery, there is a network of small tunnels that operated as rescue-paths for the nuns and the people of Sikinos. The nunnery was closed after the decision of King Otto in 1834 and the remaining six nuns that used to live there found a home to local families until the end of their lives. Nowadays, it is one of the most iconic attractions of Sikinos offering a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea and to the rest of the island.
Perhaps the biggest cave of the Cycladic islands, the Black Cave can be found just beneath the monastery of Chrysopigi at the northern shores of Sikinos. The entrance to the cave is accessible only by sea, therefore, you have to arrange a small trip around the island if you want to visit the cave.
Lose track of time at Chora
As mentioned before, the Chora of Sikinos consists of two settlements connected to each other, the Kastro and the Chorio. This Cycladic Chora is perhaps the most unspoiled Cycladic settlement still remaining in Greece. Picturesque alleys, whitewashed houses climbed on hills and an enchanting energy filling the atmosphere will definitely stun you and steal your heart. Do not miss the chance to wander around the medieval Chora, check the ruins of the castle and round up your day at the main square of Chora enjoying local delicacies at a traditional taverna. At Chora, you will also have the chance to buy some of the authentic local products coming from small-scale producers. Sikinos has a long tradition in fishing, beekeeping and cheese-making. Do not miss the chance to try the local Sesame seed candy made out of local honey, a mouth-watering option to have with your Greek coffee.
Sikinos is certainly an option for those that want to have the true, authentic Cycladic experience. A place of seclusion and relaxation with many activities to offer and vast history, this is perhaps your next island-destination waiting to be discovered. Plan your own trip to the island of Sikinos or check out one of our Greece tours.