Legend says that the flower-laden gods of love would skip joyously around the Greek islands, resting in decorous gardens or on quiet beaches along the way. On one small island, true to form, they arranged a marriage between the dethroned king, Thoas, and the nymph, Niis. It was their child, Sikinos, that gave his name to this little haven in the Aegean, which –according to a popular Greek song – the Blessed Virgin “holds in her lap”.
Small, unspoilt and close to Ios and Folegandros in the southern part of the Cyclades, Sikinos has a special way of offering visitors what they want from a holiday. It promises a collage of natural scenery, tranquillity, a very human touch and a delicious taste of tradition.
As the boat approaches the harbour of Alopronia, you’ll find yourself forgetting the frenzied pace of city life. In its place, you instantly discover the soothing pulse of an island masterfully crafted by wind and wave.
Things to do in Sikinos
Sikinos’ main town is a delicate vignette with two different backgrounds, the mountainsides of Kastro and Horio. Kastro, built on the edge of a cliff, is a fortified hamlet dating to the 15th century. When you enter through the side gate, you are welcomed by white houses over 100 years old, alleyways scented by jasmines, yards with bougainvillea, geraniums and vine trees. Three windmills stand proud at the clifftop, facing out to sea. In the square, visit the collection of post-Byzantine-era icons. Meanwhile, Horio, to the south, has all the beloved features of a Cycladic island. A labyrinth of narrow alleys connects houses, flowerbeds and tranquil hidden corners. Once here, a look around the folk museum is a must.
The church of Pantanassa
Located in the square of Kastro, this 1787-built church houses a remarkable gilded wooden icon screen.
The Monastery of Zoodohos Pigi (Hrisopigi)
Built on the highest point of Kastro in 1690, this monastery served as a refuge for residents against pirates who tormented the island. Take an early evening climb and enjoy the seamless blue of sea and sky.
This church is testimony to a long history of overlapping cultures and religions, consisting of a main temple, the chapel of Agia Anna and abandoned cells. It was built as a Roman mausoleum in the 3rd century AD and converted into a Christian temple in the 17th century, with a dome, bell tower and chancel.
The beaches of Sikinos are virginal with clear blue waters. Sandy Alopronia, pebbly Agios Georgios, and Dialiskari with a natural sunshade of tamarisk trees are all accessible by car. If you decide to go by caique or take a footpath, your choice widens: Agios Panteleimonas, Santorineika, Agios Ioannis, Karras and Maltas...
Come during the days of a religious celebration and you will have the opportunity to experience the panigirades custom. After the procession, members of the faith assume the responsibility of keeping a holy icon in their home for a year.
Hidden treasures of Sikinos
This cave in the north, under the Monastery of Hrisopigi, is among the most beautiful of the Cyclades and accessible only by sea.
Between Kastro and the Monastery of Hrisopigi is a chapel devoted to the Holy Mother of God, the Joybringer, that appears to float in the air. It was pledged to Sikinos by revered poet Odysseas Elitis and is delightful spot imbued with an atmosphere of innocence and natural beauty – a vantage point across the Aegean that Elitis himself extols for its “crystalline” clarity.
Remnants of ancient hamlets, Byzantine churches, gorges, remote beaches, glades with panoramic views and lush nature are some of the island’s gifts to hikers.