SÍFNOS is prettier, tidier and more cultivated than its northern neighbours. In keeping with the island’s somewhat high-class clientele, camping rough is forbidden, while nude sunbathing is not tolerated. The island’s modest size makes it eminently explorable. The areas to head for are the port, Kamáres, the island’s capital Apollonía, as well as the east and south coasts. There is nothing in the north worth a peek, except maybe the small fishing village of Herrónisos, but even that is too far and offers too little for the first-time visitor. Sífnos has a strong tradition of pottery (as early as the third century BC) and has long been esteemed for its distinctive cuisine, with sophisticated casseroles baked in the clay-fired gástres (pots), from where the word gastronomy derives. The island is perhaps best appreciated today, however, for its many beautifully situated churches and monasteries, and for the beautiful scenery around Vathý in the far southwest.
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The Monastery of Khryssopiyí
From the beach at Glyfó, a fifteen-minute hillside path leads to the longer beach of Apokoftó, with a couple of good grill tavernas. Flanking Apokoftó to the south, marooned on a sea-washed promontory, the seventeenth-century Khryssopiyí Monastery features on every poster of the island. According to legend, the cleft in the rock (under the entrance bridge) appeared when two village girls, fleeing to the spit to escape the attentions of menacing pirates, prayed to the Virgin to defend their virtue. To celebrate the story, a large festival takes place forty days after Easter and involves the spectacular arrival of a holy icon on a large high-speed ferry, and its – often dramatic – transfer to a small boat to be brought ashore.