Cape Sounio, Greece, at sunset.
Cape Sounio, Greece, at sunset. Liana Turner

Serifos: The unspoiled haven

IT WAS ridiculously hot. It was hard to imagine we had escaped the worst of it. Athens was tipped to reach 40 degrees, and we fled across the sea just in time.

We were on the island of Serifos. Just a few hours' ferry ride from the capital of Athens, it was accessible, especially for those on a tight schedule, and still had plenty to offer.

While the allure of island-hopping the further reaches of the Aegean Sea was undoubtedly strong, Serifos was a haven of quiet and calm that was much easier to reach from the city.

Serifos may lack the fame of the Acropolis or the party appeal of Mykonos, but it is far from boring.

It was known as the iron island for a mining industry you can still see the remnants of today, strewn alongside ancient Grecian windmills and churches.

For that name, it was also aptly dry, and rugged, but Serifos belies its reputation as a barren island.

While it is a sharp contrast from the lush greenery in other parts of Europe, the island is far from infertile.

When visitors arrive by ferry they are greeted by warm sea air and enticingly warm, crystal-clear water. It would be easy to spend an entire visit soaking up the warmth of the sand, but there was plenty to explore.

While you can take cars onto the island - for a cost - the vehicle-free traveller can catch a bus or traverse the rugged land on foot.

Tourist Tips

Meet the locals. While the language barrier might seem a hindrance, try to connect with someone who knows the region. Many are proud of their beautiful country and keen to show off the finer points of their culture, from lesser-known landmarks to the best kind of ouzo.

Poseidon's Temple on Cape Sounio in Greece and, top right, Cape Sounio at sunset and Serifos Island in June.
Poseidon's Temple on Cape Sounio in Greece and, top right, Cape Sounio at sunset and Serifos Island in June. Liana Turner

Sun protection - and as much water as you can carry - are a must, especially in the height of summer.

Visitors can pick up a map of the island, pointing them to noteworthy locations and an array of beaches.

One lesson we learned the hard way was that a bus symbol on a map did not necessarily mean a bus was on its way.

Just days into our stay, what was probably an overly enthusiastic attempt to trek across the entire island, along roads and rugged tracks, and through ancient olive groves, could have ended in disaster - or a night on the beach - when we found the bus stop on the other side did not exist.

We had been excited about this adventure, and the beach which lay at the end, and that eagerness had perhaps blinded us from reality.

Thankfully, a group of fellow travellers with spare car seats came to the rescue.

Serifos Island, Greece, June 2016.
Serifos Island, Greece, June 2016. Liana Turner

That exhausting, adventurous day culminated in an evening at the hill-top bars in Hora, with stunning views.

As the sky darkened, the air settled to a balmy temperature and carried the salt of the sea on the breeze.

Dotted with white buildings, meandering pathways and restaurants brimming with fresh seafood and all the Greek salad you could handle, it would be easy to lump Serifos into a box full of stereotypes.

But this island truly has an identity of its own.

Whether it's a stopover to somewhere packed with tourists, or a quick getaway, there's no doubt it is a place where most travellers can find bliss.

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