As a travel agency owner, I feel that it is important to have a niche. Mine is obviously family travel, it’s in the name. I often point out that family does not necessarily mean families with young children. Explore More Family Travel is for anyone looking to engage with each other in a meaningful way while connecting to the world through authentic experiences. Our favorite way to do that is a Greece family vacation.
Since my niche is family with a focus on authentic experiences, I think that Mediterranean countries are an ideal destination. I have not been to every Mediterranean country, but each one I have visited is so welcoming that it enhances the journey. This is especially true when traveling with young children.
Greece is obviously my favorite Mediterranean country that I have visited so far, which is why we return time and time again for our family vacations. Rob and I have visited five times in the past eleven years, with Bryson and Connor accompanying us on three of those trips. I have written before about my love of Naxos, see Best Greek Island For Families. Naxos has been our favorite destination for our Greece family vacations thus far, but there is a new kid in town …
Sifnos was hands down our favorite destination during our two and a half week journey in Greece. I believe that Naxos still has the edge, but we want to go back and do a side by side comparison to decide.
So, let me tell you what we loved about Sifnos during our Greece family vacation
Talk about vacay vibes. I was instantly relaxed upon arrival. I had been working in the days leading up to our arrival on a group of 130 people who were traveling at the same time as me which meant a lot of late nights in Greece due to the time difference. All that stress drifted away in Sifnos.
When I posted this photo on social media, so many people commented on how relaxed I looked. I think it just looks like me with lots of blue and aqua in the photo. However, I really was relaxed in Sifnos, the most I had realized in a while!
For travelers that need a lot of action, I would not recommend Sifnos. Another option that would still allow for a more off the beaten path experience than the typical Athens – Mykonos – Santorini route would be Milos.
Sifnos is where to go if you want to relax and get a sense of what Greek islands were like before mass tourism. In fact, when we arrived we were excitedly introduced by our driver to others as Americans. As in, ‘look Americans!’. Sifnos is not an island frequented by Americans so it felt nice to be wanted. Let’s be honest, there are many places in the world where that is not exactly the case!
People often ask me why I love Greece so much. I’ve been so many places, and I always want to ‘explore more’ – but I keep coming back to Greece. I love the turquoise sea, but there are similar Caribbean waters that are easier for me to travel to. I love the design of the white buildings with colorful accents, but there is more impressive architecture in the world. I love the food, but I love so many cuisines from around the world so it, in itself, would not be enough.
What really keeps me coming back to Greece again and again is its people. This was especially true in Sifnos. This is John, he was our caretaker in Sifnos. He picked us up from the port, served us drinks on the rooftop bar, showed us in detail every place we needed to visit on the island map, made dinner recommendations and reservations for us, and talked to us for hours. We asked him to join us for dinner our last night, so he joined us for drinks – but he brought us a gift of raki and refused our offers of food and drink. On our day of departure, he showed up over an hour before his start time at the hotel just so he could be the one to take us back to the port and say goodbye. He bought the boys a chocolate bar. He gave us his home address and his father’s village in the Peloponnese so we can visit him again. This wasn’t for show. We tried to tip him to say thank you for his hospitality, but he refused. He said that is not why he does what he does. This is not the first time our tips have been refused in Greece. The Greek people are genuine and warm, and they make us feel welcome everywhere we go in this vibrant country.
The delicious food is an important part of any Greece family vacation. Sifnos is a foodie island thanks to Nicholas Tselementes, a local chef who wrote the first Greek book of recipes in 1910. One of Sifnos’ most famous dishes is chickpea stew which is traditionally cooked overnight on Saturday evenings in a clay pot and served on Sundays. Lucky for us, many restaurants serve this meal during the week because we were not there on a Sunday! The stewed chickpeas were served in a little clay pot. Pottery is a big deal in Sifnos, more on that below.
You can eat right on the beach at Platis Gialos, We chose a spot under the trees because shade is essential in Greece! The bakeries and fish tavernas line the road by the port in Kamares. As you can see, Rob enjoyed selecting from the selection of pastries every time we passed this particular bakery, but there were many! The fish is fresh and delivered straight off the boats to the restaurants at the port. Sardines were supposed to be a popular dish, so we made my dad order them. I must admit, I never tried them although I did enjoy plenty of fish in Sifnos!
Part of the appeal of Sifnos is not needing a car. You can choose a hotel that allows you to walk everywhere. However, I felt the need to explore the various areas so I know what to recommend to clients, so we rented a car for an afternoon during our Greece family vacation in Sifnos. I am so glad we did, there are so many beautiful beaches on Sifnos which is pretty amazing since it is a pretty small island. Here are just a few of the beaches we discovered that afternoon.
Maybe I should have said the landscape in general. Almost the entire island has been carved into terraces which was absolutely mind-blowing to me.
These terraces serve both to retain the soil and rainwater in the fields, and to define property boundaries. They represent a massive legacy, the toil of thousands of people over centuries.
The clay-based earth and the rays of sun that grace the island on a daily basis have made it the center of pottery making in Greece. The makers continued the traditional practices that evolved from centuries ago. Sifnos ceramics are exported across Greece.
There are workshops throughout the island and their creations are displayed everywhere you look. Once you notice one, you will start to notice them everywhere. The pottery is used to serve delicious Sifnos cuisine (see chickpeas above!) and still decorate the tops of the traditional blue and white houses and gates. There is even a special piece of pottery called a faro that is placed at the top of the chimneys to somehow vent the smoke. Even the homes that don’t have chimneys put the faro at the top of their homes for decoration.
We were lucky enough to meet with a ceramist at his studio. Being able to see the creation process gave us a unique perspective into this island tradition and these are the types of experiences that make a Greece family vacation truly special.
The Bottom Line
If you are the kind of person who feels like C-19 restrictions are a hassle or inconvenience, I would not travel to Europe right now. However, if you are the type of person who feels more secure by the extra precautions, then now is the time to plan your trip to Europe. Once everybody is as comfortable traveling to Europe as they are traveling to Mexico and the Caribbean, rates are going to skyrocket there as well. There are some amazing airfares to Europe right now, but I expect them to disappear as people stop treating Europe like the next travel frontier.
I don’t want my talk of pricing increases to come across as a discussion about ‘deals’, my concern for my clients is value. I do not want my clients ever paying more than they should even if they have a large budget. I want to ensure that what my clients pay for is worthy of the price tag. I guess it is the financial analyst in me! Your vacation is an investment of time and financial resources so I want to make sure that my clients feel like their experience is worth the investment.