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Kamares, Sifnos

Kamares, Sifnos

"Kamares, Sifnos is the best beach town in Greece for families, especially those with small children. With a long, shallow, clean and sandy beach and cafes and restaurants right there in the sand you can eat and drink and relax while watching your children safely play nearby. And the restaurants also happen to be among the best you will find on the Greek Islands"  Matt Barrett

" Can you change your description of Kamares" Apostolis at Aegean Thesaurus Travel said to me one day in his office. "It gives the wrong impression. When you say 'port' you think of something not like Kamares. You know how most ports are.... busy, a bit dirty, and  a place to come and go from but not to stay in."

Kamares, SifnosApostolis is right. Kamares may be the port of Sifnos but it is also one of the nicest places to stay due to its long beach, fertile valley, great restaurants and cafes and the fact that the ferries generally are not in long enough to make Kamares seem like a 'port'. Once the ferries leave you are in a quiet (but not too quiet), fishing town that has a taste of tourism but not enough to make you feel like you are in Mykonos or San Tropez.

From Kamares you can get buses to all the other villages, or you can stay here and enjoy one of the nicest beaches and some of the best restaurants on the island or any island. As you get off the boat you can follow the procession into the town. The main street is the harbor road with its restaurants, cafes, shops and hotels on one side of the street, the tables and chairs and the bay on the other. There are a couple supermarkets, a tourist information office, the office of Aegean Thesaurus , the Hotel Stavros and finally on your left a long crescent shaped beach with the tiny village of Agia Marina on the far side.

Beach, Kamares, SifnosKamares is an excellent place for families to stay because everything is so convenient. You can sit in the restaurants and cafes and watch your children play on the beach a few feet away from you. The bay of Kamares is a long sheltered cove and it is a very rare day that there are any waves. Combine this with the fact that the beach is surprisingly shallow and it takes a long time to get to where the water is over your head and your will realize that if you are a parent then this is the place to go in Greece because who wants to spend their vacation worrying about their children playing on the beach? It is for this reason that there are many children on the beach, another great reason to come because as any parent know, the best way to keep children happy is having other children around. Plus the shallow bay insures that the water will be warmer since it is easier for the sun to heat up.

Kamares, SifnosThere is an interesting variety of restaurants including a pizza place and an excellent Italian restaurant called Da Claudio, and a very nice bistro that you may overlook because it is on a rooftop overlooking the port, called Absynthe, and the excellent ouzeri in the Hotel Boulis. There is also fast food in the form of souvlakis and hamburgers available for any children who have not made the transition to the Greek diet. The nice little cafe called To Kima, is right on the beach with tables and chairs in the sand a few steps from the shoreline. Shaded by trees it is a great place to sit and read and relax while your children play in the sea. Kyria Eleni and her beautiful daughters serves breakfast, ice-cream, and yogurt with fruit, honey and nuts an island staple. When it is time to have lunch you just move next door to Captain Andreas Fish Taverna and you can call the kids over every so often to sample a bite of fresh fish before they run back to play. Add a little retsina and who says being a parent is hard work? Take a few steps more and relax in the beach chairs of the Old Captain's Bar and if you wait long enough you will be listening to classical music and watching the sunset (Kamares faces west). After that you are in town where a dozen restaurants and cafes line the coast.

kamares, sifnosCars and Motorbikes are available for rental at the shop of the lovable George Podotas on the road behind the waterfront or from his Podotas Group office between the small church and the Stavros Cafe. You can also rent cars from Stavros at the Hotel Stavros right in the port or through Aegean Thesaurus Travel who can also arrange boat trips around the island. In the evening the harbor fills up with sailboats and yachts and these sailors usually make their way into Kamares for a night of fun using a remedy of good food and wine to get their land legs back.The restaurants are all excellent and the atmosphere can be festive at night. Many people who come to Kamares have been doing so for years and a night at the Old Captain bar can seem like a highschool reunion at times.

Kamares from MonasteryThere are two monasteries on the mountains above the village. One is Agios Spyridon and the other is Profitti Ilias. You can drive right up to one of them and within a couple hundred yards of the other if you have a car and if you don't mind heights, or you can climb up the ravines if you are young and in shape. It will take you about an hour and you will be sore for a couple days afterwards but you will have a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Bring some cheese, some bread and some wine and don't forget some water too. There is even a small dining room that is usually left open. If you are lucky you will be on Sifnos during a panagiri when all the islanders make their way up the mountain for a religious service followed by food, wine music and merrymaking that can last until dawn. Anytime you go the view is spectacular.

Kamares, Sifnos, FerryFor some real entertainment you can do what I do and bring a bottle of wine to the wall above the breakwater and watch the night ferries sail into the bay. It's a beautiful sight, one you may feel nostalgic for when you finally go home. It's also fun to see the comings and goings of people. While I stay the whole summer most people stay here for about a week. Sometimes when I meet people after they have left Sifnos to go to other islands they say "We should have stayed. Sifnos was the best island." Saying farewell to friends is a tradition in Sifnos. I can't count the times I stood at the dock waving goodbye to a summer lover and then hurried back into town before all the best girls in the next batch of tourist arrivals was taken. When you spend a summer on Sifnos romance becomes a sort of addiction that must be overcome when you return home. Thankfully age and marriage has matured me and I can now enjoy the boats as boats and not as a source of sexual fulfillment or experimentation. See The Art of Ferryboat Watching

Sifnos riviyhiaSunday is Rivithia day when all the restaurants serve the delicious chickpea stew that is the specialty of the island, but if you don't get there early you may miss out. Some say the best is at Simos restaurant but it is such a simple dish it is hard to make it bad so just take a walk up the street and see who is serving it. Look for stewy looking rivitha rather than a bunch of chickpeas in a clear broth. Another specialty along these lines are the delicious rivithia keftedes which are like falafals. Fish is plentiful but can be expensive unless you order the gopes, or the fried squid (kalamarakia) which comes from nearby Monterey Bay in California if not from China. The fish soup at Captain Andreas restaurant on the beach is delicious. The other specialty of the island is the mastela which is usually lamb or goat cooked long and slow in a clay pot in the oven. When you order a Greek salad make sure to ask for it with mizithra, a creamy kind of feta, and kaperi, which are capers grown on the island. See the Restaurants page for more about Kamares restaurants.

Kamares, SifnosThe sea is amazingly clean in the port. The beach is about a quarter mile stretch of sand that starts in the town of Kamares and goes to Agia Marina, with a small grove of trees in the middle, and a row of trees along the edge for shade. There are beach chairs and umbrellas for rent about half way down the beach and a couple of the cafes have umbrellas and chairs which you can use if you just buy a drink or to. Though swimming nude is not officially practiced on the beach, people do it anyway in the less populated area towards Agia Marina or on the rocks beyond it. Women generally go topless anywhere they want on the beach and nobody cares. (Least of all me and my friends). Interestingly I have noticed that the number of women going topless has fallen over the years. I don't have the statistics but I am guessing that the increase in American tourists here has led to a troubling decrease in topless bathing and virtually eliminated bottomless bathing while increasing the number of people wearing hats and sunscreen.

Agia Marina, SifnosThe far side of Kamares is called Agia Marina. Some of the best swimming is on the rocks just beyond and as I mentioned nobody will care if you neglect to put on your bathing suit. There are a few restaurants on this side that you can go to for lunch though you should remember to put your bathing suit back on before you do. There are rooms for rent here as well and it is a little more quiet then the Kamares side, plus it is a lovely walk along the beach from town. There are several churches in Agia Marina that are worth the walk and the Folie Snack bar is a nice place for a frappe and a menu that is a bit more cosmopolitan then the more traditional extablishments. Argiris Taverna, owned by the former Sifnos policeman, right on the small dock in Agia Marina is considered by some to be the best in Kamares.

Spilia, Kamares, SifnosOn the otherside of the dock is the area known as Spilia where there is a small dock you can dive off. Spilia is a great place to hang out because you can watch the ferries come in and out. Watch out for the waves when they do! Beyond Spilia is a stony beach and further on you can swim off the rocks and probably spend the day without seeing another person. There are ruins of the loading dock from when there were iron ore mines here about a hundred years ago. The snorkeling is pretty good in this area, especially by the breakwater that protects the dock which is full of caves and fish so big you wonder why nobody has caught them yet. You can snorkel down the coast all the way past the ruins of the 19th century loading dock.

Kamares, SifnosIf you enjoy walking there are paths all through the valley that go past farms and animals, fruit trees and old stone walls. The best time to do this is late in the afternoon or early in the morning. You can follow the path up the river bed almost as far as Apollonia. Be sure to wear long pants because there are sticker bushes and with the building of the road many of the paths have fallen into disuse. You can walk all the way up the valley to the dam that burst a couple years ago during a winter storm.  Playgrounds for children are on each side of the bay. One is in the main square and the other directly across the valley. There is a pretty nice basketball court behind the school. Nothing like a little one-on-one when it is 98 degrees to get your adrenelin going. Seriously, around dusk you can get involved in some pretty decent pick-up games and you never know who may show up there.I got to play against Panayiotis Yannakis in his prime on a visit to Sifnos one year and had Sophia Constantinides on my team. There is also volleyball played on the beach in July and August when the nice old guy shows up with the net and the ball.

Kamares, SifnosKamares is generally quiet in the day except when the ferry comes in. Then it is like being in a small city for about twenty minutes, particularly on Sunday when the Athenians who have been here for the weekends have to go back to work. Then you are lucky if you can find a place in the cafes for the hour before the boats leave. When the ship blows its horn everyone rises from their chairs and walks toward the dock knowing they have plenty of time to get there as the ship begins the slow process of backing in and unloading and loading cars.

Don't be put off by the noise and chaos on your arrival. Before you know it everyone has fanned out around the island and the town is quiet once again. Friday night is the wildest when two ferries from Athens arrive almost simultaneously with all the weekenders. Flying Dolphins and Catamarans move a little faster than the ferries and if you want to catch it you better be on the dock when it comes in. Be sure to buy some Sifnos almond cookies (ah-meeg-del-oh-ta) from the bakery before you get on the boat. They make great gifts if you don't eat them all on the way home.

See also Practical Kamares Information

Kamares Hotel Information

There are a number of hotels I recommend for Kamares, most of which I have stayed at myself. The Hotel Stavros is inexpensive and right in the port with a view of the bay. In fact the above photo is taken from my balcony. They have double and triples and even a couple apartments suitable for families, with full kitchens. Also in the budget category is the Morpheas Pension on the beach road. It is a small clean family run hotel. The Hotel Boulis is a large family run hotel right on the beach, with an excellent ouzeri/restaurant and owned by Andonis and Lynn, a very nice Greek/Australian couple. If you like privacy Alkyonis Villas are small apartments designed to give you the feel of having your own Greek Island house. The property has a beautiful garden and a view of the sea just 100 meters away. The Simeon Rooms & Apartments are located just 60 metres from the beach of Kamares and offers self-catering accommodation with free Wi-Fi. All air-conditioned rooms and apartments at Simeon have a private balcony offering sea views. For those who need a swimming pool the Margado Hotel is built on a hill overerlooking the bay of Kamares. If you are looking for an actual house the Villa Salamander is on the mountain on the Agia Marina side of Kamares bay and can fit a large family or two small ones. For more hotels see Aegean Thesaurus Hotels page or if you want to book directly without going through a travel agency see's Kamares page.

Sifnos Rent a Car

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