The footpaths, a unique network of trails some 200 kilometres in all, were created especially to meet the needs of the agricultural way of life and the tending of livestock. They were in daily use. The oldest have a history dating back as far as the 3 millennium BC.
Nowadays, they still lead the winding way to churches, beaches, through wonderful landscapes, used by local people and visiting hikers alike. Some of them are paved with stone or marble, and others are dirt tracks.
On every trail, the hiker will encounter monasteries and churches, as well as artifacts that are monuments to the craft skills of the past, including wells, spring water fountains, dovecotes, ‘themonies’ (small farm buildings), ancient towers, remnants of mining activity, threshing floors, lime-kilns, mills, and stretches of drystone wall kilometers long.
The best times for hiking in Sifnos are spring and autumn when the weather is favourable and nature is at its best. Herbs, cedars, undergrowth and wild flowers, some of which are protected, are to be seen along every trail, and have placed Sifnos among the 13 most important botanical paradises in Greece.
In recent years, the local community has increasingly become aware of the need to save and preserve the footpaths, and there are concerted efforts to make sure they are kept clean and clear of obstacles, well-signposted and properly mapped. This effort is supported by the South Aegean Regional Authority (continuing the work begun by the Cyclades Prefecture), the Municipality of Sifnos, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage, other development and professional associations on the island, and a multitude of volunteers.
Today there are 19 officially marked trails which visitors can view online, and hiking maps are available on the island. The official website of Sifnos for trails www.sifnostrails.com.