Although many foreign tourists will flock towards postcard perfect Mykonos when venturing on a Greek island adventure, often overlooked is the island of Tinos, which is only a 35 minute ferry ride from the "Island of the Winds."
Apart from being the birthplace of many painters and sculptors, Tinos is also a symbol of Orthodoxy thanks to the magnificent church of Panagia (Virgin Mary).
At the same time, the island has managed to maintain its traditional identity by keeping the inland villages and many of its beaches almost untouched by the onslaught of tourism. Despite its reputation, the island keeps a low profile and offers authentic hospitality and outstanding local products.
Where to go
Discover its pristine beaches, such as Apigania with its crystal clear waters, and get to know its wonderful villages.
Visit the villages of Pygros and Komi with the marble details on the facades, the village of Ktikados for its amazing view, the stony Volax, as well as Tripotamos with its picturesque alleys and traditional architecture.
Wander the island’s paths and discover the famed dovecotes –Venetian remnants scattered around the island- as well as the old watermills in the village of Potamia. It is also worth visiting Tinos’ churches and monasteries, an important aspect of its history and character.
The church of Panagia in Hora –the main town on the island- and the imposing Monastery of Kechrovouni, which resembles a small Cycladic village, are two of the most interesting landmarks of the island.
How to get there
You can reach Tinos by boat. Ferries to Tinos depart daily from the ports of Rafina and Piraeus. The island also features a heliport. It is a quick 35 minute dash to Mykonos too.
Where to stay
Orion Suites: An extremely sophisticated boutique hotel that departs from the traditional Cycladic style. Comfortable rooms with contemporary décor and “floating” beds with mattresses made of natural materials with the signature quality of Coco-Mat. In addition, the rooms feature private pools, while an on-site charging station for electronic cars is also available at the hotel. (Stavrou- Kionion Avenue, +30 22830 22016, www.oriontinos,com)
Diles & Rinies: Independent luxury villas built on a hill gazing out towards the Aegean. Each one of the villas features a fully-equipped kitchen, a fire place, private gardens and upper floor verandas with dedicated barbeque area, while some of them have private pools. The decoration is beautiful and extremely well-thought out. There is also a central swimming pool and bar. Diles and Rinies provide autonomy with the services and amenities of a luxury boutique hotel. (Hora, Lagades,+30 22830 26146, www.tinosvillas.com)
Aeolis Tinos Suites: Built amphitheatrically and dressed with raw stone, this luxury hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites with tasteful décor and captivating views of the Aegean Sea. (Triantaros, +30 22830 29044, www.aeolissuites.com)
Crossroads Inn: Four restored traditional houses with an environmentally friendly profile, minimal cosy decoration and a fully equipped kitchen. All fabrics are made from natural materials with the signature quality of Coco-Mat, while amenities such as the shampoo and shower gel are made from Greek honey, herbs and flowers. (Tripotamos, +30 22830 25443, www.crossroadsinn.gr)
Eleana Hotel: Located in the heart of Hora, very close to the port, this beautiful hotel combines comfort with modern aesthetics and a high level of hospitality. (1 Agiou Ioannou, Hora, +30 22830 22561, www.eleanatinos.com)
Summer Time: A complex of apartments just 150 m from the beach of Agios Sostis offering very elegant and comfortable rooms with fully equipped kitchens. (Agios Sostis, +30 22830 23786, www.summer-time.gr)
Where to eat
Marathia: One of the best restaurants on the island. Focusing on the Tinian, in particular, and Cycladic cuisine, in general, Marathia serves well-thought-out and delicious dishes. (Agios Fokas, +30 22830 23249)
Bianco beach house restaurant: In one of the most idyllic spots of the island, Chef Ilias Kiazoli cleverly combines locally sourced products with modern culinary techniques, creating a menu that highlights the island’s gastronomic wealth. (Vourni beach, Tinos, +30 698 67 52 100)
Thama: A beautiful restaurant with an open kitchen and flavours based on Modern Greek gastronomy and organic products. (Stavrou-Kionion Avenue, Hora, +30 22830 29021)
Thalassaki: One of the most famous restaurants of the island offering Modern Greek cuisine in a lovely location. (Isternia, +30 22830 31366)
Drosia (Vasilis): Traditional tavern offering beautiful views of Kionia and simple, yet, mouth-watering dishes. (Ktikados, +30 22830 21087)
Mikro Karavi: Charming restaurant in Hora, inspired by urban gastronomy, offering Greek traditional cuisine with a creative touch. Do try their delectable slow roasted goat. (Trion Ierarchon, Hora, +30 22830 22818)
Katoi: Traditional tavern with a beautiful courtyard and a lush garden, offering scrumptious dishes with traditional flavours –and a few more tweaked- made with local products. (Smardakito, +30 22830 51706)
Local products: Tinian artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, malathouni (Tinian cheese shaped in a reed mold), local graviera (gruyere-like cheese), kopanisti (local soft and sour cheese) and louza (cured pork, one of the finest Greek cold cuts).
Also do not miss the chance to try local dishes such as froutalia (omelet with sausages or cured pork), tomato fritters, celery fricassee, amygdalota (almond cookies), pasteli (Greek honey brittle), lychnarakia (mini sweet pies made with unsalted cheese), xerotigana (dough rolls with honey and walnuts) and psarakia(Tinian Christmas specialty, rolled pastry with walnut filling).
What to see
Both the birthplace of numerous artists and a religious destination, Tinos boasts remarkable museums, churches and monasteries.
Evangelistria Church: Built in 1823, the church of Panagia Megalochari is the ultimate symbol of the island. In the facilities located in the temple, you can see collections of Tinian artists, iconographies, relics, etc.
Archaeological Museum: Tinos’ ancient history bears witness to a well-developed activity, with a typical example being the workshop for the manufacture of clay urns with embossed decorations of unique style. The exhibition includes numerous burial vessels of the Geometric period, sculptures of the Hellenistic period as well as Roman copies, vessels for everyday use and the storage urns of Demeter’s temple. (Megalocharis Avenue, +30 22830 29063)
Museum of Marble Crafts: Technical equipment, a collection of drawings by marble sculptors, marble works and audio-visual material unfold the magic of the art of marble sculpture. The museum covers the technology of marble quarrying from antiquity to the present day. (Panormos, +30 22830 31270)
Museum House of Yannoulis Chalepas: The sculptor’s house has been turned into a museum that tells his story. (Panormos, +30 22830 31270)
Folk Museum of Jesuit Monastery in the village of Loutra: The monastery was founded in 1670. It was originally located in Exombourgo and was the first Catholic monastery on the island. In 1846 it moved to Loutra near the Ursuline Monastery. The Monastery of the Jesuit Fathers and the church of St. Joseph have been extensively damaged and are not open to visitors, however, it is worth seeing its folklore museum featuring cult objects, tools, utensils etc. (Loutra, Tinos)
Monastery of Kechrovouni: It looks like a small mountainside Cycladic village. According to tradition, the monastery was founded around the 10th century by three sisters who built a cell next to each of the three chapels that existed in the area and, thus, gradually the monastery was formed as we know it today; a large complex with many smaller churches, auxiliary rooms and the nun’s cells. Wander through the narrow cobbled alleys of the monastery and stop to admire the church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary and the Old Russian epitaph. (Arnados- Kechrovouni)
The Convent of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: The monastery is considered one of the largest in Greece. The church is a three-aisled vaulted temple, beautifully decorated with icons from the 17th century, while at the back of the sanctuary stands the statue of Jesus with the Sacred Heart. Outside, you can also see the artificial cave dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Lourdes and the Memorial of the Fallen Greek Catholics, created by the Tinian sculptor, Ioannis Filippotis.
Where to swim
Kolymbithres: Youthful vibes, beach bars and surf clubs on two beaches with turquoise waters. The one of them is serviced, while the other is not, thus keeping a lower profile.
Agios Fokas: Located near Hora, Agios Fokas is the largest beach on the island. With many cafes and restaurants on the beach and in the surrounding area, this beach is an ideal choice for families.
Agios Sostis: Large, easily accessible, pebble and sandy beach with clear shallow waters and a few beach bars.
Agios Ioannis- Porto: Popular beach in a picturesque cove with shallow waters and easy access.
Kionia: Long sandy beach, perhaps the most cosmopolitan on the island, as here you may find several hotels, cafes and restaurants.
Livada: Fine pebbles, dark sand, amazing waters and a few tamarisks that provide nice shade. Livada is not serviced and is therefore ideal for those who want seclusion. The dirt road leading to the beach, however, requires a little vigilance.
Agios Romanos: Large beach ideal for families, with views of Syros and several tamarisks providing great shade.
Laouti: One of the largest beaches of the island with fine sand, shallow waters and straw umbrellas. In close proximity you will find numerous restaurants, cafes and shops.
Kalyvia: One of the most beautiful beaches of Tinos with amazing waters and a cluster of tamarisks at the back of the beach to lay out your towel if you can’t find a sunbed.
Pahia Ammos: An impressive beach characterized by golden sand, pristine waters and the arid Cycladic landscape.
Agia Thalassa: Quiet beach with natural shade from tamarisk trees. The road is a little tricky and you may have to walk a little. But the crystal clear waters and the view of the small island of Planetes will definitely reward you.
Apigania: A deserted beach, ideal for solitary swimming. Its white sands and clear blue waters will make up for the 500 m walk. Make sure you bring a sea umbrella.
What to do
The morphology of Tinos is ideal for hiking, the strong winds that blow on the island favour those who love surfing and kite surfing, and the picturesque villages are perfect for idyllic walks. So forget the sun loungers and discover the island by walking, hiking or diving into its magnificent seabed.
Hiking: the island has many beautiful hiking trails. One of them, short and easy, leads from Pyrgos to Platia. On the route, one can see the Museum of Marble Crafts, the Mills, Rochari beach and finally reach the village of Platia through a stone path that passes through a gully.
The Falatados-Livada trail is also excellent due to the rich vegetation on much of the route and the many variations in the landscape.
Climbing: Tinos is a popular climbing destination internationally and mainly in Europe. Exombourgo and Volax are ideal locations for both belayed climbing and climbing on low rocks without a rope.
Diving: Along the coastline, there are lots of interesting caves, rocky complexes and shipwrecks. Dive in Stavros to see the ruins of the ancient harbour, or in Livada to explore the rocky seabed and the shipwreck, or Vourni to discover its intense underwater biodiversity.
Surfing & Kite surfing: Tinos is a surfers’ paradise especially in August when the winds are at their best. The most popular beaches for water sports are Megali Kolymbithra and Livada (known for its big waves; however, be careful because the bottom is rocky and the currents are strong). Agios Fokas, Kionia and Agios Romanos are ideal for windsurfing.
Volax: Perhaps the most impressive village of the island mainly because of the round rocks that are scattered in the area and create an enigmatic and impressive landscape. The village is also famous for its basket weaving workshops. Move around the village in the narrow cobbled streets and the surrounding area to see the stony landscape up close.
Exombourgo: The once most powerful castle of the Cyclades, the Castle of Tinos, was located right here. When it was in its glory, it was known as the “Castle of Agia Eleni”. The huge granite mound is truly impressive and it is well worth a short walk up the hill to the ruins of the Venetian castle. From up here, you will have the best view of the island.
Swimming in Livada, the tour of Volax and the Monastery of Kechrovouni.
Info/ Emergency phone numbers you should know:
Tinos Health Centre: +30 22833 60000
Tinos KTEL Buses: +30 22830 22440
Port Authority of Tinos: +30 22830 22348 -22220
Tinos Police Department: +30 22830 22100
Tourism police of Tinos: +30 22830 22265
Municipality of Tinos: +30 22833 60 100- 5
READ MORE: CYPRUS: 5 beaches you MUST visit.