Crystal clear waters, picturesque villages, unique recipes, beautiful hiking routes. Tinos is more than meets the eye, and definitely more than its religious elements. It may be known among the locals as the Greek island with the most significant religious character, however, Tinos is first and foremost an island with incredible beauty and a world of treasures waiting to be discovered. Here, we will help you get introduced to the stunning island of Tinos.
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Most who visit the island are content with a walk in the port, a swim in nearby Kionia, and the main reason many go to Tinos to worship the Virgin Mary. And yet! There are so many beautiful corners in its villages, so many beautiful beaches on its shoreline and so many inland shops that you think you have discovered a little heaven on earth!
Reasons to visit Tinos
The streets of Tinos - credits: Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock.com
1. For its architectural excellence. Tinos has been described as an "island of art and beauty", as it is full of architectural masterpieces. It is endowed by nature, on the one hand with rare stones, such as green and white fish, slate, and granite, and on the other hand with its environment, which favors and stimulates the artistic consciousness. That is why, after all, it is the island that "gave birth" to a number of artists who excelled both in architecture and in the other arts.
2. For its cultural significance. Like every corner of Greece, Tinos has its own customs, which its institutions and inhabitants take care to maintain until today. The visitor of the island will have the opportunity to get to know them up close and to experience these special traditions, gaining new experiences.
3. For its stunning beaches. No Cycladic island could ever be short of stunning beaches that put other exotic destinations of the world to shame. Your choices are many but remember that everything in Tinos depends on the winds, so be sure to ask the hospitable locals. Do not miss Kalivia, with the beautiful beach bar, Giannaki beach, below Kardiani with the pebbles and the taverns on the sea, the cosmopolitan Kionia, near Chora, Agios Fokas with the shallow waters, Agia Kyriaki with fine sand, and Santa Margarita with the emerald waters.
4. For its beautiful villages. Beyond Chora, the church of Panagia, and the crowds of faithful believers, the beautiful and well-preserved villages of Tinos await the visitor who wants to discover the authentic side of the island. Exploring these charming settlements, where time has stopped and tradition prevails, is an experience not to be missed if you are on this beautiful Cycladic island.
5. For its delectable cuisine. The visitor of Tinos has the opportunity to taste on the one hand the traditional Cycladic cuisine, and on the other hand, the special Tinian dishes with the local pure ingredients produced by the island. Tinos has the ability to offer locals and visitors genuine and pure traditional products.
How to get there
Tinos' port - credits: Aerial motion/Shutterstock.com
The only way to reach the stunning island of Tinos is by boat, as the island doesn’t have its own airport. There are two ports from where you can take the ferry to Tinos. Starting from the port of Piraeus, the journey to the island takes about 5.30 hours.
Alternatively, you can take the speedboats that depart both from the port of Piraeus and the port of Rafina. The trip takes about 3,5 hours from Piraeus, while from Rafina it lasts between 2 and 4 hours, depending on the type of ship.
Tinos also has regular connections with other Cycladic islands, such as Syros, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Andros. Please keep in mind that routes to and from Tinos, increase during the summer months.
The best towns and villages to explore
The real beauty of the island is in its villages. Most of them are mountainous, forgotten in another era. Others with amazing green landscapes, which in no way remind the barren image that most of us have combined with the Cyclades. Others with traditional stone buildings, narrow cobbled streets, and interesting sights. All with their own, unique beauty that makes those who have visited the island unreservedly recommend it to all of their friends and family.
Pyrgos village - credits: Theastock/Shutterstock.com
It is considered by many to be the most beautiful village on the island. The truth is that a visit to Pyrgos is a must. Get lost in its Cycladic alleys, eat traditional desserts under the plane tree in the main square and visit its museums and artistic corners. Besides, Pyrgos is called ‘the village of artists’ because great personalities of art, such as the sculptor Giannoulis Halepas and the painter Nikiforos Lytras came from there. This aura of art exists in every corner of Pyrgos and every alley resembles a postcard because of its beauty. It is about half an hour from Chora and is nicely combined with the descent to the port of Panormos, the bay of the village.
Springs with gurgling water, paved paths, and flowering bougainvillea, compose the image of the village of Dio Choria and frame the towering plane trees of the large square and the picturesque medieval arches on the best "balcony" of Tinos. There, you can drink your ‘raki’ accompanied by a rich, local dessert. Dio Choria is built at an altitude of 450 m.
Triantaros is a large, lively village, preserving the traditional elements of the island while also having many new houses inhabited by foreigners. It has an incredible view, picturesque narrow alleys, and steps, while the church of Agios Apostolos dominates its center. The repaired traditional olive grove and the source of ‘lefkes’ -which bares this name due to the poplar trees that surround the area in abundance- attract passers-by. In the area, you will also find a traditional bakery and several taverns and cafes. The village association often organizes traditional festivals.
Volax is one of the most special villages of Tinos, for two reasons: First, for the lunar landscape around it with the massive, round, and often animal-shaped rocks. And secondly, for the lyrics and poems, you will find while walking in the village on doors, windows, and walls. The works of famous poets such as Varnalis and Gatsos, as well as traditional Tinian songs, are written by the locals on every possible surface of the island, giving an alternative note to your walk.
The aforementioned lunar landscape is the reason behind the name of the village, ‘Volakas’ or ‘Volax’, as Volax is the typical granite rock of the area. The origin of the rocks has always occupied the imagination of the inhabitants but also science. In addition to marveling at the impressive rocks, it is worth wandering the Cycladic alleys, eating traditional ‘baklava’, and admiring the traditional baskets made by the locals; if you have the time, you can see the craftsmen up close at work in the basket-making workshops.
Kardiani village - credits: Panagiotis_Chatziiliadis/Shutterstock.com
Another beautiful village of Tinos, with nice small alleys and stunning views, is Kardiani. Make a stop in a local cafe and taste coffee, traditional sweets, and Tinian flavors before you go down to the port of the village. In Ormos Kardianis, a few kilometers below, the seaside taverns will serve you the famous shrimp spaghetti and ‘kakavia’ fish soup that combines with the fantastic view will leave you more than satisfied.
Isternia is another village of Tinos with cobbled streets, white Cycladic churches, and mesmerizing views. After your walk in the upper part of the village, you can go down to Ormos Isternion, a few kilometers below the village, and take a dip into the sea or eat your fish in the famous local restaurant ‘’Thalassaki’ that almost touches the waves.
Arnados, the village with the highest altitude, is located on the south side of Mount Kechrovouni, near the Monastery of the same name. Here you can visit the church museum of the village and taste with a magnificent panoramic view of the Aegean the classic Tinian cuisine with meat and delicious locally produced ingredients.
Do not forget to visit the Monastery of Kechrovouni, a large building that gives the impression of a fortified village. There, there is the famous cell of the nun Pelagia, as well as a Museum, in which are kept several remarkable icons of the 18th and 19th century, along with other important relics.
Kalloni is a village with olive groves and gardens full of artichokes, citrus fruits and vegetables. Take a walk to the church of Agios Zacharias. From its large courtyard with pebble mosaic one can see the village and the beach of Kolimbithra.
The village of Komi is located at the beginning of a fertile plain, which stretches to the sea. Tall reeds protect the fields from the wind. In each of the two entrances of the village, there is a church with its picturesque square.
Panormos village - credits: Lemonakis Antonis/Shutterstock.com
The small fishing village of Panormos, characterized as a traditional settlement in the western part of the island, has crystal clear sandy beaches, while the island of Planitis stands out with the ruined lighthouse, just opposite the port.
The best beaches in Tinos
As the fourth largest island in the Cyclades, Tinos has a large enough coastline to accommodate beaches for every taste. Its beaches are many and excellent, organized, and more secluded. Most are easily accessible by car and depending on the weather, as the island is famous for its strong northern but refreshing winds, you can find beaches to play with the waves or just avoid them. Here is a list of our favorite beaches on the island.
Kionia beach - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com
At a very close distance from Chora, the beach of Kionia is a narrow beach with sand and pebbles and is the most convenient choice. It is organized and you will also find cafes and taverns.
Immediately after passing by the area of Kionia, you will come across Tsambia beach. A river used to flow there. It is a large, beautiful beach, with pebbles and plenty of sand. Apart from a refreshing dive in crystal clear waters, Tsambia will offer you the opportunity to marvel at the ruins of the temple of Poseidon.
This is the largest beach of Tinos, which also happens to be a very short distance from Chora. The beach of Agios Fokas is sandy with scattered pebbles. It is organized with sunbeds and beach bars while offering beautiful views of the sacred island of Delos.
The beach of Agios Sostis is one of the busiest on the island and famous for its crystal clear waters. It is suitable for families since the waters are shallow and it is organized, while the tamarisk trees behind the beach offer natural shade to those who wish to lay their towels under them. Mykonos can be seen on the horizon of the beach.
Livada is a wild and relatively remote beach, exposed to the ‘meltemia’ winds that have shaped this unique setting. The access requires a path on a dirt road but the black sand of the beach, the fine gravel, and the transparent sea that deepens abruptly are worth the hassle. Its trademark is the unique rock shapes on the left side of Livada beach, which have inspired both artists and geologists throughout the years.
Pachia Ammos is a quiet beach, without a lot of people and completely untouched by the tourist activity of the island. The scenery here seems to be from another country as dunes end up in the sea, which is also the reason behind its name that in English translates to ‘thick sand’. The landscape resembles a desert but the clear blue waters are a vibrant touch of color to the area that is also exposed to the famous ‘meltemia’ winds.
Kardiani is a wide, sandy, short beach, with crystal clear waters. It is organized in one part and free in the rest, covering all tastes and preferences of both locals and visitors. Here you can relax in the shade of tamarisk trees or enjoy a drink at the beach bar.
Kolymbithres beach - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstockcom
Kolymbithres is without a doubt one of the most popular beaches of Tinos. Essentially these are two beaches, named Mikri Ammos and Megali Ammos respectively. One is fully organized, while the other one is quieter and free of sunbeds and umbrellas. It is covered with sand and is suitable for water sports and surfing.
Apigania is a truly exotic place that has been left far from tourist development. A beautiful bay with turquoise waters and rocks that seem to have been sculpted by a great sculptor. Access is difficult as it requires driving on a dirt road and then walking and descending rocks. To avoid the hustle, you can also access Apigania beach by boat, which is way easier and much more enjoyable.
Laouti or Skylandar
One of the largest beaches of Tinos with a long sandy shore is the beach of Laouti, which is better known by the name Skylandar. This beach is ideal for those who love water sports and seek adrenaline even during their swimming endeavors. Laouti beach is fully organized and there, you will find in addition to sunbeds cafes, and taverns.
The beach of Agios Petros is an idyllic setting, as it is divided into two beaches by a rock at the top of which is the chapel of Agios Petros, which gave the name to the beach. The beach is not organized and offers views of Syros. Here you will see an old shipwreck.
Malli beach - credits: Lemonakis Antonis/Shutterstock.com
At the northwestern end of Tinos, towards Andros, there is a very nice beach, Malli. It is a small village with few inhabitants. Access is not easy. You need a jeep to get through the steep dirt road. Once upon a time, fishermen only went there during the fishing season. Now some live permanently.
The name of the relatively windless, long sandy beach south of Tinos, at a distance of 11 km from Chora, comes from the small church on the left edge of the cove. Nature endowed the favorite beach of the Tinians, with shady trees, clear, emerald waters, and an unobstructed view of Syros island.
Getting around the island
Panormos - credits: Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock.com
Due to its size, it comes as no surprise that you need a vehicle in order to explore the island and get from one place to another. If you have your car with you, you can bring it to the island by boat. Alternatively, there are plenty of rentals on the island to accommodate you. Whether you want a motorcycle, a car, or even a van, all you have to do is pay a visit to one of the rental places as soon as you reach the port of the island. Be sure to book your vehicle ahead, especially during the high-season summer months to eliminate the possibility of unpleasant surprises.
If you’re not keen on driving around the island yourself, you can rely on public transport. There are KTEL buses with frequent routes that can take you anywhere you need to go. Be sure to ask about the exact times of departure and you’ll have nothing to worry about. If you want to avoid the trouble of public transport and your budget allows you to, you can also use the many taxis available to get around the island. It is a costly alternative, but it is much more comfortable and stress-free than a bus.
Of course, if your accommodation is located at a central spot, we highly advise you to walk to the nearby locations you want to visit. By doing so, you will have the opportunity to discover the beauties of Tinos from up close and get to know the island in the best way possible.
Things to do in Tinos
Panagia Megalochari Church - credits: Pit Stock/Shutterstock.com
1. Do not miss the sunset in Kardiani. After your swim in the sea, head to the small cafe of Kardiani Bay and see the sun hiding in the sea. Of course, you should also take a walk in the village, since it offers the best view.
2. Take a walk in the village of Pyrgos and try their handmade sweets. Under the plane tree in the village square, you will hear stories from the locals, you will taste syrupy ‘galaktoboureko’, and relax in a friendly atmosphere that will make you never want to leave.
3. Ask about the festivals that are organized in the villages of Tinos. People gather in the squares and the party lasts until the morning.
4. Try the local products and dishes of the island, such as the tomato meatballs, the ‘kopanisti’ cheese, and the ‘louza’ sausage. The island also has its own beer, called simply ‘Tinos’. If you’re a fan of beer, you will love it; one thing is for sure: you will never be hungry or thirst on the island of Tinos!
5. If you love hiking and the temperature allows it, you have to make your way through the rock of Exomburgo. Some call it the ‘Stonehenge’ of Greece but its background makes it even more glorious. It lies at an altitude of 640 meters in the center of the southern part of the island and it is the trademark of Tinos. It is said to have taken its name from the Italian word ‘sobborgo’, which means a settlement outside the city -’burgo’ means ‘small town’- and its history dates back to the Bronze Age when the Cyclopean wall was built.
6. Look for the countless dovecotes of the island. It is said that there are more than 600 dovecotes on the island, and they are all perfect examples of traditional Tinian architecture. Most of them are concentrated in the central and central-eastern part of the island and in the valleys of the villages of Agapi, Potamia, Tarambados, Livada, and Kardiani.
These slate buildings are real works of art and one of the most characteristic elements of the Tinian landscape. They consist of two floors, the lower of which was used for storage and the upper for pigeons. Their decorated sides highlight in the best way the folk art and traditional architecture with elaborate designs.
7. Admire the archaeological site of the Temple of Poseidon and Amphitrite, dating from the 5th century BC. in Kionia to get insight into the ancient culture of the island.
8. Visit the Marble Museum in Pyrgos, but also the Tsokli museum in the village of Kampos. Don’t forget to also pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum, on the road leading from the port to Panagia of Tinos, which houses a rich collection of exhibits from antiquity, as well as finds from the Temple of Poseidon. Another excellent museum is the Museum of Tinian Artists, where you will have the opportunity to admire great paintings and sculptures by artists from Tinos, such as Gyzis, Halepas, Vitalis, Filippotis, and Sohos.
9. Enjoy the sunset in Isternia, where many people between 8 and 9 gather to enjoy the endless blue and the golden bows of the sun that is about to set. If you want to stay there, the tavern with the same name as the village is a great choice.
10. Pay a visit to Tinos’ most famous attraction: the Virgin Mary of Tinos and the red carpet that exists for the faithful to climb, many of whom reach the church on their knees. It is one of the holiest symbols of Hellenism and Orthodoxy. The Holy Icon of the Virgin Mary that is kept in Tinos has been directly connected with the Greek faith for the Virgin Mary but also with the liberation struggles of the previous two centuries. The uphill paved road to the church of the Virgin Mary starts from the port.
What to eat & drink
Tsibita - credits: tastefull.gr
Would it really be a Greek island if Tinos didn’t boast an excellent local cuisine that will ignite your senses? Some of the most popular flavors of the island include ‘frutalia’ which is essentially a thick omelet with sausage and spices. The local sun-dried tomatoes are also delicious, and the perfect souvenir to take back home.
Another delicacy you can eat in Tinos, but also buy, is the famous ‘louza’ sausage, which is close to the Italian prosciutto. Some of the best local products we would suggest you try before leaving the island include are Tinos’ gruyere, honey, and round cheese -you can ask for it with those exact words- which is white when fresh, but then turns slightly yellow and has a mild, not too-salty taste.
In regard to sweets, Tinos is known for its ‘tsibita’, which are little pies with a sweet filling of mizithra cheese, honey, mastic, and orange zest that is beautifully pinched around its sides and in addition to tasting heavenly, it looks beautiful. ‘Xerotigana’ is also a treat, consisting of deep-fried dough drenched in honey and sprinkled with walnuts.
There are a number of fine restaurants and homey taverns in Tinos that will allow you to taste some of the best flavors on the island. Tinos has one of the best food in the Cyclades and you will find it wherever you sit and eat. At Mount Isternia, the amazing ‘Thalassaki’ in a very picturesque spot by the sea, checks all of the gastronomic boxes. Sit at the tables that have been painted by the owner and cook of the tavern, and order seafood dishes, and cheeses that she makes herself. On the beach of Agios Fokas San, ‘to Alati’ is the ideal place for a gastronomic adventure located in an idyllic location.
In Chora, the most popular tavern is called ‘Itan ena mikro karavi’, which is a line from a traditional Greek children's song. It serves delectable dishes of Greek cuisine, made with local products. The menu is long, and every choice is excellent. Sit in the cool yard and enjoy your food rid of the stress of everyday life. In Panormos, try ‘Marina’ for the wonderful fisherman's spaghetti. ‘Svoura’ offers incredible food against the background of Kosi square. In ‘Koutouki of Eleni’, on the street of the market, enjoy the cooked homemade goods from local products and recipes that have been passed down through generations.
In ‘Marathia’, on the beach of Agios Fokas, ask for the homemade cheeses and pickled artichokes, and enjoy its excellent creative dishes. At ‘Dino’ in Kardiani, you will eat great fish, and enjoy the services of the friendly staff that will serve you fish soup accompanied by a blanket in order for you to feel cozy and comfortable during your meal. Visit the traditional cafe of ‘Kyra Leni in the village of Krokos for the best handmade fried bread, ‘furtalia’ omelet, and Tinian cheeses. In ‘Perivoli’ in Kardiani, a shady terrace with stunning views, delicious food, and awesome homemade orange pie awaits you.
Our trips to Tinos
Tinos - credits: Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock.com
Finding your way around a foreign island without direction is a rather intimidating task. In order to get the most out of your trip to Tinos, you need to follow the advice of the locals or leave your itinerary in the hands of the experts. What’s more, if you want to combine your visit to Tinos with a visit to some of the other regions of Greece and the Cycladic islands, our trips are just for you.
Join our 12-Day Trip to Athens, Tinos, Mykonos & Naxos, our 14-Day Family Trip to Athens, Peloponnese, Tinos, and Naxos, or our 14-Day trip to the Cyclades: Athens, Syros, Tinos & Naxos and get to know the beauty and heritage of Greece easily and enjoyably. We promise to provide you comfort, luxury, and a carefree mind that doesn’t need to sweat the details. What more can you ask from your Greek vacations?
Tinos really hides a trump card behind the touristy diplay of its port: dozens of villages, incredible architectural experiences, first-line museums, interesting archeological sites, and an intriguing semi-mountainous landscape for hikers, strewn with old quarries and marked trails.
If you add to these the luxurious accommodation, delicious cuisine, evening entertainment, and summer cultural events -ranging from live traditional festivals to an important literary festival- even the most demanding of travelers will find reasons to spend as many days on Tinos as possible.