Tinos island is a quiet beauty in the Cyclades, still unknown to most international tourists. This photo tour takes you through its charming villages, pretty beaches, gigantic birdhouses and a unique church of miracles.
Travel Tinos Island
Tinos island’s proximity to other Cycladic islands makes it an excellent destination to hop to and from, including the neighboring “rock star” island of Mykonos. Exploring Tinos is the opposite of Mykonos, a look into one of the more off-the-beaten-track destinations in the Greek islands.
I landed in Tinos in the off-season, on-assignment travel writing for Fodor’s Greek Islands 2015. I spent a few (unsunny) days on the island. Still, I got the feeling of the island’s calm and authentic vibe and an idea of the top things to do in Tinos. I would love to return on some sunny days.
Here’s my photo tour of what to do on Tinos island.
Visit Panagia Evagelistrias
Tinos may not be world famous but it does attract its own segment of tourists, namely Greek tourists with a miracle in mind. They embark on Tinos twice a year, on March 25 and August 15, to visit the island’s landmark church called the Church of Panagia Evagelistria or Our Lady of Tinos.
The icon of the Virgin Mary housed in the church is believed to be the source of numerous miracles. Locals explained to me that once the ferry docks, pilgrims will drop down and begin to crawl on their knees toward the church, praying the whole time. A carpet, set out specifically for them, stretches across the main street from the port, a distance of 300 meters.
Turns out the trip, prayers and kneeling were worth it for many. I was quite touched by the miraculous stories a a church worker told me. Silver and gold gifts given by the pilgrims who had their miracle prayers answered hung and glittered around the entire church. I wrote about them in an earlier post titled: A Church of Miracles in Tinos.
The Marble Village of Pyrgos
Tinos is dotted with some of the loveliest villages in the Cyclades.
I loved spending one afternoon in the marble village of Tinos called Pyrgos. It was a unique experience, a whitewashed dream of marble everywhere! There were marble accents on homes, churches, doors and staircases.
You can also visit the Marble Museum of Art in town. For more on what to do in Pyrgos, check out my earlier post: Pyrgos: A Marble Village in Tinos.
Other villages to explore include Arnados, the highest village in the Kechrovouni Mountain. Volax is a tiny village with houses that are built onto rock. Isternia sits high above Isternia Bay with spectacular views.
Dive into Tinos Beaches
The days I stayed in Tinos, the sun hardly came out. No time for swimming for me anyway since I was working. However, local guides pointed out some lovely beaches I should go to next time.
Near Pyrgos village check out beautiful Rohari. Also noteworthy for lovely sand and relaxing environments are: Agios Ioannis Porto, Agios Sostis, Stavros and Agios Fokas. The beaches of Kolumbithra and Ormos Yannaki with its views of Syros, were also considered top notch beaches by locals as well. Lots of choices indeed!
Out of all of the choices I decided to venture out to Pachia Ammos for a bit of Tinos beach research. It was located on an unmarked path (hopefully, they marked it by now) and we got lost a few times. Tip: Don’t wear flip flops like I did to get to the beach. Once I headed onto the right unmarked path, I had fun dodging some prickly plants. Then, there it was, a unique green sand beauty of a beach on the southern coast of Tinos island.
Check out the Huge Tinos Birdhouses
Tinos island is renowned for having the best birdhouses in the Cyclades. They were serious houses. In fact, I thought they were actual people houses at first. But, they were built for birds. Hundreds of the birdhouses called dovecotes dot the Tinos landscape, many with beautiful marble designs and intricate stonework. I wrote about this Cycladic island tradition in my earlier post: Cycladic Island Birdhouses in Tinos
Tinos Island Travel Tips
- Tinos is a large island. I recommended you rent a car or scooter to get where you want to go.
- The many villages are the charm of the island.
- Be wary of traveling close to March 25 or on August 15, if you don’t want to be in the thick of the Greek Orthodox pilgrim crowds. Thousands of Greeks make a special pilgrimage to the island’s famous church, as I explained above. On the other hand, you may want to come to be a part of it all!
- Buy Greek. Tinos Town has very nice shops that sell hand painted religious icons, check out Dia Cheros shop. I loved several small jewelry shops with fantastic quality jewelry and ended up going shopping unexpectedly! Definitely visit the unique village of Pyrgos and buy something marble and beautiful to take home.
- Nightlife is sparse in Tinos but there are a few clubs and bars in the summer behind the waterfront. Check out Kousaros, Sivylla, Volto and Kaktos. The other best thing to do at night is just stroll around Tinos Town then have a drink at a lounge bar on the promenade facing the harbor.
- There’s an ancient temple dedicated to Poseidon, the god of the sea, in Kiona.
How to Get to Tinos:
In the peak summer season, daily ferries link Tinos to Mykonos (30 minutes) and to Rafina (3 hours and 45 minutes) and Andros (1.5 hours).
A daily ferry leaves Athens Piraeus Port (5 hours).
There are also ferries from Thessaloniki, Crete, Skiathos, Santorini and Paros and weekly ferries from other ports and islands in Greece. Check www.openseas.gr for more details and updated time schedules.
Where to Stay in Tinos:
You can find my full reviews I wrote for Fodor’s about the best accommodation in Tinos here. I was very pleased with my stay at the Tinos Beach Hotel on Kiona Beach. Great staff and value for money. Perfect for families. Located a few kilometers from the main port, right next to a beach.
Where to Eat in Tinos:
Tinos isn’t known for its restaurant scene like Mykonos or Syros. However, I dined at some lovely family-owned places with great service and local specialties. One of my favorite dining experiences writing for Fodor’s was in Tinos at To Thalassaki in Isternia Bay. Lovely views, service and innovative Greek menu that ties the old with the new. Itan Ena Mikro Karavi (It Was a Small Boat) and Symposion are excellent dining options not to be missed in Tinos Town.
You can find my all of the restaurant reviews I wrote for Fodor’s Greek Islands 2015 about the best Tinos restaurants here.
Have you ever visited Tinos island? Is there anything you’d add to the list of top things to do in Tinos?
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