Tinos Greece: A Guide To This Beautiful Traditional & Artistic Island

church of Panagia Evangelistria with red carpet up the stairs

Austere and deeply religious compared to hedonistic Mykonos next door, Tinos Greece is also a foodie’s dream and an adrenaline junkie’s playground. It’s romantic and wild drawing you in with its gorgeous natural scents and beautiful sunsets.

Umpteen trails lead you through the island’s hinterland and history. Take the ancient roads to discover folklore and traditions through the endless whitewashed villages, exquisite dovecotes and abandoned settlements.

Admire handiwork of the island’s famous marble sculptors, artists and basket making as well as that of mother nature herself. See the unique geological phenomenon in and around the village of Volax and the rock formations at Livada Beach.

See also:

  • Tinos: 15 Authentic Cycladic Villages You Need to Visit
  • Hiking on Tinos: Helpful Walking Guide to the “Hand-Made” Island
  • Tinos Highlight: Walk Up Exomvourgo For History & Fantastic Views

Where is the Greek Island of Tinos?

You’ll find Tinos island in the Cyclades, tucked between Andros and its famous neighbour Mykonos. Two to four hours from Athens, Tinos is just a 20 to 30-minute hop on the ferry from Mykonos or Syros. Naxos and Paros are about an hour away and it takes around 90 minutes to travel from Andros.

What is Tinos Greece Known For?

Religious Tourism and the Church of Panagia Evangelistria

The iconic church of Panagia Evangelistria is something of a Mecca for Greek Orthodox Christians. Thousands each year make the pilgrimage from all over Greece to receive miraculous healing or help.

People crawl up the street on their hands and knees in an act of devotion. The carpet on the side of the road has been put down specifically for these people not to get hurt.

Because Panagia Evaggelistria of Tinos (Our Lady of Tinos) is the patron saint of Greece the island gets much busier during the three main celebrations for religious feast days.

They are on 25th March, 23rd July and 15th August as well as the Orthodox Easter whenever that falls. (It’s usually around the end of April/beginning of May).

On the dates above there will be various parades through the streets with particular icons of the Virgin Mary plus marching bands, dancing and special meals.

Artwork

Tinos has produced a disproportionate number of famous artists who’ve helped shaped modern art in Greece. The island has several museums dedicated to them and their work and there’s also a renowned School of Fine Art.

Endless works of marble have been created and the island is adorned with artwork. You’ll see it throughout the villages and most prominently in Pyrgos.

Intricate Dovecotes

As well as the most famous artists, the island has produced plenty of other talented artisans. Their skills are obvious from the intricate work on the hundreds of dovecots. A lesson in folk art they’re also an important part of the island’s history.

Although dovecotes aren’t unique to Tinos, it’s the island where they’ve been the best preserved. Historically birds provided the family with food and pigeon dishes are something of a speciality on the island. The dove droppings didn’t go to waste either and were valuable as manure to support the soil.

You can see hundreds of the structures across Tinos in various states. Some have been left to rack and ruin and others have been beautifully restored. Tarampados is the place to go to see the dovecotes at every turn.

Adventure Sports

As well as hiking, Tinos has become known for adventure sports like climbing and surfing. The island also hosts the Tinos Running Experience, a 21km road race with shorter routes and kids’ races too.

Climbing

A huge granite rock with the remains of a Venetian castle sits in the middle of the Tinos and it’s proven to be a great climbing destination. There are 10 sectors (one being specifically for children) with about 70 routes for various climbing abilities.

Surfing

Surfing too is popular on the island. The secret’s out and surfers come for the strong winds and well-oriented beaches. Head to Kolimvithra beach where you’ll find the surf vibe in full effect.

Food and Drink

Tinos has an abundance of natural products and local specialities with an equally good number of places to sample them. If you want to pick up fresh produce then head to the port in the morning. Farmers display their goods including homemade wine and packaged items.

You can also find shops around the town that sell the island’s food and drink products. If you’re lucky your visit will coincide with one of the annual food festivals such as the Artichoke Festival in May, the Caper Festival in July, the Honey Festival and the Rakizio Raki Festival in September.

Open the TinosToday media site in Google Chrome for a translated version of what’s on in Tinos when you visit.

Artichoke

is grown in large quantities around Komi village and you’ll find a long list of island dishes made with them. I came out of season but have been reliably informed that artichoke pie is unmissable.

Capers

and sundried tomatoes are grown and lovingly hand-prepared on the island.

Thyme Honey 

I saw many of the circa 3000 beehives on Tinos which create this beautiful honey. Visit the honey shop in Pyrgos to see a variety of products.

Cheese

is a Tinian speciality because of the unusual Tinos cow. The island produces a variety of hard and soft cheeses.

Meat

from the livestock is also used to create various speciality sausages.

Wine

there are several wineries on Tinos producing local varieties. For a tour try Volacus Wine near Falatados or Vaptistis Winery at Steni.

Beer

Tinos’ NISOS Beer is a highly regarded quality product that’s found in bars and restaurants throughout the island. In March 2022 it was awarded the FOODOXYS certification as official recognition that the NISOS beers have close to the same levels of bioactivity that red wine does.

So drink away! And if you’re a craft beer enthusiast you can take a tour with them. All the booking info is on the NISOS site.

Sweets 

indulge in the traditional sweets of Tinos. Three types are shown here. In the left picture are Sweet Cheese Pies where the pastry is folded with a toothpick and these are usually made around Easter.

In the right-hand picture are some Amygdalatas which are almond paste with rosewater and icing sugar. I had lots of those in Andros and they’re yummy. The other ones are “Fish”. They’re flour stuffed with walnuts, spices and orange zest.

How Many Villages Are in Tinos?

Tinos has over 40 villages. You’ll find typical Cycladic cubed houses, marble lintels/skylights, labyrinthine alleyways, medieval tunnels, alfresco tavernas, colourful bougainvillaea and amazing views.

Here’s a summary of a handful of them:

Volax 

Otherworldly landscape with boulders all over the surrounding countryside (including round stones that have been shaped over time by the weather). Historically the basket-weaving capital of the Cyclades you may still see someone working on baskets when you visit.

Pyrgos

A large settlement in the northeast of the island renowned for its marble and fine artists. The whole town is covered in marble and there are several marble museums to visit. You’ll find some interesting shops in the main pedestrian street and an attractive square at the end. Here cafes are set out under the plane trees.

Panormos

Just a few kilometres beyond Pyrgos is the sleepy fishing village of Panormos. Sit at the bay and enjoy a fish meal or take a refreshing dip in the sea.

Ysternia

A delightful village on the west of the island. Outstanding views of the sea and brilliant at sunset.

Kardiani

Also on the west coast sharing a gorgeous sunset Kardiani is a verdant spot with two interesting churches and a trail down to the sea.

Steni

Probably the most populated village on Tinos with a mix of Catholic and Orthodox residents. A pleasant village to walk through with some interesting old buildings.

Falatados

Another of the largest on the island, Falatados village has the majestic Holy Trinity – St. John’s Church and a reputation for outstanding raki. Join the Raki festival if you’re on the island in September.

Loutra

Historically an important religious centre on the island you’ll find the former Ursuline Convent and Jesuit Monastery both of which now house museums.

Agapi

Colourful village with traditional features like arches, lintels and the old spring/laundry and a number of dovecotes in the surrounding area.

Tripotamou

Just a few kilometres outside of Chora, below the Venetian castle, you’ll find this village with maze-like cobbled streets that are perfect to get lost in.

At Christmas, the village has a special custom. A male villager becomes the Kavos and is responsible for the upkeep of the village church for the year. The men of the village meet on Christmas day with a special handshake and sorts of traditions around the meal they prepare and eat.

Historically they used the meeting to discuss matters such as maintenance required in the village the following year.

Tarambados

A traditional village and the place to come to see the dovecotes. Follow the lovely marble signs to walk among them.

Xinara

The village at the base of Exomvourgo mountain with the stately building of the Naxos-Tinos Catholic Archdiocese. Access the rock climbing routes from here or the path to the castle.

Does Tinos Have Nice Beaches?

Tinos beaches are plentiful and although not on a par with Mykonos or Naxos (in this humble writer’s opinion) Tinos does have some nice beaches.

Check locally which beach is best for the day(s) you want to go. The wind can affect your enjoyment so see what’s best for the weather conditions when you’re there.

Kolimvithra and Mikri Ammos

These two beaches are next door to each other with pretty good parking on the main road. Kolimvithra on the left is the longest stretch of sand and is a popular surfing spot with a beach bar.

Mikri Ammos is smaller and the waves aren’t quite so big. It also has facilities including a couple of hole-in-the-floor toilets, shower and changing cubicles.

Agios Fokas

Another popular beach, this long stretch serves Chora and can get busy in peak season. It has restaurants and beach bars so you don’t have to walk far for those. The road that runs behind the beach is often used by runners and walkers.

Agios Ioanna – Porto

A popular beach for people staying in the area. Family-friendly as the water is shallow.

Livada Beach

An environmental park with fascinating rock formations and a river. You can take a fun walk to the lighthouse on non-windy days. The dirt road that takes you down to the beach is fine with a normal car.

Agios Romanos

A lovely long stretch of sand. Generally, a quieter beach although there are facilities there.

Round the cove, there’s also Apigania Beach but you have to walk down a dirt track to get there. Stop at the Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Vrysi on the way past, it’s a peaceful and secluded spot with lovely views.

Rocharē

Beyond Panormos is a long stretch of sandy beach. It can get busy at the weekends, including the parking area. But there’s quite a bit of space both for sunbeds and to lay your towel out and there’s a beach bar too.

Kavalourko Beach

A pretty beach with interesting rock patterns and a carving of Aeolos on one of the rocks. There was quite a lot of litter when I visited in spring but it may get cleared in the summer.

The beach is tucked away so you’ll need to walk to it but I’ve heard it’s popular with nudists and gay couples. I recommend walking from Panormos unless you have a 4×4. Takes about 20 minutes to Thalassa beach and then it’s a 5-minute walk past the church to get there.

If you’re adventurous you’ll find other quiet coves around the island. Some need a 4×4 to get to so choose wisely!

How Many Days Do You Need in Tinos?

If the ferries allow, you could come for a day trip from Mykonos. But you’d barely scratch the surface and I’d suggest at least 3 days on Tinos.

Where’s the Best Place to Watch the Sunset in Tinos?

The sunset spots in Tinos are:

MAYOU All-day Bar Ysternia/Isternia – the tables here are set out on a square that is like a literal balcony to the Aegean. The team are friendly and the food is good. Go for cocktails in the evening.

Abada Ysternia – Abada is on a spot on the main road Kardianis and Ysternia. When I visited Tinos the bar was being built and it clearly had an amazing view. It’s now been open for a little while and the reviews of the food and the welcome are good.

Sunset Bar Kardiani – just off the main above Kardiani. Does what it says on the tin really.

Ο ΝΤΙΝΟΣ restaurant Kardiani Bay– go for a meal at sunset for a special experience

There are also several spots along the road from Chora to Isternia where you can just pull over and watch the sunset for free. Alternatively, accommodation on the west side of the island is likely to have a good sunset view.

Gay Tinos

Tinos doesn’t have an established gay scene like roaring Mykonos next door. However, you’ll find the reception to be as accepting on other islands. Because it’s a particularly religious island, it’s a good idea for any and all couples to be discreet.

Kavalourko Beach at Panormous seems to be a popular place with gay couples who want somewhere a little off the beaten track.

Sustainable Travel and Social Responsibility

Eco-Friendly Tinos

From what I’ve seen, Tinos island is making a good effort on the environmental front from recycling, to tree planting for International Day of Forests to changing the public lighting.

LED Lights Installation

The Municipality was in the process of changing over to energy-efficient LED lights in Chora when I visited last. Something that I thought was a really lovely touch was that they chose round light bulbs for the road leading up to Panagia Evangelistria church. So now the path is lit by halos.

Recycling

Tinos is using gamification on a dedicated website to get the local population involved in recycling. Residents get points and discounts at local businesses for taking short training videos and quizzes and for logging when they recycle.

I saw recycling bins all around the island for various materials. That includes marine litter bins to stop waste from the fishing industry from ending up in the sea.

Contributing to the Local Economy

Much of the accommodation on the island is run by local families or people with connections to Tinos. Same with the restaurants and tavernas which also use local products

If you’re cooking you can pick up things from the farmers’ stalls at the port in the mornings. You’ll also find shops around town selling jars and bottles of products from Tinos.

Animal Welfare

At several points around Tinos, I saw Tinian Tribe cat shelters. It’s a private project that an artist set up while she was spending time on the island.

And one of the vets who’s based between Syros and Tinos runs We Live Together. They help create shelters for the cat colonies and have a permanent base for their trap, neuter, release programme.

They have cats available for adoption and you can make a donation towards sterilisation (open in Chrome for automatic translation).

Which Apps Do I Need for Tinos?

In addition to the apps I mention here for travel on the islands you could also get the Clio Muse app or access their website. The Municipality of Tinos have put together a number of free self-guided tours for you to discover the island.

Where to Stay in Tinos

Agios Ioannis – Porto

In the south of the island is a popular place to stay. It’s only about 10 minutes from Tinos town (Chora) and there’s a family-friendly beach, tavernas and mini-markets nearby.

Plus a decent bus service runs through to Chora in the summer months so it’s a good location if you’re not driving. Everything’s quite convenient including traditional villages if you do have a car.

Chora 

Another car-free option is to stay in town. Obviously restaurant and shop facilities are on your doorstep as are the Panagia Evangelistria, Archaological Museum and a couple of hiking trails. There is also a decent beach or two depending exactly where you stay.

Kiona

This is a touristic area about 3km from town. There are lots of tavernas along the road and a beach right there too. The small Archaeological Site of Kionia is there too but for anything else you’ll need to get the frequent (in summer) bus to town.

Exomeria

Exomeria is the region “outside of the centre” so Isternia, Pyrgos, Panormos Bay and other settlements in the north are included. Although some would say you’re a bit cut-off up there I think it depends what you’re looking for.

I stayed in Marlas, population cira 40, 5km from Pyrgos and it was a lovely quiet spot. You might not want to be in that small a village but Pyrgos has plenty to see and there are four beaches to choose from down the road at Panormos.

Isteria is beautiful to walk around with more tavernas and great views. Plus there are several hiking routes in the area. It’s one to consider although you will need a car.

Traditional Village

Take your pick, Tinos has enough! If you want a truly authentic experience then choose a village. Steni is another larger settlement with plenty of places to eat. There’s a winery and hiking trails. Plus you can easily get to other villages and some of the more remote beaches.

Tinos Accommodation

Instead of choosing an area, you could always decide which hotel takes your fancy first. The best Tinos hotel for you will come down to a number of factors so consider location, type of space you’re looking for and the facilities on offer.

The properties below can be found on Booking.com. See also TinosHost for properties.

Tinos EcoHouses

Tinos Ecolodge

Onos – Eco Living Experience

Tinos Luxury Villas

Diles & Rinies

TinosHabitart

Tinos Luxury Hotels & Suites

ORION suites

Tinos Blend Suites

Infinity View Hotel

Tutti Blue

Aeolis Tinos Suites

Mr. and Mrs. White Tinos

Cavos Hotel & Suites

Vega Apartments

Boutique Hotels Tinos

Crossroads Inn

Anthea Boutique Hotel & Spa

Nama Boutique Hotel

Altana

Tinos Town Accommodation

Virginia Hotel

Golden Beach Hotel

Hotel Eleana

Hotel Poseidonio

Agali Bay Hotel

Artemis Apartments Tinos

Moúses (not on Booking but has excellent Google Reviews, book here)

Tinos Airbnb

There are umpteen Airbnb listings for Tinos. Many have excellent reviews and over 100 of the options are run by Superhosts. By the way, it’s normal for hosts to take your passport number or a picture of your passport. The industry is regulated and hosts are required by law to take the details for tax purposes.

Tinos Restaurants

With all the great local products it goes without saying there are some excellent restaurants on Tinos. I’ve created a list of Tinos Restaurants on Google Maps. It includes the old faithfuls that have been recommended for years plus some others that I found with consistently excellent reviews.

Needless to say, I haven’t made it round all of these myself yet, but take a look and decided for yourself. where to try.

How Do You Get Around Tinos?

The main roads on Tinos are pretty decent and I’d recommend that you rent a car. Then you get around on your own itinerary and desires. If you’re visiting out of the peak season it really is your best option.

In the summer months, the buses (second line is in English) from Chora to popular touristy areas and some of the villages are much more frequent. If you’re mainly going to at the beach near your hotel you could get away without a car by joining an organised tour to other parts of the island.

What About Car Rental Tinos?

If you want to rent a car in Tinos then I can personally recommend Jason Rent a Car. The family were very friendly and welcoming and they’ll leave the car right at the port for you.

Dimitris Rent a Car Tinos comes highly recommended and makes things easy with their online booking system.

Vidalis Tinos Rent a Car & Bike also has a good reputation and a number of offices in Chora. I saw lots of their cars at the port in the winter so they look like a good choice for the off-season too.

At peak times you may need to call around to find an available vehicle. Alternatives are Koulis Rent a Car Tinos and Avance. Usually, the car hire places will give you a map of Tinos so you can find your way around.

Sidenote: if you’re visiting during the normal tourist season make sure you don’t park on the main road through town. (The one that comes to/from the port.)

The Port Police will be on you with a fine in seconds. If you’re returning your hire car to one of the offices on that road, park at one of the dedicated car parks off that main road or the one at the opposite end to the port.

Does Tinos Have an Airport?

Although there’s a helipad there’s no airport in Tinos. The closest is Mykonos airport.

What is Tinos Port Like?

Nearly all the ferry services come into Tinos new port which is at the end of Chora/Tinos town. Some of the smaller fast services, like the Flying Cat boats, arrive at the old port/harbour.

If you’re on one of the large conventional ferries you’ll definitely arrive at the main port. But check which you’ll arrive at if you’re on a fast small boat.

I didn’t realise I wasn’t arriving at the main port and I’d arranged to collect a car there. It’s within walking distance but not when you have a lot of luggage or you know, two cats to carry!

At the new port there is:

  • a taxi station
  • an area to collect and return hire cars
  • covered waiting areas for the boats and
  • toilets (usually clean but you’ll need your own tissue)

Ferries from Mykonos to Tinos

The ferry from Mykonos to Tinos takes around 30 minutes or less. There are ferries all year round with several services per day in the summer. The Mykonos – Tinos ferry could be either the fast catamaran type boat or the bigger, slow ferry as they both operate between these islands.

For the Mykonos to Tinos ferry timetable go to Ferryhopper.com or get the app. You can use it to find the schedules for all boats, book a ticket and check-in online. On the app you can also track your ferry for actual arrival/departure time on the day.

How Do You Get to Tinos from Mainland Greece?

Unless you’re getting a helicopter transfer then to get to Tinos from mainland Greece you’ll need to come by ferry from Athens or via Mykonos (at least for the moment). Ferries from Rafina to Tinos are the most prolific although some boats do leave from Athens. Again check Ferryhopper.com for all the schedules between Rafina and Tinos.

An alternative would be to fly into Mykonos from Athens or Thessaloniki (summer only) and then take a 20 – 30 minute ferry trip to Tinos.

Seaplane infrastructure is being created at Tinos port in anticipation of seaplane transport coming to Tinos. It should be another option soon.

How Long is the Ferry From Athens to Tinos?

In summer the ferry from Athens to Tinos is under 2 hours. In the off-season, it’s around a 4-hour journey.

How Do You Get to Tinos from the UK?

To get to Tinos from the UK in the summer season you could:

  • fly to Mykonos and then get the ferry to Tinos (about 20 – 30 minutes)
  • fly to Athens then get the ferry to Tinos (about 2 hours)
  • fly to Athens, take an internal flight from Athens to Mykonos and then get the ferry to Tinos

Out of the main tourist season, you’ll need to fly to Athens and get the boat to Tinos from there. In the winter, the ferries take around 3.5 – 4 hours).

If cost is important then being flexible can help you get the best deal. Flights to Mykonos can be expensive but they can also be super cheap. The ferry cost between Mykonos and Tinos is low.

It’s easy to get the bus from the Mykonos airport to the port between 9am and 10pm and the ferries between Mykonos and Tinos are frequent. It’s a feasible route to take in the summer if the schedules match up for you.

Is Tinos Worth Visiting?

I hope you’ve realised by now that Tinos really is worth visiting. It’s such a lovely spot on its own merit but also a welcome relief from the crowds on other nearby islands. I hope you make it a stop on your next itinerary!

Tinos Greece: A Guide To This Beautiful Traditional & Artistic Island

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