Tinos, an island full of options for every taste, and always ready to cover a large spectrum of demands, whether they are natural, cultural or culinary. We visited Tinos for the first time last year, and since then we decided to visit it every year, with any chance we get. It’s an island that everyone will love to visit, it offers amazing food, pristine beaches, numerous museums and a lot of other cultural monuments. It also offers a lot of hiking trails throughout the island, trails where one can feel lost in nature, but also to explore it. Last but not least, Tinos is an island that offers many options even during the windy seasons. We prepared a beautiful mini-guide so that everyone can enjoy the island, depending on their mood for exploration.
The Chora and the villages
Tinos is one of the few Greek islands that the Chora, or the main village, does not have a protagonistic role. That is why there are a ton of different active villages in the island, each with its own unique character and a reason to visit it. You simply can’t miss going to Ysternia and Kardiani to gaze on the Aegean sunset from a higher perspective. You can’t miss Pyrgos and its marbled streets, or the picturesque houses, or the chance to sit below the plane tree in the main square. There are also a couple of museums there, the Chalepas Museum and the Museum of Marble Crafts. In Triantaros you can go and have local delicacies in the small taverns and experience the breath-taking sunsets. In Volax you can experience the one-of-a-kind lunar landscape and the village with the small streets. In Dio Choria there is a beautiful town square with nine water-springs. Moreover, you should visit the Falatados village, the Tarabados village where you can see the dove cots, the Loutra where you can visit the Ursulines monastery, the abandoned village of Monastiria, Panormos with the taverns where the waves crash, in Steni for the unique wine-making process, and many more! Of course there are a lot of things to do in Tinos (Chora), where you can find the night life, the souvenir shops and the landmarks that make Tinos what it is. Landmarks like the Panagia Megalochari church, the Elli Monument and the Cultural Foundation of Tinos. There you can also find numerous supermarkets, banks and ATMs, pharmacies, places to rent boats or cars and motorbikes. Don’t forget to sit for a coffee at the Prickly Bear, get information about the Tinos Food Paths and the rest of the festivals that take place in the island.
The beaches of Tinos do not have the immersive beauty and elegance of other Cycladic beaches, but they will not leave you complaining. You will surely go for a swim at the Aghia Thalasa, at Panormos, at Aghios Romanos, at Kalivia, at Ormos Giannakis, at Kionia, at Aghios Fokas and, of course, at Kolympithra, at Apothikes and at Livadas. At Rochari (Panormos) you can enjoy the beautiful atmosphere that Manos and Stefanos have created at the beach wit h the Alohari Beach Bar. At Ormos Giannakis you can go for some awesome cocktails next to the beach at Dear John. At the Ysternia Bay you can take a nice swim before eating at the Thalassaki. The most famous beaches in the islands are Apigania, Livada and Kolympithra with a great surf spot. Livada was the most enchanting beach though, as it is pretty secluded and it takes a 15-minute ride on a dirt-road to reach that heaven. Don’t forget to take at least water with you before going there. And for a little surprise, if you go past Kolympithra there is the Apothikes beach that has a special kind of pebble combined with sand and dark blue waters.
Tinos is an island that has nothing to be jealous about in terms of culture. This is also the reason that there is a department of Fine Arts in Pyrgos. The museums that you must not miss are, without a doubt, the Museum of Giannoulis Chalepas, the Museum of Marble Crafts and the Tsoklis Museum. The Museum of Giannoulis Chalepas is stationed at the house of the famous sculptor, with all his personal items right where he left them, his bedroom and his laboratory still carry memories from the period that the Greek sculptor lived in Pyrgos and his mind led him to dangerous paths without impeding his creativity (1902-30). Some of Chalepas’ most famous works, his drawings and his photographic material are completing the valuable inventory of the museum. The museum is at Pyrgos village, in the central entrance. In Pyrgos there is also the Museum of Marble Crafts by the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation. It is a wonderful museum that promotes the entire craft of marble-working in all its stages and techniques, along with tools and a remarkable number of authentic items. The exhibits are accompanied by reenactments of the quarry, the marble-working lab and the assembly of the despotic throne. The audiovisual material of the exhibition reincarates the traditional labor methods of the quarrier and the marble sculptor. The general entrance for the museum costs 4 euros and there are also various activities for kids. The cultural map of the island is completed by the Kostas Tsoklis Museum, at the Kampos village. The former elementary school of the village, that is now deserted of students, has been expanded, transformed and reused as a new home for the Kostas Tsoklis museum. The museum is dedicated to the people of Tinos and is adjusting to the new demands and is redefined through the prism of an artistic view. Other museums that are worth visiting are the Archaeological Museum of Tinos, the Cultural Museum of Volax, the Cultural Museum of the Ursulines monastery, te Cultural Museum of Tripotamos, the Mausoleum of the Elli cruiser and the Cultural Foundation of Tinos.
If you love nature you will be enchanted by Tinos. The activities that you can definitely enjoy include hiking, running, rock-climbing, biking and surfing. There are dozens of hiking and running trails, while the unique scenery of Volax and the peculiar rocks of the region have attracted bouldering enthusiasts from all over the world. Other places for activites are Eksomvourgo for rope-climbing, while biking is pretty much accessible throughout most villages. Tinos is a marvelous place to visit, as it combines mountain with sea and stunning food.
Words simply cannot describe the food in this island, but we’ll give it a try. The raw materials are of the highest quality in an island that has a lot of arable land. Exquisite dairy products, meats and wines take turns in appearing in every dish in the island. This is a heaven for foodies, with choices even for the most demanding appetites. Rangind from various brunches at the Krok Monsieur in Krokos, till the mouth-watering dished at the “Koutouki tis Elenis” in Chora. In Volax you should go to the tavern that bears the same name for 100% home-made food, in Steni you should visit Ntouar for fresh meats straight from the butcher. Don’t forget to try the newest addition to the island, Thama, for inspired food and also Thalassaki (at the Ysternia Bay) for some outstanding fish and impeccable dishes. You should definitely visit Triantaraki, at the Triantaros village, even for just a few hours, it’s totally worth it. And if you happen to be there during the Easter period, don’t forget to try the “magiritsa”. Also, one of the best taverns in the island is called Marathias, located at the Aghios Fokas beach, and it offers food throughout the day, and right next to the waves. Last but not least, check out Omma for a nice dinner with a view towards the Chora. All in all, the gastronomic experience will be immense, no matter which tavern or coffeehouse you choose.
For the best vistas imaginable you shoud go to Ekso Meria in Ysternia and Mayiou in Kardiani. The Aegean Sea lies right in front of you, while you are relaxing and enjoying refreshing cocktails and drinks from above. At Alohari Beach Bar you can enjoy fantastic cocktails in the beach throughout the whole day, but in the night you will have to go to Chora in order to try out the magnificent The Three Donkeys tiki bar. As soon as you walk inside that place you will feel like teleporting to another place and time, and you can enjoy the best drinks and cocktails in the island. More specifically, you can try the best gin tonic or the best Bloody Mary you’ve ever tasted, and each night you will surely want to try even more cocktails in order to find which one you like the best. The night life of Tinos offers a lot of options, like Koursaros, the legedary bar that is over 30 years old. Moreover, check out Kaktos and the Prickly Bear, the most recent addition to the island that offers a chilled atmosphere. Your ideal night should start at the Prickly Bear, then move to Koursaros before staying forever at the Three Donkeys.
You will want to start your days at the Prickly Bear for the best coffee in the island (Area 51), and you will move on to the Krokos village in order to enjoy your breakfast in the most beautiful yard in the island. Here you will eat the most tasty breakfast and brunch (croque monsieur of course) and you will want to eat pancakes too. Giannis and Maria have created a fantastic atmosphere, suited for relaxing and toning down the rhythm of the city. Another great place to enjoy your coffee is Mayiou in Kardiani, which offers a spectacular view, and also the central square in Pyrgos, where you can try the local cheese-pie made in the oven. Last but not least, Alohari and LalaLouza are two exceptional beach bars where you can enjoy your swim along with some tasty coffee.
Tinos is famous for its dairy products, but also for its meats. So you HAVE to try the “louza”, which is a cold-cut of pork, and the “volaki” which is a type of cheese. Also try the balaki, the kalathoto (or malathouni), the local graviera and the unique kariki, a special blue cheese that ages inside a pumpkin. Moreover, don’t forget to buy traditional pastries called “amigdalota” from the Chalaris Pastry shop, sweet cheese-pies (lichnarakia), many different kinds of jam, the rare pink tomato, long beans called “ampelofasoula”, capers, wild kritamo, local honey and, of course, wine. Tinos has two excellent wineries, that produce excellent and unique wines due to the special conditions of the soil. The wineries are called T-oinos and Volacus, and they are definitely worth a visit. Moreover, you can try the local beer, called Nisos, that is produced right there in the island.
What we like
We started our days at the Prickly Bear, then headed to Krok Monsieur, then for a quick swim and a cocktail at Rohari and the Alohari beach bar, and then we finished our day with an evening swim in Livada, a night swim in Triantaro and a night walk in Chora before our last stop at the Three Donkeys. Tinos arguably won us over last year, and we now consider it as our home. We like the fact that there are a ton of options to choose from, and the fact that there are a lot of young people who are trying their best to present their work. We’ve fallen in love with Pyrgos and the Aegean view that you can witness from Kardiani and Ysternia, we also liked Triantaraki the dove cots, the museums, the Ursulines monastery, Volax, the food, the trails, Rohari, Loutra, Tarabados, Dio Choria and Eksomvourgo.
What we disliked
We really did not dislike anything about that island, but one of the things you need to look out for is to choose to stay close to Pyrgos. You will also have to have in mind the fact that the super markets, the pharmacies, the bank and the gas stations are all located in Chora, so make a schedule to avoid going back and forth.