Photo: GNTO/ Y.Skoulas

Often overlooked by foreign travellers, Tinos has much to offer to the adventurous eco-traveller. The Greeks see it mostly as a religious island for pilgrimage, made popular by Panagia Tinou (Virgin Mary of Tinos). Yet Tinos is about unique Cycladic architecture, many picturesque towns with cobblestone streets that are now sparsely populated, secluded beaches, walking paths, famed pigeon hotels, windmills and eclectic nature. The island boasts spectacular natural landscapes to delight in and explore, including some protected regions such as the wetlands of Kolymbithra and the region of Tsiknias, which falls under the network Natura 2000.

This is the third largest island of the Cyclades, spread over 197 square kilometres and home to 8000 people. A mix of valleys and mountains surround its 64 different villages (some abandoned) and main town, which is more like an idyllic museum.

Photo: GNTO/ Y.Skoulas

The main town, known as Hora, offers some magnificent houses with gardens, stunning churches and lovely cafes. The food all around is nothing short of delicious, while the patisseries are known for their almond-based sweets among others.

The road leads to the picturesque fishing village of Panormos, with its houses being amphitheatrically built on the slopes around the bay. In Panormos you will also find a cave with stalactites and stalagmites with iridescent phenomena caused by the very little light that enters in.

Photo: GNTO/ Y.Skoulas

There is also an artistic side to the island, as many Greek sculptors and painters of the last two centuries have come from Tinos. These include Chalepas, Filippotis, Gyzis, Lytras and Sochos to name a few. Giannoulis Chalepas is considered the most important Greek sculptor in modern times, hailing from Pirgos, one of the most beautiful villages on the island. In this vein, the Museum of Artists of Tinos in Pirgos is worth a visit. A visit to Pirgos will definitely unveil the island’s artistic ambiance, particularly through its marble sculptures and architecture (door frames, fountain, town square and more).

Photo: GNTO/ Y.Skoulas

 

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Location - Tinos

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While only small parts of Tinos are ideal for agriculture, it manages to produce delicious grapes which yield exceptional wines as well as molasses out of grape must. A by-product of wine production is raki or strofilia, strong alcohol that awakens the senses. Olives are also part of the diet on Tinos and can be prepared or marinated in different ways. Different types of figs are grown, then sun-dried to produce a delicious dried fruit that’s bursting with flavour.

Photo: tinosecret.gr

Personal gardens are full of trees, from citrus and pear to almond, plum and pomegranates, the fruit of which enriches the island's menu and creates a more organic, literally home-grown Mediterranean element.

Local cheeses are always present at dinner, including the strong kopanisti, the dry myzithra, different round cheese balls, sklavotyra and more. There are also cheeses classified as 'boiled cheeses' which taste much better than they sound. The cheese mixture is boiled, then left to set in small baskets. Some cheeses are left unsalted, to be eaten with sugar or figs, but they must be consumed quickly before spoiling.

Photo: tinos.gr

Pork is also prepared or cured in different ways to produce everything from suckling pig to sausages and hams, which are quite delicious. Fresh fish is served in local tavernas, so are many other traditional products such as cheese, pork and sun-dried tomatoes.

Although there is no formal industry that makes honey, many produce it in the traditional way yielding a high-quality product that is delicious.

Photo: tinos.gr

On the sweeter side, around Easter time the locals make 'lychnarakia' or sweet cheese pies flavoured with orange, vanilla or cinnamon. Another surprise around Christmas time is 'foinikia', made with thyme honey produced locally. By the port of the main town but tucked away in the alleyways there is a delicious patisserie that makes heavenly almond balls and other local sweets.

Photo: tinosecret.gr

While not known as a wine-producing island, Tinos actually offers very good white wines, known as aspropotamisio and askathari. There are also some retsina (resin) wines for the more adventurous.

Hiking trails abound in Tinos, particularly in the bowels of the island. Some of the ancient hiking trails are still in operation, such as between Hora and Ktikados. Some trails are pretty much signposted, such as the hike from Falatados and Mirsini heading to Livada. There are hiking maps on the island that may be a bit tricky to decipher, but well worth the effort. We would like to commend TinosMap.gr the recent site (2012) that highlights ten different hiking trails of Tinos in English and Greek. The trails unveil the best of Tinos in terms of flora, sites and landmarks.

Photo: tinosecret.gr

While not famous in Greece, Tinos actually has some very lovely and clean beaches. Some can get windy at times and off season, but that only means you may have to discover another side of the island.

NOTE: On windy days, the beaches on the southeast coast are more protected from the wind, and are quite enjoyable. These include Agios Fokas, Agios Sostis and Agios Ioannis.

Agios Ioannis beach

Agios Ioannis beach (east of Hora) in Porto offers a lot of restaurants and hotels, as well as a little harbour with a sandy beach

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Agios Markos beach

Agios Markos beach in Kionia is sandy and clean, with some umbrellas, trees and not far from the main town of Tinos.

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Agios Romanos

Agios Romanos features a sandy beach that is quieter than others, as well as one nice tavern.

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Agios Sostis

Agios Sostis is quite popular and has very clean water, also with tavernas on the beach. It lies some 5 kilometers southeast of Hora.

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Isternia beach

Isternia beach, near the village by the same name, is a mixed pebble and sand beach, ideal if you want to have lunch at one of the two fish taverns. Tere is also a cafe.

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Kolymbithra

Kolymbithra, some 20 kilometers north of Tinos, has a couple of stunning beaches with finer sand, as well as hotels, bars and restaurants in the vicinity.

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Lychnaftia beach

Lychnaftia beach is very quiet, without umbrellas and restaurants. There is a dirt road leading there from Agios Ioannis.

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Ormos Giannaki

Ormos Giannaki near the village of Kardiani is more pebbly yet mixed with sand. Umbrellas, tavernas and good views await visitors.

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Pachia Ammos

Pachia Ammos offers sandy dunes and crystal waters to the east of Port Beach.

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Skyladar

Skyladar, a town not far from Tinos, is quite secluded and offers a few small, picturesque hotels plus a little supermarket. There’s a very nice beach and not too many people.

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The island is not known for its archaeology, but every now and then you come across some ancient remains, like in the rest of Greece. For example, if you head to Kionia, you will discover the temple of Poseidon and Amfitriti, as well as other remains of other structures built between the fourth and first centuries BC. In Kardiani which hangs stunningly over the rocks and holds an unparalleled view to the sea, there is a cemetery dating from the 9th to 8th centuries BC.

Photo: tinos.gr

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Cyclades / Tinos
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The cave of Aggeloudokamara (roughly translates to Angels’ Room) is said to be home to fairies and trolls, particularly according to the older generation in the area. The effect may or may not be due to the cracks and crevices between the stone blocks and structure of the cave which allow light to pass through, resulting in a magical atmosphere.

Photo: tinos-about.gr

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