Dear friend

Compared to the tourist hotspots of other Cyclades Islands such as Mykonos and Santorini, Tinos remains a largely undiscovered gem. It’s far less developed than many of its neighbouring Greek islands, and herein lies its appeal. 

You will walk through villages untouched by time with picturesque houses, arches, carved doorways, marble fountains, cobbled streets… you will reach and swim at stunning, secluded beaches with fine sand and crystal clear waters… you will taste Cycladic delicacies such as local cheeses and proscuito “Louza”, froutalia omelette… you will observe and appreciate the unique flora and fauna of this mountainous island… Tinos will amaze you with its unassuming beauty and unique traditions. 

The philosopher Kastoriadis called the island “hand-made Tinos” as it’s the homeland of renowned great artists of marble carving. According to the legend, the famous sculptor of the ancient times, Fidias, had taught the secrets of his art to the locals. Their admirable craft is displayed in chapels, fountains, arches and pigeon lofts.

It is the ideal destination for anyone looking for an authentic Greek walking holiday away from the crowds… and here are our top reasons why:

Experience an island of pilgrimage and miracles 

Tinos was known to us Greeks as the island of pilgrimage, thanks to the Panagia Evangelistria church at the main town, which houses the “miraculous” Virgin Mary. Each year on 15 August, many pilgrims from Greece come to Tinos to make their way up the hill on their hands and knees and pray to the Virgin Mary to cure them of ailments or to ask for aid in a difficult situation. They believe Virgin Mary will fulfill their wishes.

For many years, this acted as a deterrent to other types of travellers, consequently sparing the rest of the island from overdevelopment.

Stroll and explore the stunning Cycladic countryside

As you approach the island from the sea, the naked, steep granite rock of Exombourgo with its peculiar shape dominates the landscape. Like a giant eye, it observes history and human progress, oversees a wonderful rural microcosm of the island. Falatado, Koumaro, Skalado, Xinara, Arnado and all the other medieval villages  surround it. 

Perched at 640 meters above sea level, on these precipitous and naturally fortified rocks, once stood the highest castle of the Aegean. During various historical periods, the area served as the island’s capital. These fortifications were blown up by the Ottomans in 1715. The climb up to the rock, passing the impressive ruins, is an unforgettable experience and offers incredible views of Tinos and the neighboring islands.

The group who find their bliss in the countryside of Tinos are the hikers, of all ages and skill levels, who enjoy the well-marked network of Tinos Trails. 

The farmers and herders of Tinos have created with their hands this stunning landscape. They built the terraces which dominate the hillsides, the dovecotes which are unique to the island, the paths and trails leading to their little farms, and, of course, the villages themselves. 

Stroll around the one-of-a-kind villages

What I enjoy more on Tinos is village hopping and admiring the architecture of its 45 exceptionally well-preserved villages. 

It’s impossible to remain unmoved when faced with the alien landscape of Volax village. Hundreds of granite boulders of all sizes, like boules tossed there by a giant hand, are scattered throughout the area. Some believe that they are the result of an ancient explosion, others remnants of meteorites… or remains of a battle between the Titans and the Gods of Olympus. Geologists offer a more scientific explanation describing them as “granite with spherical weathering and granitic landforms of tafoni and alveoles”. The picturesque village of Volax stands out in white.

And who doesn’t enjoy strolling around the village of Pyrgos, the hometown of sculptor Yannoulis Chalepas and home to the Museum of Marble Arts. Located where a Venetian castle used to stand, it’s known for its beautiful square with the marble fountain, cafes and restaurants… for its medieval architecture, narrow alleys, white washed houses and flower-filled courtyards.

Not far from Volax lies the picturesque mountainous village of Agapi, built amphitheatrically, offering great views. There are so many beautiful villages on Tinos: Komi, with the beautiful square, Arnados with the breathtaking view over the Kechrovouni mountain, Isternia with the marble details on the houses and Steni at the foot of the highest mountain of the island, Tsiknias… Kardiani which offers a remarkable view of the sea and one of the most glorious sunsets you can experience. The list is endless…

I suggest that you try to visit as many villages as you can to get a better grasp of this island’s magnificence. 

Marvel the unique architecture of the pigeon houses

The rugged hillsides are peppered with ornate dovecotes, legacy of the Venetian influence. On Tinos you will encountre today more than 600 pigeon houses, however it is believed that there used to be twice as many. They are excellent example of folk art and unique monuments of cultural heritage. During Venetian times, they were a symbol of noble origin and economic power. Squares, triangles, circles, diamonds, suns, flowers, initials of the owner are some of the carved ornaments that make each pigeon house unique. The more elaborate its ornaments were, the richer the owner was considered.

The pigeon houses, the landmark of Tinos, used to be built in sheltered by the strong northern winds’ ravines or slopes, to help the unobstructed flight of pigeons, and always close to the water source. The dovecote of Tinos are usually two-storey buildings, 3-meter width, 3 meters length and about 5 meters height. They can house 50 pairs of pigeons which can give 200kg of meat and 500kg of dry manure. The manure was the main export product of Tinos when trade began flourishing. 

Admire the local artwork and marble sculptures

World-renown artists such as Chalepas, Filippotis, Vitalis, Sohos, Gyzis, Lytras who founded modern Greek art came from Tinos. These artists but also the builders, painters, woodcarvers, whose samples of high folk art are visible throughout the island, contributed to art becoming the main characteristic of Tinos.

The land was always rich in marble, but it was during the Venetian period that marble art developed and the incredible Museum of Marble Crafts in Pyrgos village lays out for visitors the magical journey from quarry to workshop to art collection. Today, the sound of hammers striking chisels echoes as you walk around the villages of Kardiani, Ysternia, Marlas, Pyrgos and Exo Meria. The marble craftsmen of Tinos toil on in their workshops, using the same tools and techniques as their ancestors.

Swim at pristine beaches

There’s great diversity of solitary bays and beaches on Tinos. There are beautiful sandy beaches, organised beaches… quieter, less crowded ones such as Aghios Romanos or the beach of Kalyvia. Two more secluded choices are the small sandy beach of Santa Margarita and the rocky beach of Livada, known for its amazing crystal clear waters. Finally, for the adventurous nature-lovers, a great choice would be the secluded, hard-to-reach beach of Apigania, only reachable by a foot path.   

Join the festivities at a local festival

Tinos hosts a range of festivals, mostly during the summer. Tinos Festival, which includes music concerts, theatrical performances and book fairs, is probably the most well-known, but the Revival of the Trawl has to be the most exciting. To honour the old fishermen in the village of Ktikados – one of the very first fish villages of Tinos – people gather at Kionia beach towards the end of August and fish. Afterwards, they feast on seafood and sip on wine, as folk groups dance and play traditional music. 

Dine on excellent Greek food

It’s impossible for Greek people to talk about Tinos without mentioning its delicious cuisine. The island is rightly proud of its excellent homegrown or locally made products, such as the internationally award-winning ‘Nissos’ beer and the wines from Tiniaki Ampelones vineyards, Volacus Wine, Vaptistis Winery and other worthy ambassadors who spread the message of Tinos worldwide.

Don’t leave without tring “fourtalies” an omelet dish, homemade Tiniot cheese, “louza” the Greek prosciutto, artichokes in olive oil, “gemista” stuffed-rice baked vegetables, “imam bayildi” stuffed eggplants, “pitsounia” squab and rabbit with onions. All prepared was local products of course. 

As you can see, Tinos is one of our favourite islands to walk. We organise walking holidays in Tinos in spring and autumn and we combine walking on Tinos with walking on cosmopolitan Syros or lush Andros.

Check our Tinos and Andros walking holiday itinerary…

If you wish to discuss the above or any other matter please don’t hesitate to contact us either by phone at +30 6976 761492 or email at info@nofootprint.gr

Comments are closed.