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Why Should I Visit Tilos?

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Tilos at a glance

Tiny, quiet, and unassumingly beautiful, Tilos is the ecological park of the Dodecanese. Book ferry tickets to Tilos to find a fascinating destination for a short trip from cosmopolitan Rhodes, where imposing verdant mountains and fertile valleys surround superb medieval castles, wildlife, and numerous Byzantine churches with rare frescoes.

Tilos was the refuge of Europe’s last dwarf elephants, a discovery that has given it a prominent place in the Natural History Museum in Vienna. At the same time, the island is a paradise for birdwatchers as many rare species can be found there during the migration season.

With a multitude of bays and coves, where the air is filled with the scent of herbs, it is an island for real nature lovers. A favourite destination of French and Scandinavian travellers, there is more to remote Tilos than meets the eye. It has pioneered self-sufficiency in green energy and has a social awareness of diversity, demonstrating respect for the natural environment and the individual.

7 reasons to visit Tilos
  1. To visit the historic monastery of St. Panteleimon (15th century). Built on the slope of a hill among age-old plane trees and chestnut trees with a unique view of the Aegean, it is notable for its magnificent pebbled courtyard and ornate carved icon-screen, as well as the superb frescoes inside the dome (18th century).
  2. To be bewitched by the eerie beauty of Mikro Horio, a ruined medieval settlement of 220 stone houses, cobbled paths and magnificent 14th and 15th century Byzantine churches. The village was abandoned after World War II. Make a stop at the Church of the Assumption (1787) and the Church of the Holy Belt (1861) to admire their magnificent frescoes.
  3. To get to know the history of the last dwarf-elephants of Europe, through the superb paleontological finds excavated in the Harkadio Cave at Messaria. More than 15,000 fossilised bones from 40 skeletons dating from 4,500 BC were discovered, some of which can be seen in the island’s Paleontological Museum, along with samples of Neolithic pottery.
  4. To admire the unadorned style of the island’s capital, Megalo Horio, which sits in the shadow of the Knights’ Castle. Built in the early 19th century at the foot of Saint Stephen’s Hill, it is a charming settlement of stone houses and flower-filled courtyards.
  5. To enjoy the magnificent view from the medieval Castle of the Knights of St. John (15th century) above Megalo Horio, built on the ruins of the Hellenistic acropolis and the sanctuary of Apollo and Athena. From here, the view takes in the fertile plain of Eristos with its citrus trees and ancient harbour, and the fishing village of Agios Antonios. Inside the castle is the Byzantine church of the Archangel Michael (14th-15th century) with its pebble mosaic courtyard and beautiful bell tower.
  6. To discover a unique ecological park that is an international bird-watching destination and a sanctuary for 125 resident and migratory species.
  7. To explore the island’s stunning natural beauty by walking the old paths of Tilos. There is a choice of 30 signposted hiking trails to choose from, revealing an unexpected variety of landscapes and cultural monuments.
The top 5 beaches

Eristos: A beautiful wide beach of golden sand, with tamarisk trees and cool emerald waters fed by springs from the valley behind. It is enclosed by rocky hills of grey and red on both sides, while the isolated coves at the far end offer privacy and seclusion.

Livadia: A large, much-frequented beach with white pebbles and sand, next to the port of Tilos. It is perfect for endless sunbathing, with comfortable sun loungers and tamarisk trees for natural shade, while the activities available in its crystal-clear waters include canoeing and windsurfing. Easy access and a range of tavernas and restaurants make it especially popular with families.

Agios Antonios: A ruggedly beautiful beach with palm trees, tamarisks, and clear blue waters. For those who love diving, there are some ruins of a sunken Hellenistic city at the bottom of the sea. The beach has some amenities and tavernas but is relatively peaceful.

Plaka: A wonderful cove with pebbles, sand and crystal-clear blue waters, situated beyond Agios Antonios Beach. It is surrounded by aromatic eucalyptus trees and offers ideal conditions for seclusion and reflection – though don’t be surprised if you find yourself joined by a preening peacock or two.

Lethra: A secluded paradise with a pebble beach where you will enjoy unforgettable dips in the cooling waters of the calm crystal-clear sea. There are two paths that lead here, one along the coast from Livadia and the other coming from inland.

Don’t leave Tilos without…
  • Having a drink on the terrace of Mikro Horio’s one bar, which is only open during the summer. It is an unforgettably atmospheric experience, amidst the illuminated ruins of the village, surrounded by olive trees and age-old oak trees.
  • Discovering the bays and coves of Tilos to find enchanting and secluded beaches such as Tholos, Skafi and St. Sergius.
  • Enjoying the view of the island and the Aegean from the ruins of the medieval fortress of Agiosykia (15th century) above the harbour of Livadia.
  • Visiting some of the 200 churches scattered throughout the island to admire their unique frescoes. These include the 19th-century Our Lady of Constantinople and the 14th-century Byzantine church of Saint Nicholas, near Livadia.
Tasty experiences
  • Take a ferry to Tilos and try hondro (bulgur wheat cooked in water or milk), yiaprakia (minced-meat dolmades wrapped in vine leaves), kavourmas (pan-seared pork), tsouvra (a traditional tomato soup with bulgur wheat or rice, served hot or cold), koulousoufades (intestines stuffed with minced meat or liver, rice and herbs, and fried in butter), fouki (pork fried with onions and sprinkled with vinegar).
  • If you have a ferry ticket to Tilos, don’t miss the island’s excellent thyme honey.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with melekounia (a soft sesame-seed and almond bar), xerotigana (fried strips of sweet dough drenched in syrup), poungakia (pastry “purses” filled with almonds and sesame seeds), and eptazima (literally “kneaded seven times”) cookies.
  • Sample pitaroudia (chickpea fritters) and fried hortopites (pies filled with wild greens).
  • Enjoy koulouria (the local handmade pasta) served with tomato sauce or butter and cheese.
  • Don’t miss goat in the oven with potatoes or stuffed with rice.
  • For lovers of seafood, the local cuisine offers unique choices. Enjoy fried battered shrimp, cuttlefish stew, boiled octopus, and spaghetti with slipper lobster (a local species), as well as fresh fish of the day.

Tilos features in the fantasy novel “The Lost Island” (1943) by M. Karagatsis, in which it mysteriously detaches itself from the Aegean archipelago and becomes a tropical paradise that travels to the Pacific Ocean under the name “Taili”. 

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