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Why Should I Visit Tinos?

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Tinos at a glance

The third largest Cycladic island is a special place. The philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis called Tinos “the handmade island”, a place sculpted by the unparalleled art and toil of craftspeople and world-renowned artists who have left their mark in every corner.

Choosing one of the ferry itineraries for Tinos and arriving there, you will wander around, admiring the beautiful villages and hundreds of stone-built churches, the ancient paved pathways, the dry-stone walls and terraces of the hills, and the elaborate dovecotes, which bear witness to an abiding interest in what is beautiful and a practical relationship with the distinctive natural landscape.

The island of religious pilgrimage and of the wind, a timeless centre of marble carving and the birthplace of some of modern Greece’s greatest artists, Tinos offers a rich travel experience for lovers of alternative tourism and unique cultural discoveries.

10 reasons to visit Tinos
  1. The first reason to book a ferry to Tinos is to visit the magnificent Monastery of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary or Our Lady of Tinos, one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Christian Orthodox world. Built of white marble, the imposing structure (1823) stands at the top of the hill in Tinos Town and has a superb view of the port. The pebbled outer courtyard (1833) and the lofty bell-tower (30 metres), built by the Tinian sculptor Ioannis Filippotis, are works of unique folk art.
  2. To discover the beautiful Old Town of Tinos, a maze of narrow paved streets, traditional mansions and villas with coats of arms, ornate fountains, important museums and old churches, which show the status of the island during its heyday in the 19th century.
  3. To learn the secrets of marble carving at the modern Museum of Marble Crafts (2007) in the village of Pyrgos. It takes visitors on an amazing journey through the history and technology of marble production since ancient times, from the initial quarrying to the creation of final sculptures, using original works of art and audio-visual presentations.
  4. To go to some of the unique events at the iconic Tinos Festival.
  5. To taste baked pigeon, one of the most representative dishes of the island’s cuisine.
  6. To discover the unique villages of Tinos, jewels of folk architecture like rare works of art, each with their own distinct cultural identity, so that each village is a separate world.
  7. To explore the island’s famous medieval paths, a network of 400 km of hiking trails along ancient paved routes. Follow the historic Vary path (Kionia-Hatzirados-Ktikados-Smourdia-Vary-Poles-Tinos Town), which in ancient times connected the island’s main city with inland settlements.
  8. To admire the unique lunar landscape of Volakas, a geological marvel with enormous spherical boulders of volcanic origin that seem to have been hurled down during some mythological battle between gods and giants. It is a top climbing destination for “boulderers” in Europe.
  9. To go up the 640-metre-high Exomvourgo Hill, towered over for centuries by St Helen’s, the tallest castle in the Aegean. It offers a panoramic view of the whole of Tinos and the nearby Cycladic islands.
  10. To visit the home of Yannoulis Chalepas in Pyrgos, now a museum, for a thrilling introduction to the personal world of modern Greece’s greatest sculptor, through rare personal artefacts, photographs, sketches and original sculptures. All you have to do for this and all the above is check out the ferries to Tinos and book your tickets.
The top 5 beaches

Livada: Tinos’ most impressive beach has a setting of uniquely rugged beauty, with huge rocks in various shapes, large stones, and big waves. Its deep green-blue waters with strong currents attract surfers and experienced swimmers. It is ideal for lovers of seclusion and exploration, as the area has oak trees, ducks and a river that flows into the sea, certainly enough reasons to book a ferry for Tinos.

Kolymbithra: One of the most popular beaches for water sports, with fantastic views of Drakonisi Rock. Kolymbithra is actually two sandy beaches, the more touristy and cosmopolitan Mikri Ammos, and Megali Ammos, known by the locals as “California”, which is especially popular with surfers and young people. Near the beach is a lake with turtles and ducks, while the area is also a habitat for rare birds.

Pachia Ammos: One of the island’s most exotic beaches, with coarse sand, grass and dunes sloping down to the sea. A natural paradise for people who love peace and quiet or playing in the sand, with a view of the straits between Tinos and Myconos.

Saint Phocas: The island’s largest and most famous beach stretches along the coast next to Tinos Town. The fine sand, the natural shade provided by pine and tamarisk trees, the shallow blue waters, and the excellent organisation make it extremely popular. It is ideal for jogging or walking along, and it is worth going all the way to the eastern end, to the hill of the ancient city of Vryokastro, with its stunning view of Delos.

Kionia: One of the island’s most cosmopolitan beaches, with a view of Syros, is a strip of sand and pebbles stretching in front of the archaeological site of the Temple of Poseidon and Amphitrite, which is well worth a visit. It has tourist amenities and offers plenty of opportunities for water sports such as pedalos and jet skis, so is ideal for families with children.

Don’t leave Tinos without…
  • Exploring the beautiful medieval village of Pyrgos, which resembles an open-air museum of marble sculpture and was the birthplace of great 19th-century sculptors and artists such as Chalepas, Filippotis and Lytras. From the carved fountains and narrow paved streets to the elaborate lintels and stone churches, everything here speaks to the aesthetic sensibility and artistry of the local people.
  • Discovering the hundreds of dovecotes on Tinos, unique monuments of folk art that have adorned the slopes of the island’s hills since the period of Venetian rule. There are estimated to be more than 600 throughout the island. These stone towers stand out for the geometrical shapes and symbols that decorate them, while each bears the name of its sponsor and the date of its construction. They can be found in the valleys of Tarambados, Agapi, Livada, Potamia and Kardiani.
  • Looking round the excellent Museum of Tinian Artists in Tinos Town. The collection includes more than 100 sculptures and paintings from the 19th and 20th century by famous local artists such as Yannoulis Chalepas, Dimitrios Filippotis, Georgios Vitalis, Lazaros and Markos Fytalis, Nikolaos Gyzis, Nikiforos Lytras, Giannis Gaitis and others.
  • Exploring the village of Volakas and reading the poems by Kalvos, Cavafy, Elytis, and others, which are written on the old doors of the houses.
  • Walking through the picturesque village of Kardiani, suspended over the sea with boundless views of Syros, Kea and Kythnos. Built in the shape of an amphitheatre on the steep, verdant slopes of Mount Pateles, it is renowned for its abundant waters, many springs and Cycladic architecture, with vaulted white houses and narrow streets.
  • Visiting the historic Monastery of Kechrovouni or Our Lady of the Angels, an impressive cluster of seven 10th and 11th-century churches. Built on the steep slopes of Mount Kechrovouni, 650 metres above sea level, the monastery resembles a Cycladic village. The museum and the library house rare relics and interesting publications.
  • Taking a tour of the Nissos microbrewery in Vayia. Learn how the island's internationally award-winning beer is made, and take part in a tasting session accompanied by local delicacies.
  • Going to one of the basket-making workshops in Volakas, which is famous for this centuries-old traditional craft.
  • Visiting the Archaeological Museum of Tinos to admire Andronicus’ marble sundial, found during excavations at Kionia, and ancient relief storage jars dating from the 8th century BC.
Tasty experiences
  • Tinos is known for its cheese-making tradition. It is worth trying the round tiniako tyraki (volaki or sklavotiro) the protected designation of origin (PDO) kopanisti, and the local graviera.
  • Sample the famous local sausage, either with fennel seeds or marinated in garlic and wine.
  • Take the ferry to Tinos and try the local louza (smoked pork marinated in sweet wine and spices), saltsisi (a kind of air-dried salami), and syglina or syssira (pieces of pork preserved in fat).
  • Enjoy the local fourtalia (traditional omelette), made with garlic sausage or syglina, milk, grated cheese and parsley, and fried in pork fat.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with tsibites (sweet cheese pies made with unsalted petroma cheese, orange zest, vanilla, mastic and cinnamon) or psarakia (fish-shaped pancakes filled with walnuts, dried breadcrumbs, orange zest and cinnamon, and dusted with icing sugar).
  • Sit at a traditional café and enjoy a shot of strofylia (the local raki with a characteristic aroma of fennel) accompanied by dried figs, either plain or with walnuts and cinnamon.
  • Fish lovers should try the traditional savore (bogue, smelt and whitebait in a sweet and sour sauce made from local grape syrup).
  • Be sure to try the small Tinos artichoke that grows wild in the valley of Komi and Exomvourgo. However you eat it, it is delicious: marinated in vinegar, preserved in oil, in a fourtalia, a la Polita, or with goat. Also seek out the famous artichoke pie.
  • Discover the wonderful wines of Tinos made from the island’s famous grape varieties such as the red Koumariano and the white Aspropotamisi and Askathari.
  • Discover local delicacies such as caper dip, potato balls, sun-dried tomatoes (fried in batter), chicory salad, and arnathkies (wild black mushrooms).
Trivia

In 2015, Tinian marble craftsmanship was included in UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.​

MAP OF TINOS
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