“You’re the last guests of the season,” he says with a smile. This is beginning to sound familiar. After being the final occupants of our hotel in Santorini, we’ve arrived in Tinos ready for a repeat. Which makes sense. It’s the very end of October, after all, and the Greek islands are preparing to hibernate until spring. But there’s still time to see this one before it’s too late, and with 2 days in Tinos we’re excited to see the highlights.
2 Days in Tinos, Greece
We’re here at the recommendation of friends in Athens and the UK, who rave about this under-the-radar island in the Cyclades. Despite being just 20 minutes by ferry from Mykonos, nobody seems to know about Tinos. And that might be one of the best things about it.
After a two-and-a-half hour ferry ride from Santorini, we arrive ready to explore. We rent a car at the port, drop our bags at our hotel, and hit the road.
Villages in Tinos
Our first stop is Pyrgos, which is said to be the prettiest village in Tinos. Given my love of pretty villages, I can’t wait to see it.
As soon as we arrive, I can tell it’s going to live up to its reputation.
Whitewashed walls, colorful doors, and bucket loads of bougainvillea combine to make Pyrgos the quintessential Greek island village.
The following day we visit more of the villages in Tinos. We begin with Volax, which is nestled into a hillside studded with boulders. Like Pyrgos, it has all the classic island characteristics, plus lots of unique writing on walls and facades.
From Volax we drive to Aetofolia, a small village with an excellent restaurant called Kounaria. We sit for hours over lunch while locals drift in and share raki with us.
In the afternoon we drive to the sea, where the bay at Panormos is lined with colorful cafes and fishing boats.
Back up the hill we visit Isternia, a so-called “village of artists”. It has an eerily abandoned feel, but its marble church and tangle of stairways are great for exploring.
The last stop of the day is Kardiani, a traditional hillside village with communal laundry washing areas and sweeping sea views. We walk around until our legs give out, then watch the sunset from above the houses.
Hiking in Tinos
But there’s a lot more to the island than just villages, and with 2 days in Tinos we manage to get a hike in.
Parking in Xinara, we hit the trail to the top of Mount Exomvourgo. Along the way we see stunning examples of the island’s signature pigeon houses, remnants of the Venetian period when systematic breeding was introduced.
As we climb higher, we start to get a panoramic view of Tinos. By the time we reach the top of Mount Exomvourgo we can see all the way around the island’s rocky landscapes, terraced hills, and blue ports.
Culture in Tinos
And speaking of ports, we spend a morning exploring the main town of Tinos. It’s known for the Sacred Church of the Megalohari, a religious pilgrimage site with an icon of the Virgin Mary that’s said to be one of the most venerated in the country.
As we approach, we see people crawling on hands and knees on a carpet that stretches up the road from the waterfront to the church, a sizeable distance. It’s impressive to see both their devotion and the importance of this place to their faith.
Elsewhere on the island we wander through beautiful streets that seem paved with marble. And many of them are. Since visiting, we’ve learned that the island is the most important center of marble crafts in modern Greece. There’s even a museum dedicated to it in Pyrgos.
Restaurants in Tinos
But we’re not always on our feet. During our 2 days in Tinos we have the chance to sit and enjoy the island’s food and drink. We fall for a cafe called Mikro in the main town, where the proprietress is as charismatic as the walls are colorful.
We have some of the best fish we’ve ever eaten at Marathia, a restaurant on the beach of Agios Fokas. And let’s not forget the aforementioned Kounaria, where the locals let us join the party.
And speaking of parties, we’re off to Mykonos next. But not before a last farewell to Tinos, which we’ve fallen in love with in our short time here. We may be the last visitors of the season, but we’re also the most enamored. Mykonos has a lot to live up to after this, and as we board the ferry we hope it manages to impress. To be continued…
How about you? What would you do with 2 days in Tinos, Greece?