Are you looking for an off-the-beaten-track Greek island with an authentic atmosphere? Tinos definitely fits the bill! Read on for the best things to do in Tinos Greece.
What to do in Tinos Greece
If you have never heard of Tinos island before, you are definitely not alone! Although Tinos is the third biggest Cycladic island, it’s not very famous outside our country. It’s a shame though, as it could easily become your new favourite Greek island!
For people after picturesque villages, lovely beaches, great hiking trails and amazing food, Tinos is a fantastic choice. If you are looking for a relaxed vacation close to nature, Tinos has it all.
The island has also enough culture to keep you occupied for several days. People interested in religion and places of worship will absolutely love Tinos. The island has hundreds of churches, chapels and monasteries, both Christian Orthodox and Catholic.
If all this sounds cool, you’ll be delighted to know that Tinos is only a couple of hours away from Rafina port close to Athens. Most ferries stop at Andros island first, so you could combine the two islands.
Did we spark your interest? We definitely hope so. Here are some of the best things to do in Tinos Greece!
Explore the quaint villages in Tinos
Tinos has some of the most picturesque villages all around Greece. In many of them, you will see the distinctive blue-and-white pattern that you are probably familiar with.
In others, you will see houses or facades made of gray stone. This material is often used on mountain villages in the mainland.
What is very characteristic of Tinos, however, are the churches and decorations made out of marble. Many types of marble are found in Tinos, and they are used all around the island.
Drive around Tinos and explore as many villages as you can. You will see that they are all different to each other!
Some of our favourite villages were Pyrgos, Isternia, Kardiani, Volax, Agapi, Ormos Panormou and Tripotamos. If you have time, however, they are all worth visiting!
Visit the museum of Marble Crafts in Pyrgos
Pyrgos is one of the best known villages in Tinos. It’s a large mountain village with narrow alleys and plenty of artworks made out of marble.
Along with Isternia, they are two of the villages in Tinos where many of the famous sculptors come from.
Note that Google Maps shows Pyrgos as Panormos, but don’t let that confuse you!
There are three museums in Pyrgos, explaining the importance of marble in Tinos. We loved the Museum of Marble Crafts, where you can learn many things about the art of working with marble.
If this doesn’t sound too interesting at first, go anyway – you may be pleasantly surprised! The museum is open 10.00-18.00 daily, apart from Tuesdays.
Afterwards, wander around the Pyrgos cemetery, where you can see some beautiful if grim works of art.
Check out the massive granite boulders near Volax village
The tiny Volax village up on the mountains is one of the must-see places in Tinos. The village itself is fascinating, as there’s a mix of beautifully restored houses and deserted, crumbling buildings. Photographers should allow for some extra time here.
As you are wandering around, you will see some writing on the walls and wooden doors. Apparently, these were made by a shop owner, and they really add to the quaint atmosphere. For the record, they are all lyrics of popular Greek songs!
If dirt roads don’t scare you, take a long drive towards Falatados and back. You will discover a large, deserted area full of massive round granite stones. The landscape is pretty cool, and you can even try granite rock climbing and bouldering if you want. Get in touch with Exomvourgo Club, a company who can help you out with information, equipment, accommodation etc.
As for what these stones are, there seems to be no consensus. They might have been thrown there by the Titans!
Visit the Panagia Evangelistria church in Chora
The grandiose Our Lady of Tinos Church (Panagia Evangelistria) is located in Chora, the port town in Tinos. It is one of the most important churches in Greece, and a symbol of the island.
Thousands of Greeks and other Orthodox Christians visit to pay their respects. You might see pilgrims going up to the church on their hands and knees, on a red carpet that stretches all the way from the port.
The church is particularly popular over Easter, as well as on 15th August, the Assumption Day. If you are visiting Tinos over those periods, you will need to book your accommodation and ferry tickets well in advance.
Around the church’s massive courtyard there are several art museums. Exhibits include impressive religious objects, stunning Byzantine icons, paintings, and other works of art. The church and its museums are perhaps the most important reason to visit Chora, which we otherwise found a bit underwhelming.
Visit the Kechrovouniou monastery in Tinos
If you have been to the impressive Meteora monasteries, you will surely enjoy visiting the Kechrovouniou monastery in Tinos. You can see the traditional white-washed houses, and observe the religious artefacts, icons and books.
Dating from the 10th – 11th century, the monastery is currently home to about 50 nuns. There is a pretty strict dress code, and as in all monasteries you should cover your knees and shoulders. Men should wear long trousers, as they won’t be admitted otherwise.
If you are Catholic, you may be more interested in the Ieras Kardias Monastery, one of the few catholic monasteries in Greece.
Relax on the beaches in Tinos
Tinos has a few dozens of beautiful beaches and coves. You can either go for a quick swim, or comfortably spend whole days under the sun.
There are beaches to suit all tastes, from long sandy beaches to others with pebbles, and a fair few rocky outcrops. Some beaches have all amenities, while others are wild and natural, and you will need to bring your own snacks, water and shade.
Some of our favourite beaches in Tinos were Kolimvithra, Agia Thalassa and Rochari, on the north side of the island. We also enjoyed Agios Romanos to the west and Agios Ioannis Porto and Agios Sostis to the south.
If you are planning to visit the Cyclades, be aware of the Meltemi season, which is normally in July / August. The Meltemi is a strong wind, which affects most beaches in the Cyclades, especially the ones facing north. In such cases, it’s best to ask the locals where it’s best to go for a swim. You might also prefer to stay at a hotel with a pool!
Visit the Ursulines convent at Loutra
This ex-convent which is now a museum was a fascinating place to visit. It was founded by an Ursuline nun in 1862, and originally functioned as an orphanage and school for local girls from Tinos.
As the level of education was very high, it soon became a popular place to study. Young girls from all around Greece and Minor Asia came to study French, music, arts, sewing and weaving.
The school closed during WWII and reopened later, but never reached its previous glory. It eventually closed down in 1985, and the last nuns left Loutra. Today, it operates as a volunteer-run museum, and the short tour is really interesting.
Eat all the food
Like everywhere in Greece, Tinos has some great local Greek food. Things that stood out for us were the local cheeses, the cured meats and sausages, the marinated artichokes and the huge fourtalia omelettes.
These omelettes are very popular in some Cycladic islands and they contain pretty much everything. This means potatoes, sausages, cheese, vegetables, herbs, and anything that is available at the time.
Every tiny little village in Tinos will have at least one kafeneio or other place to eat, so there is plenty of choice. Just order some of the dishes you haven’t seen before, and enjoy!
Are you planning to visit Tinos?
We hope our short guide to the best things to do in Tinos has been helpful! If you want more information about the island, we have written an extensive travel guide to Andros and Tinos available on Kindle. It combines Andros and Tinos islands in Greece and goes into a lot of detail. Check it out!