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 not alone. Although it’s the third biggest Cycladic island, it’s not as famous as Santorini, Mykonos, Paros or Naxos.
It’s a shame though, as it could easily become your new best Greek island. I’ve been to almost all the Cyclades now, and Tinos is one of my favourites.
To begin with, Tinos literally has dozens of beautiful villages with traditional architecture. The island has a long tradition in marble sculpture, which you will immediately notice when you walk around the narrow streets.
People interested in religion and places of worship will fall in love with Tinos. There are hundreds of churches, chapels and monasteries, both Christian Orthodox and Catholic.
Tinos has several lovely beaches. I’m not sure why they very rarely feature among the best in the Cyclades, but they should.
Finally, Tinos has a rich culinary tradition, which is fast becoming popular among foreign visitors.
Did I spark your interest? I definitely hope so! Here are some of the best things to do in Tinos Greece.
Visit the impressive church of Virgin Mary in Tinos town
The grandiose Panagia Evangelistria church is located in the port town, Chora Tinos. It is one of the most important churches in Greece and the symbol of Tinos 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.
If you are visiting Tinos over those periods, you will need to book your accommodation and ferry tickets to Tinos well in advance.
Here is some more information on Our Lady of Tinos Church.
Visit the museums in Chora Tinos
Around the church’s massive courtyard there are several art museums. Exhibits include spectacular religious objects, stunning Byzantine icons, paintings, and other works of art.
The church and museums are the main attraction of Tinos town. There is also a small, local archaeological museum which hosts ancient artefacts found on Tinos.
Explore the quaint villages in Tinos island
With the exception of its port town, it is no exaggeration to say that Tinos has some of the most picturesque villages in Greece. Surprisingly, they are all quite different to each other.
In many of them, you will see the distinctive blue-and-white pattern that you are probably familiar with if you’ve been to other Cyclades islands.
Other villages mostly consist of houses made out of gray stone. This material is often used on mountain villages in mainland Greece.
What is very characteristic of Tinos are the marble decorations on the house facades. Tinos has rich marble quarries, where many types of marble have been extracted over the centuries.
In addition, everywhere you go, you will see some traditional pigeon houses, also known as dovecotes.
Three of the most popular villages in Tinos are Pyrgos, Ysternia and Kardiani village. I also loved Volax, Agapi, Ormos Panormou and Tripotamos. Drive around Tinos and visit as many of them as you can.
Visit Pyrgos village and the museum of Marble Crafts
Pyrgos is one of the best known villages in Tinos. It’s a large mountain village with narrow alleys. It’s famous for the stunning artwork and house facades that are entirely made of marble.
Along with Ysternia, Pyrgos is one of the villages in Tinos where many of famous Tinian sculptors come from. The village has several tavernas and kafeneia, where you can stop and have a meal or refreshment.
Leave enough time to wander around the Pyrgos cemetery, where you can see some beautiful – if grim – sculptures. Please remember that it’s a place of remembrance.
If you are driving to Pyrgos, you will take the main road which leads to the north of the island, towards Ormos Panormou. Confusingly, Google Maps shows Pyrgos as Panormos.
The museums in Pyrgos
There are three museums in Pyrgos, which will explain why marble is so important for Tinos.
Close to the entrance of the village, you will find the Tinian Artists Museum. You will see artworks created by prominent artists who were born on the island.
Right next door, you can visit a small museum dedicated to Giannoulis Halepas, which was originally his house. The famous sculptor had a rather sad life, but was very creative nonetheless.
I absolutely loved the excellent Museum of Marble Crafts, where you can learn many things about the art of working with marble. You can also see samples of marble of different colours and quality. It will make you appreciate the ancient Greeks, for all those amazing statues they created.
Explore Ysternia, the marble village
Ysternia is one of the largest villages in Tinos. It is located on a mountain slope, facing to the west.
It is one of the most important villages for marble art in the whole of Greece, as several famous sculptors were born here.
Stroll around, and check the unique marble elements in all the buildings, fountains, and churches. Don’t miss the small Ysternian artists museum.
On your way out to the north of Ysternia, you will find a few windmills, which are so typical of the Greek islands. Afterwards, you can drive down to Ormos Ysternion, a small coastal settlement a short drive from the village.
Enjoy the views from Kardiani village Tinos
Kardiani is another beautiful village in Tinos. It is located right on the slopes of Mount Pateles, offering beautiful views to the Aegean Sea.
With its blue-and-white Cycladic houses, Kardiani is one of the most picturesque villages in Tinos. Due to its impressive architecture, it has been designated a traditional settlement.
This small village is one of the few places in Greece where you will find Orthodox and Catholic churches next to each other. Visit the impressive Agia Triada Orthodox church, along with the two Catholic temples.
As you are walking around, you will see several fountains and other marble details. Tip: expect some uphill (and downhill) walking.
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. Anyone interested in photography 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!
The unique landscape near Volax
If dirt roads don’t scare you and you have a suitable vehicle, take a long drive towards Falatados and back. You will discover a large, deserted area full of massive round granite stones. The landscape is really cool and surreal.
This is one of the few places in Greece where travellers can try granite rock climbing and bouldering. Get in touch with Exomvourgo Club, a company which can help you out with information.
As for what these stones are, there seems to be no consensus. They might have been thrown there by the Titans, the deities who preceded the 12 Olympian Gods!
Visit the Kechrovouniou monastery in Tinos
If you have been to the majestic 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.
Visit the Ursulines convent at Loutra
This former Jesuit monastery, located in the area of Loutra, is 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 Asia Minor 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. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed at the time of our visit.
Relax on the beautiful beaches in Tinos
Tinos has a few dozens of lovely beaches and coves. There are beaches to suit all tastes, from long sandy beaches to others with pebbles, and a fair few rocky outcrops. You can spend several days exploring them all.
Some beaches have all amenities, like umbrellas and sunbeds. Others are wild and natural, and you will need to bring your own snacks, water and shade.
This was one of our favourite beaches in Tinos island. It’s a lovely, large sandy beach on the northern coast.
On one side of the beach, you will find a cool bar and a surfing school. Kolimvithra is popular with surfers, as it offers the ideal condition for this exciting water sport.
The other side of the beach is more isolated, and you can enjoy a few quiet hours. Bring some shade, as there is none.
Santa Margarita beach
This is one of the most beautiful secluded beaches in Tinos. It is a lovely long, wide stretch of sand with a few trees for shade. If you come to Santa Margarita, make sure you have everything you need for the day, as there are no facilities.
Agios Romanos beach
This west-facing sandy beach is good on a windy day, as it is relatively sheltered. You will find plenty of trees and a couple of beach bars with loungers and umbrellas.
Tip – Pay attention while driving on the steep, winding roads leading to the beach.
This is another wild, north-facing beach with many trees. At the time we were there, there was a beach bar and a shower, making it an ideal spot for all-day relaxation.
Agios Sostis beach
This is a beautiful sandy beach on the south coast of Tinos. You will find a mix of beach bars with loungers and umbrellas, along with some quiet spots.
Agios Ioannis Porto beach
Agios Ioannis Porto is another southern facing beach, very close to Agios Sostis. It sits on a crescent-shaped bay, and there are facilities like umbrellas and sunbeds, as well as a few trees.
Agios Fokas Beach
Agios Fokas is a long sandy beach close to Tinos town, which makes it very popular. You will find many tourist facilities, such as beach bars and tavernas.
Kionia is a coastal town in Tinos, a short drive from Chora. There are many hotels and rooms to let, and the beach is popular with visitors.
While you are here, you can visit the archaeological site of Kionia. In ancient times, there was a temple of Poseidon and his wife Amphitrite. Today, you can only see a few ruins.
Agia Thalassa beach
This is one of the best beaches in Tinos. You will find a laid-back beach bar and several trees, providing much needed shade. Good swimmers can swim to the small Planet islet.
Due to its orientation, the beach is usually protected from the strong winds, and is ideal to spend the whole day. You can access Agia Thalassa (Saint Sea) through an easy dirt road.
Swimming in Tinos
If you are planning to visit the Cyclades, be aware of the Meltemi season in summer, normally in July / August. The Meltemi is a strong wind which affects many beaches in the Cyclades, especially the ones facing north.
Tinos is one of the most affected islands, along with Andros and Mykonos. When it’s windy, ask the locals where it’s best to go for a swim on the day.
In our experience when we last visited, every single beach was affected by the winds! Apparently, we were rather unlucky weather-wise – locals told us that they were some of the windiest days of the year. Oh well.
If relaxing in the sun is important to you, you could consider staying at a hotel with a pool.
Eat all the food
Like everywhere in Greece, Tinos island has some delicious 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 many 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 for restaurants. Just order some of the dishes you haven’t seen before, and enjoy!
How to get to Tinos
If all this sounds cool, you’ll be delighted to know that Tinos is very easy to get to from Athens.
You can take a ferry from either Piraeus, or the smaller and friendlier Rafina port, close to Athens. Most ferries stop at Andros island first, so you could easily combine the two.
Depending on the ferry you choose, it can take you as little as two hours to get to Tinos from Athens.
If you are travelling from abroad, consider flying into Mykonos airport, and take a quick 20-30 minute ferry to Tinos.
You can check all routes and book your tickets on Ferryscanner, a search engine for ferries in Greece. If you use this link, I get a small commission which helps me run this website, at no extra cost to you.
Getting around Tinos
While the local bus network is quite good, you would generally be better off renting a car. Then you will have more freedom to explore the beautiful villages and remote beaches. Note that some roads on the island are in pretty bad condition.
In order to rent a car in Greece, you will need a valid driver’s license. You will also need an international one if you are coming from outside the EU. Here is my guide on driving in Greece, with a few helpful tips.
Finally, people who like the outdoors would enjoy hiking some of the lovely hiking trails in Tinos island. If your main aim is to hike, try to avoid the summer, as it gets very warm.
Where to stay in Tinos
When it comes to accommodation, location is important. There are plenty of hotels and rooms to let all around the island.
Some of the best coastal areas to stay in Tinos include Kionia, Agios Romanos, Ormos Panormou, Fokas, Agios Sostis and Agios Ioannis Porto. If you don’t have your own car, you could also consider Chora.
This detailed guide offers more information on the best areas to stay on the island.
Frequently asked questions about Tinos
People who visit Tinos often ask questions like the following:
Is Tinos worth visiting?
Yes! It’s one of the best Cycladic islands if you are looking for authenticity, culture, pretty villages, beautiful beaches and great food.
What is Tinos known for?
The island is best known for the church of Virgin Mary, its fascinating villages and its rich culinary tradition.
Do you need a car on Tinos?
While you don’t necessarily need a car on the island, it’s best to have your own wheels to get around. Consider renting a 4WD if you want to drive on the most remote areas.
How many days do you need in Tinos?
If you want to explore the whole island and swim on various beaches, you should spend at least a week! If you only want to see some of the highlights, three or four days would be fine.
Where can I go from Tinos?
Tinos is directly connected with several other islands, like Andros, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros and Santorini.
Other guides for the Greek islands
Here are a few more guides for the Greek islands:
- Introduction to the Greek island groups
- Island hopping in Greece on a budget
- Quiet Greek islands
- Plaka in Milos
- Greek islands near Santorini
- Our budget for a one-month trip on the Greek islands
- Islands near Athens
Are you planning to visit Tinos?
I hope this article on the best things to do on the island has been helpful! If you want more information, we have written an extensive travel guide to Andros and Tinos available on Kindle. Check it out!