A travel guide to Tilos island in Greece. Includes what to do, the best beaches in Tilos, how to get there, and everything else you need to know about Tilos!
Tilos Greece – A quiet island in the Dodecanese
Tilos is a small island in Greece, and belongs to the Dodecanese group of islands. It’s located between the famous Rhodes and Kos. Unlike its better known neighbours, it’s one of the quietest and most authentic islands in the Aegean Sea.
The whole island belongs to the Natura 2000 network. This means that Tilos is committed to the protection of its natural environment. It has fully embraced recycling and green energy.
Tilos is an excellent example of sustainable tourism – or rather sustainable living – in Greece. Due to its visionary mayors, the late Tasos Aliferis and Maria Kamma-Aliferi, the small Greek island has its own distinct character, and is truly one of a kind!
Tilos in Greece remains under the radar
If you haven’t heard of Tilos, you are not alone! We visited in late spring 2022, and it was really quiet, with only a handful of visitors. Yet, although Tilos has mostly remained off the beaten path, it has dedicated fans who visit every summer.
Strictly speaking, there isn’t a lot “to do” on Tilos. There is only the port town, Livadia, a small village, a couple of museums, a number of interesting hiking trails, and some lovely beaches for swimming and relaxing.
I’ll say this again: You are unlikely to enjoy Tilos if you are looking for a cosmopolitan feel, beach bars with loud music, upscale restaurants and lots of activities. You’ve been warned!
What to do in Tilos Greece
Tilos will appeal to visitors looking for nature, tranquility, quiet beaches, and an overall peaceful atmosphere. It is an ideal island to go if you want to take it easy and get away from everything!
Here are some of the best things to do when you visit Tilos:
- Explore Tilos on the various hiking paths
- Enjoy the wild, tranquil beaches
- Hang out with the locals at the port town, Livadia
- Walk around the whitewashed alleys in the capital town, Megalo Chorio
- Discover the abandoned village, Mikro Chorio
- Learn more about the dwarf elephants in the Elephant Museum
- Check out the monastery of Agios Panteleimon
Let’s dive in everything that Tilos has to offer!
1. Explore Tilos on the various hiking paths
Tilos is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. There are about 54 kms (33.5 miles) of trails and old pathways. They lead you to beautiful beaches, small churches, and summits with spectacular views.
A large part of Tilos Island is a Permanent Wildlife Refuge. Nature enthusiasts can observe the various types of plants and trees, or go bird-watching. If you are lucky, you can see rare species such as the Bonelli’s eagle or Audouin’s Gull.
People who are planning to go for long hikes should consider visiting Tilos in spring or autumn, when temperatures are milder. In spring, they will be rewarded with tons of colourful flowers, such as sea daffodils, rare orchids and chamomile!
Hiking paths in Tilos
Here are some of the most popular hikes in Tilos. Make sure you have good shoes, a hat and plenty of water for the longer hikes:
- Megalo Horio village – Eristos beach (20 – 30 minutes)
- Livadia port town – Mikro Horio village (30 minutes)
- Megalo Horio – Castle / Kastro (30+ minutes uphill)
- Livadia – Tholos beach (about 1 hour)
- Livadia – Lethra beach (about 1 hour)
- Livadia – Agios Ioannis – Despoti Nero (about 2 hours)
2. Enjoy the wild, tranquil beaches in Tilos
Like all Greek islands, Tilos has its fair share of beautiful beaches. While some of them are easily accessible by car, others are more remote, and can only be reached by sea or by hiking.
Of all the Tilos beaches, Livadia is the most easily accessible one. Located a short walking distance from the port town, it’s popular with visitors staying in the area.
The large white pebbles make it rather uncomfortable to sit on the beach, but there are a few cafes and hotels with basic lounge chairs. This is the easiest beach to get to on foot if you are staying by the port.
There’s also a Seatrac facility for disabled people, which I’ve only seen in a handful of beaches all around Greece! People on a wheelchair can use this system to go swimming on their own.
Eristos is a long, sandy beach a 15-minute drive from Livadia, the port town. It faces south, and therefore is usually protected from the meltemi winds that are common in the Aegean Sea.
As Tilos is one of the few Greek islands where free camping is allowed, Eristos is popular with free campers during the summer. There are even showers and toilets that you can use, plus a canteen and a restaurant.
Plaka is a small pebble beach on the north coast of Tilos. It’s a beautiful beach with crystal clear waters, and fab snorkelling – probably my favourite beach in Tilos.
What makes Plaka unique are the numerous peacocks that you are likely to encounter! If you have any snacks consider putting them away or you might get attacked 🙂
Located close to Plaka, Agios Antonios is a small beach with a mix of pebbles and sand. It’s named after the nearby chapel of Agios Antonios.
If you come here, check out a highly recommended taverna, the Dolphin. Unfortunately they hadn’t opened for the season when we visited, but it’s an amazing place to see the sunset from.
Extra tip: If you like snorkeling, try to discover the underwater ancient cemetery, located close to the beach!
Remote beaches in Tilos
If you prefer quieter beaches, you can hike or take a boat trip to Skafi, Lethra, Tholos, or Agios Sergios.
Skafi was not calm on the day we visited, but you might be luckier. The hike was wonderful though. We ran out of time to explore the other beaches, so if you go to any of them, leave a comment below!
3. Hang out with the locals at the port town, Livadia
One thing I really enjoyed in Tilos was sitting at the cafes and restaurants at the port town, Livadia. As we visited early in the season, there were very few other tourists, so I could strike up some talks with the locals.
Even though Livadia town itself isn’t so special, it’s a nice coastal resort to relax for a few days. We enjoyed walking along the pedestrian road, Tasou Aliferi, and observing the people!
4. Walk around the whitewashed alleys in the capital town, Megalo Chorio
A short drive from Livadia port, you will find the capital town, Megalo Chorio. This is the main administrative center of Tilos, where the town hall and other services are located. Though it was not very lively at the time we visited, it was a picturesque place to explore.
If you walk up the hill from the village, you will get to the ruins of a medieval fortress. The views from up here are breathtaking!
Nearby, you can visit the church of the Archangel Michael, also known as Taxiarchis. The patron saint celebrates on 8 November, and locals enjoy one of the famous Greek festivals.
5. Discover the abandoned village, Mikro Chorio
One of the best things to do in Tilos is to visit the deserted village, Mikro Chorio.
Once a proper settlement, the small village was abandoned in the 1960s. Many residents moved either abroad, or to Livadia, and tore apart their houses so they could reuse the materials! Today, the settlement looks like an eerie ghost town.
And yet… there’s life in the small village! A few years ago, a former resident’s grandchildren decided to open a bar right between the crumbling buildings! They open around 22.00-23.00 in the evening, and it appears that the fun goes on for hours.
Unfortunately, as we were there early in the season the bar hadn’t opened yet for summer. Which gives me another reason to visit Tilos again 🙂
6. Learn more about the dwarf elephants in the Elephant Museum
You’ll be surprised to know that, once upon a time, Tilos was home to dwarf elephants, an endemic species! These elephants would have been no taller than about 1.5 metres tall at the shoulder. Which still makes them taller than me. Oh well.
Paleontologists discovered fossils of those elephants, along with bones of other animals, in Charkadio cave, a short walk from the museum. Scientists believe that these tiny elephants only became extinct around 4,000 years ago!!!
The Elephant museum is very small, so it won’t take you too long to have a look at the paleontological collection. We were shown around by one of the scientists, who gave us some interesting information on the ongoing research.
7. Check out the monastery of Agios Panteleimon
Originally built in the 15th century, the monastery of St Panteleimon is a lovely, peaceful place to visit in Tilos. It’s located on the western part of the island, a little past Plaka beach.
As the monastery was closed on the day we visited, we couldn’t enter the small church. Still, it was worth the drive, as the landscape is beautiful and wild. If you want, you can stay here for sunset.
The monastery celebrates on the 27th July, and locals gather here to enjoy the traditional panigiri. Unfortunately, in summer 2023 there were no buses going there, as the road was in a bad state. Before you set off, ask the locals about the current condition of the road.
Like all the islands and mainland destinations in Greece, Tilos has many more churches and religious sites all around. Take your time and explore!
How to get to Tilos
Tilos doesn’t have an airport, so the only way to get there is by ferry. The nearest islands with international airports are Kos and Rhodes, and most ferries take about 2-3 hours from either island to Tilos. Ferries from Piraeus to Tilos take about 13-15 hours!
Compare routes and book your ferry tickets here: Ferryscanner
Extra tip: There might not be a ferry everyday. In fact, a couple of ferries were cancelled on the week we were there, due to bad weather. If you are catching a flight back home from Kos or Rhodes, consider spending a night or two on these islands.
How to get around Tilos
Tilos is a great destination to explore on foot and public transportation. The municipal bus runs between Livadia, Megalo Chorio, Eristos beach and Agios Antonios. Sadly, there’s no longer a bus going to the monastery of St Panteleimon.
If you want, you can always rent a scooter or car and drive around at your own pace. If you are going to Tilos you’ve probably driven in Greece before, but take a look at this article: Driving in Greece.
Taxis are another option, and as an example the ride between Livadia and Megalo Chorio costs 10 euro.
Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy some of the island’s lovely hiking trails!
Where to stay in Tilos
The best area to stay in Tilos is Livadia, where you will find the most rooms to let, tavernas and cafes. There’s is also some “nightlife”, for those who want a late drink.
There are also a couple of local mini-markets where you can buy fruit, veg and more staples. Yet, if you have special dietary preferences, it’s best to stock up before you get to Tilos, as variety is somewhat limited.
Plus, if the ferry from Kos / Rhodes is cancelled, there will be no fresh fruit and veg deliveries for a few days… talking from experience!
We stayed at Tilos Fantasy and loved it – super spacious rooms with everything you need, just a short walk from the beach!
Best time to go to Tilos Greece
All in all, the best time to go to Tilos Greece is between May and September, when the weather is warm. The island doesn’t get nearly as busy as some of the more popular destinations in Greece.
If you are looking for extreme peace and quiet, or your main goal is to go hiking, you could consider going outside the summer months.
We were in Tilos in mid-May, and a few of the restaurants hadn’t opened yet! The sea was ok to swim, but to be honest I wouldn’t have minded if it was a little warmer. The sun was strong though, and hiking was pleasant – I’m not sure I would have wanted to hike in July!
FAQ about things to do in Tilos Greece
People thinking to visit Tilos often ask questions similar to these:
Is Tilos worth visiting?
Tilos is definitely worth visiting, but it’s not for everyone! You will love it if you like tranquility, nature, wild beaches, and if you are into sustainable tourism.
What is Tilos famous for?
Tilos is best known for the museum of dwarf elephants. These days, the island is famous for its recycling policies and use of green energy.
Do you need a car on Tilos?
While it won’t hurt if you have your own wheels on Tilos, having a car isn’t strictly necessary. Instead, you can use the public buses, or hike around the island.
Is there an airport in Tilos?
Tilos doesn’t have an airport. The closest islands with an international airport are Kos and Rhodes.
How long is the ferry from Rhodes to Tilos?
The fastest ferry from Rhodes to Tilos takes about 2 hours. There are also slower ferries, which take just under 3 hours.
More guides about the Greek islands
If you are heading to the Dodecanese, check out these other island guides:
- Complete guide to Nisyros island, just an hour on the ferry from Tilos
- Best things to do in Symi island, about 90 minutes on the ferry from Tilos
- A complete guide to Kasos and why I fell in love with it
- Kalymnos – Not just for hikers
- How to get to Rhodes
- How to get around Rhodes
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens, and I’ve been to about 60 of the Greek islands. Tilos is one of the quietest, and most suitable for nature enthusiasts. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more Greece-related inspiration!