A complete guide to eco-friendly Tinos island
Tinos island is one of the most beautiful islands of the Greek Cyclades and captivates travelers with its calm beaches and picturesque villages. The island is becoming known for its ecotourism credentials and also for sustainable housing and eco-conscious lifestyles. The pilgrimage to the Panagia (Virgin Mary) of Tinos on August 15 brings many visitors to the island.
How to get to Tinos Island
Unlike many Greek mainland destinations and more popular Cycladic islands, this blissful island has no airport. It is the third largest Cycladic island (after Naxos and Andros) but it is largely depopulated, with around 9000 residents.
In order to get to Tinos Island, you need to take a ferry (it’s part of the charm!)
It takes a couple of hours from Athens (Rafina Port) or a short ferry ride of 20 minutes from Mykonos. It’s also possible to take a ferry to Tinos from Andros, Naxos, and Syros.
The island can be reached from both Piraeus and Rafina ports in Athens, but Rafina is a better choice if you are coming to Greece directly from Athens airport.
The best way to check the Tinos ferry schedules and to book your tickets in advance is with Ferryhopper because they have no booking fees and you can get your ticket in only four clicks!
How to get around Tinos Island
Getting around Tinos is easy if you hire a car, motorbike, or ATV or use the frequent KTEL bus system. But the most pleasurable way is walking the old footpaths!
Car Hire in Tinos
The most popular way to see Tinos by ferry is not to bother with a rental car until you arrive on the island.
Car rental agencies can be found around the port area. It’s easy to book in advance, however, with Discover Cars. You can pick up and drop off at the port area and cancel for free up to 48 hours before you pick up the car.
Driving around Tinos is not the easiest task, but it’s similar to the majority of most Greek islands. You will often be driving on narrow dirt roads without traffic lights.
But the best way of getting around Tinos is definitely by car. Rent a 4WD if you plan to explore the whole of the island including the mountains.
ATV and Motorbike Hire
Honestly, renting a motorbike or an ATV can prove dangerous around Tinos, unless you’re an experienced driver. Tinos is very windy in July and August, so you might find it unpleasant riding a motorbike.
You’ll need a valid driver’s license if you want to rent anything in Greece! Similar to the car, you will find a dozen companies close to the port, so you can choose the vehicle you like on the spot.
Taxi and Private Transfers
There’s also the convenient option of using the local taxi service but it’s worth taking the time to plan ahead as a car rental might be more cost-effective over a week or more.
Taxi booking numbers: 22830 26000, 22830 22470 or 22830 31332.
Getting around Tinos by bus
If you have been to Greece before, you’ll know that each region has its local bus community service, known as the KTEL system.
The local bus service is quite frequent, compared to other islands. It’s used extensively by locals as an inexpensive way of getting around. You can check out their fares and schedules at www.kteltinou.gr
Where to stay on Tinos Island
Mr. and Mrs. White Tinos
Agios Ioannis, Tinos Town
A lovely 4-star property that is a 6-minute walk to the beach and a 5-minute walk to the Archaeological Museum. The hotel offers car rental, free parking, a swimming pool, and good wifi.
Ag. Dimitrios, Kionia
A highly rated 4-star property 2.6km from Stavros Beach. The rooms have lovely balconies. The studios are located on top of a hill, just outside Kionia. Most furniture in Castria is handmade, as are the ceramics, and it’s on 6 acres of farm and gardens.
It’s 4 km from Tinos town and the port. The Sanctuary of Poseidon is 1.7 km away.
Aeolis Tinos Suites
Triantaros village, Tinos Town, 84200, Greec
This is a highly reviewed 4-star travel sustainable property. Featuring air conditioning, the quietly located Aeolis Tinos Suites offers spacious and fully equipped accommodation in Triantaros Village. The 24-hour concierge can help with car and motorbike rental.
Aeolos Bay Tinos
This amazing 3-star travel sustainable property is beachfront with a superb saltwater pool and bar. The hotel will send a car to meet the ferries. The bright modern rooms, views, balconies, pool and bar, and super friendly staff make this fantastic value.
Onos – Eco Living Experience
Onos means donkey and this property housed donkeys in this tiny village until is was converted by hand using stones, wood, and mud into this beautiful and contemporary space for 4 people.
What to Do on the Island of the Winds
In Ancient Greek times, Tinos was known as both Ophiussa and Hydroessa. They came from the words for snake and water. In Greek mythology, Poseidon banished all the snakes. It’s possible though that it came from the name of the cedar tree found on the island.
The Meltemi is the wind that blows on Tinos as has also given it the name of Isle of the Winds. Here are just some of the best things to do on this Greek island.
Hiking in Tinos: Discover the Old Footpaths
If you are into hiking and trekking, Tinos is a great destination. There are many specially designed hiking routes and trails all around the island that stretch for 150 km.
Late spring and early autumn are ideal times for a hiking trip. Wandering the old footpaths alongside the dry stone walls is a memorable experience. One of the most rewarding trails leads from Volax to Agapi village. Some popular hiking areas in Tinos are:
- Agia Kyriaki Beach in the south
- Top of Tinos (the highest mountain on the island)
- Castle of Exombourgo – there are several old sites worth seeing here including an 8th Century BCE Temple of Dimitra
You’ll find walking and hiking maps for purchase around the island.
Surf in Kolibythra
Kolibythra beach is the most popular on the island.
There you can find the famous Tinos Surf Lessons beach bar which, in addition to refreshing drinks, also offers surfing lessons.
Kolibythra is exposed to strong winds making it ideal for surfing. Just a few meters away is Little Kolibythra which is usually calmer.
Wander through the narrows of Chora
Tinos is a small town, but you’ll find many beautiful cafes and restaurants for coffee, food, brunch, or drinks.
At any time of the day, you can walk the alleys, browse the shops with handmade souvenirs, and try local delicacies. In and around the central square you can drink wine or tsipouro accompanied by live music in the evening festivities.
One of the great pleasures of Tinos is walking through Chora, its villages (some of which are deserted), and stopping frequently to eat!
Don’t miss the Elli monument located near the harbor, which represents the torpedoing of the Elli, the warship sunk by an Italian submarine during peacetime in 1940.
Swim at Pachia Ammos
Pachia Ammos got its name from the hill of sand that has formed at one end of the beach.
Many travelers go up for photos or to slide down the hill. It’s perfect for families as it is sandy, shallow, and crystal clear. The shade of the rocks is limited as are the food options, so bring your own snacks and an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun at the height of summer. Its bottom is suitable for exploration and the soft sand lying and sunbathing.
Evening drinks at Kaktos Bar
It is true that Tinos island does not have many options for evening drinks. However, Kaktos bar is located on a hill above Tinos Town.
Provides a panoramic view of Tinos’ landscape, thus it is a summer bar worth visiting. At night one can enjoy a cold beer or a refreshing cocktail while gazing at the illuminated country and the calm sea. There’s a windmill attached to the cocktail bar and Kaktos Bar plays loud music and creates a party vibe when it has live music.
Explore the lunar landscape of Volakas
Tinos has many charming villages. One of them is Volax village, characterized by an unusual lunar landscape with huge granite boulders that surround the village.
In addition to the natural landscape, the village has in various unexpected places written verses from poems by Greeks and verses from old Greek songs. You’ll come across the traditional dovecotes used for pigeon breeding by the Venetians many centuries ago as another quirk of this island.
There is an outdoor amphitheater where theatrical performances and events take place during the summer.
Volax is an ideal village to stroll among and check out the traditional architecture, and inscriptions, and buy poetry and handmade woven baskets.
Bars and Clubs
It’s so not Mykonos in terms of nightlife, but there is an alleyway of bars and clubs called Taxiarchon. But many of the cafes you find around the island become bars in the evening, selling local wines and cocktails.
Coffee with a view of Ysternia (Isternia)
On the way to Ysternia you will see unique island landscapes and amazing views of the Aegean Sea.
In the elevated village, you can explore its narrow alleys, take photos in front of the blooming flowers and enjoy your coffee with a view of the bay of Ysternia and Greek islands that can be seen on the horizon.
The view from the village cafe is truly breathtaking. The sunset, also, is very impressive to watch from the village, as the sun disappears into the endless blue sea and the sky acquires a deep orange color.
Panormo and Rochari Beach
The most beautiful and relaxed of the beaches on Tinos island is probably Rochari, which is located a little after the village of Panormo.
It is sandy, shallow, and has a small beach bar with hammocks, armchairs, and sunbeds in the shade of the tamarisk trees. The water is almost always calm and crystal clear.
The village of Panormos with its port and small shops is a nice place to wander around as you can see from the pic above.
Milk Pie in Pyrgos
The most beautiful and the largest village of Tinos is Pyrgos. It’s famous for its Galaktoboureko (milk pie) but also for its sculpting community.
You can try Galaktoboureko in the central square along with various other fresh sweets under the sycamore trees.
Pyrgos has dozens of small cobbled alleys to explore, many covered in Bougainvillea and blue and white stone houses with courtyards filled with blooming flowers. There’s also a Museum of Artists of Tinos here.
Ice Cream in Giannaki Bay
At O Ntinos you can try their vanilla and almond honey ice cream. While Giannaki Bay is worth the trip for the ice cream alone, O Ntinos is also well known as a fantastic spot to watch the magical sunset.
Panagia of Tinos Church
Finally, a visit to Panagia of Tinos is mandatory on your first trip to Tinos!
The Panagia Evangelistria church itself is an attraction due to its precious icon, the stone mosaic courtyard, and the incalculable value of the icons inside.
Bottles for holy water and rosaries can be obtained from the shops on the way to the church.
In the lower part of the complex, there is a special area for sanctification, while in the main part of the church there is the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary (Panagia Megalochari) which the faithful can worship and touch their rosaries to become blessed.
Final Thoughts on Tinos Island, Greece
This little-known jewel of the Cyclades is full of unexpected surprises, 64 scenic villages, delicious specialties, and impressive beaches you’ve come to expect of a Cycladic island.
It is a little off the tourist track but almost touches the super-glam island of Mykonos. If you’re looking for a quieter Cycladic island, Tinos is perfect!
Where to Go Next?
Continue your Greek islands travel by reading about where to stay and what to do in the other islands of the Cyclades, such as Santorini, Paros, Mykonos, and Crete.