MUSE OF THE AEGEAN
Τhe handmade island
Most people who have visited the island have called it the “Muse of the Aegean”, while personalities such as Cornelius Castoriadis called it “handmade” after all the handmade “miracles” created here by Tinians over the centuries. This is Tinos, the island of faith and art, that inspires artists and travellers alike.
Tinos is the ever-present marble (in public squares, skylights, steps or fountains); the rocks shaped by the wind; beaches with deep blue waters, remote or organised, for diving or windsurfing; traditional villages nestled into the hillsides with folk architecture; local traditional produce; the “otherworldly” landscape at Volakas, as well as the island’s 34 settlements, Catholic and Orthodox, its 600 pigeon houses laced with “stone embroidery”, its 750 chapels and churches, the temple of Poseidon at Kionia, where pilgrims would stop and purifying themselves on the way to the sacred island of Delos.
Definitely / First, make a list of the villages you must visit at the first opportunity: Pyrgos, Kardiani, Dyo Horia (Two Villages), Tripotamos (a village with compact architectural structure where Cornelius Castoriadis lived), Komi, Arnados, Triadaros-Berdemiaros, Isternia, Ktikado, Falatados, and Loutra.
Then, you can begin your tour of the island from the sacred shrine of the Panagia Evangelistria whose construction began in 1823 following the discovery of the famed icon of the Virgin Mary. In the museum, you can admire timeless works of modern Greek sculpture by artists such as Yannoulis Chalepas (the year 2018 is dedicated to him), Dimitris Filippotis, the Fytali brothers, Lazaros Sochos and Georgios Vitalis, as wel as paintings by Lytras and Gyzis. The archaeological museum, located on the same street, houses findings from the Temple of Demeter on the foothills of Exomvourgo, statues and architecture from the Temple of Poseidon and Amphitriti at Kionia. The Cultural Foundation of Tinos, housed in an imposing neoclassical building in Chora, organizes exhibitions, concerts, showings and also hosts the permanent collection of models by Yannoulis Chalepas (www.itip.gr). At the Tinian Artists Museum and the house of Yannoulis Chalepas, in Pyrgos, visitors can visit the great sculptor’s ascetic bedroom, as well as his workshop complete with his tools and some of his works. In a nearby building, the works and models of local artists from the early generations are exhibited, as well as from the 20th century. And from there, still in Pyrgos, you may also visit the Museum of Marble Crafts (Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation), which showcases the history of marble from antiquity to the present day (www.piop.gr). Next, you must head to the “otherworldly” alien landscape at Volakas, a plateau with enormous rocks, which you will discover on the way to Sklavochorio and the workshops of traditional basket weavers. The rock of Exomvourgo, 640 metres above sea level, stands out everywhere on the island; here you will admire the granite fortress of the island, as well as the ruin of the Venetian castle with views towards the surrounding islands. In the heart of Exomvourgo, the Sacred Heart of Jesus church provides a breath of fresh air for travellers and the experience of Catholic traditions. The Monastery of the Ursulines at Loutra features more than 50 teaching spaces from 1862, when it first opened as a girl’s school, as well as a collection of student works. The Jesuit Monastery, also located at Loutra, has a folklore museum with old tools and cookware, items of worship, projection machines and cameras.
Move / Diving, trekking or mountain biking? Bouldering on the granite rocks of Volakas, climbing the rocks of Exomvourgo or windsurfing in Big Kolymbithra? Diving in Steno to discover the shipwrecks of the Aegean? Discover your most active self with the Tinos Running Experience, Exomeria Trail Race or the annual Climbing Festival every summer.
Hikes / Along the network of the island’s old trails you will find lovely pigeon houses, abandoned settlements, fountains, windmills, chapels, lighthouses, and of course, time to admire the beauty of the natural landscape.
Best Swimming / Kionia: Organised, with a narrow but endless amazing beach.
Agios Sostis: Organised, lined with tamarisk trees for natural shade.
Kolymbithra: The most famous beach in Tinos; sandy beach, ideal for watersports and surfing.
Agios Fokas: The largest beach on the island, featuring amazing sand and amenities such as sun loungers and beach bars; go for Pegu Mar and its exceptional cocktails (+30 694 510 8007).
Marathia: Very close to Chora, also features a beach bar.
Laouti: The continuation of Agios Sostis beach, ideal for water sports.
Agios Markos: The best beach for swimming when Tinos is at the mercy of the winds.
Livada: Transparent waters that become deep very abruptly, with black pebbles and sculpted rocks.
Pachia Ammos: Also exposed to the meltemi winds, thus not very busy but always featuring natural landscape with sand dunes falling into the crystal clear waters.
Kardiani – Kalyvia Beach: A beach small in length but fairly wide, with silky sand and crystalline waters.
Agios Petros: Not very organised, featuring an old shipwreck and divided into two beaches by a rock.
Apigania: Near Agios Romanos, with paradisiacal waters and golden sand; a beach not many people know about. Access only via pathway, about 15-20 minutes on foot.
Gastronomy / Pure ingredients meet tradition and the passion of local cooks, offering unique gustatory experiences: kopanisti, kariki, malathouni, salsisi (sausage eaten raw), louza (pork with spices and wine), sun-dried tomatoes, or the famed Tinos artichoke served with rusks and tsipouro. For dessert, go for xserotigano, pasteli from lemon leaves or fish-shaped pastries with honey and nuts.
Some of the best restaurants / To Thalassaki: On a dock by the waves, serves Greek dishes with connections to Tinian roots and traditions. Try the bezedes stuffed with cream cheese. Isternia, +30 22830 31366
To Koutouki Tis Elenis: Dating from 1853, a small room with stone walls and some outdoor tables on the pedestrian cobble street. Try the fennel fritters, artichoke pie, lachanodolmades with local cabbage. Chora, +30 22830 24857
Marathia: Another patio, and a beach bar on the sand. Marinos Souranis is a master of brined foods with his neo-traditional cuisine. Chora, Ag. Fokas, +30 22830 23249
San to Alati: Dressed in white, this menu offers meze options and grilled fish and meats. Try its famous calamari. Chora, Ag. Fokas, +30 2283029266
Agnadi: Family taverna in an old grocery store dating from 1931, in the heart of the village. Try the meat stew cooked in tomato sauce that melts in the mouth. Ktikados, +30 22830 21095
Tarsanas: Tables that almost touch the sides of the boats and a menu that respects traditional Tinian cuisine, such as wild goat casserole. Casanova 5, Tinos, +30 2283 024667
Drosia: Traditional taverna boasting a verdant green patio with panoramic views of Kionia and the Aegean. Famous for its deliciously fluffy meatballs. Ktikados, +30 22830 21087
Itan ena mikro karavi: Traditional food with a more modern twist. Try the pickled bonito with beans and wild greens. Chora, Trion Ierarchon, +30 22830 22818
Douar: Longstanding, good, a truly traditional chophouse. Steni, +30 2283 041231
To Theio Tragi: Modern cuisine prepared with traditional Tinian ingredients. Tinos-Tripotamos Highway, (128,24 km), +30 2283 022511
Bralou Farm: Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, with outdoor tables that serve some of the finest food in Tinos. Stavros-Kionia Highway, +30 2283 026559
Coffee or Dessert / “Milk-Honey” Internet Café Bar: Go for the unsweet galaktoboureko (sweet custard pie), but also for any of its other desserts. Pyrgos, +30 2283 031339
Halaris: The best local desserts. Traditional pastry workshop, from 1923. Tripotamos, halarisgroup.com
Kafeneio tis Kyra Dimitras: Traditional coffee shop, try their chocolate cheesecake, chocolate pie, orange pie or lemon pie. Kardiani, +30 2283 031937
Loocoomades: For coffee and of course for loukoumades (Greek donuts), sometimes with praline and ice cream. Pantanassa Plateia, Chora, +30 2283 022650
Το Kentrikon: For coffee and galaktoboureko (sweet custard pie) under the plane tree. Panormos, +30 2283 031670
Noufara: For coffee, traditional desserts, and its exceptional profiterole. Taxiarchon and Kontogeorgi Square, Chora, +30 2283 023102
Triantaraki Coffee Shop: Perhaps the best breakfast and coffee of the island, and more. Triantaros, +30 2283 041371 facebook.com/kafeneiotriantaraki/
Make Yourself at Home / Aeolis Tinos Suites: With panoramic views from the top of Triantaros village and decorated with traditional Tinian elements. Triantaros, aeolistinossuites.com
Altana Boutique Hotel: Among the best hotels in Tinos, boasting the quality of Boutique Hotels. Stavros Kionia Highway, altanahotel.gr
Antheia: Hotel boasting Cycladic architecture built on an elevation, but also close to the sand. Chora, Ag. Fokas, anthea-tinos.gr/
Crossroads Inn: Its owner has created four traditional accommodations with artistic sensibility and love for the environment. Chora, Tripotamos, crossroadsinn.gr
Diles & Rinies: A luxury complex of 8 independent villas built around an infinity pool, boasting amazing views. Agios Fokas, Lagades, tinosvillas.com
Aperado Galazio: Built on a height near the archaeological site, with wonderful views, independent rooms/apartments surrounded by gardens and the swimming pool. Tinos – Kionia, Ag.
Cavos Hotel & Suites: A complex of comfortable apartments with Cycladic architectural features. Agios Sostis, cavos-tinos.com
Tutti Blu Living Space: Renovated traditional villa dating from 1796 in the traditional settlement of Mesi. Mesi, tuttiblu.gr
Tinos Beach Hotel: Built on one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, just 5 minutes from Chora. Kionia, tinosbeach.gr
Tinos View Apartments: Newly-built luxury complex with views of the Aegean. Ag. Fokas, tinosview.com
Agali Bay Hotel: Located in the most idyllic area of Chora. agalibay.com
Anemologio Apartments: This Cycladic style-hotel is located just 200 metres from the sandy beach of Agios Ioannis. anemologioapartments.com
Μr and Μrs White Tinos Boutique Resort: New luxury hotel in complete harmony with the natural environment. Agios Ioannis Bay, mrandmrswhitetinos.com
Living Theros Luxury Suites: Combines elegant furnishings with comfort and privacy. Kardiani, livingtheros.reserve-online.net
Booze Situations / Kaktos bar: The most amazing views of the Aegean, with great music and irresistible cocktails. +30 2283 025930
Koursaros bar: All-time classic rock-bar, one of the oldest and most famous on the island. Akti Ellis 1, +30 2283 023963
Sivylla club: Located on one of the most central streets of Chora, with a lovely atmosphere and dance vibe. Taxiarchon 17, +30 22830 22511
Argonaftis: For dancing and good music, with DJs that will get you going. Taxiarchon 13, +30 2283 021047
Village Club: Loud music, dancing and endless fun until the early morning hours. Taxiarchon 24, +30 694 889 4093