With its great location right in the midst of the cluster of the Cyclades islands, Mykonos is a fantastic destination from which to plan daily trips and excursions to unearth some of the hidden gems that these wonderful islands have to offer. One particular treat is to take a day trip from Mykonos to the fabulous island of Tinos.
Tinos is just over double the size of Mykonos, to the north west of the island. If you take a trip over from our sea view luxury villas in Panormos Bay to the Armenistis lighthouse in Fanari on Mykonos’ north west coast you can actually admire an amazing view of Tinos as you gaze out over the Aegean sea! Tinos is home to over 8,500 people, and is a very important pilgrimage site for visitors from all over Greece, as well as being home to numerous historical and archeological sites, beautiful villages and countryside. The island has also been known by the names ‘Ophiousa’ (from the Greek word ‘ophis’ meaning snake) and ‘Hydrousa’ (from ‘hydor’ which means water). These historical names were due to the large number of snakes on Tinos, and the abundance of running water on the island.
Tinos is easy to get to from Mykonos, as there are several ferry services running daily all year round. The ferry leaves from the Mykonos New Port in Tourlos on the west coast of the island, just 15 minutes drive from Mykonos Panormos Villas. We’ll be more than happy to plan and arrange your ferry trip for you, as part of our extensive range of personalized tailor made services. We can also book a taxi from the villas for you, or if you prefer, you can use our Parnormos Villa transfer service to whisk you from the villas to the port! From spring right through to autumn, the ferry schedule is ideally set up for day trips, with an outbound ferry arriving in Tinos around 8am and the return ferry returning to Mykonos just after 10pm. With a short ferry journey of just 30 to 40 minutes, you’ll have plenty of time to explore Tinos, which is just as well, because the island has a great many things to offer! If you’d like to make a real event of your day trip, and turn it into a truly unique experience, the Mykonos Panormos Villas team can even organise a private boat rental to take you to Tinos!
With its vibrant history, rich culture, archetypal Greek villages, stunning scenery and beautiful beaches there’s a great choice of things to do in Tinos. We’ve put together a short list of must-see Tinos attractions, so read on for our highlights:
Tinos’ main town (or ‘Chora’) is named after the island itself, following the traditional naming convention you’ll find on many Greek islands, including Mykonos! A wander around Tinos Town will yield all manner of architectural delights, thanks to the interesting interweaving mix of Venetian, Cycladic and modern architecture, and there are numerous shops selling all manner of souvenirs and products as well as restaurants, tavernas, cafes and bars if you need a place to stop off and recharge your batteries!
This church in Tinos town is the island’s most famous attraction, and one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Greece. Tradition holds that Sister Pelagia, a nun from the nearby Kechrovouni Monastery on the island, had a vision of the Virgin Mary that guided her to a spot where a holy icon of the Virgin Mary kneeling in prayer was subsequently unearthed. This icon is believed to possess divine healing powers. The magnificent Renaissance style Church of Our Lady of Tinos was built on the site of the discovery, with the icon as its centrepiece. Construction on the church was completed in 1880. Today the church forms a focal point of pilgrimages for the Greek Orthodox religion, with devout pilgrims making the journey from Tinos port to the church on their knees as a sign of their faith. Inside the church is packed with offerings laid by pilgrims for the Virgin Mary seeking the healing powers of the church.
There are three significant dates each year when the church is even more packed with visitors than usual. The 30th January marks the anniversary of the discovery of the holy icon, March 25th is religious festival of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, and the most important day in the church’s calendar is August 15th, the occasion of the Dormition of the Mother of God (the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven). The 15th August sees the whole island of Tinos come together for a celebration, with floods of worshippers arriving and a procession with the icon around Tinos town.
In the church’s courtyard is the Tinian Artists Museum, showcasing the work of famous local painters Nikolaos Gyzis, Nikiforos & Nikolaos Lytras as well as sculptors Yannoulis Chalepas, Lazarus Sohos and Dimitrios Filippotis to name but a few!
As well as being the site of the famous Holy Church of Panagia, Tinos town is also home to the Archeological Museum of Tinos, where you will find archeological marvels that were unearthed from all over the island. This includes pottery from the Mycenaean to the late Hellenistic/Roman period, Archaic (8th century BC) to Roman era sculptures, an intricate mosaic floor, and many other discoveries from the important archaeological sites in Exomvourgo and Kionia.
High above the Chora, just over 10km North east of the town, is the Monastery of Kechrovouni, which can trace its history back to the 10th Century. This is the monastery that was home to Sister Pelagia, the nun who discovered the holy icon of the Virgin Mary. Pelagia was named a Saint in 1970, and on the 23rd of July every year a festival is held in Tinos in honour of Agia (the Greek word for Saint) Pelagia. This large monastery is well worth a visit, as the nuns who live there provide guided tours to guests showing the monastery’s many ecclesiastical icons dating back to the 19th century, as well as the monastery’s museum and library. Visitors are even able to see the very cell where Agia Pelagia herself lived.
The impressive Exomvourgo (or Xobourgo) mountain stands 640m high in the centre of the south of the island. It is an important archeological site, with remains being uncovered here that date from the Copper Age through to the Byzantine era.
The Saint Helena fortress was first built on the mountain in 1207, and later developed under Venetian rule. After standing for over 500 years, it was dismantled during the Ottoman occupation of Tinos, and only its remains linger today. These ruins are a fascinating place to explore, and there are 70 organised climbing routes dotted about the mountain for those hardy visitors with a sense of adventure! Exomvourgo is a great spot for photos, and on a clear day you can even see as far as Santorini.
The Monastery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is located in the foothills of the Exomvourgo mountain, and is a significantly important shrine for the Greek Catholic Church. It was created by Catholic monks in the late 19th century inside the ruins of the Saint Sofia church on the same spot.
A few kilometres north east of Exomvourgo mountain lies the fascinating traditional village of Volax, a great place to visit for those seeking a quirky Greek island village. This architecturally unique village is surrounded by giant granite boulders, deposited by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. The amazing contrast between the town’s traditional whitewashed Cycladic style houses and these giant rock monoliths really has to be seen to be believed! The town is also famous for basket-weaving, and is a great place to buy a souvenir of your visit to Tinos. It is also home to a folklore museum, and a few tavernas, churches and gift shops.
On the far west of the island, 25km from the Chora, is Pyrgos the largest village on Tinos. This lovely village is one of the most beautiful on the whole island, and is the centre of marble sculpture on Tinos. The whole town is a showcase for the mastery of the local marble sculpturers, making Pyrgos a must-visit place for fans of architecture, art and photography. Pyrgos’ connection to the arts runs deeply through the village, as it is home to many wood carving workshops, a Fine Arts School, and is also the birthplace of nationally renowned sculptors Yannoulis Chalepas and Dimitrios Filippotis, and the painter Nikiforos Lytras.
Worthwhile places to visit are the Yannoulis Chalepas Museum, located in the sculptor’s former house, the town’s Saint Nicholas and Saint Dimitrios churches and the Museum of Marble Arts. You’ll also love exploring the workshops of the town’s local sculptors, but good luck fitting any of your purchases into your baggage allowance for the flight home!
There are many other great villages in Tinos too, just waiting for you to discover them on your day trip. These include the traditional village of Kardiani with its natural springs, and the seaside village of Panormos near Pyrgos, with beautiful beaches and lots of fresh fish tavernas. Close to the Kechrovouni Monastery is the pretty Medieval village of Arnados, offering stunning views of Mykonos, and 10km south on the coast you’ll find the Kionia archeological site, home to an ancient temple dedicated to the sea god Poseidon and his wife Amphitriti. Another landmark you’re bound to see on your travels about the island are the Tinos windmills, an archetypal sight on many of the Cyclades islands. A certain island named Mykonos is particularly quite well known for these too!
During your journeys around Tinos, and particularly near the villages of Komi, Krokos, Kardiani and Tarabados Valley, you’ll come across the famous Tinos Dovecotes, of which there are around 600 dotted about the countryside. These unusual creations date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, and were used during the island’s Venetian era for the breeding of pigeons.
Tinos’ dovecotes are unique in all of Greece as they are built from stone and are ornately decorated with geometric patterns of triangles and rhomboids interspersed with depictions of cypress trees. It was believed these unusual designs served to attract pigeons to use the dovecotes as roosting places. The Tinos dovecotes were declared artworks by the Greek Ministry of Culture in 1984 and 61 of them are now listed as Monuments.
As well as all these historical, ecclesiastical and cultural delights, Tinos has a great many fabulous beaches to offer if you manage to find time on your trip to squeeze in a bit of swimming and sunbathing. There are beaches to suit all tastes and interests, with hidden and secluded locations like Lichnafia, Isternia and Livada, and the family friendly and organized beaches of Agios Ioannis, Agios Fokas and Kionia. Kolympithra beach on the north coast of Tinos is even home to the island’s surf school founded by a local Tinos surfer, and taking advantage of the famous Meltemi wind that blows through the Cyclades islands in the summer months.
As you have seen, Tinos has a great deal to offer you if you choose to visit for a day trip from Mykonos. And our brief guide has barely scratched the surface of what you can discover on this great island. So if you fancy a day away from Mykonos, or you want to use Panormos Bay as your base for exploring the other Cyclades islands, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team during your stay with us. They’re always more that happy to help and assist you in planning your trips and excursions – it’s what we do!