Published: September, 2018

Tinos, Greece

Tinos is filled with secrets; hidden beaches, dusty roads and surprise tavernas. We know we'll keep coming back to discover more!
— Taryn Elledge-Penner
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, Beach
  • Activity level: easy
  • Ideal length of trip: 7-10 days

to & from

YES! Tinos is a ferry ride away from Athens-Rafina port, which is closer to the airport than the Piraeus harbour in downtown Athens. If you want to avoid Athens you can line up your flight arrival with your ferry departure. But if you are staying the night it’s easy to find a place to stay near Rafina. Check the ferry schedules and buy tickets on greeka.com. There are fast ferries (around 2 hours), and slower ferries (around 4hrs), and prices aren’t always matched to speed. We recommend arriving a little early to print out tickets at the port, and if you’re in a cab have them drive you to the correct boat. There are a number of ferry companies, each with its own offices and boats and with everyone making a dash to get their tickets and get on board it can be pretty chaotic!

  • Renting a car is a must on the island. There are three main companies: Jason, Dimitris, and Vladis. They all were quite similar, and will send you a quote via email. Be prepared; this a very relaxed arrangement or at least it was with our guy. We've been here two weeks and all we've given them is an e-mail address! Hot Tip: we heard rumors of police stopping foreign drivers at the port and giving fines for lack of international driver's license. The car will be waiting for you with your name written on the dash when your boat arrives. Just get in and drive, and avoid the port till you're getting back on the boat and you'll be fine. Yay Greece!

stay

There are plenty of choices for accommodations, but we prefer Airbnb to hotels. Avoid Tinos’ main town. It’s bigger, noisy and lacks the charm of the smaller villages. Our favorite villages are Pyrgos, lively and charming and with a small grocery store, Isternia and Kardiani with their quiet streets, both built on the sides of the cliffs with beautiful views of the sea. We had awesome luck with our Airbnb in Pyrgos, and we would definitely stay here again. Most Greek homes are exceptionally clean (at least from everything we’ve seen), but finding the gems online can be difficult.

eat and drink

Most of what you’ll eat here on Tinos is from the island; homemade cheeses and sausages, tomatoes and onions, olives and artichokes. Expect to see similar dishes on the menu at nearly every taverna. You’ll have to try a bunch to find your favorite, but there’s no harm in that! Greeks eat late for every meal and the bakeries don’t start pumping out bread until 9:30am. Iced coffees (caffe freddo) at Platanos kept us going through many work sessions and the ouzo at Boheme did the same. If you need more caffeine and don’t mind a little grit go for Greek coffee. Make sure to specify your sugar level; sweet is the norm. Greeks sit and enjoy their coffee, sipping and chatting with neighbors. Wine by the half liter is good and inexpensive and available everywhere. Tinos and its new crop of energetic young winemakers has been fairly recently discovered and celebrated by some of France’s most intent buyers. There’s some great juice to drink here! Ouzo can be had straight or with a little water or ice added. Aperitif, digestif and inbetween-if; Greeks drink ouzo at any hour!

  • Thalassaki in Isternia Bay has wonderful, inventive versions of the classics. Our favorite meal during our stay. Sit close to the edge of the quai and you're in the splash zone as waves from passing ferries wash over the seawall and over your feet!
  • Dough and Shaker in Pyrgos for when the kids need something familiar. Great flatbread-style pizza and awesome conversation with Antonis, the co-owner. P.s. he has some of the good bottles in his private collection, you just need to ask.
  • Mayou All Day cafe in Isternia for great lunch/aperitif, a courtyard for the kids to run around in and the best view you could ask for. Exomeria for an equally stunning view and a great dinner. Marina and Paletas for dining by the fishing boats in Panormos.

do

Tinos is famous for its marble quarries and the artists who made masterpieces from what came out of them. Pyrgos houses a Museum of Marble Craft, a must-see. There are beaches and villages to explore around every corner. Just grab the map and pick something new every day.

  • If you want a secluded beach and aren't afraid of roads that wind down the cliffside, go to Vathi beach or Mali beach. If you're staying in Pyrgos or Panormos, Saints beach is easy for the kids and there is a nice outdoor bar with bean bags for the whole family to hang out on. If you're feeling adventurous hike around the corner for 5 minutes to find another, quieter beach and the enormous face of Aeolus, Greek god of the wind, carved into the side of the rock! Karidiani beach and Isternia Bay were also nice for the kids, with soft sand and easy, gentle slopes. We preferred the pebble beaches of Malli and Vathi. Vathi is protected on most windy days.
  • If you're feeling the need to venture into Tinos town (or need more groceries than the little local mini marts), hit up the farmer's market, where the old folks from the villages bring produce from their gardens. Go early, as it's all wrapped up by 1pm.
  • If you're looking for some surf, hit up the surf school at Kolimbithra beach. The Mediterranean is a small sea without a lot of surge, so the best surf happens on windy days.

inside scoop

Look around for a copy of Kyma, a locally produced creative magazine by a really nice guy named Dimitri.
In our experience Greeks take a while to warm up; stick with it and they usually warm up!
All Greeks, especially in the villages appreciate a warm hello (Kaliméra) , or “yasus”. They love children so expect the little ones to get some ruffled hair and pinched cheeks. I’m writing this from a little cafe on the square at 8 in the morning, and the proprietress just brought 2 year old Viggo a big bowl of ice cream…

  • We've heard that May, June, and September are the best months to visit. July and August can get quite busy and hot.

skip it

Tinos town is most likely not the reason you came to Tinos, so unless you have a good reason, you might want to skip it and spend the extra time exploring a new beach or another part of the island.

  • Late July and all of August are peak tourist season and rentals fill up quickly and restaurants do too.
  • Skip the first beach in Panormos harbor. There are lots of better beaches, and we found quite a bit of trash there on the day we went.
  • The tourists buses! Buzzing around in your own little car is so much more fun. You'll want to stop around each corner to gasp and take photos. Oh, and watch out for goats!
  • If you're planning to bring your lap top and get a lot of work done it will likely be a challenge. You can find WiFi in many cafes but reliability can be an issue.

packing tips

We love our Thule bags for this trip (and all others), but whatever luggage you bring make sure you can cart it on and off the big ferries, because there won’t be much help (and you will likely be renting a very small car with limited room for luggage).

  • Bring any of your favorite beauty products or must haves, because you won't be finding many options here.
  • The days are quite warm, but if the wind really picks up in the evening you'll want a sweater for sure.
  • Our turkish towels for fast drying between beach runs

more...

We’re were in Tinos researching for our own family travel project Quartier Collective, so we have seen many options for accommodations, at all points on the price spectrum. If you need help finding the perfect place, please get in touch and we would be happy to help!

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