Tinos


Tinos is one of the bigger islands in the northern Cyclades. Approximately 10.000 people live on Tinos, which has an area of 200 km². Most of the tourists coming here are Greek. Tinos is an important destination for pilgrims. The island is also famous for sculpture. There are only few foreign guests on the island but the numbers seem to be growing.

Tinos town

Most of the Greek tourists coming to Tinos are pilgrims. Their destination is the church of pilgrimage Pangia Evangelistria. It is famous for the religious icons. For the Greek Orthodox pilgrims Tinos is as important as Lourdes is for the Catholics. They actually have something in common: an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. An interesting detail is that only one year later – in 1823 – the now famous Marian icon of Tinos was found here. On the site where the icon was discovered the pilgrimage church Pangia Evangelistria was built.

The basilica is open daily from 8AM to 8PM but – and this is admittedly hard to believe – is only one of 1000 churches on the island. If you like to visit churches Tinos is the place to be.

Pangia Evangelistria was built on a little hill only about 600 meters away from the port. You can see the church from miles away. A broad road leads up there from the sea. Pilgrims cover the distance on their knees. I take it is needless to mention that asphalt is not exactly ideal for this exercise. It seems to be acceptable to wear kneepads to protect the knees. Once you get close to the church there is a red carpet for the pilgrims.

 

Church of pilgrimage Pangia Evangelistria

The main attraction of the island is destination for thousands of visitors every day. The complex with its impressive number of rooms reminded me more of a monastery than an actual church. The very reason why so many people visit Tinos and the sanctuary itself is found in the left room ground floor: The icon Panagia Megalochari.

Entrance is free but the place tends to be packed (especially on weekends). You are expected to wear appropriate clothes (long trousers and you shoulders covered).

City Centre Tinos Town

Interesting for western tourists is Odos Evangelistria. It is a small pedestrian zone just right of the pilgrim path. Even if you are not interested in kitsch, souvenirs and that kind of stuff you might actually like. Most of the rummage they are selling in the little shops is religion related. Many Greeks by long candles – and we are talking about a meter and more here – that they light up in the church later. At the very beginning of this shopping mile you'll also find the ticket offices for the ferries.

 

 

Quite interesting I found the local archaeological museum. It has quite interesting exhibits from Tinos past. Other than that there is little I can recommend. Tinos Chora (town) is a typical port town with a lively promenade that has loads of taverns and fish restaurants. Since the pilgrim business is going well prices went up in recent years.

Right behind the promenade you'd also find most of the bigger hotels. They mainly seem lets call it upmarket. Cheaper places (mainly private rooms) you'll find a little further away from the seaside. Prices on Tinos are at least medium range. A private room starts from about 30 – 35 Euro. If you are planning on staying during the two big religious holidays (see further down) you'll pay a lot more.

Nightlife exists but is very much Greek style. The bars are crowded with local youngsters and of course pilgrims from the big city.

Villages on Tinos

The smaller villages might be more interesting for tourists than the capital itself. The mountain villages especially around Mt. Exobourgo (730 m) are picturesque. Quite a few of them are actually Roman Catholic, Xinara even has a bishop.

Highly recommended is the small village Pirgos up north. It is famous for its long tradition of sculpture (mainly marble). Many of the most famous Greek sculptors live and work here. You can visit their studios and do your art shopping.

West of the capital are some OKish beaches. Tinos is not exactly famous for it's beaches.

Busses on Tinos

The local infrastructure is quite good. Most of the villages can easily reached by bus. There are frequent bus connections. From Tinos town to Pirgos alone there are 6 busses a day. The bus terminal is close to the port. During summer they also offer round trips to discover the island.

Ferries to Tinos

The mainland isn't particularly far away so it is relatively easy to get here. The best and closest is Rafina (east of Athens) but of course you can get here from Piraeus as well. There are 4 boats a day to Rafina and 2 to Piraeus.

Very close are also Mykonos and Andros. There are 3 – 5 ferries a day covering this route. At least once a day a ferry goes to Syros, may not every day but at least frequent you can go to the bigger Cyclades island Paros, Naxos and Santorini.

Interesting enough you cannot buy ferry tickets at the port. You will have to go to one of the travel agencies in Odos Evangelistria. The good news is: tickets to the neighbouring islands like Mykonos are dirt cheap. They only cost you about 5 Euro. Day trips from Mykonos to Tinos are quite popular.

There is no airport on Tinos but a heliport. It's mainly for emergencies and really rich people.

Festivals on Tinos

Festival is not a good name for this. It's more a religious holiday or rather big day for pilgrims. The two dates are March 25th and August 15th (Assumption Day). These are the most interesting days to visit the island but also the busiest. Tens of thousands of people come to island to celebrate. They even have additional ferries from Athens to cover the demand. Bad news is, there is no way you find a room on these days. You have to be lucky just to get a return ticket from Mykonos or Syros on these days.


 

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