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.
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.
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.
Villages on Tinos
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.
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
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.
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.