Tinos Island is a small island to the east of mainland Greece, part of the island chain of the Cyclades. It’s the fourth-largest island in the Cyclades but vastly underrated and less visited than its popular counterparts – Mykonos, Naxos, and Santorini. When I decided to visit Tinos, Greece, I was quite unsure what the island would hold. Would it be overrun with tourists? Would it feel like a traditional Greek island? How are the Tinos beaches? I am happy to report that Tinos is by far one of my favorite destinations and having left a small piece of my heart on the island, I hope to come back one day and pick it back up.
A Guide to Visiting Tinos, Greece
How to Get to Tinos
Tinos doesn’t have an airport so the only way to arrive is by boat from the Rafina port on mainland Greece or from a different island in the Cyclades. I used the website, Ferries in Greece, to book my ticket. They make it easy to choose “island-hopping”, allowing you to purchase multiple ferry tickets at once.
If you’re arriving from the Athens airport you can take a taxi to the Rafina port – the cost should not be more than €35, but the taxis in Athens are metered and should be on – make sure to check when you get in the car. The cheapest option would be to take the bus to the port. Before exiting the airport there will be a screen showing the bus times, simply walk out of doors 2 or 3 at arrivals and cross the street heading towards the Sofitel Hotel. The bus to the port takes about 40-minutes and costs €3 – this must be paid in cash.
A direct ferry from Rafina to Tinos is about two hours.
Once you get to Tinos (and when you leave Tinos), it’s important to note that there are two ferry ports that are very close to each other. There’s the “new port” and the “old port”. The old port is right in Tinos Town (also called Chora) while the new port is just west of town. From my understanding, the “Flyingcat” is the only ferry that comes and goes from the old port, while the rest of the ferries come and go from the new port.
If you’re visiting Tinos from Athens, make sure to read How to Spend 2 Days in Athens
Where to Stay in Tinos
If you’re only visiting Tinos for a couple of days, the most practical area to stay in is in the south near Tinos Town which is right next to the port. All taxis originate from Tinos Town so it’s the easiest option to catch a taxi, take a bus, and explore from there. The good thing about staying near Tinos Town is that there are tons of bars and restaurants, and the downside is that the beaches aren’t as good.
The other village I’d recommend staying in is Pyrgos, located on the west side of the island. Pyrgos seemed to be a little bit more authentic and you’re near better beaches. The village was small, so there seemed like there was less to do unless you’re strictly in Tinos to lounge at the beach and take it slow.
I stayed at Agali Bay Hotel, east of Tinos Town. It was the perfect no-fuss hotel, close to town and close to the port. Its family run and the owners are very kind offering incredible recommendations for things to see and do on the island.
Getting Around Tinos
Tinos is a small island – 195 km² – making it an excellent choice for a couple of days of exploration. You can easily see the entirety of the island in two or three days if you’re in a rush – but I recommend slowing down and taking your time.
If you do want to see the entire island, I highly recommend renting a car. Taxis are incredibly expensive and the bus doesn’t run frequently meaning you’ll be stuck in a small village for quite some time until the bus comes back.
As I mentioned earlier, all taxis originate in Tinos Town. They run on meters so make sure the meter is on when you get in the car. In my experience, the ride costs about €1/minute (give or take) so if you’re taking a 20-minute ride, expect the charge to be around €20. If you get dropped off in a village and need to get picked back up, the ride begins when the driver leaves Tinos Town (or wherever they are when they get the phone call) which can make your drive very expensive.
The central bus station is in Chora and goes all over the island. The bus schedule changes based on season and demand; ask your hotel for a copy of the bus schedule, or check out this website.
Both cars and scooters are available to rent in Tinos. You’ll need an international driver’s license before renting (purchase an express license here). You can expect the car to run about €50 per day, and I highly recommend booking ahead of time if you’re coming during the high season. I used Dassiras, and the rental process was very easy. Another popular rental company on the island is Vidalis.
Highlights – The Best Things to Do in Tinos
Tinos is a beautiful island, brimming with things to see and do. I found that it was best explored by rental car, hopping from one small village to the next as you pass rocky landscapes, old churches, windmills, and pristine beaches.
Below you’ll find my favorite island finds including the best villages to visit, restaurants worth going out of your way for, and which beaches to visit.
The Best Tinos Villages to Visit
There are 60 different villages in Tinos, each a little slice of heaven in their own way. Every local had their own opinion on which was the “best”, and I tried my hardest to explore as many as I could during my time on the island. I can confirm that while each village is unique, it’s impossible to choose one as the “best” – which I now understand why I couldn’t seem to find two locals who unanimously agreed.
Isternia is a picturesque village located about 12-miles northwest of Tinos Town. The village is built into the hillside, offering sweeping views of the Aegean Sea and a nice view of the neighboring island, Syros. I highly recommend visiting Isternia around sunset, as the village really comes alive at this time. I opted for sunset drinks at Mayou All Day Bar. (You should know that this bar has a sweeping patio that gets quite crowded. For a more quaint experience, find the bike located on the wall and head up the stairs from there. Here you’ll find a quieter and more peaceful place to sit for drinks and watch the sunset).
North of Isternia, just up the hill you’ll find a charming windmill amongst old ruins. If you visit Isternia, don’t miss it.
Panormos Village is a small village on the water located in northwestern Tinos. To me, it was the most “Greek” village, having reminded me of any movie scene ever shot on the seaside in Greece. This village is ideal if you’re looking for fresh seafood and a walk along the water. There’s also a small, no-frills beach neaby made up of what mostly felt like locals.
15-miles northwest of Tinos Town, Pyrgos is one of the largest villages in Tinos. It’s well-known for its marble sculptures, even having a marble school in the village. If you visit Pyrgos, make sure to find the center of the village where you’ll be met with multiple restaurants spilling out on the streets. The atmosphere is one of a kind, a great place for a coffee or drink. For lunch, I recommend either heading north to Panormos Village or staying in the village and eating Italian cuisine from Dough & Shaker located outside of the main square.
TINOS TOWN (CHORA)
Tinos Town, or Chora, is where everything originates from (taxis, buses, etc) and is located in the south of the island. That being said, it’s definitely the busiest village on the island but also has the most fun nightlife. Tinos Town is also where the ferry ports are so unless you’re arriving privately, you’re likely to step foot in Tinos Town.
When you visit Tinos Town there are tons of boutique shops, restaurants, and bars lined up along the narrow alleyways. Make sure to scope out Antiolos, a coffee shop, bookstore, and art gallery all wrapped into one. And if you’re looking for a fun atmosphere for dinner I suggest eating at Eleni’s Box.
One of the more unique villages, Volax is located six miles north of Tinos Town. The village is surrounded by huge boulders, giving it an interesting landscape compared to the rest of the island. The boulders are thanks to a volcanic eruption that happened years prior.
The Best Restaurants on Tinos Island
If you’re the type of traveler in search of incredible food in each new destination, you won’t be disappointed on this island. Tinos offers a mix of seafood with a Greek twist, along with traditional Greek tavernas. While Tinos Town seemed to have inviting restaurants that spilled out into the streets with twinkle lights and tourists – the food wasn’t nearly as good as if you venture outside of the town. Below you’ll find my two favorite restaurants in Tinos.
BIANCO BEACH HOUSE RESTAURANT
Bianco is a breezy beach restaurant located on Vourni Beach. It has an upscale and sophisticated feel to it all the while being laidback. The fried cheese balls with orange marmalade and the grilled octopus dish were downright sinful.
I recommend making reservations beforehand – perhaps around 9 pm – and arriving for drinks a couple of hours early to watch the sunset on the beach. If you order drinks from the bar you can sit in the bean bag chairs free of charge.
Dino’s was hands down the best restaurant I ate at in Tino’s and perhaps my favorite restaurant in the entirety of Greece. If you only have time to eat at one place – you’ll want this to be it. It’s located right on the water (not the beach like Bianco) and has a local feel to it. Instead of dining alongside fellow tourists, I felt as though I was surrounded by Greek families enjoying a night out on the town. The food was downright insane – a place that my eyes were surely bigger than my stomach. The white pasta with seafood, grilled calamari with truffle and fava, and charred octopus were just too good. I’m tearing up just thinking that I may never eat that well again.
I highly recommend making a reservation days in advance, however, they also allow space for walk-ins. I showed up around 8:30 as a walk-in and waited around with a glass of wine until I was able to be seated at 9:45. It was well worth it.
The Best Beaches in Tinos
An island, Tinos has over 700 beach areas to choose from. Some are rocky, some are sandy, some are secluded, and some see tons of tourists. There’s surely a beach for everyone’s different wants, needs, and preferences.
Located on the northern side of Tinos, Kolympithira Beach was my favorite beach to visit. It has two separate beach areas, one with an old Volkswagen converted into a bar and makeshift umbrellas dug into the sand. The other beach was a bit more traditional with chairs, proper umbrellas, and a couple of tavernas to eat at.
I chose to set up shop at the beach with the old Volkswagen, and it didn’t disappoint. The workers cranked out cocktails all day amongst a beachy soundtrack, serving the ultimate Greece beach vibes. Around 3 pm party-goers flocked to the beach, making the beach much more crowded and lively.
On the northwest side of the island, just minutes from Panormos Village, Rochari Beach is located in an area that feels like the edge of the world. You’ll know you’ve made it when the road turns to sand and you can’t go any further. There’s a beach bar, chairs, umbrellas, and a volleyball court set up. (Please note, the photo pictured above is from the village Panormos, right before arriving to Rochari Beach).
Vourni Beach is where Bianco Beach Bar is located. This feels like the most upscale beach bar of the three listed. The chairs are plush, the atmosphere is quite intimate, and you’re secluded in your own little area on the island.
After visiting my first Cycladic Island – Santorini – and wholly disliking it, Tinos did a great job of making up for my soured experience. Visiting Tinos was the perfect mix of adventure, relaxation, and feeling like I was getting a true Greek experience. Even during high season, the island felt secluded and quiet when I looked for areas to get away. I am sure that Tinos, Greece is sure to be the next up-and-coming island in the Cyclades.
For more on Greek islands, don’t miss:
For more ideas on things to see and do in Tinos (and Greece in general), make sure to head to my Instagram page/highlight reel and search “#ppingreece” or for the highlight reel “Greece”