One of the exciting things about the many Island activities available to visitors is that there is something for everyone. Whether your interest lies in diving off the island to see all the wonderful marine life, ship wrecks, and beautiful underwater world, or in hiking the islands hundreds of old footpaths, and climbing the granite rocks of Exombourgo, or just enjoying laying on one of the sandy beaches, Tinos Island has you covered. Below, we have outlined just a few of the more popular things to do on Tinos Island.
Swimming / Beaches
Tinos has pristine beaches with crystal clear water in a safe environment. Snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing or surfing are some of the activities that you can enjoy in the sea.
On the north coast of the island a big circular bay has one big beach with waves, were surfing lessons are also offered, a very nice beach bar and a great spot to swim if you walk to the end of the beach. Next to it there is also a smaller more protected beach, with umbrellas and two restaurants with fish food and other island delicacies. This beach is more protected from the wind, but also more frequented with people.
This beach is the nicest unspoiled sandy beach of Tinos. You have to walk down a rocky footpath, but it is easy to reach by car. There is no shade so bring an umbrella!
Is only 2km away from Tinos Eco Lodge! Walking distance is about 30 minutes downhill. This sandy beach is well-protected from the wind. It is nice for snorkelling and fishing and it’s the locals favourite.
is one of the nicest beaches in the north of the island, but take care to go there when it’s not windy. The rocky formations of the huge granites make fantastic shapes, small sculptures and caves. Very big Tamarisk trees at the back provide plenty of shade and a nice spot to hang up your hammock! It is a wonderful to walk up the river that leads to the beach. Beware of the goats, they might steal your food! There is a nice little restaurant where you can have lunch. Livada is suitable for snorkelling and fishing.
Down the road from the Eco Lodge, the second neighbouring beach is full of beautiful round stones and fantastic sea colours. The walk is also 30 minutes and 10 minutes by car. There is a nice small village above the beach with gardens and a small stream with a spring. There are big Tamarisk trees that provide nice shade to lay under.
Is a very nice sandy beach near the Eco Lodge with fantastic sand dunes and clear turquoise water. It’s a bit tricky to find the footpath to go down there, but you can freestyle over the rocks or follow someone else! The road there from Lychnaftia is only a dirt road.
Is a very nice bay separated by a small hill with a chapel. It is mainly a sandy beach with some rocky areas. From the parking area a steep staircase leads you down to the beach.
At the other end of the island, near Panormos bay, the last beach to reach by car is Ag. Thalassa. When you reach Panormos you go left on the beach where at the end of it a dirt road starts which will leads you to Ag. Thalassa, which is a very nice sandy beach, protected from the wind by big tamarisks that also provide shade. From there you can follow a footpath by the coast that leads you to another small bay. There are also tamarisks and the sea is sandy, but with a lot of rocky areas, which is very good for snorkelling and fishing.
Hiking is one of the most fascinating activities for exploring the island. With more than 100.000km of old stone footpaths, you can walk all over the island reaching the most isolated areas. A very interesting site describes 46 hiking routes with estimated time and lots of photos. This network of footpaths was created in order to connect the villages and with the fields for cultivation. All around the island even in the steepest cliffs you will find man-made stone terraces and dry-stone walls in order to increase the land for cultivation.
These are a reminder of the centuries-long struggle to survive in this dry and rocky environment, creating at the same time a unique man-made landscape. On the way you will find marvellous pieces of old architecture such as dovecotes, stone stables and stone huts, water mills, wind mills, fountains and stone bridges. A large part of the network of footpaths has fortunately still remained intact, even though most of the footpaths are threatened and deteriorating from neglect and chocking with vegetation today. Anavasi has created a fantastic hiking map of the island which contains almost the whole footpath network and has also 25 routes with detailed descriptions on time, route, sites along and difficulty. You can purchase the map at a bookshop in Tinos town.
Climbing & Bouldering
There is a very well organised climbing area on Exombourgo granite rock, right in the centre of the island. Very well situated and easy to reach, with more than 60 routes of varying difficulties (5a to 7b+), it’s a great place to climb! There is a very good webpage with detailed descriptions of the routes. For further information about organized climbing excursions and lessons have a look here.
Another popular activity is bouldering in the unique granite area of Volax and Livada. in the north east of the island. These rocks that have been sculptured in time by the strong Aegean winds offer a great place with unlimited ‘problems’ to solve for bouldering fans. Actually it is the greatest and also biggest bouldering area in Greece with thousands of blocks and more than 600 Bouldering Problems. The history of exploring new bouldering problems is really young (Antonis Skevofilakas started 2003 with the first 15 problems) and there is still potential to find a lot of first ascents too. Most people come to Tinos for bouldering in Autumn and Spring time, when it is not so hot.
You can find a good bouldering page with a lot of information and tricks here. There is also a special book for Tinos bouldering, Tinos-Bloc published by the GEBRO Verlag in three different languages with a lot of descriptions on routes and problems that you can find on line as well as at the car rental companies of Vidalis and Dimitris in Tinos.
Wildlife of Tinos
The northern part of Tinos has been characterized as an Important Bird Area because of Eleoora’s falcon, a small sea raptor which 70% of its population breeds in the Aegean, which breeds on its rocky cliffs. Part of the IBA is a NATURA 2000 area, protected for the rest of the fauna, reptiles, mammals and for the flora. Among the birds that can be seen in Tinos, are buzzards, kestrels, and Bonelli’s Eagle, the long-legged buzzard,and the Peregrine. In particular, during migration many kind of raptors can be spotted. The shags are important seabirds and there are owls such as, Scops owl,and Little owl, as well as Hoopoe in autumn and spring, herons, ducks and waders especially in Kolibithra bay where there is a small area of wetland while the rare Cretzshmar’s Bunting breeds in the scrub area.
There are many reptiles that live on the island, with the most famous one because of its venom being the Nose-horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes). However other nonvenomous snakes are Natrix natrix in the water, Natrix tessellata, Eryx jaculus, and Dolichophis caspius. Tortoises (Mauremys caspica), frogs and many species of lizards (Cyrtodactylus kotschyi, Lacerta trillineata, Podarcis erhardii) are found in Tinos.
Also in the unobstructed water caves of the island lives the monk seal Monachus monachus. However, it has been a long time since a sighting has been reported.
Many herbs and edible plants as well as mushrooms grow wild all over the island and people are used to collect them for house consumption. Oregano, Thyme, Lavender, Wild sage, wild mint and many many more can be found while walking around the footpaths of Tinos.
Architecture / Villages
There are more than 50 villages in Tinos, all preserving the island traditional architecture converting them to monuments with centuries old buildings. The island architecture is characterized by the materials that are found here. The old houses are built in stone and the technique that was developed by the local stone masons is admirable in many aspects. The houses have small openings for protection from the wind and the cold. Windows are small and usually have a smaller opening over them called ‘yperthiro’ for light to come in when closed in winter. Most of the houses found in the countryside are called agrikies and are used for staying when cultivating the fields. Next to them are stone stables for the animals. Sometimes animals and men had to share the same roof.
The house is usually built on top and under it there is a cellar or a stable for the animals. Now most of them are used for food storage and working tools, or are transformed and connected as a part of the house. Doors, passages or separations inside the house are made in an arc shape out of stone. Wood is scarce and can only be found used for holding the ceiling which is also made out of stone plates. The houses have small kitchens, only with the necessary fireplace and bathrooms and toilets were built outside in a separate room. Some must see villages is Pyrgos, the village of the marble and the art of sculpturing, Triandaros, Arnados, Dyo Horia, all next to each other with typical island houses, arcs and passages, Volax for the granite area, Agapi a hidden jewel in the green valley, Smardakito and Tarambados for the pigeon houses, Kardiani, the terrace to the Aegean and Ysternia for panoramic views. Having mentioned these there is no undermining to the rest of the villages which all have a special character, small tavernas to drink a raki and taste some local delicacies and very very friendly people.
Pigeon houses were used until the middle of last century. They came with the venetians as an agriculture activity; pigeons were bred for their meat but also for their excrements which are an excellent fertilizer. There are 1135 pigeon houses on the island, most of them are abandoned but some of them are restored and still used. The architecture is for each one unique and used to be a competition among builders for making the nicest and most elaborate facades. In the village of Tarambados one can see some of the oldest and nicest decorated pigeon houses on the island.
There are a few museums in Tinos concerning mainly the art of sculpture, which was famous in the past centuries, as Tinos was famous for marble extraction and used to be one of the major trade activity of the island. Pyrgos village is the second biggest village of Tinos and is directly connected to the stone queries that are situated in the west part of the island. Tinos produced a famous green marble which was exported all around the world, but also white, grey and other qualities of marble. The history of marble can be seen in the new modern high-tech Marble Museum in Pyrgos. There is also a small museum dedicated to the sculptors of the island and the house of the famous sculptor Halepas, is also open to the public. Others are the Archaeological Museum in Tinos on the main road to the church and the Centre of Tinian Culture which hosts a permanent exposition of marble sculpture and other seasonal expos, its also in Tinos at the other end of the port.