Patmos Travel Experience
The Dodecanese is a magical place where nothing ever seems to go wrong. When we thought of Patmos, we were tempted by an island quite off the beaten track. It is indeed popular for religious reasons, but it still remained off our beaten path. When our friends heard about our plans for Patmos, they stared in astonishment and vaguely told us about Saint John, but a question would infallibly follow… Why Patmos? As with any destination, there’s not always a reason why but there’s always a reason to fall in love. And we fell in love with Patmos and its quiet atmosphere. If you wish for a unique experience made of culture, adventure, and beauty, I know you will adore Patmos. Here’s everything you must know to start the Patmos Travel Experience: Our Patmos Ultimate Travel Guide.
Patmos Travel Experience: Your Ultimate Patmos Travel Guide
An Introduction to Patmos
The Greek island of Patmos (Πάτμος) is a small island in the north of the Dodecanese. It covers an area of about 34 square kilometers and it is surrounded by several islands and uninhabited islets. The main settlements of the island are Chora (religious center and main capital) and Skala (the commercial harbor). The island is 158 nautical miles from the port of Piraeus, in Athens, and it will take you a good seven-hour sail to arrive from Greece’s capital.
Patmos, mentioned in the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation, plays an important role as a sacred place of Christian pilgrimage. Popular among tourists are the Cave of the Apocalypse as well as the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian. The UNESCO declared both of them, together with the Chora, World Heritage Sites.
The Villages of Patmos
The first village you will see upon arrival is Skala, the port and most vibrant settlement on the island. A white double-domed church and some Venetian buildings make an elegant first impression. A few steps further, Skala comes alive with a pleasant square, encircled by souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars. Skala is not the capital of the island, but it’s certainly the largest town.
Everything takes place in Skala, on the rather longish promenade facing the marina, that extends to reach the city beach and a small port for fishing boats and luxury yachts. All excursion boats to nearby islands and secluded beaches leave from Skala.
Chora, the capital of Patmos, stands on an elevated position overlooking the harbor. A white settlement that falls over the slopes of the hill, crowned by the severe Monastery of Saint John. White, elegant mansions, fortified buildings and a Medieval architecture make it the focal point of interest for visitors of Patmos.
Chora, about 4 kilometers away from Skala, can be reached with taxis or buses departing from the port. Apart from the refined shops and venues, there is a fantastic world made of tiny alleys, covered passages, and impressive houses.
One of them is Simandiri Mansion where, past the modest entrance door, astonishment follows. Inside the house, a building dating from 1625, constructed by craftsmen from Asia Minor, plenty of art objects, antique furniture, and silverware from Russia, and also icons from the 15th to 17th centuries. An example of traditional architecture with vaulted ceilings and refined arches.
Still up in close to Chora, three windmills give a distinct shape to the landscape of Patmos. Two of the mills date back to 1588, and they all underwent restoration in 2010 thanks the generous contribution of private sponsors and benefactors. The windmills, property of the Monastery, are in the nearby area, in a quarter named Mili (after the mills, naturally). The entrance is free.
Inside you can see the unique wood work of the mills mechanism. All three mills are restored externally, using original materials, and it’s possible to visit the interior of the only operational mill. We met a woman involved in the refurbishing project and she was a precious source of knowledge.
Kampos is a village third in importance and population. Upper Kampos is mainly residential, with a few restaurants and a nice square. Tourists choose Kampos mostly to take advantage of Kampos beach. The biggest on Patmos, ideal for kids and for watersports lovers as well. Due to the position, this side of the island is a privileged place for beautiful sunsets. A famous spot to enjoy the views is Merika, immediately after the road leading to Kampos. Benches on top of the hill are there for you to take in all the magic of the golden hour.
A laid-back village, with both luxury and convenient accommodation. The bay overlooks the impressive Petra Kalikatsou, a peculiar rock formation that seems for emerge from the sea, apparently a place chosen by hermits, who left carved traces on it. This area hosts an important biotope on Patmos, home to several bird species and natural beauty.
What to do in Patmos
Patmos is a distinctive center for religious tourism. A destination chosen by thousand of Christians who come to the island to visit many of its churches and hermitages, but above all, to see the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse and the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian.
I have written a very extensive article about Patmos’ religious centers, you can find it here if you want to read more.
Many visitors agree that Patmos has some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. Indeed, seaside landscapes are marvelous; crystal water, clean environment and… and well, there are pebbles. We are not fans of pebbles for a few reasons, mostly because kids hate them. Pebbles are a pain to walk on the shore, a nuisance when you enter the sea… not to mention sand castles. But those who hate sand getting in the middle of everywhere will be happy to read the news.
Most beaches on Patmos, the easy-to-reach ones at least, have pebbles. Unless you visit Psili Ammos. You will have to hike for a good while or choose a boat (Make a guess..? Yeah, kids again!) if you look for fine, soft sand.
These are some of the most beautiful beaches on the island.
This rather long beach, famous for its rare pebbles, can be a good option if you have your own car as it is located nearly 15 km from Chora. Its name, which means shining, apparently makes reference to the reflections the sun produces against the stones that cover the beach.
Not far from Skala, the beach is sand mixed with pebbles, there are a bar and a taverna. Waters are shallow enough for kids, and a nice, long row of trees offer shade if you prefer to avoid sun beds and umbrellas. It can get quite crowded during the season.
Probably the most comfortable beach in terms of location, Meloi is one of the few sandy shores we visited. With a restaurant and a supermarket nearby, it’s fine to spend the day. It’s close to Skala, and shallow waters make it the great for families.
The views around this distant beach are worth the visit. The small islet in front of it, Agios Giorgos, offers a beautiful panorama with its tiny, white chapel. They say orchids blossom during spring, probably adding an extravagant touch of beauty.
We liked the relaxed atmosphere of Vagia, with clear waters and a lush vegetation surrounding the area. They say the cafeteria nearby serves the best chocolate cakes in Patmos (our kids agree!). I settled for their apricot cake, which was really delicious.
Defined by enthusiasts as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the pebble beach of Grikos offers a relaxed atmosphere to swim or enjoy the views of little boats docking in the shore. Ducks, fish and other interesting fauna will make the joys of adults and kids.
In our description of the beaches of Patmos, we left the most beautiful place last. Rightfully considered one of the most pretty beaches of the Aegean, its name is a promise: “fine sand”. A unique character and complete isolation (not in August, to be honest) but often exposed to northwest winds making it difficult to reach by boat under certain conditions.
For those who don’t mind walking to reach this idyllic spot, there are two paths that take you there. A bit longish and more demanding one, starting from Diakofti to end in the southern extreme of Psili Ammos, and the other one which begins at Stavros Bay and takes you to the northern part of the beach. In both cases, you will need plenty of water and closed (or very comfy) walking shoes.
Walking Trails and Hiking
Eco-tourism has taken a new twist in Patmos with the so-called Paths of Culture. This clearly marked network of ancient footpaths will guide visitors around many of the cultural sites of the island, passing through beautiful landscapes. Some of the trails connect Skala to Chora, and Skala to Kastelli. if you are interested in walking the island, visit this site for a list of trails and detailed information.
This is an event taking place for the first time this season (from June 30th to July 2nd), devoted to highlighting the importance of sports tourism. During Patmos Revelation, the island will host running (5 km and 15 km) and open water swimming (1 mile) races, for professional and amateur athletes. The main goal of this event is to promote tourism on such a gorgeous island, combining entertaining activities, sports, and the historical heritage.
For more information about Patmos Revelation visit their website, do a web search using the hashtag #PatmosRevelation or enjoy this spectacular teaser:
Patmos for Foodies
A mouth-watering local gastronomy, largely inspired by Greek traditions, that also receives the influence of years of Ottoman domination. If you love pastries, sweets, and savory pitas, then you must try the pies of Patmos. And there is no better place than Christodoulos, in the heart of Skala.
Christodoulos produces a whole variety of typical sweets: cakes, pastries, and ice creams; but he is famous for local sweets and his special cheese pies, also loved by visitors. With fluffy cheese pies and sweets filled with almonds and honey, Christodoulos is the flag-bearer of the delicious local gastronomy.
Some of the delicacies you will find on Patmos include shinopsomo, a traditional kind of bread made with a local seed, sugar, and cinnamon. Xerotigano is a deep-fried kind of pastry with abundant use of honey and cinnamon.
Local cheese varieties include kalathoro, made of goat milk, and touloumotiri, matured in goat skin, similar to the popular Greek feta cheese.
As far as wines are concerned, Patmos has its own wine roads together with the neighboring islands of Leros and Lipsi. Moscat of Alexandria is a traditional white variety growing on Patmos, which is reviving its traditional wine culture through a new plan designed to restore vineyards in the region of Petra. If you are after local labels, make sure to try a glass from Domaine Patoinos.
Where to eat in Patmos
This restaurant, which bears all the looks of the traditional Greek taverna, is managed by the nearby Patmos Aktis Hotel.
So if you are expecting a regular moussaka or a dish of tzatziki, expect no more.
They do, however, offer a menu based on the staple ingredients of Greece, but cooked and served with more than a twist. Try their fava, their salads, and their grilled cheese.
Fresh fish dishes right in front of the port. This traditional Greek restaurant plays it more on substance than on form and comes out a winner. Prices are very affordable and the staff kind and attentive.
A pleasant atmosphere, very tasty dishes and all the choices available for those tiny picky palates.
For adults, creative dishes made of fresh vegetables (do try their aubergines as well as their dolmades), abundant salads and great meat too.
As a dessert, creamy Greek yogurt topped with homemade spoon sweets.
Close to Stavros Bay, this restaurant makes quite an impression due to the location. But once you go past the appearance, it’s time for food. And it’s great local food with quite regular prices. Curiously enough, it’s a restaurant many of our Italian friends know and prefer. Convenient as far as prices is concerned too.
One could think the Nautilus takes all the merit due to the impressive landscape of the location.
One could also say that the classy ambiance, the candles, and the colors are what makes this venue unforgettable. All that agreed the food is perfect.
From start to end, no single dish disappointed me. Suggestion: Try their meat. For kids? Also hamburgers!
Restaurants that our kids loved!
For a relaxed night where kids can enjoy beloved gyros, souvlaki and less complex food, try Pita Konne, in the main square of Skala. Their terrace is comfortable with a touch of ethnic fashion. Prices are affordable and the meat excellent.
Try their fresh salads!
A traditional place everybody suggested us to visit is Pantelis. Also in the heart of Skala, this taverna serves what I define comfort Greek food.
Abundant dishes, no frills, pure taste. Also here prices are very convenient.
Afternoon snacks taste great at StrEat, a cozy, little snack bar all dressed up in white. Huge chocolate pancakes, waffles and orange juice. What kid wouldn’t love those?
Where to Stay: Patmos Hotels We Absolutely Love
Convenience: Hotel Romeos
Easily one of the best values on Patmos, it’s no wonder the Hotel Romeos has a public of ever-returning customers and receives raving reviews. A central location, ten minutes from Skala, makes it easy to access any area of Patmos. The rooms enjoy great views of the nearby island of Ikaria, making sunsets a unique experience.
Kyria Anna personally cares for all your needs. As a highlight for Patmos visitors, they celebrate mass in the gardens every morning. Kids will love the atmosphere and the assorted library with stories in all languages.
Romance: Porto Scoutari
Described as the most romantic venue on Patmos, Porto Scoutari Romantic Hotel & Suites is located among beautiful gardens and stunning surrounding sea views.
Known as a celebrated premier hotel, it offers a small intimate Spa with free Jacuzzi and a gym.
It overlooks the bay of Meloi, and it’s just a kilometer away from Skala.This is the perfect atmosphere for a romantic holiday on Patmos.
Luxury: Patmos Aktis
This stunning hotel is a luxury spot with excellent views towards Grikos Bay.
Expect comfortable, spacious rooms, filled with dazzling natural light and paired with white curtains, cushions and bed linen.
A wonderful shared swimming pool as well as private pools in the most exclusive suites, and phenomenal views. About 5 km from Skala, the hotel is on an idyllic pebble beach.
Patmos with Kids
We arrived on the island after a long trip from Chania to Piraeus, an even longer day in Athens, and a final sailing night to Patmos. Greeted at the port by heat and humidity at three in the morning was not the best of welcomes. We needed a cold shower, a regular bed, and some real rest. The next day was a promise of activities, tastes, and experiences.
As a mom, my personal piece of advice would be to take it easy. There is indeed a lot to do on Patmos and it can be overwhelming to try to see it all in a couple of days. Cultural activities, religious sites, great beaches, superb food to taste. Lots, indeed. So, if you are short of time, work on your priorities. Eventually, plan a second visit, I am sure you will find all the reasons to return.
There’s no airport on Patmos, so if you fly from Athens, count on landing on the neighbor islands of Leros, Kos or Rhodes.
Boats depart from Piraeus (leaving from Gate E1) and Rhodes bound to Patmos every day. In summer, there is also a frequent service connecting Patmos to Kos. We traveled with Blue Star Ferries. Check Dodekanisos Seaways too!
To move around the island, rely on taxis, buses or the comforts of car rental services. Many people choose motorbikes and quads too.
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Patmos Travel Experience: Patmos Ultimate Travel Guide
Keep in touch with The Tiny Book if you want more information about Patmos. An exclusive Digital Guide of Patmos, with links to attractions, hotels, and restaurants is now out in collaboration with Favoroute.
Thanks to the Municipality of Patmos, the Patmos Tourism Committee and local venues and residents for the help and hospitality offered during our trip.