Tinos is Greece’s holiest island. A place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians, it also as a large Catholic population. It’s also known for its many dovecotes, as a centre of marble carving and for its varied scenery.
The attraction for pilgrims is the church of Panagia Megalochari (the Blessed Virgin Mary). This is a short walk from town, or about half an our on your hands and knees, as the pilgrims do it. You can see them in action on religious days or most days in August.
Tinos’ dovecotes are elaborately decorated affairs. They’re visible in many country areas. Estimates vary but they number well in to the hundreds. The pigeons aren’t kept for fun, or for sending messages. They were for many years a staple part of the diet!
Tinos has rich marble quarries and has bred many famous carvers. You’ll need to hire a car or scooter to reach the Marble Craft Museum at Pirgos but it’s worth a visit.
En route you can take in the island’s varied scenery. In particular there’s the island’s mountain, Exobourgo. This is a jagged outcrop, unlike any other Greek mountain I’ve seen. Volax is also worth a look. Here you can see boulders the size of houses.
I’m sure some will alos be interested in a visit to the local Nissos craft brewery, a few miles out of town. If you can’t get there, do at least sample the brew in a nearby bar.
Back in town, culture vultures can visit the Archaeological Museum and the Art Gallery. There are plenty of shopping opportunities in the labyrinth of alleys behind the front. , However, the quality of souvenir tat is on a par with more visited islands like Mykonos, albeit with a religious theme. Provisions are easily found.
Some of the eateries, especially around the ferry quay, are more focused on speed than quality. The locals tend to head to the opposite end of the front where there are some good fish restaurants and good traditional fare.
Tinos is one of those places I wish I’d spent more tie exploring, and certainly one on the itinerary when I’m next down that way.