I have been back from Tinos for almost two weeks, and its magic is still with me. A few of you have been asking about this island – my happy place. Part of me doesn’t want to share (what I love the most is how remote it is and how there are more churches than people), but sharing is caring. So here goes.
How to get there:
It takes two days from the US (did I mention it is remote?). Airplane to Athens. Taxi to the port of Rafina (about an hour). Ferry to Tinos. If you have time in Rafina, have lunch at Agoni Grammi.
The chora (aka the town):
Tinos is the name of the island, and of the main town (where the ferry will drop you off). This town is filled with restaurants, bars, clubs (yes – clubs) – more on that later. Make a trip to the main church, where many come for a pilgrimage. If you can avoid it, don’t stay there.
You will need a car in Tinos (although my uncle who now owns the house does not drive, he takes buses and taxies on the island – but trust me, you need a car). Don’t use Vidalis, they are popular and all over the island but extra expensive. Use Dimitris Rent a Car. Owned by Heike and her husband, they may be the nicest people on Tinos. Email her here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to get your international driver’s license.
Tinos is known for its amazing villages. My grandparents bought a house in Triantaros in the 1960s (which is how I got to be lucky enough to discover this island). This village so close to my heart is known as the balcony of Tinos.
You must also visit Isternia (which I love equally as Triantaros), Kardiani (the garden of Tinos), Pyrgos (which has an amazing town square), and Panormos, which is by the sea on the opposite side of the island.
Thalassaki – in Isternia bay. The best seafood on the island, maybe in the entire Cyclades. It is literally “on the water” – there are “splash tables” with disclaimers that your feet might get wet. Have the taramasolata.
Dinos – in Kardiani bay. Family owned, three generations of “Dinos’s” work there, the view of the sunset is breathtaking.
Exomeria – in Isternia. Maria is the best hostess, she does breakfast, lunch, apero, dinner, late night snacks. I am not sure when she sleeps. The view is as breathtaking as her pizza and vegetable pies.
Mayou – also in Isternia. Another breathtaking view. A great place for coffee or a drink.
Bourou – near Kionia. This is one of the first restaurants I discovered on the island, and it remains one of my favorites. The vegetable balls (yes, it’s a thing) are my favorite on the island.
Pranzo – in town, fabulous Italian, amazing people watching.
Tarsanas – at the end of the port in town, amazing fish and a very special type of rice (ask the owner how he makes it and watch him launch in a 30 minute very animated description).
The night life:
Zambarco – by the new port. The palce to watch anything related to the World Cup. Great also for breakfast.
Koursaros – which means “pirate.” Start your night there around 10-11 pm. (Next to Zambarco)
Argonathis – this is the best dance club on the island. It is owned by Catherine, and her business partner who DJs better than anyone other than my brother-in-law. Go there after 1 am, stay until the sun rises.
There is only one beach: Kalivia Beach. There are so many reasons I love it the most. The swimming in the bay is excellent. There are beach chairs and umbrellas. There is a beach bar with drinks and food. Mostly, there is Marco, who owns it, and his amazing team. If you are looking for me on Tinos after 1 pm, there is one place and one place only you will find me. Make sure you ask him for a shot (or a couple) of Raki – he makes his own… (did someone say Greek moonshine?). Use the Greek “cheers” – Yia Mas.
Apolamvano! (meaning, Enjoy!).