If you adore Mykonos and like us can’t wait to return, but perhaps you’re looking to discover something new, or take some time out from what is no doubt going to be a rather sociable return to the island (with a vengeance) this season, why not top or tail the Cycladic island’s hedonism with a few days of escapism on Tinos, just across the water from the party island.
At the height of the party season in Mykonos during the summer, there is very different energy just across the water, on its quieter, more religious ‘little brother’, Tinos. In mid-August, the island is somewhat of a parallel universe. There’s a party of an entirely different kind, when Tinos turns into the focal-point of religious tourism in the country and thousands of devotees come in spiritual pilgrimage to worship the divine patron saint of Greece – the Megalohari or Evangelistria of Tinos – on all fours. It is brought about by centuries of ethereal tradition and Byzantine-time practice, as Tinos is a Jerusalem of sorts, contrasting to the Tel Aviv of Greece that is Mykonos.
So you might be wondering why we’re recommending a place where it sounds like people may stone us should we visit. Don’t worry, they won’t. While islanders are used to seeing the devout tourists for a couple of weeks in the year (there’s another holy day in March), they’re also rather welcoming of the ‘cosmopolitanistas’ that come to the Cyclades on their summer pilgrimages for leisure. Plus their open-mindedness is driven by commerciality, as it is the OutThere travellers than bring real value to the local businesses throughout the year, not to mention the island in general. It’s also no longer a secret that some of the most epic private homes and villas on Tinos are owned by savvy OutThere people who, wearied by the prices and the over-tourism of their playground on Mykonos, sought to invest and create their own, escapee community here on the island.
It’s easy to understand why, Tinos is peaceful, yet characteristically Cycladic. It has enchanting sandy beaches and it’s a place of relatively untouched natural beauty. And paired with Mykonos, a mere 20 minutes away by ferry, travellers can enjoy the duality of the Cyclades – the hedonism and the hideaway, the ruckus and the romance, the nostalgia of good times at Jackie O’s and perhaps even the new-found, better times as an OutThere family with children.
The island’s centre is charming and relaxed but there’s still life in its restaurants (that serves up fresh delicious seafood that is a fraction of the prices of the lobster thermidor on Mykonos) and bars with a relaxed seaside atmosphere (while there, be sure to try Askathari and Aspropotamisio, local windswept wine varietals).
OutThere culturalists will adore its historical landmarks, the Church at the heart of the traditions and its encircling monasteries, quaint little museums about (you guessed it, religion!) but also about the endemic Greek marble and the great artists that carved with it. And like everywhere in Greece, you’ll find archaeological delights and ruins to the god of the sea, Poseidon, or the thousand others in the culture’s mythology.
Out of town, there are stunning private bays to take a dip, old traditional villages with dovecotes and artisan craftspeople, and arrid but picturesque landscapes that is a photographer’s dream, all set to a backdrop of perfect blue sky and azure seas. And of course, there’s more local food to be had in the gorgeous, inland rural tavernas that spill out onto its vibrant, cobbled streets – perfect for people watching, or for people to watch you.
With upcoming summer holidays to Greece highly likely to be back on the taverna table, Mykonos combined with Tinos sounds like heaven on earth. Surely all those devotees have the inside track!
For more about Tinos, the Cyclades and Greece in general, be inspired by Visit Greece’s online portal. For the very best in villa and exquisite private hire accommodation in Mykonos and Tinos, speak to our friends at Five Star Greece.
Photography courtesy of GNTO / Y. Skoulas and Matthieu Million