The summer of 2020 was special and different from the others. It was the period of time when coronavirus was a worry on everybody’s mind and the travelling was quite difficult and limited.
For that reason, we decided to choose two small islands, which are away from the hustle and bustle of tourism and will allow us to isolate ourselves in a safer environment.
And our first choice was….. Tilos Island! Not sure if many have heard about that island but let’s start with the absolute basics. The 2nd was Symi island and you can read more here.
This is a very quiet island, quite remote, which means automatically that you won’t see the massive tourism to has been developed on the island.
It doesn’t have any hotel resort, amazing beaches, fancy beach bars etc. So, what is the big deal with the island?
Hard to explain but I will try. Tilos have an energy that the Greek islands used to offer in the old days. The people are nice and generous, there are nice paths that you can wander around on foot to isolated beaches and everything is near to you.
This island doesn’t demand from you to spend energy there, rather than to go back to simpler times.
You might find your magical place, either the tavern in Agios Antonios watching the sunset, or the vibrant Eristos beach where free campers love it, or the monastery Agios Panteleimonas or even the – I don’t’ have any words to describe it – the stunning bar in the abandoned village of Mikro Chorio!
Note that the island is the first energy-efficient island in Greece. On the island, an innovative hybrid system using solar and wind energy is being developed and operated and through a battery, a storage system will cover the electricity needs of the residents of the village of Livadia (~500 residents).
But we have said enough, let’s visit this remote island.
When you should visit Tilos island and how many days should you spend there?
Tilos is a very small island and mainly August is a quite busy month. So, any other month would be quite nice.
If you want just to get an idea of the island you can visit it on a daily trip, but then 2-3 days would be ok. As I said, it is not an island that you need to discover, but an island that you can totally relax and feel your own energy. Not sure if this makes sense, but I cannot explain it better!
We spent one week as we combined it with a local cultural event and we totally enjoyed it!
How to get to Tilos island?
Tilos has no airport, so the only way to approach the island is by ferry. Now there are two options on that.
One is by ferry from Piraeus, but this is a very long trip (more than 10 hours!). You can use Ferryscanner, which I find super user friendly with different options for ferry routes and island hopping routes.
The other choice – which is what we did – is through a flight from Athens to Rhodes airport. Then you can get a taxi and get in 20’ to the old city of Rhodes and the harbour where you can catch a ferry (duration 1-3 hours depending on the ferry).
Things to do in Tilos
#watch the sunset in Agios Antonios and have dinner next to the sea!
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This is one of my favourite places and it is quite simple and beautiful.
Don’t forget to enjoy tasteful and authentic flavours in the Delfini tavern (extra tip: order the slow-roasted goat!). If you get there by bus, just check the timetable to be sure that you will catch the bus.
#visit the Monastery of Saint Panteleimonas
You can go to this monastery by bus or car. You can admire the fine buildings and the flowers and the tranquillity of the place. We met priest Spiros and he dedicated a few minutes to explain to us the story of this beautiful monastery.
Tip: St. Panteleimon is the Patron Saint of Tilos and St. Panteleimon Day is celebrated on the 27th of July each year. It takes place at the Monastery of St. Panteleimon and it is by far the biggest and most celebrated festival on Tilos island, with traditional food, local music and dancing that begins on July 26 and lasts two days.
#Visit the Museum of Dwarf Elephants!
The original museum opened in 1994 at the Town Hall of Tilos in Megalo Horio, but recently been moved to a new and modern building near to Charkadio cave. (you can find the new location here).
This was a nice surprise as we didn’t know that there were elephants on the islands thousands of years ago. The museum is small but quite informative with a tour guide that gives the full picture of the existence of these beautiful creatures.
You can watch the evolution of elephants and of the island through the years.
#drink your cocktail or beer at one of the most atmospheric bars!
Mikro Chorio is an abandoned beautiful village that around 700 people used to live there but now you can see some collapsed houses and some well-preserved ones.
You can visit this village during the day and there is a nice walk from Livadia to Mikro Chorio, then to Lethra beach and then back to Livadia (4-5 hours in total).
But for me, the highlight is the bar that you can visit during the summer. It opens usually daily after 23.00 and there is a free bus service from Livadia to the bar. I don’t want to say too much but this is one of the best bars that I have been to! Nothing fancy but the feeling that you are enjoying your drink in an abandoned village is quite a mystique and unique.
#hike to the Castle of the Knights
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High above Megalo Chorio, you can find the castle of the knights, but this is not as easy as it sounds. There is a path but it is not well-formed in some cases. You still can distinguish the path but there is no barrier on the route so be extremely careful and I don’t think that it is ideal for kids to be frank.
But the view is astonishing and you will admire the entrance and the small church with original frescoes. The ascend will be around 30-40′ and please don’t forget your water!
#Enjoy the cultural events
The municipality of Tilos is very active and every year there are organised various events about dance, music etc.
When we visited in 2020, there was a fantastic European project, where 40 international artists from 16 countries – dancers, musicians and actors- who are based in Germany, France and Greece, gathered for two weeks on Tilos Island to interact creatively with the local community and the refugee families of the island! If you are careful with the below video, you might spot me.
#enjoy the beaches
This is the main beach in the port/main town and it is has everything that you might need.
Plenty of sunbeds in front of the commercial venues (ie cafes) but lots of clear space if you prefer to avoid these. Sunbeds are free as long as you spend a few euros at the premises providing them. A very peaceful beach, plenty of space, no loud music, no water sports, beautiful view, good restaurants along its length and no vehicles.
This is a long, calm and pebble-sand beach. During summer you will find a cantina, a beach cafe and many free campers. It is easily accessible by bus (~30′ from Livadia) or on foot from Megalo Chorio. I think this is my favourite beach as I enjoyed the relaxing vibe, but I know it might not be everyone’s taste.
This is another quiet and beautiful beach with nice views and something that you might not expect… peacocks. I haven’t seen a peacock before on a beach so it was intriguing!
There is not much shade, only some pines and there are not any sunbeds, cafes etc so bring some water and nibbles.
If you don’t have a car, you can get the bus to Saint Antonios and then it is 30 – 40′ walk to the beach. A beach perfect for lazing.
Lethra – Some people love this pebble beach because of the roughness and peacefulness but personally I am not a huge fan. It is a 50′ walk from Livadia along the hillside and cliffs. The views from the path admittedly are very nice. It has only one tree in the centre of the beach that provides shade.
Where to stay on Tilos island?
Tilos is a small island and the best place to stay is at the port, where most of the restaurants, bars and shops are. We also recommend a small hotel in the mainland village Megalo Chorio.
In this post, we will present to you our 3 favourite hotels and apartments, but we have written a dedicated post about the best hotels in Tilos with photos, reviews and a detailed map and you can find the post here.
Ellibay: This apartment is located close to the harbour and it has lovely views from the small balcony. You will find many tavernas and a few cafes in close proximity. It is super clean and Katerina, the host, can serve you a delicious breakfast. More Information Here!
Hotel Eleni Beach: This is a very clean and comfortable hotel! Nothing extremely luxurious but you will find everything that you are looking for! Friendly staff with a great location right on the beach and close to the centre! More Information Here!
How to move around?
You can rent a car or motorbike. There is a bus that you can take from Livadia and goes to all the main points of the island but it is not so often. We rent a car only for 1 day just to visit places that we couldn’t by bus.
This was our mini travel guide about this small but lovely island.
If you have anything to add or ask, just leave us a comment below!