Reasons Why You Should Visit Patmos, Greece

Visit Patmos to discover unspoiled beaches and experience the balance between authenticity and creativity here among locals
Visit Patmos to discover unspoiled beaches and experience the balance between authenticity and creativity here among locals | © NAPA / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kim Gregory
30 September 2021

Religious sites and festivals, fabulous food and unrivalled nature make the Dodecanese island of Patmos a perfect mixture of authenticity and creativity.

Peaceful Patmos is a natural haven of unspoiled beaches and green hills overlooking the sparkling Aegean. More than that, it’s an important religious site with Saint John the Divine’s Cave of Revelations and sacred monastery. Festivals are in abundance at Patmos – where you can drink, dance and feast with locals to learn about Greek culture and enjoyment. There’s endlessly good food to enjoy at this hub of artists, where beautiful authenticity meets joyful energy.

To Experience the Cave of the Apocalypse

Natural Feature
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europe, greece, dodecanese, patmos island, entrance of the grotto of the apocalypse, where saint John wrote the apocalypse
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Patmos earns its name, ‘Island of the Apocalypse’ as the disciple Saint John the Divine was inspired to write the Bible’s Book of Revelations – also called Book of the Apocalypse – in Patmos. It’s said he received his visions for the text in a cave on the island – the Cave of the Apocalypse – which Pilgrims across the world visit Patmos to see. The holy site, on a hill between Chora and Skala, has a white stone sanctuary with pretty bell towers and sweeping island views. Inside, visit the cave to see the place where Saint John slept and received his vision. Simply take a seat and soak up this peaceful, religious haven.

To View this Towering Monastery

Church, Monastery, Museum
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Aerial by drone of the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chora, Patmos, Dodecanese, Greek Islands, Greece, Europe
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The year of 1088 saw the beginnings of Patmos’ Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, which still towers above the island’s Chora – you can’t miss the strong Byzantine structure as it rises up above the classic white stone houses. Stroll through the flowered courtyards, stone archways and bell towers, marvelling at the religious icons and artwork inside. Don’t miss the huge library where books line the walls under the vaulted ceiling, including historic religious manuscripts – the monastery is dedicated to Saint John the Divine.

To Feast, Feast, Feast

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europe, greece, dodecanese, patmos island, skala, feast for the end of easter, greek dances
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Due to its religious importance, Patmos throws many festivals throughout the year – from spiritual feasts with traditional eating, drinking and dancing to artsy film and music festivals. Each brings the peaceful island to life and they’re a fun way to immerse yourself in local culture. Come with your dancing shoes for the Festival of Folklore Dances in September, which celebrates Greek tradition with vibrant celebration and even brighter traditional costumes.

For the Magical Old Towns

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A village square view of Chora (Hora) the capital of Patmos Island, Greece
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Though Patmos is relatively small and quiet, its two main towns are a wonderful mixture of vibrancy and authenticity. Head to Chora to wind your way through narrow alleyways with traditional tavernas, whiling away your evenings at the main square that buzzes with life once the moon comes out. At Skala – by the main port – you’ll find shops, squares, bars and excellent seaside tavernas for your fix of fresh calamari. Artists famously visit Patmos for inspiration and tranquillity and you can feel the creative vibe around town. There are even some ancient ruins in Skala, adding history to the lively scene.

You can Tour Nearby Islands

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Greece, Dodecanese archipelago, Lipsi island, Tourkomnima bay and Leros island in the background
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The adventure doesn’t have to stop at Patmos. It’s situated in the Dodecanese archipelago so other islands lie just across the sparkling seas. Sail – either via group excursion or on a hired private boat, with or without captain depending on your sailing experience – to nearby gems like historic Leros or peaceful Lipsi, an island perfect for nature-lovers. It means you’ll experience more of Greece, soaking up spectacular views as you go.

Or You Can Hop Between Patmos' Beaches

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Psili Ammos Beach, Patmos, Greek Islands, Greece, Europe
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As an island off the beaten track, Patmos is unspoiled and its nature untouched. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the stunning beaches that fold out across the island. Hire a car, bicycle or scooter to carefully drive between them, hopping off to chill out at each stretch of coast. Some offer facilities like sunbeds and beachside tavernas – others, nothing but perfect seclusion. Don’t miss Vaghia, where rainbow-coloured pebbles glisten under crystal-clear warm waters.

There's Dreamy Drinking and Dining Opportunities

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Europe Greece, Dodecanese,Patmos,a tavern in the Chora village
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Greek food is traditionally fresh, simple, flavoursome and homemade with a heap of philoxenia – the loving Greek hospitality that you’ll find in the bucketload on Patmos. Sample it all with lunches at beachside tavernas – fresh fish dishes and a bottle of Mythos beer in village Grika is sunny perfection – and dinners of Souvlaki and local wine in tree-dotted courtyards and nightcaps under the stars on seaview terraces. A favourite taverna is To Kyma, perched on the edge of the water with a view of the Monastery and Chora which sparkle at night.

For the Spectacular Hiking

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
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Greece, Dodecanese archipelago, Patmos island, hiking trail from Chora to Skala harbour
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Paths snake through the hills of Patmos. When the sun isn’t too hot, follow the grass-lined walkways up and around the island. The views of the surrounding hills – the white cubic houses dotted below and the Aegean reaching out to the horizon – are spectacular. Discover beautiful churches and secluded coves with well-earned rests throughout. Patmos is a relatively small island so it’s possible to uncover many of its secrets on foot.

To Celebrate Cinema

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The annual Aegean Film Festival is held here – where a big screen is set up under the stars for visitors to enjoy independent films, documentaries, shorts and more. Expect long discussions with filmmakers and fellow cinema fans who’ve flocked to the famous festival since it started in 2010. Though 2021’s event was sadly postponed, future summer festivals promise a joyous and fascinating celebration.
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To Tour the Windmills

Building, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
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Windmills on the Greek island of Patmos. Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, most famous for being the location of both the vision of an
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Traditional windmills have become iconic symbols of the Greek islands including famous ones on the likes of Mykonos and Santorini. Patmos has its own set: three charming stone structures high up in the hills. Two date back to 1588, used to grind wheat to supply the island with flour. You can thank them for your local bakery’s delicious spanakopita. Visit the windmills to see how they grind organic flour and learn their history in the museum – housed inside the windmill. As always with Patmos, the views are breathtaking.
These recommendations were updated on September 30, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Kim Gregory

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