Patmos is not your average summer destination. Perched atop the southeast Aegean Sea, this tiny island enjoys a big reputation as one of Christianity’s most ancient pilgrimage sites. It was here that John wrote his famous “Apocalypse” at a time when Patmos was a prison island of exile. Today, it is a place of unique beauty and cosmopolitan character that attracts a more upmarket crowd. Here are the top ten things you should definitely find time to do whilst in Patmos.
Built on the top of a hill to protect against pirate attacks in the 1000s, Chora, or else the main town of Patmos, is crowned by the awe inspiring Byzantine fortress that encompasses the Monastery of St John. The town is an architectural jewel of traditional white washed captains houses and medieval churches and has been declared a UN World Heritage site.
The thousand year old monastery includes a truly magnificent Byzantine church and a museum showcasing ancient texts and treasures. Go early in the morning to avoid the heat and the crowds and enjoy the breathtaking view from the Monastery. Before you go, get a moment of peace and tranquillity at the church’s beautiful yard.
Before the sun sets, enjoy a drink or late coffee at the busy square of Agia Levia in Chora, the perfect spot to relax! Grab a seat, preferably by a wall in one of the cafés – or maybe Stoa, Chora’s trendiest bar – and watch the coming and going of the chic yacht visitors eager to spend some cash at the exclusive local boutiques . It is not recommended to get dinner there but if you feel like shopping, the local gift shops will not disappoint.
Whether you are a devout Christian or an atheist, the Cave of Apocalypse is an important cultural attraction of Patmos as well as an UNESCO World Heritage site. There are English speaking tours within the church that is built around the southern part of cave, which explain the story of St John and the revelations he received from God through a cleft in the rock in the year 95AD. An English copy of the text itself can be bought from almost any tourist shop in Patmos.
It is not uncommon for tavernas and restaurants in the port town of Skala to place their chairs and tables literally on the sand and only a few steps away from the water. One of the most charming locations for lunch or dinner is To Tsipouradiko Mas which offers a variety of delicious fish mezze and of course Tsipouro, the greek version of Grapa. The combination of the summer sea breeze, delicious fresh food and a sip of the 36% alcohol drink guarantees to take all your worries and stresses away.
Take one of the cruise boats from the port of Skala that offer daily excursions to the best beaches of Patmos and the nearby islands. The itinerary of the one day cruises includes visiting four to five different destinations with the best beaches and cleanest waters for a fee of around 20 euros per person. If you are looking for a more exclusive experience you can rent the whole boat with a skipper.
Enjoy trekking by taking one of the old walking paths (monopatia) that used to be the island’s main transportation routes. Nowadays they are sadly deserted , but they are nonetheless important pieces of history as they offer significant insights into the way people used to live as well as stunning island views. One of the most popular routes to take is the old road from Skala to Chora and back. A map of the walking routes and other alternative tourism activities Patmos has to offer offer can be found here.
Petra is another name for the stone of Kallikatsou. Archaeologists believe that the stone, also known as “the Rock” is a prehistoric site once used as an open air sanctuary dedicated to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Today, Petra is a magical beach where you can experience all the mystic energy of the island.
The transparent blue green waters in Agriolivadi are said to be the best on the island. This fully-equipped, luxorious beach also offers sun beds, umbrellas, snacks and beverages for when you go pruney from too much swimming. The taverna Agrio Livadi right in front of the beach offers good quality, simple greek food and good service.
Even though Patmos is a quiet island that does not attract party crowds, there are options for those who can appreciate a well made drink. Places like Ginger and The Fix in the port of Skala are famous for their cocktails and imaginative food and are popular among the numerous tourists who visit Patmos in yachts and sailing boats.
Ginger and The Fix , Skala, 85500 Pátmos, Dhodhekanisos, Greece