The Top Things to Do and See on Patmos, Greece

Visit the windmills on Patmos, and enjoy the view of Skala village
Visit the windmills on Patmos, and enjoy the view of Skala village | © agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo
Amy Blyth

Pilgrims and holidaymakers are drawn to Patmos for its religious landmarks and authentic Greek charm. The Aegean island may be tiny, fringed with traditional fishing villages and secluded coves, but it’s also packed with things to see and do. Come to Patmos to explore Unesco-listed hilltop monasteries, visit the cave where Saint John received his famous revelations, or simply lie on a deserted beach lapped by the glass-clear sea.

1. Psili Ammos

Natural Feature

Psili Ammos Beach, Patmos, Greek Islands, Greece, Europe
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Craving some beach time? Head to Psili Ammos, one of the best seaside haunts on Patmos. Carpeted with golden sand and undulating dunes, it’s no wonder that the beach’s Greek name translates to Fine Sand. Psili Ammos lies around 10km (6.2mi) from the capital, Chora, and, while you can get here by bus or car, a boat trip from the village of Skala offers stunning coastal views. Tamarisk trees provide welcome midday shade, and there’s a taverna for refreshments.

2. Monastery of Saint John the Theologian

Church, Monastery, Museum

PXWGT7 Greece, Patmos, Chora, Monastery of Saint John the Theologian
© Westend61 GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
This Unesco-listed, 11th-century landmark is named for Saint John of Patmos, who famously wrote the Book of Revelations in a cave just below this striking hilltop monastery. Built in 1088, the building is a Byzantine relic of thick ramparts and towers, which also serves as an impressive viewpoint. From the top, you can look over Chora to the sparkling sea beyond. Marvel at the monastery’s church, with its elaborate frescos and chapels; then, tour the museum, which showcases ancient vestments and precious manuscripts.

3. Petra Beach

Natural Feature

Petra Beach is all about the views, which stretch up to St John’s Monastery. Set near the quiet fishing village of Grikos, the beach is also famed for Kalikatsou Rock, which sits at its tip and is named after a type of local crow. Expect a pebbly beach dotted with a few sunbeds and umbrellas, which are rented by the only bar in the cove. Petra is the perfect place to swim in the Aegean Sea, gaze out at the wooden sailboats and enjoy the island’s historic monastery views.

4. Rock of Kalikatsou

Natural Feature

BXMJAF Kalikatsou, Petra, Patmos, Dodecanese, Greece
© Massimiliano Cremascoli / Alamy Stock Photo

The Rock of Kalikatsou is a geological marvel steeped in history. According to archaeologists, it was once used as a temple to honour the Greek goddess Aphrodite and was later a 14th-century hermitage. Local stories claim there was even a hidden tunnel that led from the rock all the way to the monastery. Today, you can climb worn steps to the top of the rock, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views across Petra Beach and the surrounding Grikos Bay.

5. Cave of the Revelation

Natural Feature

DG1R30 Greece Patmos island, grotto of the apocalypse (Cave of the Revelation) , where saint John wrote the apocalypse, believer praying
© Odyssey-Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Also known as the Cave of Apocalypse, this sacred landmark is now registered as a Unesco World Heritage site. Thousands of religious pilgrims flock here every year to see the place where, in 95CE, Saint John is said to have received word from God through fissures in the rock walls. Tour the cave, which is now enclosed in an 11th-century chapel, to see the place where Saint John lived and recorded his revelations. Once you’ve visited, continue up the hillside to his namesake monastery.

6. Kapopoulos Fine Arts Patmos

Art Gallery

For a taste of Grecian art, visit the Kapopoulos Fine Arts Gallery, which lies in the winding streets of Chora. It was set up by Mr Vangelis Kapopoulos, who opened his first gallery in Athens in 2004 and now runs separate ventures across Greece, including galleries on Patmos, Crete and Mykonos. As one of the oldest and most prestigious names in Greek art, the Kapopoulos gallery has launched the careers of many local artists, whose work you can see in the ever-changing exhibitions.

7. Lefkes Beach

Natural Feature

To avoid the crowds, head to Lefkes Beach, an isolated bay on the western side of Patmos. The beach is so remote that it’s accessed off a dirt track just before you reach the petite village of Kambos. Spend a peaceful, sun-soaked afternoon in this small cove, which is laced with a mix of sand and shingle. Fishing boats occasionally moor here, bobbing on the transparent waters, and there’s a lone snack van that sells basic refreshments. Stick around to watch the kaleidoscopic sunset.

8. Nikolaidis Mansion

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

Built in the 17th and 18th centuries, the two-storey Nikolaidis Mansion is a fine example of age-old Chora architecture. Partly destroyed in the 1956 earthquake, the house was later restored and now acts as a museum of Patmos culture. Tour the property to admire its grand gothic and Dodecanese features, constructed from local stone and timber. The interior is decorated with lavish furnishings imported from all over Europe. Look out for the famous ampataros, an ornately carved wooden partition that was loved by rich families in the 18th century.

9. Paralia Agriolivado

Natural Feature

EAH165 People relax at Agriolivado beach in Patmos Island, Dodecanese, Greece
© Giannis Papanikos / Alamy Stock Photo

Families love Paralia Agriolivado Beach thanks to its calm, shallow waters that are perfect for safe bathing. The intimate cove offers a mixture of sand and pebbles and is backed with tamarisk trees. There’s plenty of loungers and umbrellas to rent, as well as a popular taverna and bar for lunch. Aside from soaking up the hot Greek sun, you can swim in the clear, crystalline waters and take a kayak out for a spin. You’ll find Paralia Agriolivado three kilometres north of Skala, Patmos’s main port.

To explore more of Greece, check out the best hotels in Mykonos and the best hotels in Astypalea. These are bookable with Culture Trip. During your stay, explore the best things to do in Zakynthos, and relax on the best beaches near Athens. Make sure you also have a drink at one of the best restaurants in Oia to sample some delicious Greek cuisine.

This is an updated rewrite of an article by Chrisa Theodoraki.

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