Sleeps from 2 to 13

Xinara House, a beautifully converted former bishop's palace in the heart of unsung Tinos

Tinos Island, Greece

Tinos Island Greece

When to stay  For much of the year Tinos is good to visit. Spring is exceptionally beautiful, perfect for strolling through wild flowers meadows and exploring the island on foot. Summer is busy with lively beaches and village parties, and rarely too hot. Autumn remains warm enough for swimming on almost deserted beaches and great for walking the ancient paths and country roads. Christmas is lively too - and cosy at Xinara House with open wood fire and our cinema.

Tinos has a reputation for exceptional wine, and good food celebrated each year with a series of events; Tinos Food Paths 2nd or 3rd week of May. Tinos/gr/en/taste/events

We can arrange day trips to our neighbouring island, Delos with extensive classical ruins, and stop on the way back for a swim at nearby uninhabited Rhinea. 

Beaches

BEACHES You can see the sea on both sides from Xinara House. A few minutes drive is safe Kolimbythra Beach, a broad sweep of sand with a lively bar one end and solitude at the other, plus a nearby sheltered sandy cove with a good, reasonable taverna. There are dozens more places to relax and swim. A few have beach bars, lots are barely visited. Examples are breathtakingly beautiful Lavada beach (above), and on the south, beneath the ancient church at Stavros, a tiny beach in the ruins of a Phoenician harbour. At Ag. Fokas are smart loungers served by excellant Marathia restaurant, or around pretty Kardiana village you can swim and take cocktails along a succession of sandy beaches, then eat at famous To Thalassaki ('To the sea') on the quay at Isternia Beach next to the waves.

 

Tinos landscapes

It takes around one and a half hours to drive from the wild north-west Tinos coast overlooking Andros, through the pretty marble town of Pyrgos, passing terraced slopes and ancient white villages, to the sandy beaches facing Mykonos in the south-east. Halfway is the Tinos port, the principal town with old-fashioned shops, lots of tavernas, a daily farmers' market, fresh fish and meat. Here is the extraordinary church of Panagia Evangelistria, a Greek Lourdes with an ikon venerated by pilgrims who travel from all over Greece and can often be seen crawling the 500m uphill from the harbour to the church.

There are flowers from irises to orchids in almost every month (see greekflora.gr), and in March and June the island's meadows present a spectacular firework display of blossom. A few minutes walk from Xinara House you can practise your climbing, with 360º Mediterranean views from the top of Exomvourgo mountain.

Island food

Exomvourgo Peaklets

Cooking's a big part of Tinos life and the island produces a lot of its own food - vegetables (available in the farmers market), fresh milk and eggs, excellent meat, cheese (you can visit producers of Tinos gravieraki, mizithra, anthotiro and kapanistri cheeses), and is well-known as an artichoke exporter (there's a mid-June festival in Komi with dozens of artichoke recipes), and for delicous, rather sweet confectionery. Bakers are everywhere selling koulouri (sesame-covered bread rings), and cornbread, even sourdough, and all kinds of filo-pastry snacks, and at Easter there are loaves stamped with the cross.

Some days you can buy fish from the quay, otherwise there's several fishmongers including Markos with a pet pelican. You can help yourselves to fruit and veg at Xinara House including (seasonally) artichokes, figs walnuts, salads. In spring you can forage wild asparagus in hedgerows, and in autumn hunt wild mushrooms from the mountain slopes behind us. The islands also has extensive supermarkets, and it's easy to cook while staying, otherwise we have an excellent chef, or there's plenty of good places to go out to, from small family-run tavernas (nearby rustic Agnánti or Tereza's are good) to well-known beach restaurants like Marathia and To Thalassáki (see Beaches above). We'll help with where to go and make bookings for you.

Ancient dovecotes

Ancient dovecotes

Most extraordinary is the proliferation of ancient decorated dovecotes, a sort of folk art with stone arrangements of checkered, fishbone, cedar, or criss-cross patterns, with finials sprouting oddly-shaped ears of stone. Flocks of white doves remain all over the island although they are no longer a source of food (or guano). While lots of the old dovecotes are in ruins many are still maintained, and even a few new ones are built. Xinara house has a miniture example.

 

Ancient tracks to walk

Much of Tinos can be hiked on a network of old donkey tracks, recently signposted. Xinara House has a short walk to the ruins of the medieval capital near the peak of Exomvougo mountain, and from here cobbled routes radiate across the island. You can easily walk to the port by a pleasant ancient stone road right into town, or go swimming by hiking across to the old wine town of Falatados and on down through an exquisite wooded valley to the sea (and a summer taverna) at beautiful Lavada. Tinos Trails, a GPS walking map, can be bought for your phone by first downloading the Avenza Maps app. 

 

Traditional villages of Tinos

Traditional villages of Tinos

Tinos retains an unusual number of traditional Cyclades villages, white-painted homes tightly packed like sugar cubes along cool car-free lanes often barely visible from the road. Because Tinos has a tradition of quarrying and carving the houses are decorated with pretty marble features – decorated doorways, old carved fanlights (Xinara House has many 18th century examples), fountains, etc. Many villages put on festivals and traditional parties with food, live island music and dancing often into the small hours, like the big annual artichoke festival of Komi with huge quantities of food utilising every conceivable artichoke recipe.

 

Local vineyards

Tinos organic wine from the vineyard

Tinos has always had good wine, with a couple of rare ancient varieties of grape that survived the arrival of phylloxera. A recent renaissance of the old vineyards has encouraged expert wine producers. There are exceptional wines such as T-oinos, and great organic wines from Volacus, Jerome Binda and others. Wine expert Julia Harding on: Tinos wine Renaissance plus her Tasting Notes