Tinos is known all over Greece, as well as abroad, thanks to the rich pilgrimage of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. However, this island, with its extensive and rich history in the art of marble sculpture, possesses many unique features: its villages, real masterpieces of architecture, the …otherworldly landscape of Volax with the round granite formations, the suggestive rocky hill of Xombourgo with the ruins of the castle, 600 artfully crafted dovecotes, 750 churches and chapels, an excellent network of old paths that cross the whole island, and magnificent beaches. Typical of Tinos is the fact that its villages, with their marble-paved squares, springs, and well-kept houses with their yards full of flowers, are inhabited almost all year long and in most of them you can find coffee shops and restaurants. The paved roads of the island are also enjoyable, especially the one from Tinos town to Kardiani, Ysternia, and afterwards to Pyrgos and Panormos, offering a unique view to the coasts of the island and the open sea from above.
At the eastern edge of the beach of Agios Fokas, a rocky hill enters the sea. It is Vrekastro (or Vriokastro), on the peak of which ruins of fortifications and a settlement from the Neolithic era that date back to the 16th century B.C. have been found. It is the oldest fortification on the island. The swamp that existed around the hill seems to have been an advantage for people to settle there, because it was forested and attracted prey for hunters.
Tsiknias and Boreas
The highest mountain of Tinos used to be called Gyras or Gyrai Petrai after the Gyriaieis, one of the twelve ancient tribes of Tinos that lived there. According to mythology, during the voyage of the Argonauts, when the Argo docked in the area, Zetes and Kalais, the sons of Boreas, the North Wind, and Oreithyia, abandoned the ship and escaped into the mountains. When Heracles heard the news, he climbed Mount Tsiknias and killed them. Their father, Boreas left his palace in Thrace and began searching for his sons. Thus, when he arrived here, he found their graves and began to mourn them. Then, he opened his bags and set the winds free (popular tradition often confuses Boreas with Aeolus). They are the same winds that from that time to date strike the mountain and the entire island.
Moreover, texts speak about a magnificent temple of Boreas and Aeolus that was built on the mountain. Clay vases that have been found on its southern slopes near Steni date back to antiquity and argue that there used to be a settlement and a temple here. According to the historian Dorizas, the mountain acquired its name at that time because of the smell of burning meat (tsikna, from ancient knisas) of the animals that were sacrificed in honour of the god.
Processes that have been recorded by travelers during the Venetian rule, such as the choirosfagia (preparation of pork meat), which takes place in the autumn, the preparation of the famous Tinos sausage with garlic, louza (somewhat similar to Italian prosciutto), syglino (small pieces of pork meat preserved in lard), and syssiro (or syssero) are still carried out in Tinos, with suitable adjustments to our day and age.
-In the houses of local inhabitants and at restaurants you should try the omelet called froutalia or fourtalia (like on Andros). It is made with pieces of sausage, syglino, or pork chops preserved in fat, with the addition of potatoes, courgettes, artichokes, etc.
-The cheese types produced in Tinos are worth tasting, such as Graviera, Kopanisti, Anthotyro, and the very tasty Tiniakos cheese. Kopanisti is made from fresh milk that has not been processed by heating, coagulates with natural yeast, and is strained in tsantiles (perforated cloths). It ages over a period of many months, during which wine is added to it and the mixture ripens many times.
-As for sweets, you should tryamygdalota, pasteli, which is offered at weddings together with lemon leaves, «lychnarakia» (a traditional sweet cheese pie with unsalted Tinos cheese, sugar, and orange). Also try the melokarydo made with almond paste, filled with ground walnuts and fresh Tinos honey,xirotigana, and the so-called «psarakia» (little fish) made of dough filled with ground walnuts, cinnamon, and orange, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
-Tinos produces thyme honey, capers, which you can try in salads with their leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, and figs. It is known for its pink grapes – in fact, some growers are trying to maintain the vines of Tinos in our day with varieties such as Potamisio or Koumari.
-The island is known for its tasty and light raki – in fact, distilling in cauldrons continues in our time, in the basements and warehouses of villages, either for private consumption or for sale. There are two kinds of stills producing raki – open and closed ones.
You can visit Tinos by boat or by speedboat. There are ferry connections from Piraeus, Rafina, and other islands, such as Syros and Mykonos.
Port Authority of Tinos
+30 22830 22348
+30 22830 22220
Port Authority of Piraeus
+30 210 4226000
Port Authority of Rafina
+30 22940 22230
Municipality of Tinos
+30 22833 60100 to 60105
Citizens’ Service Centre
+30 22833 29146
+30 22830 22210
+30 22830 23781
+30 22830 22255
+30 22830 22100
+30 22830 25887
Wi Fi Network (provided free of charge by the Municipality)