This Uncrowded Greek Island Is Arguably Even Prettier Than Mykonos And More Affordable

It's fair to say Greece has been discovered. With its iconic whitewashed architecture, ancient ruins, and picturesque beaches, it's a top destination for both Europeans and international travelers. So, it's not surprising that this flood of tourism has caused prices to rise and local purveyors to tack on additional 'tourist' fees. Perhaps you've heard some of the stories about visitors getting price gouged at restaurants in touristy areas of Greece. This leaves many Greece-visiting-hopefuls looking for more budget-friendly options after recognizing the high expenses associated with a stay in Mykonos or Santorini. From there, the search often leads straight to smaller islands, and in the case of the Cyclades, that search ends at the third largest island in the chain: Tinos.


While it may only be a 75-sq-mi island, it offers all the things travelers love about Greece — at a much quieter pace. Compared to the booming nightlife and quick-paced tempo of Mykonos, Tinos is a sleepy island. Yet, it's not one to be discounted considering its striking beauty, delicious food scene, and connection with the traditional Greek lifestyle.

History and culture through architecture on Tinos

With a full-time population of only 9,000 people, Tinos is an island of small communities. While there is the main town of Chora on the southern side port area, there are around 60 villages scattered throughout the island. This is the heart of Tinos. Each village offers its own personality, only revealed through personal, slow inspection. Therefore, traversing the island to spend time in the quaint developments is the best way to embrace the essence of Tinos.


Chora certainly has its own charm, with the same cobblestone streets and Cyclades architecture that Mykonos and Santorini are famous for. Then there's the early 1800's Church of Panagia Megalochari, an iconic pilgrimage site that sits above Chora. Leaving town to introduce yourself to the villages around the island, don't miss "the balcony of Tinos," Dio Horia, a quaint village built into the hillside overlooking the island and the coast. Also make stops at marble-cloaked Pyrgos and Isternia, and the storybook Volax village, with its massive granite boulders and the charming poem lyrics on the doors. 

Watch the hillsides, too, so you can locate and examine some of the nearly 1,000 dovecotes on the island. These might look like small white castles, but they are actually pigeon coops, dating back to the 18th century when the birds were raised for meat and fertilizer.


The essence of Tinos

While the people, culture, and history are reason enough to visit Tinos, it offers the Mediterranean climate, food, and beaches you're looking for, too. On the food scene, stop at any taverna to delight in the freshest seafood and local delicacies. Ask for some fresh Tinos cheese as well, and be sure to sample the local Tinos beer and wine, both made on the island. If you're looking for beach time, you'll find them scattered around the island. The people are friendly enough that you may even be able to get a local's perspective, just be sure not to offend with unintended hand gestures. 


As for costs, while food, rental cars, and excursions will run similar to those on Mykonos, it's much easier to find affordable lodging on the smaller island of Tinos. Where the luxurious Mykonos can cost hundreds of dollars — or even several thousand — per night, we saw many listings for $100-200 in all sorts of locations around Tinos. The best part is, the island is easy to get to, with just a short ferry ride from Mykonos, or a longer ferry ride directly from the airport in Athens. 

With its small-town, friendly vibe, natural beauty, and culture, Tinos is the Greek island you've been looking for. However, if you're not convinced it's the right fit, check out the island of Alonissos as an alternative to the overcrowded Santorini and Mykonos.