Patmos Travel Guide: Best Things to do in Patmos (Dodecanese)

Patmos Travel Experience

Dodecanese: a magical place where nothing ever seems to go wrong. When we thought of Patmos, we were tempted by an island quite off the beaten track. It is indeed popular for religious reasons, but it still remained off our beaten path. When our friends heard about our plans for Patmos, they stared in astonishment and vaguely told us about Saint John, but a question would infallibly follow… Why Patmos? As with any destination, there’s not always a reason why but there’s always a reason to fall in love. And we fell in love with Patmos and its quiet atmosphere. If you wish for a unique experience made of culture, adventure, and beauty, I know you will adore Patmos. Here’s everything you must know to start the Patmos Travel Experience: My Patmos travel guide

Patmos, Chora.
Patmos, Chora.

Patmos travel experience: Your ultimate Patmos travel guide

An introduction to Patmos

The Greek island of Patmos (Πάτμος) is a small island in the north of the Dodecanese. It covers an area of about 34 square kilometers and it is surrounded by several islands and uninhabited islets. The main settlements of the island are Chora (religious center and main capital) and Skala (the commercial harbor). The island is 158 nautical miles from the port of Piraeus, in Athens, and it will take you a good seven-hour sail to arrive from Greece’s capital.

Isle of Agios Giorgos, Patmos Island.
Isle of Agios Giorgos, Patmos Island.

Patmos, mentioned in the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation, plays an important role as a sacred place of Christian pilgrimage. Popular among tourists are both the Cave of the Apocalypse and the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian. The UNESCO declared both of them, together with the Chora, World Heritage Sites.

The villages of Patmos

Skala

The first village you will see upon arrival is Skala, the port and most vibrant settlement on the island. A white double-domed church and some Venetian buildings make an elegant first impression. A few steps further, Skala comes alive with a pleasant square, encircled by souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars. Skala is not the capital of the island, but it’s certainly the largest town.

Skala, Patmos island.
Skala, Patmos island.

Everything takes place in Skala, on the rather longish promenade facing the marina, that extends to reach the city beach and a small port for fishing boats and luxury yachts. All excursion boats to nearby islands and secluded beaches leave from Skala.

Chora

Chora, the capital of Patmos, stands on an elevated position overlooking the harbor. A white settlement that falls over the slopes of the hill, crowned by the severe Monastery of Saint John. White, elegant mansions, fortified buildings, and a Medieval architecture make it the focal point of interest for visitors of Patmos.

The houses in the Chora of Patmos.
The houses in the Chora of Patmos.

Chora, about 4 kilometers away from Skala, can be reached with taxis or buses departing from the port. Apart from the refined shops and venues, there is a fantastic world made of tiny alleys, covered passages, and impressive houses.

One of them is Simandiri Mansion where, past the modest entrance door, astonishment follows. Inside the house, a building dating from 1625, constructed by craftsmen from Asia Minor, plenty of art objects, antique furniture, and silverware from Russia, and also icons from the 15th to 17th centuries. An example of traditional architecture with vaulted ceilings and refined arches.

Simandiri mansion, Patmos island.
Simandiri mansion, Patmos island.

Still, up in close to Chora, three windmills give a distinct shape to the landscape of Patmos. Two of the mills date back to 1588, and they all underwent restoration in 2010 thanks to the generous contribution of private sponsors and benefactors. The windmills, property of the Monastery, are in the nearby area, in a quarter named Mili (after the mills, naturally). The entrance is free.

Inside you can see the unique woodwork of the mill’s mechanism. All three mills are restored externally, using original materials, and it’s possible to visit the interior of the only operational mill. We met a woman involved in the refurbishing project and she was a precious source of knowledge.

Windmills, Patmos island.
Windmills, Patmos island.

Kampos

Kampos is a village third in importance and population. Upper Kampos is mainly residential, with a few restaurants and a nice square. Tourists choose Kampos mostly to take advantage of Kampos beach. The biggest on Patmos, ideal for kids and for watersports lovers as well. Due to the position, this side of the island is a privileged place for beautiful sunsets. A famous spot to enjoy the views is Merika, immediately after the road leading to Kampos. Benches on top of the hill are there for you to take in all the magic of the golden hour.

Patmos sunset
Sunset.

Grikos

A laid-back village, with both luxury and convenient accommodation. The bay overlooks the impressive Petra Kalikatsou, a peculiar rock formation that seems to emerge from the sea, apparently a place chosen by hermits, who left carved traces on it. This area hosts an important biotope on Patmos, home to several bird species and natural beauty.

Grikos, Patmos island.
Grikos, Patmos island.

What to do in Patmos

Religious tourism

Patmos is a distinctive center for religious tourism. A destination targeted by thousands of Christians who come to the island to visit many of its churches and hermitages, but above all, to see the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse and the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian.

Monastery, Patmos.
Monastery, Patmos.

I have written a very extensive article about Patmos’ religious centers if you want to read more.

Beaches

Many visitors agree that Patmos has some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. Indeed, seaside landscapes are marvelous; crystal water, clean environment and… and well, there are pebbles. We are not fans of pebbles for a few reasons, mostly because kids hate them. Pebbles are a pain to walk on the shore, a nuisance when you enter the sea… not to mention sandcastles. But those who hate sand getting in the middle of everywhere will be happy to read the news.

Most beaches on Patmos, the easy-to-reach ones at least, have pebbles. Unless you visit Psili Ammos. You will have to hike for a good while or choose a boat (Make a guess..? Yeah, kids again!) if you look for fine, soft sand.
These are some of the most beautiful beaches on the island.

Lambi

This rather long beach, famous for its rare pebbles, can be a good option if you have your own car as it is located nearly 15 km from Chora. Its name, which means shining, apparently makes reference to the reflections the sun produces against the stones that cover the beach.

Lambi beach, Patmos island.
Lambi beach, Patmos island.

Agriolivadi

Not far from Skala, the beach is sand mixed with pebbles, there are a bar and a taverna. Waters are shallow enough for kids, and a nice, long row of trees offers shade if you prefer to avoid umbrellas. It can get quite crowded during the season.

Patmos island.
Agriolivadi beach, Patmos.

Meloi

Probably the most comfortable beach in terms of location, Meloi is one of the few sandy shores we visited. With a restaurant and a supermarket nearby, it’s fine to spend the day. It’s close to Skala, and shallow waters make it the great for families.

Meloi beach, Patmos island.
Meloi beach, Patmos island.

Livadi Geranou

The views of this distant beach are worth the visit. The small islet in front of it, Agios Giorgos, offers a beautiful panorama with its tiny, white chapel. They say orchids blossom during spring, probably adding an extravagant touch of beauty.

Livadi Geranou, Patmos.
Livadi Geranou, Patmos.

Vagia

We liked the relaxed atmosphere of Vagia, with clear wats and lush vegetation surrounding the area. They say the cafeteria nearby serves the best chocolate cakes in Patmos (our kids agree!). I settled for their apricot cake, which was really delicious.

Vagia beach.

Grikos

Defined by enthusiasts as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the pebble beach of Grikos offers a relaxed atmosphere to swim or enjoy the views of little boats docking on the shore. Ducks, fish and other interesting fauna will make the joys of adults and kids.

Grikos. Patmos island
Grikos.

Psili Ammos

In our description of the beaches of Patmos, we left the most beautiful place last. Rightfully considered one of the most pretty beaches of the Aegean, its name is a promise: “fine sand”. A unique character and complete isolation (not in August, to be honest) but often exposed to northwest winds making it difficult to reach by boat under certain conditions.

For those who don’t mind walking to reach this idyllic spot, there are two paths that take you there. A bit longish and more demanding one, starting from Diakofti to end in the southern extreme of Psili Ammos, and the other one which begins at Stavros Bay and takes you to the northern part of the beach. In both cases, you will need plenty of water and closed (or very comfy) walking shoes.

Psili Ammos beach, Patmos island
Psili Ammos beach, Patmos island.

Walking trails and hiking

Eco-tourism has taken a new twist in Patmos with the so-called Paths of Culture. This clearly marked network of ancient footpaths will guide visitors around many of the cultural sites of the island, passing through beautiful landscapes. Some of the trails connect Skala to Chora, and Skala to Kastelli. if you are interested in walking the island, visit this site for a list of trails and detailed information.

Paths of Patmos island.
Paths of Patmos island.

Patmos for foodies

Mouth-Watering local gastronomy, largely inspired by Greek traditions, that also receives the influence of years of Ottoman domination. If you love pastries, sweets, and savory pitas, then you must try the pies of Patmos. And there is no better place than Christodoulos, in the heart of Skala.

The traditional cheese pie of Patmos can be made using at least three types of cheese and eggs.
The traditional cheese pie of Patmos can be made using at least three types of cheese and eggs.

Christodoulos produces a whole variety of typical sweets: cakes, pastries, and ice creams; but he is famous for local sweets and his special cheese pies, also loved by visitors. With fluffy cheese pies and sweets filled with almonds and honey, Christodoulos is the flag-bearer of the delicious local gastronomy.

Map: wine roads of Patmos island
Wine roads of Patmos island.

Traditional Dishes

Some of the delicacies you will find on Patmos include shinopsomo, a traditional kind of bread made with a local seed, sugar, and cinnamon. Xerotigano is a deep-fried kind of pastry with abundant use of honey and cinnamon.

Local cheese varieties include kalathoro, made of goat milk, and touloumotiri, matured in goatskin, similar to the popular Greek feta cheese.

As far as wines are concerned, Patmos has its own wine roads together with the neighboring islands of Leros and Lipsi. Moscat of Alexandria is a traditional white variety growing on Patmos, which is reviving its traditional wine culture through a new plan designed to restore vineyards in the region of Petra. If you are after local labels, make sure to try a glass from Domaine Patoinos.

Where to eat in Patmos

Chocolate cake, Vagia beach.
Chocolate cake, Vagia beach.

Plefsis

If you wish for a unique experience made of culture, adventure and beauty, I know you will adore Patmos. Here's everything you must know to start the Patmos Travel Experience: Patmos Ultimate Travel Guide.
Click on the photo to visit their website.

This restaurant, which bears all the looks of the traditional Greek taverna, is managed by the nearby Patmos Aktis Hotel.

So if you are expecting a regular moussaka or a dish of tzatziki, expect no more.

They do, however, offer a menu based on the staple ingredients of Greece, but cooked and served with more than a twist. Try their fava, their salads, and their grilled cheese.

Ostria

Fresh fish dishes right in front of the port. This traditional Greek restaurant plays it more on substance than on form and comes out a winner. Prices are very affordable and the staff kind and attentive.

Ktima Petra

A pleasant atmosphere, very tasty dishes, and all the choices available for those tiny picky palates.

For adults,  creative dishes made of fresh vegetables (do try their aubergines as well as their dolmades), abundant salads and great meat too.

As a dessert, creamy Greek yogurt topped with homemade spoon sweets.

Tarsanas

Close to Stavros Bay, this restaurant makes quite an impression due to the location. But once you go past the appearance, it’s time for food. And it’s great local food with quite regular prices. Curiously enough, it’s a restaurant many of our Italian friends know and prefer. Convenient as far as prices are concerned too.

Nautilus

Patmos Travel Experience: Patmos Ultimate Travel Guide
Click on the photo to visit their website.

One could think the Nautilus takes all the merit due to the impressive landscape of the location.

One could also say that the classy ambiance, the candles, and the colors are what make this venue unforgettable. All that agreed the food is perfect.

From start to end, no single dish disappointed me. Suggestion: Try their meat. For kids? Also hamburgers!

Patmos island for kids.
Patmos island for kids.

 Restaurants that our kids loved!

If you wish for a unique experience made of culture, adventure and beauty, I know you will adore Patmos. Here's everything you must know to start the Patmos Travel Experience: Patmos Ultimate Travel Guide.For a relaxed night where kids can enjoy beloved gyros, souvlaki, and less complex food, try Pita Konne, in the main square of Skala. Their terrace is comfortable with a touch of ethnic fashion. Prices are affordable and the meat excellent.
Try their fresh salads!

A traditional place everybody suggested us to visit is Pantelis. Also in the heart of Skala, this taverna serves what I define comfort Greek food. Abundant dishes, no-frills, pure taste. Also here the prices are very convenient.

Where to stay: Patmos hotels we absolutely love

Convenience: Hotel Romeos

Easily one of the best values on Patmos, it’s no wonder the Hotel Romeos has a public of ever-returning customers and receives raving reviews. A central location, ten minutes from Skala, makes it easy to access any area of Patmos. The rooms enjoy great views of the nearby island of Ikaria, making sunsets a unique experience.

Kyria Anna personally cares for all your needs. As a highlight for Patmos visitors, they celebrate mass in the gardens every morning. Kids will love the atmosphere and the assorted library with stories in all languages.

Romance: Porto Scoutari

Described as the most romantic venue on Patmos, Porto Scoutari Romantic Hotel & Suites is located among beautiful gardens and stunning surrounding sea views.

Known as a celebrated premier hotel, it offers a small intimate Spa with free Jacuzzi and a gym.

It overlooks the bay of Meloi, and it’s just a kilometer away from Skala.

This is the perfect atmosphere for a romantic holiday on Patmos.

Luxury: Patmos Aktis

This stunning hotel is a luxury spot with excellent views towards Grikos Bay.

Expect comfortable, spacious rooms, filled with dazzling natural light and paired with white curtains, cushions and bed linen.

A wonderful shared swimming pool as well as private pools in the most exclusive suites, and phenomenal views. About 5 km from Skala, the hotel is on an idyllic pebble beach.

Patmos with kids

We arrived on the island after a long trip from Chania to Piraeus, an even longer day in Athens, and a final sailing night to Patmos. Greeted at the port by heat and humidity at three in the morning was not the best of welcomes. We needed a cold shower, a regular bed, and some real rest. The next day was a promise of activities, tastes, and experiences.

As a mom, my personal piece of advice would be to take it easy. There is indeed a lot to do on Patmos and it can be overwhelming to try to see it all in a couple of days. Cultural activities, religious sites, great beaches, superb food to taste. Lots, indeed. So, if you are short of time, work on your priorities. Eventually, plan a second visit, I am sure you will find all the reasons to return.

Getting there

Patmos island

There’s no airport on Patmos, so if you fly from Athens, count on landing on the neighbor islands of Leros, Kos or Rhodes.

Boats depart from Piraeus (leaving from Gate E1) and Rhodes bound to Patmos every day. In summer, there is also a frequent service connecting Patmos to Kos. We traveled with Blue Star Ferries.

To move around the island, rely on taxis, buses or the comforts of car rental services. Many people choose motorbikes and quads too.

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Patmos travel experience: Patmos ultimate travel guide

Visit Patmos with this guide!
Visit Patmos with this guide!

Thanks to the Municipality of Patmos, the  Patmos Tourism Committee and local venues and residents for the help and hospitality offered during our trip.  

26 thoughts on “Patmos Travel Guide: Best Things to do in Patmos (Dodecanese)”

  1. Funny enough, I was thinking about visiting Patmos sooner rather than later. I couldn’t actually decide what was correct about the place or overblown, but this is some great info for me to roll with! Cheers!

    Reply
    • I had the same doubts you had about my visit, initially, but I discovered a magnetic place, it became one of my favorite islands in Greece, even to my own surprise!

      Reply
  2. I’m yet to enter the phase of life of traveling with kids! This is a good blog to get some good ideas! Thanks!!!
    Greece on the whole is much in my wishlist, esp Athens! I haven’t heard much of Patmos, but it looks beautiful too.
    Not a big fan of Skala, but Chora is just gorgeous! I’ll definitely have a look at the religious centres!

    Reply
    • Enjoy solo travel as long as you can My blog is not just for families, but families can adapt to our travel ideas… the same with solo travelers 😉 Chora is beautiful, indeed. And for me, the same thing applies. In fact, Patmos made me curious because it is not really one of the most popular islands, but to be honest, we discovered a gem!

      Reply
  3. This is such a lovely place. Haven’t heard of Patmos before but it was such an interesting read just because this island feels one of its kind. Seems very different from the usual beach paradise, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • Exactly, it is a different kind of Paradise, and that makes it a very special place. It was a pleasant surprise for us too.

      Reply
  4. Greece has been one of the places I’ve been dying to go to. Of course Mykonos and Santorini gets all the praise, but I love seeing off the beaten path places. I’ve never heard of Patmos, but will absolutely keep it in mind when I find my way to Greece. It looks like an incredible gem.

    Reply
    • Mykonos and Santorini get all the praises, along with Athens and Crete, but trust me, there are some amazing hidden gems that nobody gets to see and that might be even worthier! Patmos is one of them…

      Reply
  5. Greece has so many hidden gems. I have already fallen for Patmos seeing its pictures. Apart from religious importance, its beautiful and I feel it is a perfect place for a vacation. Adding it to my bucket list.

    Reply
    • Trust me, the beauty of the island goes further beyond its religious importance. I’m not a religious person, at all! But enjoyed it so much all the same.

      Reply
  6. Greece is a never-ending source of wonderful places to explore. You can’t get enough of it’s impressive landscapes, it’s history and of course… it’s food!

    Reply
  7. I love spending holidays in Greece. The beauty of their white little houses and their coastlines combined with absolutely amazing and tasty food… exactly how you described it in your post 🙂

    Reply
    • You are right, heading for Greece is a promise of inspiring landscapes, whitewashed houses by the sea, and incredibly tasty food!

      Reply
  8. Pourto Scoutari looks like an awesome place to have a romantic getaway and Psili Ammos is also very stunning (how blue is that sky and water?!)

    Reply
  9. So beautiful – I love the Balkan coast, villages and architecture. Not to mention Greek food. WHat a peaceful peace of paradise. Just amazing, wish I was there…

    Reply
  10. Had never heard of Patmos! We love that Greece has so many places that are lesser known and hidden away. No airport! Love the architecture of Patmos. We would absolutely stay in Porto Scoutari.

    Reply
    • it is indeed a hidden gem, with lovely people, great food and amazing places to discover. Porto Scoutari is a wonderful structure, ideal for a romantic getaway!

      Reply
  11. Visited Greece so many years back and I’m pining for it, seeing such lovely pictures all over the internet. Patmos is just the place to live the illusion of perfect Mediterranean life, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • Yes, it is an island that really surprised me for the calmness, the beauty and the hospitality of the locals. I loved every place I visited. I surely recommend it for a holiday. It is indeed the perfect Mediterranean!

      Reply
  12. This little island is the love of my life. Started going in 1956. I love the people the smell of octopus, even the aroma of herbs growing on the mountain side. Hopefully God will heal me enough to go back.

    I miss my home there also.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, I really wish you all the health and strength to go back there soon. It’s true that when we are in a place that makes us feel happy, everything seems to fall into place. I wish you the very best! Thanks!

      Reply

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