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The "green" island of the Dodecanese

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The "green" island of the Dodecanese

Between volcanic Nisyros and cosmopolitan Rhodes is the first "green" island of the Mediterranean, tiny Tilos, with its relaxed rhythm of life, lacy coasts, imposing mountains, medieval castles, Byzantine churches, and fertile valleys.

A unique land that was inhabited by the last dwarf elephants of Europe some thousands of years ago, Tilos offers an extensive network of hiking trails, immersed in the scents of herbs, brushwood, and wild orchids. Birdwatching enthusiasts shall have the chance to admire many rare species living and breeding in the island’s 12 mountains.

A welcoming island, with mild tourism development, a society that is open to diversity, environmentally friendly and energy autonomous thanks to renewable sources, remote Tilos invites you to discover it!

Routes & attractions

Life on the island evolves mainly around three settlements, Megalo Chorio – the capital of the island, Livadia, the settlement at the harbour, and the seaside village of Agios Antonios in the north of Tilos, on the outskirts of a fertile valley.

Built in the early 19th century, Megalo Chorio spreads under the Castle of the Knights at the foot of the hill of Agios Stefanos, with the characteristic white stone houses and the blooming courtyards.

Hike up to the medieval Castle of the Knights of St. John built in the 15th century, on the ruins of the Hellenistic acropolis and the sanctuary of Apollo and Athena. Enjoy the view of the citrus valley of Eristos, its ancient port and the fishing village of Agios Antonios. Inside the castle, visit the Byzantine church of Archangel Michael.

Visit the Paleontological Museum of Tilos, in Megalo Chorio, where fossilized bones from the dwarf elephants that lived on the island are exhibited (since 4,500 BC), as well as samples of Neolithic pottery. These are important findings that emerged from the excavation in Charkadio Cave, located between Megalo Chorio and Livadia.

In Livadia, enjoy the view of the Aegean Sea from the medieval castle of Agiosykia (15th century).

Stop at the ruined medieval settlement of Mikro Chorio with its 220 stone houses, now left without roofs, established in the 15th century by the Knights of St. John and abandoned after World War II. Walk along the cobbled paths and observe the Byzantine churches of the 14th and 15th century, but also those of the Assumption (1787) and the Cincture of Virgin Mary (Timias Zonis) (1861) to admire their rare frescoes. During the summer, in this deserted village, you’ll find a bar where you can enjoy your evening drinks surrounded by the illuminated ruins of the old settlement that create a unique atmosphere.

Built on a hillside, surrounded by centuries-old plane and chestnut trees that give coolness and shade in the summer, is the historic monastery of Agios Panteleimonas, dating back to the 15th century. Admire its blooming pebbled courtyard, ornate wood-carved altar and distinctive frescoes on the dome.

Discover the unique landscapes of the island through its 30 marked hiking trails, but also its abundant nature, since Tilos has been characterized as an exclusive ecological park, where more than 125 species of rare birds breed. This makes the island a popular destination for wild bird watchers.

Beaches & Activities

Favourite among alternative tourists is the beach of Eristos, with its characteristic vast sandy shore, the tamarisk trees that give natural shade and its exceptionally cool waters that came from the springs of the namesake fertile valley. The beach is surrounded by gray-red rocks, while the isolated coves on its left side are ideal for some privacy.

Next to the port of Tilos is the large and popular beach of Livadia, with tamarisk trees for shade, pebbles and sand. This is a fully organized beach with water sports facilities, such as canoeing and windsurfing. It is easily accessible and offers several dining options in its tavernas and restaurants.

In the north of the island is the picturesque Agios Antonios, a quiet beach with a rocky landscape, palm trees, tamarisks, and magnificent waters. On the seabed, you’ll see the ruins of a Hellenistic city. The beach is partly organized, however the namesake small fishing village close-by has several tavernas.

Just 4 km from Agios Antonios is Plaka, a quiet bay with pebbles, sand and crystal-clear waters, surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees. The bay is famous for the peacocks that stroll around freely.

On the eastern side of the island is the isolated pebbled beach of Lethra, with its beautiful waters, accessible by boat or hiking from Livadia.

Tastes of the island

However small, Tilos has several unique local dishes to offer, such as koulouria (local handmade pasta) with red sauce or butter and cheese, pitaroudia (chickpea balls) and fried greens pies, chondro (bulgur cooked in water or milk), giaprakia (dolmadakia or vine leaves stuffed with meat), pork kavourmas (sautéed pork), tsouvra (traditional tomato soup of Tilos with bulgur or rice, savoured cold or hot), koulousoufades (pork or beef intestines stuffed with minced meat or giblets, rice and herbs, fried with butter) and fouki (pork fried with onions and quenched in vinegar). You should also try oven-cooked goat with potatoes or goat stuffed with rice.

In the fish tavernas of Tilos you’ll find the famous local shrimps fried in batter, cuttlefish stew, braised octopus, spaghetti with kolochtipa (the Mediterranean slipper lobster), but also fresh fish of the day.

The island produces exquisite thyme honey, and bakeries, cafes and pastry shops sell the famous melekounia (sesame and almond pasteli with a characteristic soft texture), xerotigana (diples with syrup), pastries filled with almonds and sesame, and seven-dough (eptazima) cookies.

Traditions & Events

Several festivals take place on the island on major religious celebrations, the most popular of which is that of the Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas, on July 27th. The three-day festival begins on July 25th, with feasts, traditional music, dancing, and singing.

Don't miss...

Discover the lacy coastline of Tilos and its secluded beaches, such as Tholos, Skafi and Agios Sergios.

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