Unlike many of the other islands in the Dodecanese, Tilos is off the beaten path and has one of the most unique bars you can find in Greece. The bar is located in a ghost village and features the bones of dwarves elephants that were discovered in Charkadio cave.
The island is full of old footpaths that lead to secluded beaches, small settlements and medieval monasteries. It is also famous for its green and sustainable practices.
1. Livadia Beach
Livadia is the main gateway to Tilos, and although it doesn’t look very inspiring upon first sight, it’s a charming little village that becomes alive in the evening. This is where you’ll find taverns that are open to both locals and tourists, and it’s also the starting point for exploring Tilos’ many hiking trails.
Wandering inland through the island’s old, marked tracks will help you appreciate Tilos’ close relationship with nature. On the way, you’ll discover lush valleys and cypress trees, as well as wildflowers that bloom in spring. You’ll come across the remains of old castles and see abandoned churches at the bend of a track, while the scent of pine trees and jasmine will fill your lungs.
On the island’s western coast, you’ll find one of its most beautiful beaches. Its crystal-clear waters and idyllic stretches of sand or pebbles make it a favorite among the locals, as well as visitors.
Located right next to the capital of Paros, this beach is usually quite crowded during high season. The good news is that there are lots of trees that offer natural shade, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a spot to lay down and relax.
While you’re here, head up to the top of the hill where the castle stands and explore its ruins. It’s a great place to admire the views of the coastline and see the impressive fortress that once stood on the summit.
Another must-visit is the monastery of Osios Loukas. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this monastery is a wonderful reminder of the rich history of Greece. During your visit, be sure to check out the burial crypt and admire the beautifully-preserved interior.
Another interesting thing to do is to walk through Mikro Chorio, the eerie village that used to be Tilos’ main settlement. You’ll find that the villagers moved to other parts of the island, but it’s still a very interesting sight to see, especially since people are now attempting to restore some of the houses.
2. Agios Pandelimon Monastery
While you may not find much in the way of cosmopolitan vibes on Tilos, this island still offers plenty to keep you entertained. There are several interesting museums, a handful of hiking trails and lovely beaches for swimming and relaxing. In fact, a large part of the island is dedicated to preservation and belongs to the Natura 2000 network. The port town of Livadia is the main hub on Tilos and offers a good selection of rooms to let, tavernas and cafes. The best beaches on the island are a bit further away from here though, so it’s worth stocking up on fresh fruit and veg before heading out.
Agios Pandelimon Monastery is the most famous sight on the island and a must-see. It lies in a spectacular, to say the least wild landscape in north-western Tilos and is easily reachable by bus. The monastery is dedicated to the patron saint of the island and its main church is a stunning example of Byzantine architecture.
Hikers will enjoy exploring the islands many old paths and trails that take them to beautiful beaches and secluded coves. Some of the hikes are challenging and may require some level of fitness. You can also head to the top of the castle to admire the breathtaking view from its clifftop perch.
Another interesting attraction on Tilos is the Museum of Dwarf Elephants, which features fossils from a now-extinct species found in the Charkadio Cave near Megalo Chorio. It’s an important piece of the island’s history and gives a unique insight into its natural heritage.
The small island of Tilos has long mesmerised its visitors. From Byzantine monuments to abandoned castles and a crisscrossing network of ancient walls, the island is home to a rich cultural heritage. The locals play an active role in preserving it and are incredibly hospitable and warm towards tourists.
Tilos is a great choice for a family vacation, as it offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. In addition to hotels, villas and apartments, there are also family-run tavernas and guesthouses that offer friendly service and great food at affordable prices.
3. Mikro Chorio
Among the quirkiest things to do in Tilos is exploring Mikro Chorio, a ghost village that was abandoned in the 1940s. The ruins of stone houses are spread around the village, which also has a church and a small bar that operates during the summer. It’s an eerie experience, but definitely worth it!
It’s also a good idea to visit the enchanting, deserted beaches on the island. They are a must-see for those who love walking and hiking and adore nature. The island is dotted with trails and old pathways that lead to picturesque beaches, stunning views and quaint villages. The best time to explore them is either in spring or autumn when the weather is milder.
Visitors can rent a car on Tilos and explore the island on their own. The island is quite small, so most major settlements and attractions are located within a couple of kilometers from each other. However, if you’re not a fan of driving, don’t worry: the local bus runs several itineraries daily and will take you to all the most important places.
In the capital of the island, Livadia, you’ll find a handful of interesting museums to explore. The Byzantine churches are a must-see, as well as the ruined acropolis that overlooks the bay. The Monastery of Agios Pandelimon, located in the northwest, is a must-see as well.
Another must-see is the Museum of Dwarf Elephants, which features a collection of fossilized elephant remains that were found in the Charkadio Cave. The museum was first opened in 1994 at the Town Hall of Tilos, but recently it has moved to a new building near the monastery.
Lastly, be sure to visit the enchanting Neo Mikro Chorio village. It’s the best place on Tilos to see how the past still lives on in its crisscrossing network of old walls and narrow alleyways that are often only wide enough for two people. Fig and aromatic lemon trees cast shade over the village’s quaint courtyards, while wrought-iron balconies overlook the sea. You can even spot the occasional wild goat!
The quiet island of Tilos attracts those in search of a genuine island experience without massive tourist developments. The landscape is rugged, yet beautiful. The beaches are idyllic stretches of sand and pebbles. The villages are quaint and picturesque. And there are plenty of spots of archaeological and religious interest. From Byzantine chapels to abandoned settlements and a crisscrossing network of old walls, Tilos is filled with surprises.
It’s easy to see why the island has always mesmerized visitors. The special beauty of the landscape and the natural energy that the island radiates has inspired lyrical poets and painters. The island has a mystical atmosphere, and the locals are hospitable and warm to guests. They are keen to share their knowledge of the island and its rich heritage with them.
If you want to learn more about the island’s history, visit the Museum of Tilos in Megalo Chorio. There you’ll find statuettes, sculptures, and ancient inscriptions. The museum also has a paleontological collection with fossils of dwarf elephants, the only species of extinct elephants that lived in Europe. The dwarf elephants roamed on Tilos until their extinction, most likely due to a natural disaster. The fossils were found in the Charkadio Cave, near Megalo Chorio.
Another thing to do in Tilos is to stroll through the main village of Livadia. It’s a small and charming village, filled with fig and lemon trees that cast shade over the quaint alleyways. Some houses are built around a central square, and you’ll find that many of the buildings have an ancient feel.
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach, head to the western part of the island to visit Plaka. This is one of the most special beaches on Tilos, as it’s lined with tamarisks that offer a natural shade, and hardly ever gets crowded. It’s a great beach to swim, but it’s also a good place to spend the afternoon.
Tilos is a great destination for anyone who’s looking to escape the crowds and discover Greece’s lesser-known gems. There’s so much to do, from hiking in the mountains and exploring ruins to enjoying traditional meals with locals at their tavernas. So don’t hesitate to book a trip to Tilos. You won’t regret it.