Greek Summer Escapes : Patmos
These past two weeks, my email box has been filling up with requests for advice from friends planning their summer holidays and looking at all options in Greece. That was a wake up call… I realized: first of all, it was high time for me to book our flight tickets to Greece. Second, it was the perfect moment to start a series of posts dedicated to my favorite summer escapes in Greece. And I will start with my personal choice for the upcoming summer: the island of Patmos.
It would require many pages to share all my impressions about this piece of heaven on earth, actually it has inspired my first novel, which I believe is a comprehensive travel guide to this small Dodecanese island. Instead of getting into a description of the island, I’ve decided to share on the blog this list of tips I prepared for a friend last summer. If you still haven’t make up your mind about your summer destination, I hope that going through this list will convince you that Patmos is worth the long journey!
Beaches & Taverns:
- Psili Amos: one of Patmos’ highlights, it is one of the very rare sandy beaches. It is only accessible by foot (thirty minutes of relatively easy walking with fantastic views) or by boat (boats are leaving every morning from Skala). It is a marvelous destination for the day: swimming is lovely, the family-run tavern very typical and the atmosphere completely relaxed. Just be aware that shadow is scarce and only first comers get to lay their towels under the tamarisks.
- Petra: this pebble beach is my number one choice for an afternoon swim when the vivid sunlight is changing to a soft golden color. The water is particularly clear and has a unique deep blue shade. It is a good athletic swim to the opposite island. The beach has wooden sunbeds and umbrellas.
- Livadi Geranou: it is a beautiful drive to this pebble beach bordered with tamarisks. We generally go for lunch as the only tavern there serves really good grilled fish, then we find a shady spot on the beach before swimming to the opposite island with its picturesque little white chapel.
- Lampi: this northern beach is well known for its colorful pebbles. It faces the open sea with a view towards the mountainous island of Ikaria. The tavern has its tables directly on the beach and serves lunch and dinner. We rated their saganaki the best on the island.
- Agrio Livadi: this is the children’s favorite beach, easy to access, almost sandy and pedalboats available. I must say it is also a good option for parents to relax and read on sunbeds with a nice view. The swimming there is also very good. There are two taverns on the beach but we usually drive to the nearby family-run Glaros where we get a friendly welcoming.
- The twins: these two neighboring beaches are a bit more difficult to access and therefore remain pretty quiet. It is a good swimming spot with nice views to Chora and the monastery.
- Kampos: I am not a fan of Kampos beach as I find it too crowded and noisy. However I appreciate a meal at Georges’ Place from time to time, an enjoyable break from Greek cuisine.
Things to do or discover:
- Visit the monastery in Chora and feel the spiritual atmosphere.
- Wander around the maze of streets in Chora at any time of the day, you will certainly get lost and it's a great feeling!
- Climb up (drive up) to Prophet Elias’ mount to admire a panoramic view of the whole island. I highly recommend going there at dawn and watch the sunrise.
- Have a solitarian bath at the foot of the Apollou’s monastery, there is a platform from which you can jump into the water.
- Drive all the way to the eastern tip of the island, stop at the chapel to admire the view and head down for a swim at One Tree beach.
- Enjoy the sunset at Livadi Kalogiron while having a drink in a caravan turned into a tavern (serves simple food such as souvlaki). There is a small monastery there that can be visited if you find the guardian of the key. I particularly love the drive through arid lands: you will only meet goats on your way or occasionally locals walking back from the church.
- Walk through the countryside (be aware of viper snakes) and visit the holy cave where Saint John had his vision of the Apocalypse.
- Have a peaceful drink at the shipyard, there is a nice bar there called Tarsanas. I like it in the late afternoon when the sunlight is declining.
- Hang out in one of Skala’s cafés, you may want to pick the traditional Arion on the sea front, and observe the crowds coming and going. It is a place to see and to be seen.
We always plan at least a day at sea during our summer stay. There are many boats in Skala that can take your group of friends, you have to go on the port and negotiate. A classic is to head to the tiny island of Marati for a delicious meal with swimming stops along the way.
- Plan to have dinner at Benetos, the gastronomic restaurant of the island (booking requested). We are big fans of their sea urchins’ soup and grilled tuna!
- Enjoy an upscale version of traditional greek cuisine at the tavern of the hotel Aktis in Grikos. The atmosphere in the evening is really warm. It's also a nice venue for lunch, directly on the beach, kids can swim and play while adults are enjoying their meal.
- Gather a group of friends for a casual dinner at Diakofti, a simple yet magical setting under the stars and directly by the sea.
- Swim until the sun sets at Lampi and stay longer for a tasty dinner on the beach.
- Enjoy a lively dinner on the central square in Chora
- Check the program at the Old school in Chora, there might be an exhibition or a book signing.
- Drink and party until late at Astivi bar in Chora
- Savor tasty deserts with a drink at Art café in Skala
How to get there:
- Fly to Athens and cruise on Blue Star Ferries. The weekend schedule is particularly convenient with a night trip, departing at 11 pm and arriving at 7 am.
- Alternatively fly to Kos and take a ferry for 2h30 (Dodekanisos Seaways and Blue Star Ferries).
Where to stay:
- For a luxury stay, directly by the sea: Patmos Aktis Suites and Spa, in Grikos.
- For an unforgettable and exclusive stay in a 17th century house nestled in the heart of Chora: Archontariki hotel.
- For a quiet stay in a charming boutique-hotel: Petra Hotel and Suites, in Grikos.
- For a more casual family stay in Kampos: Patmos Paradise.
Word of mouth remains the most efficient way to find a house to rent. However there are several websites dedicated to luxury rentals. Also there seems to be more and more on websites such as airbnb or homeaway.