Hidden amidst a group of uninhabited satellite islands in the northern part of the Aegean sea, lies tiny Alonissos. Located close to much more touristy Skiathos and Skopelos, Alonissos has stayed an “under the radar” destination for many years, best known for its fantastic marine park rather than its cosmopolitan vibes. If you enjoy nature, emerald waters, and tranquility, Alonissos should definitely be your next summer stop!
What to See and Do
You will realize that Alonissos is a unique island even before you arrive. After the ferry makes its first two stops at the neighboring Skiathos and Skopelos, you will understand that only a handful of visitors were going towards Alonissos. But it is precisely that quiet charm that makes it special.
Even the port itself is not very busy while the locals are seemingly unaffected by the tourism boom that changed the Greek islands since the ‘60s. Contrary to most islands of the Aegean, Alonissos is surprisingly lush, with pine and olive trees dominating its skyline. Also, it is considerably cheaper as well, which is perfect for budget-minded travelers.
The port town of Patitiri is the first thing you’ll see upon disembarking from your ferry. There is a handful of bars and restaurants around the harbor, as well as grocery stores and tourism offices. Although it’s tiny and not much to look at, Patitiri is where the heart of the island beats! Don’t forget to enjoy a cocktail by the beach and if you’re lucky, the resident seal might pop up to say hi!
The Marine Park
The National Marine Park is arguably the island’s main selling point since it is located in an area of extraordinary sea life. Alonissos and its six surrounding uninhabited islands (Peristera, Kyra Panagia, Gioura, Skantzoura, and Piperi) are home to 10% of the world’s endangered Monachus Monachus seals. There are many operators offering day trips around the Marine Park, as well as diving and snorkeling activities. Don’t hesitate to take them up on their offer, as the landscape is truly magnificent. Also, who wouldn’t like to swim around a bunch of adorable, friendly seals?
The Old Town (Chora)
The Old Town (or Chora) is about 3 km away from Patitiri, and it used to be the capital of the island until an earthquake decimated it in 1961. Luckily for us, the castle town was rebuilt to its old splendor and nowadays it is a must see place, offering breathtaking views of the island. These postcard-like narrow streets of Hora are dotted with flowers and colorful stone houses that perfectly encapsulate the essence of a Greek summer.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take the footpath from Hora to the remote church of Agioi Anargyroi and the surrounding pine forest. If you want to relax, enjoy a cup of Greek coffee basking in the glorious vistas.
The Beaches of Alonissos
Alonissos is tiny, but it has its fair share of impressive beaches, all in proximity to one another. The first thing you’ll notice about the beaches in Alonissos is the crystal-clear color of the waters that will tempt you to stay in the sea for just one more dive. Let’s see four of the best beaches around the island!
Located in a small gulf amidst a verdant pine forest, Milia is a tiny inviting beach, ideal for relaxation and moments of tranquility. The atmosphere around here is very private, so don’t expect any fancy beach bars or restaurants. However, if you feel a little peckish, there is a quiet seaside tavern nearby with good food and reasonable prices.
When you walk or drive across the island’s uphill roads, you can’t miss this fascinating rock formation unfolding below you. Hidden behind the huge reddish cliff entering the sea is a deep blue beach where the forest meets the Aegean. In Greek, Kokkinokastro means “Red Castle” and indeed the color combination of red, green and blue is unlike anything you’ve ever seen!
Leftos Yialos is perhaps the only cosmopolitan beach in an otherwise laid-back island. The beach is covered with white pebbles and is surrounded by olive and pine trees. Nearby you will also find a relatively inexpensive (but quite fancy) bar/restaurant if you want to admire the postcard-like waters with a cocktail in hand.
Chrisi Milia is a parent’s paradise with its soft sand and gentle shallow waters! There are many water-sports and other activities on offer around the area (such as diving tours). If you’re not in the mood for adventure, Chrisi Milia (translates as “Golden Apple Tree”) is ideal for some moments of relaxation under the summer sun.
How to get there
Reaching Alonissos is a bit harder than other, more popular, islands. Then again, that’s the beauty of the island! You can find more info on the port connections and book your tickets via Ferryhopper. Bear in mind that scheduled times change each year, so it’s best to check beforehand.
There are two main options if you want to reach the island from Athens.
The first one is to catch a ferry from the port of Agios Konstantinos (165km from the city). The journey will last from 3–6 hours, depending on the option you’ll choose
Alternatively, you can travel to the northern part of the island of Evia (you can reach it by car) and board the ferry to Alonissos. The journey will last about 2 and a half hours at most.
Skiathos is the biggest island of the Sporades, and there are many boat connections with Alonissos departing daily. Travel time is 1–3 hours.
There is a direct service connecting the port of Thessaloniki with Alonissos. Travel time is 3–5 hours.
Alonissos is a quiet island so if you’re after a party atmosphere you’re much better off in neighboring Skiathos. However, there are some options in Patitiri like the Drunk Seal cocktail bar, En Plo and Lithos just a short walk from the port. You will find many taverns and cafes in the Old Town as well.
There is a regular municipal bus service running during the summer months, connecting Patitiri to the Old Town and the village of Steni Vala. You can also reach the beaches via boats and caiques departing daily from the port of Patitiri or even rent one to reach the nearby uninhabited islands. If you’re a couple or a group of friends, renting scooters in Alonissos is by far the cheapest and most practical way to enjoy everything the island has to offer.
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