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Die kleine Insel Patmos gehört zur griechischen Inselgruppe Dodekanes, Bild: Nejdet Duzen / shutterstock

Patmos – the island of the apocalypse

Patmos is a relatively small island with a maximum length of 25 km and is located in the eastern Aegean Sea. Politically, it belongs to the Dodecanese archipelago, but is the northernmost island of this chain and thus geographically belongs to the southern Sporades.

General information about Patmos

Patmos has only about 3,050 inhabitants and has no airport. However, since it is considered the “Holy Island” in Greece and is the destination of many Orthodox pilgrims, Patmos benefits from very good ship connections. If you don’t want to travel via Athens, it is best to fly to Kos or Samos and then take one of the regular ferries.

The main town of Chora developed over time around the main attraction of the island, the Monastery of St. John. It is said that the evangelist John wrote down the last book of the New Testament, the “Revelation”, here. Chora impresses with small romantic streets with many arcades and archways, which are usually more characteristic of the Cyclades . The magnificent old mansions in Gothic and neoclassical architecture bear witness to the fact that part of the population had already become wealthy through trade in the Middle Ages.

Patmos is about 34 km² in size and relatively flat. The highest elevation is the 269 m high Prophit Elias Berg and in the early and late season many nature lovers come here for hiking. A wonderful walk is, for example, the 2.4 km long Aporthiano path, which leads from Chora down to the port in Skala. This is where the lively promenade with cafés, taverns and bars runs, where the island’s nightlife takes place, because in the immediate vicinity of the monastery peace and quiet returns earlier in the evening out of respect. However, turning night into day is not common here and party tourists should rather choose other destinations for their vacation. In general, the island can be wonderfully “hiked”, because for centuries a network of paths has connected the individual villages and monasteries with each other.

The most beautiful beaches in Patmos

Beach vacationers enjoy a lot of variety on Patmos, but sandy beaches can only be found on the south and east coasts. For most tourists, the dreamlike, Caribbean-like , natural beach Psili Ammos is the absolute paradise. Since there is no road leading to the sea at this point, it can only be reached after a 30-minute walk or by boat. Lampis Bay on the north coast offers an extraordinary underground that can only be found on this island. Small colourful pebbles, which holidaymakers like to take home as souvenirs, cover the entire shore here. On almost all stretches of the coast, rustic taverns serve delicious Greek specialties, so that no one has to go hungry during a long day of swimming.

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The most beautiful sights on Patmos

St. John's Monastery on Patmos
St. John’s Monastery on Patmos, Image: leoks / shutterstock

Patmos is nicknamed the “Holy Island” because the Monastery of St. John is one of the most important religious pilgrimage sites of the Greek Orthodox Church. It was built in the 11th century on the remains of an ancient Aphrodite temple and decisively shapes the image of Chora with its imposing walls and fortress-like character. The monastery and its important library are on the UNESCO World Heritage List due to their uniqueness. It is here that the evangelist John is said to have written the Book of the Apocalypse after receiving the promises of Jesus in a cave. This grotto is located on the path between Skala and Chora and is now a combination of chapel and cave. It is also one of the most important sights on the island and is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Another attraction on Patmos is the huge Kallikatsou Rock, which is said to exude a very special energy. Its shape is reminiscent of a statue or even a stone temple. If you want, you can climb to the top and enjoy a fantastic view of the sea from there. The Kallikatsou is located near Grikos, one of the larger island villages, which is at the top of the list of tourists because of its traditional atmosphere with the beautiful platia, the taverns and the beautiful beach.

Chora, Patmos
On the road in the village of Chora, Image: Nejdet Duzen / shutterstock

In addition to the Monastery of St. John, it is also worth visiting the Panagia Monastery on Patmos, which is famous for its “Holy Seats”, the Kathismata. These are small monks’ hermitages in the rock, where many people feel the spirituality for which the island is famous.

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In picturesque Chora, two old mansions have been converted into museums and now offer a good insight into life in earlier times in this part of the Aegean. The Nikolaidis House dates back to the 18th century and is an interesting example of the typical interior decoration of the time, while the “Simandiri” showcases household items and tools from the Middle Ages.

Gastronomic specialties

Many taverns on Patmos offer simple, tasty dishes. Since many Greeks spend their holidays on Patmos and the island also receives countless pilgrims, good, homemade food can be enjoyed here. A typical speciality that can be found all over the country, but which is particularly delicious here, are tiropites (cheese pies). Of course, the menus often include fresh grilled fish with salad and various seafood. There is a small winery near Grikos and so a local wine is definitely recommended to go with your meal.

Every Patmos vacationer should try an ouzo with the delicious small appetizers (mezedakia) at least once at sunset and simply enjoy the atmosphere.

How to get to Patmos?

  1. Plane and ferry: As mentioned earlier, Patmos doesn’t have its own airport, so most visitors first fly to a nearby larger airport such as the one on the island of Kos, Samos, or Rhodes. From there, you can take a ferry to Patmos. These ferries run regularly, especially during the peak tourist season.
  2. Direct ferry from Athens: There are also direct ferries and speedboats from Piraeus, the main seaport of Athens, to Patmos. The trip takes between 7 and 10 hours, depending on the type of ship.
  3. Ferry from other islands: Patmos is well connected to other islands in the Dodecanese group as well as parts of the Aegean Sea. Regular ferry services exist from islands such as Leros, Kalymnos and others.
  4. Private boat or yacht: If you have the opportunity, you can also travel to Patmos by private boat or yacht. Many visitors who explore the Aegean Sea in the summer choose this option for a more flexible schedule and the opportunity to explore the surrounding islands.