Greek Guide

Alonnisos Greece Guide Alonnisos

Alonnisos Greece Greek Holiday Destinations

Alonnisos is one of the Greek Sporades Islands located in the Aegean Sea 125 kilometres north east of the mainland port of Agios Konstantinos (which is 166 kilometres north of Athens). It's a green and tranquil island, beloved by hikers and nature lovers who delight in its forested walking trails, numerous secluded coves and rugged uninhabited northern region. The island has so far escaped the ravages of mass tourism but independent island hoppers will find plenty of rooms to rent, a good supply of traditional tavernas and even a low key nightlife in the main town of Patiri.

If you're after all night partying, chic boutiques and a lively beach scene you'll be better off on nearby Skiathos. Come to Alonissos to unwind and savour the charms of this quintessential Greek island where, until recently, most of the coastline was only accessible by boat.

Alonnisos is at the centre of the National Marine Park which consists of the island itself, the surrounding waters and 25 uninhabited islets in the area. It's the only ecologically protected marine reserve of its kind in Greece, established in 1992 with the main aim of saving the Mediterranean monk seals which are now one of the world's most endangered species. About 50 seals live in the marine park along with many other rare species of flora and fauna.

Despite's the island's natural beauty the package holiday hordes have been kept at bay partly because an airport planned for the island has never materialised due to rocky terrain hampering construction of a sufficiently long runway. But you can fly to Skiathos from Athens and several major European capitals. From there Alonissos is a two and a half hour ferry ride or an hour and 15 minutes by Flying Dolphin. You can also catch a ferry or hydrofoil from the mainland ports of Volos and Agios Konstantinos.

You'll arrive at the capital Patiri in the south east corner of the island a bustling port set in an attractive cove flanked by pine clad cliffs. Patiri means "winepress" referring to the days when Alonnisos was an important centre of wine production before a blight in the 1950s destroyed practically all of the island's vines. The island's original name was Evoinos meaning "good wine". The decimation of the vineyards and an earthquake which destroyed the lovely hilltop capital (now called Alonnisos Town or Hora) left the islanders reeling. The capital was abandoned and the population regrouped in uninspiring, hastily constructed concrete houses in Patiri.

Patiri may not be the most attractive town in the Sporades but it's a good base for exploring the rest of the island and has all the essential tourist services you're likely to need including a 24 hour ATM, Internet access, car and motorbike hire and the usual plethora of waterfront bars and cafes. Old Alonnisos Town, on the other hand, is one of the most delightful settlements in the archipelago with crooked, narrow alleyways (used by mules to transport goods before the earthquake) and spectacular 360 degree views of the island, neighbouring islets and the Greek mainland. Its traditional stone houses have been lovingly restored by outsiders (mainly British and German ex patriates) who bought the buildings cheaply from the government after the town was abandoned.

The east coast of the island is peppered with numerous secluded pebble coves some of which have a few tourist facilities but don't expect banana rides and jet skis at even the most popular beaches. You won't have trouble finding a quiet cove of your own, tucked among the cliffs, even at the height of the season.