Greek Guide

Alonnisos Car Hire Greece Alonnisos

Alonnisos Car Hire Greece Greek Rentals

The best way to get around on Alonnisos is on a motorbike or scooter unless you're a hardened hiker keen to explore the hinterland on foot. Car hire is available in the main port of Patiri but this is a one road island with numerous dirt tracks leading down to the east coast beaches so two wheeled transport is ideal. Many of the tracks are steep and slippery so make sure you wear a helmet and check that your travel insurance covers you for motorbike accidents (because many policies don't).

You'll find plenty of motorbike rental outlets along Pelasgon and Ikion Dolopon in Patiri. Ikos Travel (http://www.ikostravel.com/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. +30 24240 65320) can arrange car hire for you or if you like the idea of exploring the island's many good beaches by boat, Patiri Travel on Pelasgon rents out four person motorboats.

The island's only main road leads north out of Patiri and after a short distance you can veer off to the left to visit the delightful clifftop town of Old Alonnisos. It's one of the most spectacular towns in the Sporades, originally built in the 10th century to protect the islanders from seaborne invaders. Winding, cobbled streets are lined with traditional whitewashed stone buildings, many of which have been lovingly restored by German and British ex pats. The town is topped by the ruins of a 15th century Venetian castle from where you can enjoy breathtaking 360 degree views of the island and surroundings islets of the National Marine Park. On the clearest days you can see as far as Mount Olympus, 177 kilometres away in northern Greece.

The town has some interesting little shops, a tiny museum and the beautiful chapel of Tou Christou with its fish scale roof. You'll be able to see inside the chapel if one of the local shopkeepers can track down the key holder for you.

You might want to plan a lunch stop in Old Alonnisos because there are some good local tavernas with wonderful views of the island and sea. At Aloni, at the base of an old windmill near the bus station, you can tuck into good quality taverna fare on an outdoor terrace with fabulous sea views.

The road from Patiri runs all the way to Gerakas at the northern tip of the island. There's a deserted beach at this former shepherds' settlement and the main research centre for the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal. If you're interested in the society's pioneering work to protect one of the most endangered species in the Mediterranean visit the centre which has information displays and an educational video.

You can turn off the road down a number of tracks which lead to the beaches and secluded coves peppering the east coast. At Kokkinokastro, four kilometres north east of Patiri, there's an archaeological site which has revealed evidence of one of the oldest prehistoric settlements in the Aegean. There's not a great deal to see in terms of archaeological treasures but it's a beautiful spot with red cliffs and a pebble beach flanked by pine trees and lapped by crystal clear water.

The small fishing village of Steni Vala, three kilometres further along the coast from Kokkinokastro, is the perfect place for a seafood lunch. And you can find out more about the monk seal project at the local research centre.