Greek Guide


Patmos Island Greece Greek Holiday Destinations

Patmos is one of the Greek Dodecanese Islands located in the Aegean Sea 302 kilometres south east of the mainland port of Piraeus. Its greatest claim to fame is that it was the place of exile for St John the apostle who wrote the final book of the bible in an island cave which is still one of Christianity's most holy pilgrimage sites. The cave and nearby Monastery of St John are without doubt the island's star attractions, bringing thousands of faithful pilgrims and not so faithful tourists to Patmos each year. But the island also boasts some fine, unspoilt beaches and remains mercifully unscathed by the worst excesses of mass tourism, partly because of its religious significance as the Jerusalem of the Aegean.

You can reach the island by ferry, hydrofoil or catamaran as it's a regular stopping point for boats on the main north south route between Piraeus and Rhodes. The Greek mainland is a gruelling 10 12 hours by ferry so unless you're island hopping in the vicinity you might prefer to fly into nearby Leros, Kos or Samos then catch a boat to Patmos.

Day trippers to the island, who come here primarily to marvel at the fairytale monastery cum fortress, far outnumber those who make this their main holiday destination. The package industry hasn't yet arrived here in force so if you decide to stay a while you'll find Patmos to be a relatively unspoilt island with some magnificent scenery, secluded beaches and plenty of excellent eateries serving first class traditional fare.

You'll arrive at the bustling port of Skala on the east coast a glitzy concoction of waterfront cafes and souvenir shops catering for the yachties and cruise liner passengers who swarm ashore here in high season.

Most of the accommodation on the island is centred in Skala and the beach resorts of Grikou to the south and Kambos to the north. Both these resorts are well served with water sports and tourist facilities (though you don't come to Patmos for all day beach parties and banana boat rides!) Explore the coastline beyond these main resort areas and you'll find plenty of quiet beaches, some of which can be reached by excursion boat.

A visit to the Sacred Grotto of St John the Divine and the magnificent 11th century monastery dedicated to him will no doubt be top of your agenda. The saint was banished here in AD 95 by the Roman emperor Domitian and lived in the cave where a series of divine revelations led him to dictate the final book of the New Testament to one of his disciples.

The monastery, one of the most important in Greece, was founded in 1088 by an abbot, the Blessed Christodoulos, and was built as an impregnable castle to withstand pirate raids. It houses priceless religious treasures and attracts pilgrims from all Greece and beyond, especially during the Easter Week celebrations when the current abbot washes the feet of 12 monks (re enacting the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his 12 apostles).