Home Destination Guides Accommodation 27th January 2020




The small island of Patmos is the most northerly of the Dodecanese islands and is an extremely important religious centre attracting thousands of pilgrims and day-trippers throughout the High Season.  Essentially volcanic in origin and measuring just over 20 square miles this attractive island is reputedly where St John the Evangelist received the revelation of the Apocalypse and wrote the Book of Revelations.  It is largely due to this religious influence that Patmos has remained unspoilt without any large-scale development or sprawling resorts.  Many of the visitors are day-trippers arriving by cruise ship for a few hours to visit St. John’s Monastery, and by the evening, the island is once more a quiet haven for the locals and a few lucky tourists.  Inland the island has undulating hills and barren outcrops of rock that plunge steeply into the dark blue Aegean, and a coastline that twists and folds to form a mixture of sandy bays and shingle coves.   There are some excellent hikes with beautiful scenery around the island and this is a good place for walking enthusiasts.  However, Patmos is also ideal for those seeking a relaxing holiday on an island with a traditional feel.
     Skala, situated in the middle of the eastern coast, is the largest village and main port of the island.  It has a wonderful natural harbour, created by a deeply indented shoreline that almost cuts the island in half.  Skala is an attractive place with whitewashed houses built in typical Cycladic style and the added bonus of some fine architecture with elegant arcades, courtesy of the Italians. Facilities are good in Skala with a fine choice of tavernas, cafes, supermarkets, stylish boutiques, local handicraft shops, banks and a hospital.  Along the lively waterfront you will find the Tourist office, an ATM, a taxi station and the port bus stop, which provides good connections to the main villages on the island.  The only concession to tourism has been the construction of a large quay to accommodate the cruise liners that vie for space with the local ferries and hydrofoils.  Close to Skala is a sand and shingle beach. However, you do have the alternative of boarding one of the Patmos beach boats that ferry visitors to the lovely sandy beach at Psili Ammos on the southern tip of the island. Boats also go to the fascinating Lampi beach on the north coast, which is a rainbow of multi coloured pebbles.  In addition there are local boat trips to the nearby beach islands of Arki, Lipsi and Marathi.  In the next bay along from the harbour is the up-market yachting marina.
     From Skala there is an old cobbled pathway that winds up the hillside for approximately 3 kilometres before reaching the highest point of the island at Mount Kastelli, 269 metres above sea level.  It is here on Mount Kastelli that the impressive Monastery of St John the Theologian, founded in 1088, is sited.  This is the most significant site on Patmos and the one that draws visitors from far and wide.  To protect the monastery from invasion, substantial fortifications were added to the original building until it resembled more of a castle than a monastery.  During the reign of the Dukes of Naxos between the 13th and 16th Centuries the monks were allowed to be virtually autonomous and when Patmos was under Turkish rule, the monks were allowed to retain their status in the same way that Mount Athos remained autonomous (see Halkidiki, Mount Athos for more details).  Throughout the centuries the monks have guarded their ecclesiastical treasures with zeal, creating a priceless collection of religious artefacts second only to those found on Mount Athos.  These include hundreds of early Christian manuscripts, most significantly a 6th Century version of St Mark’s gospel, a beautiful collection of religious icons and other ecclesiastical items.  From the top of Mount Kastelli there are some tremendous views across the island and when visiting the monastery visitors are asked to dress conservatively, with no shorts, bikinis or bare midriffs.
     Beneath the monastery ramparts is the lovely village of Chora, an eclectic mix of old white washed mansions, some dating from the 18th century, quaint narrow streets, a host of churches and colourful courtyards.  Wandering through the village there are yet more stunning views over Patmos and the surrounding Aegean with the eye catching landmark windmills lining the hilltop to one side of Chora.
     The second most notable site on Patmos is located half way up the winding path from Skala to Chora where St John received a prophetic vision from God, in a cave now known as the Cave of the Apocalypse.  There is an indentation in part of the rock where, believers say, that St John rested his head.  Above the Cave, the Convent of the Apocalypse was built, which is open to visitors on a daily basis.  For those who can’t manage the walk up to Chora, taxis are available or there is a regular local bus service from Skala port to the Monastery of St John and Chora, with many visitors choosing to return on foot walking down the hill, and pausing at the Convent of the Apocalypse on the way. 
    In the northern half of the island is the traditional village of Kambos, with a small pebble beach, shaded by trees.  Many of the local people are fishermen and the pace of life is very relaxed here with no nightlife.  Kambos has several good local tavernas, a mini market and some water sports are available on the beach in high season.
     The only other settlement of any size is south of Chora at the small coastal resort of Grikos.
Package holidays are available from Greek specialist tour companies with charter flights to Samos and onward travel by either hydrofoil or ferry boat to Patmos.  The hydrofoil from Samos to Patmos will take approximately 1 hour and the ferry approximately 2 hours, depending on weather conditions.  As there is no airport on Patmos it has to rely on ferries for all its needs and consequently has fairly comprehensive ferry services.  There are virtually daily hydrofoil/ferry services to Samos, Kalymnos, Kos and Rhodes in the south as well as hydrofoils/ferries to Ikaria, Lipsi, Leros, and the Athens port of Pireaus.  Frequency of sailings and timetables are subject to change depending on ferry operators and weather conditions.  The circuitous routes tend to be more susceptible to delays than direct sailings and information should always be checked locally.
The foregoing information was last reviewed in November 2006. Things change, and whilst we are often travelling in Greece we do rely to some extent upon others to provide updates in order to keep the site as current and accurate as possible!  If you have updates or information that you think should be included here, please mail the webmaster@aguide2greece.com  - thank you.


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