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Alonissos is a Greek island that’s somewhat off the beaten tourist trail compared to the likes of Santorini, Mykonos, and Kefalonia. A rugged green island with pine trees and mostly pebbled beaches, it’s surrounded by uninhabited islets and is actually part of a National Marine Park that is home to the largest population of Mediterranean Monk Seals in the world.
Alonissos is the ideal place to unwind away from the fast-paced modern world whether you’re a nature lover who loves to be outdoors hiking or diving, a culture vulture looking to explore the architecture and history (this island being inhabited since Neolithic times!), or a beach lover simply looking to relax on a different beach every day with a good book and a tasty dinner to look forward to at night!
Read on to find out all the practical information of this lesser-known Greek island is, how you can get to it, the best time to visit, and the things to do in Alonissos.
A Guide to Alonissos Island, Greece
Where is Alonissos?
This Greek island is part of the Northern Sporades, an archipelago of 24 islands (of which only 4 are permanently inhabited) located along the East coast of mainland Greece, just above Euboea. Alonissos is the 3rd island in the group and the most northernly, located 3km East of Skopelos.
The Best Time to Visit Alonissos
May through September is the best time to visit Alonissos but it’s recommended to avoid the height of Summer (August) as this is the most popular time for visitors as well as the hottest with temperatures reaching 27c.
In the shoulder seasons (May and September) the heat is less intense with highs ranging from 20c-24c with little to no rainfall throughout these months but, as with many of the small Greek islands,
9 Things to Do in Alonissos
1. Marine Park Boat Trip
Take a boat trip around the National Marine Park of Alonissos and the Northern Sporades admiring not only the marine life (made up of 170 species of fish, 70 species of amphipodous, and 40 species of sponges but hundreds of plant and animal species too along with a wealth of archaeological finds made up of shipwrecks, churches, lighthouses, and monasteries.
Depending on the trip you choose you’ll be able to go swimming and diving, hiking, and sightseeing with the marine park, which is the largest protected area in Europe made up of 94% sea and 6% land containing the largest population of the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal in the world.
The first island visitors come across in the marine park is Kira-Panagia with its two shallow bays and a restored Byzantine monastery but it’s the island of Piperi that is the heart of the marine park due to the Mediterranean Monk Seal being found here.
The most northerly island of the Marine Park is the volcanic island of Psathoura with its large lighthouse whilst on the island of Gioura, you’ll find a rare goat species and the iconic Cyclop’s cave where Monk Seal’s also live. Skantzoura with its white marble cliffs is the last island of the marine park – lookout for Eleonora’s Falcons amongst the seagulls.
2. Explore Chora (Old Village)
Also known as Old Alonissos, the old village (Chora) is a magical place to explore with its maze of paved alleys and steep steps lined with whitewashed houses with colourful shutters along with tavernas and tourist shops.
There are stunning views over the terracotta-tiled rooftops to the Aegean due to its hilltop location but that’s not all – there’s a partially restored medieval castle to explore too with the remains of Byzantine walls that were restored by the Venetians.
3. Check out the Beaches
The best, and most popular, beaches on Alonissos include Votsi Beach, Chrissi Milia Beach, Kokkinovrachos Beach, and the family-friendly beach of Rousoum Gialos the remote Vythisma Beach, and Milia Beach which is surrounded by Pine Trees shouldn’t be missed either – and that’s just for starters!
4. Visit the Alonissos Museum
The Historical and Folklore Museum is the largest privately owned museum in the Aegean. Outlining traditional life from the 16th century when pirates roamed the Aegean up to more recent times, see weapons, items recovered from warships and pirate ships, traditional clothing, agricultural tools, items from the home, artwork and more.
5. Scuba Dive and Snorkel
Located in the middle of the National Marine Park it will come as no surprise that the coastline is awash with stunning dive sites and snorkelling spots whether you’re a beginner or more advanced. The Gorgonian Reef drops to 60 metres, the Two Brothers Wall allows you to swim through a canyon, then there’s the Blue Cave dive site, and the numerous shipwrecks to explore. For snorkelling, head to Tsoukalia and you’ll see broken pottery pieces nestled amongst the rocks that are at least 2,000 years old.
6. Dive in Greece’s First Underwater Museum
Explore the 5th-century shipwreck off the island of Peristera. Only discovered in the ’90s, the shipwreck is located 30 metres down and is known as the ‘Parthenon of shipwrecks’. Containing 3,000 amphorae which are still intact, you’ll be guided around this ‘underwater museum’ by an experienced diver. You need to be an experienced open water diver to be able to see the shipwreck. Alternatively, you can visit the virtual museum in Chorio.
7. Rent a Boat and Explore The Hidden Coastline
Step off the tourist trail by renting a boat (without or without driver) and explore the hidden beaches and caves of this gorgeous coastline with as much swim or dive time as you want, you might even venture over to the island of Peristera located 5 nautical miles from Patitiri.
8. Shop for Traditional Products
Rather than buying tacky souvenirs that have come over from China, shop at the Women’s Association of Alonissos located in Patitiri where you’ll find a range of traditional homemade goodies including jams, herbs, cakes, olives, and even pickled tuna (famous in Alonissos), all of this made by the women of Alonissos.
9. Taste The Local Specialties
See how many of these local delicacies you can tick off your ‘to taste’ list! Trahonopita aka Frugmenty pie is unique in that it’s filled with pasta whilst Bourekia are goat meat pies. To satisfy a sweet tooth, try the spicy pumpkin pie, Fouskakia which is a type of doughnut, Amygdalota marzipans or the ‘dessert of joy’ aka Hamalia; sweet nut candies are traditionally given out at weddings and engagements.
Where To Stay In Alonissos
Patitiri (ferry port)
Patitiri (by the ferry port) has lots of rooms to rent along with a few bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, and supermarkets. This is the place where the ferries and boat trips depart from and is within walking distance of 2 beaches.
Recommended Places To Stay by the Port
Ikion Eco Boutique Hotel: Within easy reach of the port (by bus or on foot), and only 150 metres from the beach, this boutique hotel has beautiful sea views and staff who genuinely care about your stay. – Click here for more information and to check the latest price.
Maria Studios: Ideally located next to the port yet away from the hustle and bustle, these welcoming family-run studios are simply furnished and surrounded by pine trees with the closest beach just 30metres away. – Click here for more information and to check the latest price.
The Old Town (Chora)
Old Alonissos is the most picturesque place to stay and has shops, restaurants, and bars plus all those to-die-for views and winding backstreets but is located on top of a hill so you’ll need a car to get further afield to explore the villages and beaches.
Recommended Places To Stay In The Old Town:
Althea Armonia Suites: This cosy and charming boutique hotel has the best sea and mountain views. Modern yet with a chic rustic style, the décor of this place will take your breath away and with the super friendly staff too, nothing could be better! – Click here for more information and to check the latest price.
Konstantina Studios: Located at the bottom of Chora, these studios are beautiful inside and out yet still provide excellent value for money. Located in a peaceful environment with views of the sea from all rooms and a beautiful garden to enjoy, the studios are still close enough to a bus stop and parking. – Click here for more information and to check the latest price.
Where To Eat in Alonissos
Skipper’s in Patitiri: Open daily from 5 pm, this exceptional taverna located on the seafront serves up some real treats – the food tasting just as good as it looks. Known for its seafood you’ll also find traditional Greek dishes and Mediterranean dishes on the menu.
Thea in the Old Village: Serving up gourmet-style food influenced by Greece’s islands and the Middle East, Thea’s taverna not only has food to die for but a view to die for too due to its high position overlooking the village. Be sure to arrive before the sun goes down so you can admire the view but stay for cocktails too!
Tassia’s Cooking in Steni Vala: Famous for its homemade Alonissos pies and also serving up a superb lobster pasta amongst other fish and traditional Greek dishes, Tassia’s waterfront taverna is frequented by locals as well as tourists.
Maina Taverna in Kalamakia: This small family-run taverna with its quintessential blue chairs is the perfect stop when you want fresh fish for lunch dinner as the family own a fishing boat so you can be assured of some of the freshest seafood around.
How To Get Around Alonissos
There is a frequent bus from Patitiri to Chora (Old Village) and there is also a bus going to Steni Vala, a small bay where the sailing boats and yachts moor which has nice restaurants and tavernas. However, in order to visit the amazing beaches, you will need to rent a car or even hire a boat.
How To Get To Alonissos
- By ferry from Volos City in mainland Greece
The ferry ride from Volos to Alonissos is well covered by 3 ferry companies (Hellenic Seaways, Anes Ferries, and Aegean Flying Dolphins) providing various daily options during the Summer month. Journey times taking between 3-5.5 hours depending on the ferry company and type of boat i.e car ferry or hydrofoil.
- By Plane to Skiathos Island and then by Ferry
The nearby island of Skiathos is easily reached by plane from Athens (40mins) year-round and London (3.5hr), Munich (2.20hr), and other European destinations in the summer months. Upon arrival in Skiathos, you can take the ferry to Alonissos via the island of Skopelos. From Skiathos to Alonissos the ferry ride takes between 1.5-2.5 hours providing a daily service through the summer months.
After reading this article we hope that Alonissos is no longer an unknown Greek island but a place you can’t wait to visit!