TILOS island holidays
Majestic mountains, caves, a rare flora and fauna, turquoise waters and the cave of Prehistoric dwarf elephants are just a few of the hidden beauties of this island of the Dodecanese which for many years was an almost unknown destination...
Tilos island has only 300 inhabitants and very little tourism. Here you will enjoy nature at its best; you can hike in the dozens of marked footpaths across the island, swim in one of the island’s 19 beaches and feel awe for the more than 1,000 plant and 100 bird species of the Natura protection network. Tilos is really acting to preserve its natural environment.
Tilos is situated between the islands of Nissiros and Chalki . It has an area of 64 sq kms and a coastline of 63 kms. Despite its limited size, an extensive trail network of 34 kms was configured throughout the island, and is none other than the famous Ecological Tilos Park.
The island’s particular feature are its flowing waters and fertile land, even though it has a mountainous and rocky character. In Tilos the visitor will follow the footsteps of ancient paths, collect medicinal herbs as the island is renowned for its natural herbs, discover twenty churches from the 13th-16th century and feel the romantic aura of past times. Its rich nature makes this island a haven for walkers and anyone who appreciates nature in general. Ideal for families and couples who want to enjoy relaxed holidays.
TILOS | cultural INFORMATION
Tilos was first inhabited during the neolithic period. It was invaded and ruled by various tribes such as the Pelasgic and Mycenean people. Concerning its name it is thought that it preserves up to date its ancient name. According to mythology, Tilos took its name from Tilo, the youngest son of Telchinidas Aleas and Helios. On this island Tilo gathered therapeutic plants for his ill wife and later built a temple of which he became the priest. Athough the myth has a charm, the truth about the name like most other islands' names, is that it has an unknown pre-Hellenic origin. On Tilos was born and lived the tender poet Irinna, thοught to be equal to the famous Sapfo - she died at a very early age. During Hellenistic times Tilos was subject to the influence of the mighty state of Rhodes and was finally incorporated into it. In 1310 the Knights of St. John invaded Tilos. The Turks conquered the island in 1522 till 1922 when Italians took control. Tilos was incorporated to mother Greece in 1948.
Information provided by Archaeologist/Historian/Writter Mr. Haris Koutelakis
The Paleontological Museum in Megalo Chorio – here you will see remains of the dwarf elephants that were found in Harkadio cave and vanished 3700 years ago.
What to see
Of special interest are the paleontological findings which are of worldwide importance. In November 1971 a paleontological excavation in the cave of Harkadio, brought to day many ancient relics: bones of dwarf elephants which lived on the island some 50,000 years ago up until 3-4,000 years ago; they were probably trapped in the geological formation of the islands of the Aegean Sea.
One can admire dwarf elephant sceletons at the archaelogical museum in Megalo Chorio. The cave cannot be visited.
Other sites of Tilos worth visiting are:
- Tilos Park –a non-profit organization for the protection of the 16 ecosystems and nature reserves of Tilos!
- Mikro Chorio – a deserted medieval settlement – it was inhabited until 1940 and numbered 750 inhabitants in the ‘30s – it is now a ghost village. The only renovated buildings within the village are a church and a house that serves as a bar! The devastation begun gradually, as the fear from pirate raids diminished and the settlement of Livadia was established.
- Monastery of Aghios Pandeleimon – perched on a hillside, in a fertile valley with plane trees, it is at the end of the only asphalt road that crosses the island. It is a Byzantine monastery with a dome, a pebbled courtyard and exceptional frescoes (tel 22420-71676). It is the most important monastery of the island and believers from all over the Dodecanese come to pay homage on the feast day of the saint.
- Church of the Archangel Taxiarchis Mixail – built outside the castle of Megalo Chorio.
- The triangular shaped Byzantine Castle in Megalo Chorio - built by the Knights of St. John on a Hellenistic Acropolis; inside it there are ancient ruins and medieval foundations, water cisterns and the Church of the Archangels (14th c.), built on an ancient temple. The castle is accessible from a footpath and offers unique views. Until the beginning of the 18th century the settlement of Megalo Chorio was inside the Castle; it then “moved” to a lower part.
- The mountaintop of Megalo Chorio is dominated by the Aghiosykia Castle inside which you will find remains of a church.
- Castello – a rocky amass with remains of a Medieval tower.
- The medieval fortress of Mesaria (1366) - above the Charkadio cave.
DO NOT MISS
TILOS | Villages
In the past years Tilos had more inhabitants and more districts, from which only Megalo Chorio, which is the island's capital, and Livadia, the island's port are still inhabited today. There are still two much smaller coastal settlements in the harbor of Agios Antonis and in Eristos, and well as the abandoned ghost village as it is known of Mikro Chorio.
This is the maintown and port of Tilos island where you will find most accommodations, services and shops. Gazing to the East one can see the Turkish mountains and at the top of the mountain, the 600 year old Castle of Aghiosykia.
Livadia beach is only twenty meters from the port. Visitors will enjoy its warm and crystal clear waters – you can also practice windsurf and canoeing.
In the village of Livadia, you will admire the Police station building built along the Italian architectural style and the churches of St. Nicholas and St. George. In the region there are traces of medieval castles (Lambrou, Aghiosykia and Stavrou). Following the coastal road you will reach the medieval port of St. Stefanos, with the lighthouse. A little further, 2.5 km East, is the rural village of Gera with the source named “Despoti Nero” (the water of the bishop!).
Set in the mainland, some 6kms inland, the capital retains many elements of the island’s traditional architecture. It nestles at the foot of a Byzantine castle, with breathtaking views along fertile valleys out to Eristos Bay.
On our way to Megalo Chorio we cross the mountains – there the nature hikers will discover the hundreds of scattered Byzantine churches, forty-one of which retain their original frescoes. Crossing the mountain paths, one will find abundant flora and fauna species as well as wild thyme and various herbs.
In Megalo Chorio good examples of traditional architecture are the buildings of the town hall, the primary school and the library, the exhibition of the Dwarf Elephants, the medical office and the grocery store. The town’s piazza with its beautiful bougainvilleas, hibiscus and roses is the ideal spot to discern from above the valley and the bay of Eristos.
Eristos is a fertile valley with many sources and cultivations of many fruits, almond trees and vegetables. The valley is succeeded by the most beautiful beach of the island, the beach of Eristos with its emerauld waters.
We head a few miles north of Megalo Chorio to the bay of Plaka, another beautiful and protected beach of Tilos. Before we get to Plaka, in the northern part of the island in the picturesque bay of St. Antonios , with its small port, where one can find a few rooms and a restaurant. In the region dominates the ancient Byzantine cemetery of St. Anthony with its fossilized human skeletons, which are highly important for its historical value. The skeletons are visible only from the sea.
TILOS | Beaches
Tilos has some of the best beaches in the Dodecanese! It has a beach where part of it is preferred by nudists
- Livadia – pebble and sand. Organized with water sports. Tamarisk trees for natural shade.
- Eristos – fine dark sand, tamarisk trees for shade. In Eristos you can camp freely.
- Aghios Antonios – sandy with rocks
- Plaka – on the way to Aghios Pandeleimonas with pebbles and trees
On footpath or boat
- Skafi – only by a footpath or excursion boat. For ultimate isolation...
- Lethra – pebble beach prefered by nudists. Only by footpath.
- Tholos – only by excursion boat.
- Aghios Stergios – only by excursion boat – sand and pebble.
- No airport
- Local bus service, Taxis, Car, moto rentals
- Health Center
- Health Center Megalo Chorio: 22460 44210
- Health Center Livadia : 22460 44219
- Pharmacy Livadia: 222460 44300
- Police : 22460 44222
- Harbourmaster : 22460 44350
- Townhall : 22463 60500, 22463 60508-13, 22460 44212
Tilos has no airport.
By air: One can fly to the nearby islands of Kos or Rhodes and from there catch a boat connection with Tilos 21 Century maritime company to Tilos (T. 22460 44000, 22460 44044).
By sea: Directly from Pireaus port, with Blue Star Ferries (Τ. 210 8919800, www.bluestarferries.com)
Tilos is a small island, but a car, scooter, or a bicycle gives you the freedom to find some wonderful places in your own time.
TILOS | SPORTS & ACTIVITIES
Sailing & Yachting
Livadia – it has ten laid moorings along the main quay. As a result, no anchoring in the harbour is now permitted. Yachts go bow or stern to the quay as directed by the harbourmaster, or – subject to ferry schedules – alongside the inside of the mole.
Water and electricity are available at all berths.
Eristos - a fairly deep cove and offers good protection from the meletemi but it develops a rather uncomfortable swell. Anchor in 4-6 m depth. The bottom is sand very good holding.
Aghios Antonios - This cove is exposed to the N.
Marine stores : no
Yacht Services/Repairs/Yards : no
Festivals & Events
- “Koupa” (28/7) : Organized in the piazza of Megalo Chorio – the first dancer holds a cup and whoever puts money into it gets to be the next one to lead the dance. In the past it was an opportunity for young men to express their interest in a girl.
- Feast of St. Panteleimon (25 to 27 /7) : The three-day long festival in honor of the patron saint of Tilos.
- Every summer there is a feast held during summer in Mikro Chorio where traditionl soup is being offered.
- Other local feasts with traditional music, dancing and free food are those held on 23/8 at the Virgin Mary Politissa and Virgin Mary Kamariani churches.
- On 31/8 the church of Timia Zoni in Mikro Chorio celebrates
Excursions & Sports
There are no organized water or other sports on the island. You can take an excursion to the island of Rhodes or Symi or Chalki
In the 1990's hunting was banned and the island of Tilos was declared a wildlife refuge. Since then, there is an active environmental conscience on the island and it is known as the Green Island of the Dodecanese. The island has now been designated as a Special Protected Area under the European Birds Directive, since it hosts endangered species such as the Bonelli's eagle, Mediterranean shag and Eleanora's falcon. The island now manages the SPA itself, planting trees, rehabilitating natural springs and encouraging traditional cereal crops in order to protect the habitat for these species. Details of the programme, which is funded under the LIFE-Nature scheme of the European Commission, are available at the Tilos Information Centre 200m south of the harbour in Livadia.
Hiking & Trekking : Tilos is riddled with terraced landscapes and trails once used by farmers to reach distant crops; today, these provide perfect paths for keen walkers.
A 3km walk heads north of Livadia to Lethra Beach , an undeveloped pebble-and-sand cove with limited shade. The trail starts at the far north side of the port; follow the tarmac behind Ilidi Rock Hotel to the start of the footpath. The path is well maintained, fairly easy and very scenic. Even if you don’t make it as far as the beach, it’s a worthwhile jaunt. Returning via the picturesque Potami Gorge brings you to the main island highway.
A second walk is a longer return track to the small abandoned settlement of Yera and its accompanying beach at Despoti Nero . From Livadia, follow the road south around Agios Stefanos Bay, past the Church of Agios Ioannis on the east side of the bay, and keep walking. Allow half a day for this 6km-long hike.
Tilos is a haven for the lovers of trekking – you can take one of the dozens marked paths or take a guided walking tour as there are licensed guides on the island available.
Camping : You can freely camp on the beach of Eristos under the tamarisk trees’ shadow – the city town has installed bathrooms and showers for the convenience of campers.
Botanology & bird watching : http://www.tilo-botanica.eu/Tilo_Botanica/Liens.html
TILOS island Hopping
Tilos can be greatly combined with Rhodes island. Also with the islands of Symi and Chalki.