Our final Greek Island, which we booked on a complete whim because we were not ready to pry ourselves away from the Cyclades, was Tinos. Here are some fun facts!
1 It’s one of the most religiously significant islands
We knew before arriving that Tinos had a famous church but we weren’t aware that it’s actually the site of the biggest annual religious pilgrimage in the region. The church of Panagia Evangelistria is famous for it’s reputedly miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary and every August 15, pilgrims make their way from the ferry port to the church. How do they get there?
They crawl. Yes, to show their devotion they crawl 800m on their hands and knees up a hill along a specially laid carpet:
Until they reach the church and it’s somewhat more illustrious red carpet:
Some of the pilgrims carry up to 5 foot long candles or ‘lambades’ to light when they make a vow up at the church. They are sold at small shops along the main street filled with all sorts of religious paraphernalia.
It was kind of fascinating to see some people crawling up to the church already. It certainly did not look comfortable, especially as it was mostly elderly people we saw doing the trek. I guess it’s a small price to pay for a miracle at the end!
Apparently up to 50,000 people make the pilgrimage on and around August 15. There is not enough accommodation so many sleep on the footpath with a grey blanket from a storage room that holds 10,000 of them in the cathedral.
Whatever floats your boat! Speaking of boats…
2 Tinos has some of the bluest, clearest water we experienced in the Greek Islands
While the beach we went to was certainly nothing to write home about, the water was magic. So clear you could see for metres and metres ahead.
We got plenty of great underwater snaps:
3 It has amazing shopping
I was kind of blown away by how great the shopping was! Religion and shopping isn’t a natural pairing in my mind, but apparently it is on Tinos. There were shops selling beautiful linen shirts and clothing, leather sandals, plenty of jewellery and tasteful souvenirs.
I bought some Spanish espadrilles for 10 euros and tried on a few linen shirt dresses but decided to be sensible and left empty handed.
It should be mentioned that Tinos also has a healthy bar/nightclub scene for those less inclined to wake early and crawl up to the church. Something for everyone! I definitely recommend Tinos if you’re looking for somewhere slightly different to the Santorini/Mykonos/Ios scene.