Patmos is a Greek island part of the group of the Dodecanese cluster on the northern side of the Aegean Sea. This quite isolated location has allowed Patmos to remain quite off-the-beaten-track and to retain a unique tranquil mood.
Check this guide to unveil whitewashed settlements, natural trails, heavenly beaches, and the utter elegance of Patmos.
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Where to Stay in Patmos
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Patmos. In general, budget means hotel stays for around $60 a night, mid-range is from about $50-800 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.
Luxury: There are so many amazing places to stay in Patmos if you want to spend a bit more. Our favorite places are Porto Merika in Skala and Latmos 1860 in the same area. Melidron Luxury Hotel & Suites in Agios Prokopios.
Planning to visit Rhodes as well on your trip? We’ve curated a list of all the best Hotels and Accommodations in Rhodes Town
Things you Should Know About Patmos
The island has long been an important place of Christian pilgrimage. Known as the island of the Apocalypse, Patmos is indeed mentioned in the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation, while it’s also known as the Jerusalem of the Aegean.
Patmos’ most important spiritual center is the sacred Cave of the Apocalypse where John the Evangelist lived in 95 AD and where he is said to have heard the voice of God, which inspired the writing of the sacred Christian scriptures.
Traditionally left out from the most popular island trails that include Santorini, Mykonos, or Crete, Patmos has managed to limit the touristic crowds captivating quite a loyal and exclusive audience who enjoy its mild summers and heavenly beaches.
Where is Patmos
The small island of Patmos is 329 km (158 nautical miles) from the port of Piraeus, in Athens, and it will take you about 10 hours to get there from Athens. The only way to reach Patmos is by boat since there are no airports on the island. You can also sail from the nearby islands of Rhodes, Leros, or Kos.
The Most Fabulous Things to Do in Patmos
In no particular order, these are some of the best things you can do on the Greek island of Patmos.
Check the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian
Being a top religious and spiritual center in Greece, there are a few landmarks on Patmos that should check during your visit.
One of the most impressive views from anywhere on the island is the massive stone castle that dominates the landscape. The fortified Monastery of Saint John was originally built on the ruins of an ancient Christian church and it represents the spiritual soul of the island.
Once you get inside, walk around the beautiful courtyard with imposing arches, passages, and hundreds of clay pots with bright flowers. Next up, check the main church in the complex, home to a fantastic fresco of Christ Pantocrator.
Another place to visit is the museum inside the monastery. It exhibits manuscripts, books, and religious objects from the Orthodox tradition.
Stop at the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse
Not far from the Monastery, it’s possible to stop at one of the most visited places on the island. Several cruise ships dock at the port of Patmos every day, full of travelers eager to visit the unique grotto of the Apocalypse.
Both the Cave and the Monastery but also the magnificent old Chora of Patmos have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Walk Along the Alleys of Patmos’ Chora
The capital of the island, Chora, stands on top of a hill overlooking the Aegean Sea. The whitewashed houses in Chora strike for the contrast with the dark, fortified walls of the Monastery of Saint John, some meters over the town.
The capital of Patmos is known for the elegant fortified Medieval mansions, with characteristic small windows, and low doors. The maze of alleys and passages is an ideal place for a tranquil walk surrounded by a somewhat silent and spiritual atmosphere.
Discover Patmos’ Past at the Simandiri Mansion
Almost anonymous due to its austere facade, the Simandiri Mansion is a building dating from 1625 where you can admire remarkable antique pieces of furniture, art pieces, silverware, and ancient religious icons.
The house boasts every element of the local architecture, including stone arches and domed ceilings, as well as spectacular views of the nearby Monastery of Saint John. The entrance is free but donations are always welcome.
Walk your Way to the Windmills of Patmos
The traditional sight of the Aegean landscape usually includes hundreds of windmills scattered around the Greek islands. The ones you will encounter in Patmos are certainly remarkable.
Always up the hill and not far from Chora, these three stone windmills also contribute to shaping the skyline of the island.
The mills, dating back to the 16th century, have recently undergone a thorough phase of restoration that includes the unique woodwork of the mill’s mechanism as well as the exterior stone walls.
Unwind in the Seaside Town of Skala
Skala is the village that welcomes you to Patmos, it’s the place where the port is located and it’s a vibrant center full of shops, pedestrian roads, restaurants, traditional tavernas, and bars. Although it’s not the capital, Skala is indeed the biggest town in Patmos.
The beautiful Venetian buildings and the white double-domed church in the main square give the settlement a sophisticated vibe and magnificent looks.
Spend your afternoon walking along the marina, choose a café, and sit to enjoy the magnificent views of the sun setting by the sea, painting everything in the shades of pink.
Check the Best Beaches in Patmos
Patmos is home to some stunning beaches, here are the best ones you can discover during your visit to the island.
Colorful, soft pebbles and crystal clear waters are two of the main traits of this long bay on the coast of Patmos. Lampi Beach is about 15 km from Chora and it’s one of the most famous beaches on the island.
There’s some good accommodation in the area where it’s possible to enjoy a stay with top sea views. The beach is partly organized and it’s a good place for families or less skilled swimmers since the bay is calm and well-protected from winds.
If you’re looking for a tranquil place by the sea, reach the small settlement of Grikos and discover the impressive formation overlooking the bay.
Petra Kalikatsou is a fantastic rock with a bizarre shape that seems to abruptly emerge from the bottom of the sea. According to the locals, the place was a well-known refuge for hermits who in the past centuries left traces carving the walls of the rock.
Livadi Geranou Beach
One more fantastic shore on the island is this isolated beach just opposite a romantic islet and a white lonely chapel.
Livadi Geranou is a very peaceful place to spend a relaxing day at the beach. Since there’s not much organization, it’s always a good idea to pack and bring everything you need for a day over there, including cold drinks, your lunch, enough sunscreen, and your swimming equipment.
The waters are also clean and the bay is fairly shallow. Like with most beaches on Patmos, the coast is pebbly.
Agrio Livadi Beach
A popular shore on the island is Agrio Livadi, comfortably located close to the main town, Skala. The beach is organized, so it’s possible to have a drink or lunch at the taverna, rent an umbrella, or lie under the shade of the umbrellas.
Those traveling on a budget can trade umbrellas for the shade provided by the trees.
The shore is quite shallow while the beach is sandy with some small pebbles. It’s one of Patmos’ most popular beaches, so crowds should be expected in the high season.
Psili Ammos Beach
Probably the most famous shore on the island, Psili Ammos is a fantastic beach quite hard to access. Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, this isolated beach of fine golden sand can be accessed by boat (provided the weather is favorable) or hiking a wild trail for about 20 minutes.
If this is your case, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes to face the walk. There’s a great restaurant on the beach catering to your basic needs… and for more sophisticated cravings too!
Known for its relaxed vibe and laid-back environment, Vagia is highlighted by surrounding lush vegetation and spectacular bushes with colorful flowers.
The beach is organized and quite safe for small swimmers too. One of the best things to do in Vagia is to take some time to explore the area. Right close to the parking spot before reaching the shore, you will find one of the best places in Patmos for homemade cakes.
What to Eat in Patmos
Patmos gastronomy is marked by the influence of several Mediterranean cultures that have dominated the area over the centuries. The place is famous for its cheese pies, pastries with honey and almonds, and all kinds of baked delicacies.
Among these, shinopsomo is a unique variety of bread made with seeds from the island, cinnamon, and sugar.
There are also several varieties of cheese produced on the island. When visiting Patmos you should definitely try kalathoro a type of cheese made from goat milk, and the original touloumotiri, which is similar to feta but with a stronger character due to the time spent maturating in a cover made of goatskin.
How to Get to Patmos
If you’re traveling from Athens, you’ll need to board a ferry departing from the Port of Piraeus, the service is available daily in summer. It’s also possible to depart from the port of Rhodes or to visit Patmos from Kos, Lemnos, Kalymnos, or Leros.
To move around on the island you can trust the public bus service, hire a taxi, or choose to rent a car to better explore the lesser-known areas of the island. It’s also possible to rent a bike or a motorbike to move around.
5 Things to Bring with You to Patmos
If you’re planning a trip to Naxos, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in Santorini is drinkable, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! There are places on the island where the water tastes like minerals.
We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Santorini roads are winding, especially around the coast. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
– Travel safety items. We think Santorini is very safe to travel to, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie nor I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.
It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
More Greece Travel Resources
Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip.
First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more.
Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.
If you’ll be spending time in Athens, check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned!
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Patmos with Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Santorini, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!
Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. While Santorini is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.
Pin this Guide to the Best Things to Do on Patmos Island for Your Greek Adventures!
Gabi Ancarola is a translator and travel journalist living in Crete. She regularly writes about the island for several magazines about travel, gastronomy, and hospitality. She has published several travel guides about Greece and runs a local gastronomy tour in Chania. She loves cooking local dishes, taking photos, and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.