Where to eat in Tinos, Greece

This article was produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

The Cycladic island of Tinos, southeast across the Aegean Sea from Athens, is said to owe its rock-strewn landscape to a mighty clash of the Titans. In Ancient Greek mythology, the Titans slung colossal granite boulders at each other during a brawl, and these now dot the island’s wildflower meadows, marble quarries and sprawling vineyards. But this breezy little island isn’t just famous for its scenery. Blessed with fertile land and a resulting bounty of locally grown produce, Tinos has become known as an island of good food among Greeks in recent years, and Athenian chefs will often leave their city restaurants in the warmer months to head here for a feast of a summer. Tinos Food Paths, a festival of gastronomy, celebrated in the second week of May each year, marks the beginning of the season of indulgence. Here’s how you can enjoy your own gastronomic journey around Tinos. 

Day One

Start the day with breakfast at one of the oldest cafes on the island. O Megalos Kafenes is a traditional Greek cafe in Pyrgos, one of the most beautiful villages in Tinos, which sits amid quarries of the rich, white marble that’s found in abundance here. Pull up a pew at a marble table in the dappled shade of an enormous plane tree, and sip on a silty Greek coffee with a galaktoboureko pastry on the side — layers of crispy filo filled with creamy custard.

Kolimvithra beach, on the north coast of the island, is one to head to for a relaxed, bohemian atmosphere and a great surf scene. Thanks to the strong winds of the Aegean, this stretch of sand gets good surf and is the best spot on Tinos to learn to ride the waves. A pop-up beach bar in a converted VW van adds to the hippy feel. Choose from a selection of fresh village salads and acai bowls made with local produce such as wild strawberries.

Fourtalia, a popular dish in Tinos, is a style of fluffy omelette made with potatoes.

Photograph by Marco Arguello

Don’t turn up to this one without a booking; To Thalassaki has become so popular that the yachting crowd regularly sail over from nearby Mykonos. Specialising in Tinian seafood with a refined twist, it’s so close to the sea’s edge that your flip-flops could be in danger of being washed away by the waves. The mussel, shrimp and calamari pasta dishes are famous here, as are the ouzo-steamed mussels. Just above To Thalassaki sits Exo Meria, a lofty bar overlooking the inky-blue Aegean with one of the best sunset views on the island. 

Day Two

Hidden from the view of marauding pirates, Tripotamos village in the south was cleverly built as a maze-like settlement, which only reveals itself once you step inside its narrow alleyways. The Crossroads Inn here offers one of the best breakfasts, with a focus on Tinian produce. Start the day with organic eggs, vine-ripened tomatoes and sourdough bread, followed by traditional spanakopita pies, Greek yoghurt, honey and a selection of home-made jams, marmalades and cheeses. 

Tinos is giving Santorini a run for its money where wine is concerned. Thanks to its rich, volcanic soil, the island has become a hotspot for oenophiles, and it now has around 10 producers working on their family vineyards. Varieties range from a fresh Assyrtiko, a refreshing, dry white, to the dark and spicy Mavrotragano. The most beautiful vineyards on the island are Volacus and T-Oinos, where you can sip a chilled glass in the afternoon sun.

Tinos’s traditional dishes are what lure Greeks from the mainland. The local must-tries include fourtalia — a fluffy omelette made with potatoes — and louza, the island’s spice-cured pork, which was introduced to Tinos by the conquering Venetians around 800 years ago. You can find it at family-run Teréza’s in Mirsini village towards the south of the island. It’s a tiny spot that also doubles as a convenience store, with pretty potted geraniums dotted around the yard.  

Published in the April 2024 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

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