by Sandra Bancroft,
Unspoilt beaches, crystal clear waters and picturesque white villages around every corner in the most northerly islands of the Greek Dodecanese islands. Most travelers to the group of Greek islands called the Dodecanese head to the well-developed islands of Rhodes or Kos. But the other less famous islands are worth a visit especially for those who are seeking a more tranquil type of holiday.
The most northerly islands of the Dodecanese are Patmos, Lipsi and Agathonissi. Patmos is the largest but good ferry services make the others very accessible. So, if a cruise to some of the quieter Greek islands appeals but you can’t afford the yacht, then perhaps jumping on the ferries here is the perfect compromise. You can visit empty beaches and coves and imagine that you are on your own island hideaway.
The mountainous island of Patmos is steeped in religion for it was here, according to some, that St John the Evangelist had his revelation and wrote the Apocalypse while in exile between 95-97 CE. Nine hundred year later, the Byzantine emperor Alexis Commenus had a monastery built in memory of the saint and today it is the most important building on the island.
White houses nestle on the slopes of the monastery and visitors can explore the arched cobble ways and little squares while enjoying stunning views across the Aegean Sea. Within the walls of the monastery there is a Catholic church and five vaults. Its treasures contain Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, chalices, tapestries and other invaluable objects while the library shelters parchments, manuscripts and rare books.
In the Panagia Chapel there are frescoes dating from the early 13th century on view.
Ferries from Piraeus to Patmos arrive in the small port of Skala where there are hotels, restaurants and cafes. On the road out of Skala is the famous cave of the Apocalypse, considered to be the most sacred place on the island because it is here that St John is supposed to have written the Apocalypse, the last book of the New Testament that we know as Revelation.
To the north of Skala is the small town of Kambos situated in beautiful green countryside and in close proximity to one of the most beautiful sandy beaches on the island.
To the north-east of Patmos lies a chain of small islands concentrated round a larger island, the only one to be inhabited, called Lipso or Lipsi. The beautiful island has sandy beaches and crystal clear water and is so small that it can easily be explored on foot. The main village is built around the natural port which provides good shelter to sailors. The white houses are picture-postcard-perfect and here you can find taverns, ‘ouzeries’ and cafes as well as a range of accommodation. The local cheese and wine are delicious.
Ferries arrive in Lipsi from Piraeus, Patmos, Rhodes and other islands.
From Patmos you can easily reach the tiny island of Agathonissi, a little island with beautiful beaches and the ideal destination for those who are looking for a rhythm different from that of the daily grind.
How to get there
There are regular ferries operating between the Dodecanese islands, and between Piraeus, the main port of Athens. There are international airports on the largerislands of Rhodes and Kos, and daily flights from Athens to the islands of Leros, Karpathos and Kassos.
Source: Ministry of Tourism, Greece