This little green island has become something more than a
backpackers paradise, its warmth hospitality and simplicity as
well as its natural beauty attracts more and more quality
tourism that was spoiled temporary by the international boost of
the nearby island of Skopelos after a Hollywood blockbuster that
was filmed there. When you first arrive, you might be a little
disappointed, since the harbour Patitiri is not your typical
picturesque Greek village. It was
built after the earthquake in 1965, so the
buildings are new. There are many nice taverns there, though,
and a little beach that is clean, and a museum of interest.
Chora is an absolutely beautiful little village with small cafes looking over the Sporades island, local artists' shops and lovely rooms to rent.
In general, Alonisos is a quiet island where you can enjoy total relaxation. Of course, there are many restaurants, bars and organised excursions, but it is not a commercialised place. The National Marine Park of Alonissos is the first Nature Park of Greece, it was established in 1992.
The Marine park of Alonissos has an area of 1597 square km and includes other six smaller islands and 22 uninhabited islets. In the area of the Marine park you can swim and take photographs and is not allowed fishing, hunting and camping. The main reason of the park is the protection of the monk seal as well as many other species of birds and fishes
Findings in the area
Kokkinokastro show that there was a human settlement on Alonisos over 100
000 years ago. Then, all the Sporades islands were connected, and what is
sea today was valleys and lakes then.
It is believed that some Pelasgian tribe lived on the island in pre historic times, and that there might have been Cretan settlers here during Minoan times. In ancient years until today Alonisos has been a farmer's island, with renowned wine and olive oil as main exports.
The Mycenaean might have had some sort of stronghold here, and according to myth, Achilles father Peleus spent his last years here. This might explain the island's previous names Achilleodromia & Chiliodromia.
During classical years Alonisos had its economical and cultural peak producing high quality wine, oil and amphorae. Most likely the god Poseidon was worshipped especially.
When the Roman invaded Greece in the 2nd century BC they used the island as a place for ostracized citizens. The surrounding islands like Youra also served as prisons and military bases. Because of the high taxes the locals were slowly impoverished, and the island fell back to its original, agricultural stage.
This continued during the Byzantine period, and the island was ravaged again and again by pirates. During these centuries, many churches and monasteries were built in the area.
Just like its neighbouring islands, Alonisos came under Venetian rule in the 13th century, and Turkish in the 15th century. The pirates continued to raid the islands time and again. In 1830, Alonisos was liberated.
During the Second World war, many young men from the island lost their lives in battle on the mainland and at the Albanian border. The big catastrophe came in 1965: a terrible earthquake shook the island, and almost all buildings were destroyed. The people, who until had lived in the old village, now moved down to Patitiri. The old village was left also for many years, but in the 1970's the old, ruined houses were bought, mainly by Germans, and slowly the village started coming to life again.
What to see
The capital of Patitiri
might not be very picturesque, but there are many nice shops and taverns
there worth a visit. The folklore museum is very interesting, with findings
from all ages.
What you really have to see is the old village. Its little streets, shops and cafes are absolutely adorable, and the view breathtaking. From here you can see many of the neighbouring islands and miles and miles of sea.
Alonisos is also surrounded by the only national marine park in Greece, and if you are lucky you will see dolphins, seals, and turtles on one of the boat trips that are arranged.
What to do
: This is mainly an island for relaxing, but there are excursions available around the Marine park, to Skopelos and Skiathos. You can also go on guided walks. The walk from the old town to Patitiri is very impressive, but make sure you have a water bottle with you when it gets really hot. The western and northern parts of the island are wild, with steep slopes and hidden wonderful beaches, it can be reached by small boats from the port of Patitiri. Diving is strictly forbidden because of the many ancient remains on the sea floor, but the snorkelling is very good.
Most beaches on Alonisos are pebble beaches. At Leptos Gialos there are two taverns and some sun beds. In Steni Valla there is also some places to get something to eat or drink and is the only beach that the bus goes to. Some of the beaches can be reached by car, others by boat. Agios Dimirios is a wonderful sandy beach. If you can, explore the island on your own and find your own little paradise bay.
Alonisos is definitely not a party island, but the evenings are really nice both in Patitiri and the old village. Good music, a cold drink sitting by the sea in Patitiri or with the stars above your head and sea far below you in Chora are experiences you won't forget.
Basically, what you get on Alonissos is really good, traditional Greece food. Try the local wine and enjoy. The Skopelos cheese pie is made in some places, and is often made from almost scratch when you order it. You can also try the local speciality astakomanestra, a kind of pasta dish made from fresh lobster. The walnut pies, karydopites, are also great.
:In Patitiri you can get various souvenirs, wooden toys, books and jewellery. In Chora there are quite a few local artists, and you can buy paintings, coloured candles and antiques amongst other things. Also, do not forget to get something at the Marine Park info centre, where they sell all sorts of things in order to finance the work to save the Monk Seals.
: You should rent a bike or a car to get around on Alonissos, since there is only one local bus and a few taxis. You can go to the wonderful beaches Leptos Gialos or Steni Valla for example, and have a meal by the sea in one of their taverns. The island is steep, so bicycles are pretty much out of the questions unless you are very fit.
The nearest airport is on Skiathos, and from there you can either get the ferryboat (about 1,5-2 hours, or hydrofoil: 1hour) You can also get a hydrofoil or ferryboat from Volos or Agios Konstantinos.
Facts about Alonissos
Size: 65 sq. km
International code: 0030
Population: about 4600
Local code: 24240
Cash machine: Yes (National Bank of Greece)
Internet cafe: Yes, in Patitiri
Tour Operators: Argo, Apollo
Coast guard: 65595
Local Holiday: 26/7 Ag Paraskevi (Patron Saint) .