Information about the island of Schinoussa


Schinoussa is a small island of the Cyclades. The capital is the Schinoussa. The Island was inhabited since ancient times. According to the tradition, the name of the island comes from the bushy plant schinos that grows around the island.

But there is another version in accordance telling that the island took its name from the Venetian nobleman Schinoza.
Having trouble sleeping? Well, then you have come to the right place. It can’t get much quieter than this. Almost no traffic, very few people and an extremely slow pace are the major feature of this relatively green island.

The people on Schinoussa live off traditional fishing and farming, and because it is a quite fertile island for the Cyclades, they grow and produce wine and breed cattle. More and more people are getting involved with tourism, but it will take a long time before they can rely on it, if ever.In recent years the island was visited by more tourists that are seeking alternative and quiet islands with natural beauty to spend their holidays. The tourist infrastructure of Schinoussa meet the needs of visitors and offers all modern comforts. The natural beauty of the island makes it more unique then the rest of other Cyclades islands.

Schinoussa belongs to the Small Cyclades and is located between Heraklia and Kato Koufonisi, from which it is separated by narrow channels of a few hundred meters.

With the most indented coastline of all the other islands in the complex and with many leeward coves, it has the most beaches and is an ideal place for those who prefer quiet and solitary holidays.

The tourist activity is mild enough not to affect the character of the island and the quietness is one of the most lasting impressions in the visitor’s memory. The main bay, Mersini, which is also the port, is considered one of the best havens for small boats in the Cyclades region.

The island is ideal for hiking and exploring. Crossing the picturesque paths of the area one comes across traditional windmills standing around imposingly and many sea caves, enjoying the majesty of nature and the Cycladic landscape.

schinousa-islandThe flatness of its terrain, with the low green hills and the small plains between them, the many lacy beaches, with their sandy beaches shimmering under the hot Cycladic sun, make it one of the most ideal tourist destinations in the Cyclades.

Schinoussa is an island that the visitor can enjoy in every way. You can enjoy the wonderful sea by swimming in any weather in the crystal clear waters at one of its 18 beautiful beaches.

To get to know its natural beauties by hiking, to live an unforgettable evening at one of the cultural events, to get to know the 15th of August festival of Panagia Akathi, to taste its wonderful local food, fresh fish and to have fun at the feasts organized on the island . The only thing that is certain is that whoever visits it will hardly forget it and will always want to come back.


Schinoussa was probably inhabited at least in the 10 century BC. We do not have much knowledge of the island’s earliest history because of lack of archaeological evidence.
The Venetians owned the island from the 13th to the 16th century, and the island was probably inhabited then. For some time, the monastery of the Virgin Mary (Panagia) on Amorgos owned Schinoussa.

During the Turkish rule (16th to 19th century), it served as a pirate nestThe archaeological finds on the island testify that the island has been inhabited since ancient times and had a great participation in the creation of the Proto-Cycladic Greek Civilization centered on the neighboring island of Keros.

Ruins of destroyed Christian churches and many ceramic finds are still preserved on the island, evidence that shows that during the Byzantine years the island prospered commercially. Schinoussa was raided by pirates, like most of the Cyclades, a fact which forced many inhabitants of the island to leave their place. The island began to be inhabited again by a population coming from Amorgos from the middle of the 19th century onwards.

What to see

The island’s main feature is its beautiful views wherever you turn. You can see Santorini and Ios from here, for example. In Chora there is a folklore museum. The rest is just sea and the occasional church. Schinoussa has two villages, the Chora and Messaria.

The village of Chora is built on a hill in the interior of the island is 1.2 km from the port. In the past, the island has suffered many raids from the pirates, thus, the residents built the village of Chora that they are calling it Panagia (from the name of the church of the Virgin Mary) on a hill in order to have visibility into the sea.

The houses are built with the typical architecture of the Cyclades islands . The second settlement of the island Mesaria has a wonderful Church and is located about a mile from the town. The people involved in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and tourism.

Folklore Museum

A visit is rather necessary, since inside its halls you will see the agricultural past of the island but also old portable images, traditional costumes, a wonderful wood-burning oven in the yard and dozens of agricultural tools, which nowadays we are close to forgetting what work they did. But we are reminded of them by the carefully placed explanatory signs they have.

Fortress of the Prophet Elias

castle-of-schinoussaIt is located at the top of the homonymous hill. The archaeological investigation revealed that the fort occupies an area of approximately 90×17 m., with large boulders on both sides and a core of small stones and earth. In a rough cleaning found in the southern part of it, the rim of a large vessel was found.

Two towers were identified, one on the North-East and one on the South side of the acropolis, many walls of buildings inside it and ruins of a single basilica, which are covered by later constructions, while an older wall is preserved, which adjoins the arch of the sanctuary.

The surface sherds are of various periods, prehistoric, Hellenistic and Roman, mainly on the western slope of the hill, where many unsealed amphora lamps were found. It is important that visual contact between the two fortresses was confirmed.

Church of the Virgin Mary

It is the center of Schinoussa tourism with the double and large blue dome standing out from everywhere. It is dedicated to the entrances of the Virgin, while inside the church is kept the icon of the Virgin of Akathi, which presents the Virgin in a rare depiction..

Church of the Evangelistria

It is located almost at the entrance of the Mesaria settlement. It has an elaborate bell tower built by a Santorinian master. The church is believed to have been built on the site of an earlier one in 1887. The icon of the Annunciation of the Virgin adorns the church together with the beautiful colored iconostasis and the old icons.


schinousa-beachSchinoussa has 17 beaches, and since there is no traffic, you’ll have to walk to them. Which shouldn’t be too hard since the island is small and relatively flat. Remember to bring water, though, since it can get really hot. Around the island, you will found the beaches of Mersini, the beaches of Tsigoura, Almyri, Livadi, Liolios and others.

Right next to the port you will find the sandy beach of Mersini with turquoise waters and tamarisk trees that provide shade to the bathers. If you prefer the more organized beaches in the southwest of the island, Tsigouri with its beach bar and sunbeds will give you exactly what you need.

The most famous beach of the island and perhaps the one that would come first in the hearts of tourists is Livadi. Golden sand, green waters and a tavern that will make you stay there until late afternoon to watch the sunset.

scinoussa beachAligaria It is the most attractive beach of the island and perhaps one of the most special of the Small Cyclades, while it still remains a “common secret” of those who know the island well. Now you know where you should go, don’t miss the opportunity.

On the beach of Liolios with its blue-green waters and sand dunes, while there is also a tavern. Psili Ammos facing at Amorgos, Mersini, on the back side of the port, with a cafe and restaurant.  You can also tour the island by boat, which will take you to inaccessible beaches, such as Sifneiko and Gerolimionas.

What to do

An excursion to Ofidousa

If you want to make a nearby excursion you can visit the beach on this small and uninhabited islet located to the south of Schinoussa. You can easily get there by boat and swim on a clear blue beach with white sand!

Walk the paths of Schinoussa

The island also has several easy hiking trails that lead to remote beaches and a very beautiful climbing area, Harakas Gorge for those who love adventure and sports activities. If you love hiking you will find many paths, calculate that the round of the island will only take you an hour and a half. We recommend the route from Chora, to Vargies peak and Gerolimnionas which leads to the highest point of the island, next to the windmill and with a breathtaking view.

Explore the pirate caves

Even more impressive are the two pirate caves located near the port and their names are: The Cave of Maniatis and the Cave of the Fishermen.The cave of the pirate Maniatis located above the natural harbor and is associated with a strange legend. According to tradition, the pirate arrived on the island in order to rob. Among their targets was the church of Panagia Akathi, which today is the parish church of Chora.

The traditional feasts in Chora

The biggest sight of the island, even from its beaches, are the improvised feasts with traditional instruments that you will see set up in front of you. Sit down and enjoy the company of locals and tourists, it will be one of the most beautiful moments of your vacation.
Chora will keep you there for all the nights of your stay on the island. You will eat quality and affordable food, drink drinks and cocktails on beautiful terraces and walk through the picturesque alleys.

Enjoy the beaches

The beaches, and walking on them, are almost the only activity on the island, so you will enjoy the sea to the fullest! The island has 18 beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters and you can swim in any weather! Combined with your bath, don’t miss the opportunity to get to know and admire its natural beauties, with hikes on amazing natural routes! There is also a boat tour for the lazy.

Try the local cuisine

Try the local foods, get to know the traditional products and be sure to taste the fava beans for which the island is famous as well as the excellent livestock and agricultural products which can be found in local shops and their producers.

Wherever you sit down to eat, you will taste excellent local fruit and vegetables, livestock and dairy products. Try patatato, the meat in the pot with potatoes and herbs, xinomyzithra and kopanisti, and the sweet honey pie. In general, try everything they serve you, because you won’t find anything fresher and tastier!

Where to eat

where-to-eatThe island is famous for its fava beans as well as its excellent livestock and agricultural products (beef, pork, goat, oil cheese, sour cream, kopanisti and string beans) which can be found in local shops and their producers. It also produces fruit and vegetables (beans, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes), figs, prickly pears, wheat, barley and grapes.

Schinousa has two settlements, Chora and Mesaria. The settlement of Chora is built on a hill, in the interior of the island and is 1.2 km from the port. The second settlement of the island, Mesaria, stands out for the church of Evangelistria and is 3 km from Chora (the close distances we told you about).

A classic stop for a traditional breakfast with Greek coffee is the Kafeneio tis Haras in Chora, but also for dessert, with homemade galaktobourek and cheesecake stealing the show. But if you are looking for more gourmet tastes, which experiment with the local cuisine, you will go across the street to the Deli for sandwiches and eggs.

There is no way you can visit Schinoussa and not have lunch at least once at Kyra Pothiti in Chora for delicious stews, fresh fish and well-cooked meats (scorpina with macaroni, seafood juvetsi, green salad with fried goat cheese and xinomyzithra from the lady’s hands is one of the must-try dishes), but also at Nikolas of Schinousa at the port for fish of all kinds and styles


beach-barDon’t expect to experience wild nightlife in Schinoussa. We said, it’s an island that moves at a quiet pace, but that doesn’t mean that it goes to sleep early.

As you will have already understood, her whole life is mostly concentrated in Chora. There, you will drink your raki accompanied by local appetizers, fava beans, tomatoes and sour cream at the Cafe of Hara, in the company of the locals.

You will cool off with cocktails and premium drink labels at the Deli and later head to Vrachos, located just outside Chora. It is the small club of the island, which stays up late into the morning.

Outside of Chora, you will drink your drink literally on the sand and at Beach Bar Tsigouri on the beach of Tsigouri that stays open until late at night.



choraPanagia, or Chora, is the larger of the two villagesb of the island, approximately in its center. It is 1.2 km from the port of Mersini and gathers most of the permanent population of about 250 inhabitants. The village, which takes its name from the church of Panagia, was developed on a hill with a wonderful view of the sea in times when there was still a fear of pirates, to provide the possibility of early warning.

The village has old Cycladic houses adorned with basil and bougainvillea, but also some new, less traditional ones. In the center of the settlement is the Church of the Entry of the Virgin Mary, with the famous icon of the Virgin Mary, a rare depiction of the Virgin Mary from the Akathistos Hymn. From the eastern end of the village, two dirt roads start, one leading to the beaches of Almyros, Liolios and Aligaria, and the other to Livadi. All these routes are connected by a ring road to avoid the entry of vehicles into the settlement.


mesariaMesaria is a small settlement in the northern part of Schinoussa, about 2 km from Panagia, the largest village. The village has mixed architectural elements, consisting mainly of old houses, but also several new ones that have been built in recent years – mainly due to the increase in tourist traffic. Here the permanent residents compared to the country are considerably less but in the summer they multiply.

The old windmill and the church of Evangelistria with its beautiful colored iconostasis from 1909 are definitely worth a visit, while in the higher, rocky area of Mesaria there is a second windmill and some old abandoned stone houses, giving off the aroma of bygone times. After Mesaria there are vineyards and the large, almost flat, area of Kampos, which is cultivated and is good pasture.

Also from Mesaria start the routes that lead to the beaches, Gerolimnionas, Phykio, Avlaki tou Papa and Psili Ammos, which is considered by many to be the most beautiful beach of the island. The road network of the island is limited and mainly connects the port with Chora and Mesaria, while dirt roads end at most beaches, but they are passable and short.

Mersini the port

The port of Schinoussa, Mersini, is considered one of the safest ports for small boats in the Aegean. The austere image is made up of a few houses, a beautiful sandy beach shaded by five or six tamarisk trees and the all-white church of Agios Nikolaos in the middle of the bay. Mersini has some rooms for rent, two good fish taverns and gives a first impression of the atmosphere of the island, which is immediately noticeable.

Mersini is more modern compared with Chora and Messaria but still maintains the island’s laid-back charm. The waterfront is lined with several eateries and cafes where visitors can enjoy fresh seafood while watching the sunset over the Aegean. Mersini is also the gateway to some of the island’s most famous beaches, which are easily accessible on foot or by bike.


A small settlement that is growing in popularity among visitors, Livadi is located in a fertile valley just a short walk from Mersini. This area is home to a number of guesthouses and a few restaurants, surrounded by fields and orchards that contribute to its rustic ambiance. Livadi is ideal for those looking to stay in a quieter part of the island but still have easy access to the beaches and main port.

Where to stay

At Schinoussa, visitors can find a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Despite the island’s small size, there is a good variety of places to stay, from simple guesthouses to more exclusive boutique hotels.

Many of the accommodations on the island are family-owned, which provides a warm and personal service. Guest houses are often simple but charming, with basic amenities that are perfect for travelers looking for a homey place to return to after a day of exploring or beachcombing. These accommodations are usually very affordable and often offer a traditional Greek breakfast with local delicacies.

For those who prefer a little more comfort and service, there are several boutique hotels and luxury villas that offer a higher standard of decor and facilities. These places can include modern amenities such as swimming pools, private balconies with sea views, and air-conditioning, which can be especially appreciated during the hot summer months.

Most of the hotels and guest houses on Schinoussa are centrally located, making it easy to explore the rest of the island on foot or by bike. It is not uncommon for accommodations to offer bicycle rental as part of their service, providing guests with an easy and enjoyable way to see the island’s scenic landscape and visit remote beaches.

Food and hospitality are often in focus also in the accommodation aspect at Schinoussa, with many hotels and guesthouses running their own small restaurants or taverns. Here you can enjoy home-cooked meals prepared with ingredients from local producers and fishermen, providing an authentic experience of the Cycladic food culture.

Finally, it is worth booking accommodation in advance, especially during high season when the island becomes a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists. By planning ahead, you can ensure that you get the best possible accommodation to suit your preferences and budget, while giving you the chance to fully immerse yourself in the relaxing and friendly atmosphere of Schinoussa.

Getting around Schinoussa

The island, known for its untouched landscapes and beautiful beaches, is small enough that getting around is fairly straightforward and does not require a vast transportation network.

The most common way to explore Schinoussa is on foot. The island’s compact size makes it possible to walk from one end to the other in just a few hours. Many visitors enjoy walking as it allows them to appreciate the stunning views at a leisurely pace and discover hidden gems such as secluded beaches and small chapels dotted around the island.

Bicycles are a popular alternative for moving around Schinoussa. The terrain is mostly hilly but the distances are short, making biking a viable option for those who prefer not to walk. Renting a bike can be a fun way to cover more ground, and it provides a bit of exercise too.

For faster transportation, scooters are available for rent. They are handy for visiting different beaches or for a quick trip from the hotel to a restaurant or other attractions. The roads are generally quiet and traffic is minimal, which makes scootering around the island safe and enjoyable.

Although less common due to the island’s size, cars can be rented. This might be a preferred option for families traveling with small children or for those who need to carry equipment like diving gear. However, parking spaces are limited in busier areas such as the port.

Public Transportation

Schinoussa lacks a formal public transportation system due to its small size. Occasionally, there might be a minibus service that operates in peak tourist season, primarily servicing the route from the port to popular beaches and hotels.

How to get there

By Ferry

You can take a ferry from Piraeus  to Naxos. The trip duration can vary from 3.5 to 7 hours depending on the type of ferry (high-speed or regular). Once in Naxos, you can catch a local ferry or boat to Schinoussa. These boats are operated by the Small Cyclades Lines or other companies. The journey can take between 1 to 2 hours. Make sure to check the boat schedules as they might not run every day, especially outside the peak tourist season.

By air

Fly to Athens: Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos) is the primary gateway to Greece from international destinations.Fly from Athens to Naxos by Air or Sea. There are daily flights from Athens to Naxos. The flight takes around 45 minutes.

Alternative Routes

Some ferry services run from other Cyclades islands like Paros or Amorgos to Schinoussa, especially during the high tourist season. This gives you the option of visiting multiple islands during your trip.