The 7 must-do things on Patmos

Off to visit the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea? Here’s our rundown of the must-sees when visiting Patmos!

Located in the Aegean Sea, Patmos is an island in the Dodecanese archipelago of Greece. Populated by just 3,044 inhabitants (2001) on 34.5 km², the island is world-famous for being the place where theApostle Saint John, exiled to the island by the Emperor Domitian, is said to have received visions and wrote the Apocalypse, otherwise known as the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. The island was in fact a place of deportation under the Roman Empire.

By virtue of this historical fact, Patmos is a place of pilgrimage and cultural tourism. The medieval village of Patmos (Chora), built in 1138, is characterized by its religious character: the inhabitants settled around the surrounding wall of the monastery of St. John the Theologian, built half a century earlier. The village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Patmos lives mainly from tourism, and suffers from water supply and waste recycling problems.

What to do in Patmos The town, perched on cliffs and volcanic soil, topped with dazzling white buildings set against the deep blue of the Aegean Sea, is sure to win you over. Here are the must-see things to do when visiting Patmos!

1. Skala

Skana, Patmos, Grèce, Mer Égée

Photo credit: Flickr – Andrea Moroni

Skala is the town where the main port of Patmos is located, and where you will undoubtedly disembark to visit Patmos. In Greek, « skala » means « staircase » or « ladder ». This is the port of call for cruise liners, which regularly stop for a few hours to give their hordes of passengers time to visit the monastery of St. John the Theologian.

You can imagine the traffic jams in the narrow streets and the crowds at the height of summer, and the commercial flow of mass tourism that nonetheless brings the island to life, albeit in a way that spoils the beauty of the site… In the village of Skala, you’ll find ancient churches that are seldom visited – Agia Paraskevi of Cavos, a 17th-century church, for example – and old streets with typical little stalls where it’s good to stroll.A visit to Skala also includes the ruins of an ancient acropolis, the Zoodochos Pigi monastery and the Panagia Koumana church. The town center is dotted with small cafés and restaurants, alongside hotels where you can stay.

2. Chora

Chora is the capital of Patmos, built around the famous monastery of St. John the Theologian. The typical Greek houses built with lime, between the blue of the sky, the windows and the sea, are worth a look. Some date back to the 15th century and are well worth a visit. In fact, the village’s narrow streets were designed to block the invasion of pirates and Turks, adding to the historical charm of the site.

3. Chora’s three windmills

moulins patmos

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Nejdet Duzen

Located at the top of the Chora hill, on a Unesco World Heritage Site and historic pilgrimage site, 2 of the mills date from 1588 and the third from 1663. They were gradually abandoned in the 1950s, when flour production ceased.

Saddened by the prospect of their disappearance, Geneva private banker Charles Pictet decided to buy one of them and restore it. The operation proved more complicated than expected, as the mills belonged to the monastery. Nevertheless, the project went ahead, and not one, but all three of the estate’s mills were renovated, with the Patmos monastery remaining in charge.

Today, it’s a must-see on Patmos, and not to be missed under any circumstances. It offers a splendid view, and a moment of incomparable serenity!

4. The monastery of Saint-Jean-le-Théologien

What else is there to do on Patmos than visit its main attraction? Sitting overlooking the town of Chora, the monastery built in the 11th century by Ossios Chrisodoulos is the island’s most emblematic religious edifice, and the one to which many tourists from all over Europe make special pilgrimage. Its Byzantine architecture has left walls, towers and ramparts as imposing as they are thick. The interior features small chapels, a museum and an enormous library housing over 2,000 books, 13,000 historical documents and 900 manuscripts.

5. The grotto of the Apocalypse

Another Patmos must-see is the Grotto of the Apocalypse. Located halfway between the mountain of St. John’s Monastery and the village of Skala, this is where St. John is said to have written the Book of Revelation. Mosaics depicting the apostle’s visions can be seen here. The site was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2006.

6. The beaches of Patmos

The island’s coastline is dotted with a dozen superb beaches with crystal-clear waters surrounded by sometimes lush vegetation, which are a must-see when visiting Patmos if you like to swim: Agriolivado beach, Kambos beach, Meloi beach, Vagia beach, Lambi beach, Psili Ammos beach, Livadi Geranou beach, Liginou beach. Psili Ammos beach is sometimes described as one of the most beautiful beaches on the island: a cove opening onto a beach of fine sand, scrubland/limestone dunes, crystal-clear green/turquoise waters and shaded by tamarisk trees: to reach it, take a 15-minute hike across a desert landscape from Skala.

7. A boat trip

Île Lipsi, Grèce, Mer Égée

Photo credit: Discovergreece

After enjoying the beaches of Patmos, are you looking for one last adventure? Don’t hesitate and opt for a boat trip! Rent a boat in Patmos and enjoy a day of relaxation, idleness and discovery with your loved ones.

Above all, you’ll be able to enjoy superb bathing spots in complete tranquillity, far from the hustle and bustle of the tourist trade. And if you don’t have a boating license, you can always hire the services of a skipper, who will show you the island’s most beautiful spots.

Find a boat to rent in Patmos

How do I get to Patmos?

The easiest way to get to the island of Patmos is by plane to Athens. To find a cheap flight to Athens, you can search on the website of our partner Ulysses. Then take the ferry from Piraeus, the port of Athens (8-hour crossing). Or from the other Dodecanese islands, catamarans and hydrofoils connect the following islands to Patmos: the « Patmos Star » to Leros and Lipsi, the boat to Katapola, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Mykonos, Nisyros, Paros, Rhodes, Symi, Syros, Tilos, Agathonisi, Agios Kirikos, Arki, Fournoi, Pythagorio, Samos, Tinos, Vathi.

Once you’re here, we recommend renting a car to visit the island. You can find a cheap rental car on Rentalcars.

Where to stay on Patmos?

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Patmos, there are plenty of choices: accommodation in Patmos will be relatively expensive, but there are plenty of hotels in Skala, Chora, Grikos and Kampos. You can find a cheap hotel in Patmos by searching on this hotel comparator. To help you choose where to stay on the island, check out our article  » Where to stay in Patmos « !

Map of hotels and accommodation – Dodecanese