"Alonnisos island" Alonnisos Island by StefanosS

Alonnisos Island Travel Guide: 44 reviews and 88 photos

Alternative spelling:
Alonnisos, Alonnissos, Alonisos, Alonissos.

Alonnisos island is 64 km2 in area, approximately 20 km long and about 2.5 to 4 km wide. The highest peaks are the summits of the mountains Kouvouli (476m) and Geladaris (456m) at the northern and central part of the island respectively. The north-west coast is precipitous and unscalable, while on the south-west side, opposite Peristera island, the hills slope gently towards the sea, creating charming coastal landscapes. Bushes, pine woods, olive groves and cultivated fields cover the greater part of the island. Sea-waters around Alonnisos are particularly clean.

Alonnisos offers seclusion and peace, and is the perfect island for nature-lovers, and those who are seeking the delights of a simple Greek island. Some of the island women still wear the traditional outfit of headscarf, long full skirt with a white apron, and the many fishermen of the island can be seen in their brightly painted caiques, using the same methods as their forefathers before them. The twin main town, Patitiri and Votsi almost joined today, is an essentially sleepy harbourside settlement, with cafes and tavernas overlooking the comings and goings of the ferries and fishing boats. The best way to reach the many small beaches and coves of the island is either walking or by small boats, as there is only one asphalt road, and these slower modes of transport give the visitor more time to enjoy Alonnisos quiet beauty. Hired motorbikes are also popular to the visitors.

Most of the island's 1600 inhabitants live in Patitiri and Votsi, which have been now virtually merged into a single extended settlement. Patitiri is the island's port, where the ferryboats and hydrofoils dock. Public services are located there, such as the Post Office and the Health Centre as well as the Euronature Information Centre on Environmental Protection. Only a few families live in the fishing villages of Steni Vala and Kalamakia, on the east coast of the island, which were once pirates' lairs.

For the past few years hydrofoils have been making regular trips to Alonnisos, alongside the conventional ferryboats. And so Alonnisos, which was for years cut off from the mainstream of tourism, has opened its doors to the world. Nevertheless, Alonnisos continues to keep a peace of its own, which you sense the moment you step ashore in its pretty harbour with its crystal-clear waters. There is a pervasive calm in the atmosphere, which is only disrupted by the sound of some motorbikes.

Perched high above Patitiri is the "Old Chora" or "Old Alonnisos", a pretty, traditional hilltop village, which, following its partial destruction in an earthquake in 1965 and abandoned, has been slowly and faithfully renovated. There are several tavernas and cafe-bars found there, all enjoying the stunning sea views. It can be reached on foot, by taxi or by bus service.

Some hotels have been built on the island but they do not mar the natural beauty of the landscape. Tourism has developed relatively recently on Alonnisos and the peak months are July and August. It is hoped that an alternative form of environment-friendly tourism will attract visitors in other seasons, such as spring and autumn, which are the most suitable for Ecotourism. This idea is being promoted by EURONATURE in collaboration with the local associations of hoteliers, fishermen and the Alonnisos Ecological and Cultural Movement, in order to conserve the environment without inhibiting tourism. This is in fact one of the basic aims of the National Marine Park, of which Alonnisos is a part.

Settled since the Neolithic Age, Alonnisos is an Aegean island settled very early. Evidence of man's presence in the Neolithic Age has been found on Cape Kokkinokastro and the islet of Vrachos in front of it. Skeletons of mainland animals, such as rhinoceros, pygmy-horse and deer have also been revealed at Kokkinokastro, indicating that sea level in the area during the Middle Palaeolithic period (100,000-30,000 BC) was about 90m lower than today and so these animals could pass overland to the islands of today.

On the seabed in the vicinity of Vrachos islet are remains of an ancient city submerged centuries ago and which could perhaps shed light on the early colonisation of the island. In all probability it is the ancient city of Ikos, which sank in historical times, whereas in the past it was joined to the coast of Kokkinokastro and the present islet of Vrachos. The name of the adjacent bay "Vythisma" means "sunken". However, in order to evaluate the importance of these findings, further archaeological research is essential.

Alonnisos of today was given this name during the first years after the liberation of Greece and is not identified with the ancient Alonnisos. The island during antiquity was called Ikos, while the Alonnisos of the ancient Greeks was probably one of the neighbouring islands of Kyra-Panaghia or Psathoura or a wider sunken area.

Tradition holds that the Cretans, with the mythical hero Staphylos as their leader, established colonies on Peparithos (Skopelos of today) and on Ikos, in the 16th century BC, during the Minoan domination on the Aegean Sea. The Minoan colony later acquired a Mycenaean character. A Mycenaean city stood on the site of Kokkinokastro, on the east side of the island. Mycenaean tombs were brought to light in the area. However, it is historically ascertained that the Geometric Period finds Ikos under the domination of the Dolopes tribe, who in those times turned into dangerous pirates and became the scourge of the Aegean. The Athenian navy later on set out to confront them and annexed all these islands to Athens. Thus, in 476BC the island joins the first Athenian Alliance.

During the Classical Period Ikos island must had two cities; one of them was probably located at Kokkinokastro, where ruins of the acropolis wall remain till today and the other one on the site where the Old Alonnisos stands today. During this period the island was renowned for its vineyards and its exceptional wine.

In 190BC the Roman navy took the island. After this point there is no further information on the history of Ikos until the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204 AD, when all the neighbouring islands passed in to the hands of the Venetians, until 1276 when the Byzantines took them back. Together with Skopelos, it was then occupied by successive conquerors. After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, the islands were turned over to the Venetians. They remained Venetian until 1538, when the Turkish navy, under the leadership of the Algerian pirate Khayr ad-Din Barbarossa, imposed Turkish authority.

During the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the first years of independence of Greek Nation, Greeks from different parts of Greece took refuge on Alonnisos. These people, along with the natives of the island compose the present population of Alonnisos.

Alonnisos lies within the area of the National Marine Park of Alonnisos and is the only inhabited island within its narrower ambit. Together with the nearby desert islet of Peristera, it belongs to Zone II of the Marine Park, in which specific protection regulations are yet lax. Alonnisos was included in the Marine Park plan because of its suitability as the headquarters of the Park and the best point of access to it. Moreover, the Marine Park was proved of special economic importance for the people of Alonnisos. Zone I of the Marine Park extends to the east and north-east of Alonnisos and includes the entire region of the desert islets and reefs. It is divided into smaller zones in which different protection regulations are implemented. Fortunately, the locals have been positive from the outset in embracing this idea and have consistently promoted it for many years. The primary aim of the park, which motivated its founding, is the protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus), which can be sighted only on the small desert islands in the Park area. There are only a few sea caves-refuges remaining for this endangered species of mammal and in order to preserve them we must keep ourselves in a distance. In addition to the seal, the archipelago of the North Sporades is also an ideal habitat for a rich and varied fauna and flora.

If you know and observe the basic rules of tourism and respect nature, Alonnisos offers you the chance to see at close quarters a representative sample of wildlife, without upsetting the delicate ecological balance. Begin with a tour of Alonnisos and then take a caique for a day-trip in the area of the Marine Park. Visit Psathoura and the Kyra-Panaghia Monastery. If you are lucky, dolphins will keep you company on your way.

In Alonnisos, at Aghios Andreas, you can find also the International Academy of Homeopathy Medical Science, under the care of Dr Vithoulkas. Anybody can visit it, and be informed about the capability of alternative Medicine.

  • Last visit to Alonnisos Island: Aug 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (17)

Comments (4)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Aug 1, 2009 at 10:56 PM

    Hello, Stefanos ! Thanks for your pages here! ><><>< Take care!

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Sep 17, 2008 at 5:48 AM

    Nice page Stefanos

  • zuriga's Profile Photo
    Aug 22, 2007 at 2:47 AM

    Very informative, thanks. My cousin visits relatives there often (his daughter married a native), and I hope to join him one day.

  • centrope's Profile Photo
    Jan 9, 2007 at 1:16 PM

    Stefanos, your Alonissos page is great. I revived my memories, having visited this beautiful corner of Greece twice in the past. I am travelling to Greece every year, but Alonissos remained in my heart at deepest. Centrope


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