Disclaimer: Unpaid Advertisement | I was invited by the Municipality of Alonissos to travel to Alonissos for 4 nights.
One week in Greece was enough for me to fall in love with the country even though I always refused to. Refused to because Greece seemed overrated and overpopulated at least when I looked at popular Instagram accounts where pretty girls lounged on the roofs of Santorini or partied in Mykonos. Not that there is anything wrong with either and maybe I shouldn't talk about adding fuel to the fire of overcrowded destinations considering my love for Bali but that wasn't my idea of a holiday and so I ignored Greece for many years.
Then I got invited to Thessaloniki and Halkidiki and feel in love with the moody skies, the Greek people, and of course the food and with that, I knew I had to return and explore more.
If you like me also want to experience Greece but don't care for party central or Mamma Mia you will be glad to hear that there are enough other options if you are planning a Greek islands vacation - 227 to be exact or 225 if you want to subtract Santorini and Mykonos. So on my second trip to Greece, I went to see stunning Meteora, spent some time in Crete, and got to visit Alonissos island.
Alonissos, Greece, is one of the smaller Greek islands and part of the Northern Sporades. Of the 24 islands, only four are inhabited including Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros, and Alonnisos.
I arrived with the evening ferry to a cloudy, dark sky and was picked up by Albedo Travel who had helped to organize my trip. Compared to Crete it was chilly and wet but half an hour later I was at my hotel, drinking Greek wine and munching on a Greek salad, enjoying the nighttime view over the island and the ocean from my cozy and dry hotel room.
While some islands tend to get sad when it rains, Alonissos isn't one of them. In fact, the rain and the mist which stuck with me for the first two days just added to the atmosphere and, to be honest, I had had an overdose of sun (and still slightly sunburned nose) in Crete that I didn't mind a bit of gloom.
Alonissos is as local and relaxed as it gets which makes it an ideal holiday destination if you are looking for something less touristy and more authentic and it is also one of the best Greek islands for couples. It is unpretentious yet hospitable, visitors are never bothered but don't really go unnoticed either. The latter I realized when I had lunch after a walk through Patitiri and got a call from Dias, my local guide, who asked about my whereabouts - a lonely German lady had been spotted wandering around the harbor. This German lady was feeling a little sheepish as I was two glasses of rosé into a boozy lunch at Skipper's, secretly enjoying the rain and the fact that I could have a nap afterward.
Mind you, I didn't just nap during my Alonissos stay but instead decided in lieu of beach weather to go on a road trip the next morning to explore. I think it was back in Scotland when I first fell in love with road-tripping and doing it on my own only adds to its appeal. I will admit though that there are not many places I would feel comfortable doing a road trip on my own as a woman. While I know it is only my own fault that I can't change a tire, I also never stop evaluating my surroundings should I have to stop and if strangers are friends or foes. Luckily I had no such concerns when I was driving through Alonissos as the roads are in decent conditions, I always had a cell phone signal, and felt overall very safe.
And of course, it is insanely pretty, rain or shine, as the island has hills and forests, epic ocean views, the occasional sheep family, and to my utter delight the best cats. Driving from Patitiri north you will come to a junction with some large trash cans and a cat family who seems to live here. Nobody will mind if you park your car on the roadside for a bit to take some pictures and get some cat cuddles in, making Alonissos the best Greek island of all times - at least in my books.
Things to do in Alonissos, Greece
Alonissos is part of the National Marine Park of the Northern Sporades and an absolute paradise for divers. Check the website of Triton Dive Center as they have some very exciting new dive sites opening next year under the patronage of UNESCO. These dive sites and their offers are especially exciting for wreck lovers and tech divers, making them all the more special if you are looking to go scuba diving in Greece.
But even if you are a beginner are the dive sites around Alonissos a great underwater playground with much marine life and easily accessible by zodiac.
Tour the Old Alonissos Town
The Old Alonissos Town was pretty much abandoned after an earthquake until the 80s but has now found its way back to former glory. This little town is as quaint as it gets and is a photographer's heaven. Park your car by the playground and then explore the cobblestoned streets by foot, play with cats, and enjoy the view over the island and the Aegean Sea.
Windmill at Yalia Beach
Alonissos has no shortcoming of beautiful beaches, alas not all of them are suitable if the skies are moody. If you are coming from Old Alonissos Town take a detour down to Yalia Beach, a beautiful bay with an old windmill - the perfect spot for a little photo session.
Agios Dimitrios Beach
This beach is also known as ‘The Pimple’ due to its shape and is the perfect pebble beach, great for a walk or a swim when the weather plays along. There is also a little cafe which was unfortunately closed when I visited but my friend Jayne tells me that they make a great frappe.
My favorite Alonissos Restaurants
The aforementioned Skipper's is the place to eat. I ate there not only once or twice but three times and started salivating just writing about it now. The food here is simple yet refined, offering a modern twist to Greek classics, and you will definitely want to come hungry. Their seafood pasta is so good that the dish inspired this post of the best pasta dishes around the world and also their cheesecake with olive marmalade is out of this world.
If you are heading to Alonissos make this your first stop as they are right on the harbor and don't feel bad if you go once a day for the remainder of your holiday.
Another great option for lunch or dinner at the harbor is Archipelagos. When the weather is bad you will have to sit inside and it does get loud and crowded but is oh so worth it. Here you can stuff your face with great fresh seafood and nobody minds when you eat with your hands (I am still unable to eat and deshell prawns with knife and fork - can you?).
With the bill, you will most likely get a raki on the house and a slice of their sweet cheese pie - savor it because you will have to look hard to find a yummier Greek dessert.
After a stroll through Old Alonissos Town Hayiati is the perfect place to relax, enjoy the view, and pet yet another cat. They also make great coffee and if a fresh cake is offered, do not decline.
Fanari Fish Tavern
I think I was embarrassed to go back to Skipper's yet again and so I googled 'pasta restaurants Alonissos' which led me to Steni Vala. This little harbor front has a few restaurants and apparently the most popular one is Tassia's Restaurant. However, I got there for lunch when the sun was finally out and the big dining hall just didn't look all that appealing to me. Instead, I went to Fanari where I could sit outside and enjoy the views.
One of Alonissos most famous dishes is tuna pasta, something I usually never eat as I don't really care for canned tuna but, oh my word, this pasta was delicious. There is definitely a huge difference between your regular canned tuna and Alonissos canned tuna.
Again, you will be offered a slice of cake with your bill and again, you shouldn't refuse - the Alonissos deserts are worth every single calorie.
Practical tips for visiting Alonissos, Greece
- If you are coming from Athens you will need to take the bus to either Agios Konstantinos or Volos and from there take the ferry with Hellenic Seaways. Try to do the Athens - Agios Konstantinos route as the bus is also organized by Hellenic Seaways and the trip is a lot shorter.
Bus tickets are € 18 for the Athens - Agios Konstantinos route and € 35 for Volos - Athens while the ferry to Alonissos, Greece is € 30 for passengers each way. Both ferries were incredibly comfortable and you can buy snacks and drinks on board.
- While Alonissos is the smallest of the Sporades islands it is easiest if you get yourself a rental car to get around. The roads do get quite hilly and are not really meant for walking but are awesome for road-tripping.
- There are quite a few Alonissos hotels for all kinds of budget, but I stayed at the Atrium of Alonissos which was a lovely option close to the harbor and not far from the Old Alonissos Town, making it a perfect place to explore from. They also have two pools and a small bar/restaurant - great for a Greek salad and toasted sandwich dinner if you get rained in like me.
- Alonissos island is trying to go plastic free and there are no plastic bags at any of the shops - make sure to bring your own!
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