Need help planning your upcoming visit to Alonissos, Greece? This Alonissos travel guide shares all the best things to do in Alonissos, including the best beaches, worthwhile activities and notable food options, plus it’ll help you plan the logistics of your trip too.
While the blue-domed churches of Santorini and the stylish beach bars of Mykonos get most of the attention from Greece-bound tourists, there are loads of equally beautiful and much less busy islands that deserve some of that spotlight. Alonissos, in the Sporades archipelago, is one of them.
As a travel blogger I know that the term ‘hidden gem’ is overused, but that’s genuinely the best way to describe this low key island paradise. I’d never heard of it before the local tourism board reached out to me, and that’s after three years of full-time blogging and six years of working in a travel agency before that! Alonissos really seems to run under the radar from most travellers.
But don’t mistake its lack of coverage to mean it’s not worth a visit. There are beaches that rival Corfu and Crete with far fewer people to share them with, the sunsets from Chora (the old town) are magical, your money goes further than the main tourist islands and it’s especially ideal for hikers and divers.
In this detailed Alonissos travel guide you’ll find suggestions on how to get there, where to stay, how to get around, when to visit and more, plus I’ve listed a bunch of epic things to do in Alonissos to fill your itinerary.
All you need to know about Alonissos
Is Alonissos worth visiting?
Absolutely! Alonissos offers the perfect combination of dreamy beaches, epic hikes, fantastic food and an authentic Greek vibe. If you’re keen for a holiday that’s a little bit off the beaten track but still gives you the iconic Greece experience, Alonissos is a brilliant option.
Where is Alonissos?
Alonissos is located in Greece’s Northern Sporades island group, in the heart of the Aegean Sea.
When is the best time to visit Alonissos
To catch Alonissos in all its sun-kissed glory while avoiding the summer crowds (mostly domestic visitors), May/June and September/October are ideal.
July and August do get busy and the limited accommodation on the island books up in advance so if you’re visiting during those months you’ll need to plan ahead of time. The shoulder months are much more relaxed and at times it might seem like you’re the only traveller there, just be sure to check the opening dates of any restaurants/bars you’re desperate to go to as many close from end of October to the start of May.
How to get to Alonissos
Alonissos isn’t the most accessible Greek Island, which is partly why it’s lesser known than the well-connected Cyclades Islands.
To reach Alonissos you can either fly to Skiathos (a nearby island) and catch a 1.5-2 hour ferry, or get to Volos on the mainland by bus or plane and then catch a 3-5 hour ferry or hydrofoil.
If you’re travelling Europe without flying you can easily get to Volos by bus from Athens, Thessaloniki or Larissa. I caught a ferry/bus combo from Corfu to Larissa, then switched to a bus to Volos, then ferried to Alonissos from there.
How to get around Alonissos
Alonissos does have a local bus network but it’s quite limited if you want to go beyond the old town, the port and the main beaches, so renting a car, quad bike or scooter is the best way to explore without restrictions. I used Alonissos Rent a Car and got a little Fiat to use as my chariot!
Make sure you have travel insurance that covers car rental and/or quad bikes/scooters, I use Covermore New Zealand and they offer fantastic cover for a decent price.
Is Alonissos safe for solo female travellers?
As a solo female traveller I felt completely safe during my time in Alonissos. Your biggest danger here would be the elements as it can get super hot, if you’re hiking or heading to the beach for a day just be sure to take enough water to keep hydrated and let your hotel know when you expect to be back so they can raise the alarm if you don’t return.
It’s good to always be conscious of your belongings in public places because petty crime can happen anywhere, but honestly in Alonissos I feel like I could have left my bag on the beach and come back two hours later and it’d still be there. I’m not telling you to do that, but that’s the vibe I got!
How many days do you need in Alonissos?
I visited for three days and I felt rushed to try and see all the best beaches, Chora, some hikes and spend a day diving.
If your timing allows it I’d day five days would be a minimum to really slow down and enjoy your time, but a week or two would give you even more freedom to hit some of the island’s trails, properly enjoy the beaches and immerse yourself in the island’s culture.
Where to stay in Alonissos
Mid-range | I stayed at Atrium of Alonissos, a brilliant value 3* hotel overlooking the Aegean with spacious rooms, two swimming pools and friendly staff. It’s one of the best-rated options on the island, it’s not super fancy but it offers authentic Greek hospitality, a comfortable place to rest your head and magnificent views.
Ultra-fancy | If you’re visiting Alonissos for a special occasion or just want to splurge on where you’re staying, consider the Instagrammable Anemolia Villas for a truly lush accommodation experience.
Things to do in Alonissos
Explore the Alonissos Marine Park
The National Marine Park of Alonissos is a 2200 square kilometre haven for biodiversity and a vital part of European marine conservation. It’s the first and largest protected area in the Aegean and one of the largest in Europe, and in a continent more known for its wonders on land rather than underwater, the Alonissos Marine Park is a must-visit for snorkellers, divers and wildlife lovers.
There are a few different ways to experience the marine park depending on your travel style and preferences.
Europe isn’t really known for its snorkelling opportunities in terms of what to see, but Alonissos really delivers for those keen to witness marine life. With vibrant and plentiful sea life, dolphins, coral reefs and more to see, no Alonissos trip is complete without a snorkel trip.
Alonissos is running a bit behind the whole ‘booking activities online’ thing, but you can book a snorkel trip from local operators when you’re there. Just head down to the main part of Patitiri and there will be tour agencies with signs showing the options.
For those who crave a deeper dive into the underwater world, Alonissos is one of the best scuba diving locations in Europe. The marine park offers a range of dive sites suitable for all levels of scuba diver, from shallow reefs for those just learning to dive through to advanced divers who want to dive shipwrecks and navigate underwater caves.
I spent a day in the water with the superstars at Triton Dive Center and we had a fantastic time, I’d highly recommend them to anyone keen to scuba while you’re there. They offer dive courses, certified dive trips and freediving too if that’s up your alley.
The water is unbelievably clear, our visibility was about 50 metres which is WILD. For reference, I was in the Maldives just a couple of weeks earlier and we had max. visibility at about 20-25 metres, which was already impressive. The sea life isn’t as colourful as places I’ve dived in Asia and the Pacific, but it was better than I expected from Europe (we saw lionfish, bright red coral and beautiful sea fans) and the visibility made it totally worth it.
As an open water diver I’m limited to 18m depth and there is quite a lot more to see in Alonissos between the 20-30m mark, so if you’re tossing up whether to go for a dive trip, it’s probably more worth it once you have your Advanced certification. Or you can get it there!/im
If you prefer to stay above water, a boat tour is still a fantastic way to experience the marine park’s magic.
The excursions on offer range from quick trips to full day sailing adventures, visiting remote beaches, secluded coves and uninhabited islands within the park. Most tours will include a local guide who can share insights into the area’s biodiversity and history, and you’ll get some swim stops too if you feel like it.
Again, the best way to book is to head to Patitiri and to see the operator schedules.
Learn about monk seals
The most famous resident of Alonissos is the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal, and you’ll see seal calendars, soft toys and souvenirs all over the island. The actual seal itself is much harder to spot!
These big-eyed cuties are amongst the rarest marine mammals in the world, with less than 700 estimated in the wild, and Alonissos Marine Park is one of only three or four places they can be found.
Sightings are a very special treat so don’t count on that during your trip, but animal lovers will have the opportunity to learn about the monk seals on any marine park tour or at the Information Centre of MoM in Patitiri.
Visit the Blue Cave
Visiting and swimming in the mesmerising Blue Cave is one of the most iconic things to see in Alonissos. It’s only accessible from the water, on the northeast coast further north than Agios Dimitrios, but it’s worth the boat journey to get there.
If you book a boat trip from Patitiri chances are they’ll take you to this spot, but check with the operator before you book to make sure.
Chora, the charming old town of Alonissos, boasts plenty of genuine Greek character as well as mind-blowing panoramic views.
The town was all but destroyed in 1965 by a devastating earthquake, you can still see a few houses that were damaged and haven’t been rebuilt, and after this the inhabitants left Chora to settle in the new capital of Patitiri. These days Chora has been restored with classic cobblestoned alleyways and whitewashed buildings, housing everything from local art galleries to authentic tavernas to funky cocktail bars.
Here are a few must-visits in Chora:
- Astrofegia Restaurant for delicious, home-style local cuisine
- Barbarossa for incredible cocktails and tapas-style food, particularly epic at sunset if you can get a table overlooking the village
- El Loco for a proper restaurant with sunset views (value for money isn’t great but the outlook makes it worth it)
- Piano Bar Hayiati for a morning coffee/breakfast stop, then again in the evening for live piano
Visit Alonissos Museum
The Alonissos Museum is a small but comprehensive showcase of sculptures, paintings and artifacts that represent the island’s culture and history, with a particularly impressive collection of authentic pirate treasures and weapons.
There’s also a brilliant exhibit showcasing tools and machinery from Alonissos in past centuries, from olive oil presses to carpenter tools and everything in between.
The museum is open from 11am from May to September and entry costs 4EUR for adults, 2EUR for kids 8+ and it’s free for kids under 8.
Hike one of the tracks on the island
Alonissos offers 40km worth of signposted hiking trails that traverse the island’s diverse landscapes, including thick pine forests, olive groves and rocky coastal paths leading to hidden churches and secluded bays.
The trails vary in difficulty, catering to both casual holiday hikers and experiences trail walkers, and many of them pass by untouched beaches just waiting for you to take a refreshing dip.
Some tracks of note are:
Eat fresh seafood in Steni Vala
Tucked away on the east coast of Alonissos, Steni Vala is a quaint fishing village serving up ocean-to-plate seafood with harbour views.
It’s much more chill than the bustling port of Patitiri and it offers a slower pace than the vibrant old town, perfect for a quiet lunch or dinner where you can truly savour every bite of the fresh tuna, octopus, squid, lobster or whatever other seafood floats your boat.
There are a bunch of top-rated taverns to choose from. I went to Fanari Fish Tavern and had a divine meal of smoked tuna (a local specialty) and squid, but some other well-rated options are Tassia’s, Sossinola and Diver & Kalymnia.
Wander the main street of Patitiri
The island’s capital and where the ferries arrive, Patitiri is the busiest part of the island yet still sooo laidback compared to the more touristed Greek Islands.
Many hotels are located in the hills above Patitiri so it’s a hub for all the tour operators, travel agencies, rental car providers and a bunch of shops, restaurants and bars too.
Paralia Patitiri is the stone beach located on the right side of Patitiri if you’re looking at the ocean, it’s a family-friendly swimming option with beautifully clear water and easy access if you’re in town and just need a cold dip.
My top food recommendations in Patitiri are:
- Kritamo for a truly incredible local culinary experience, I’m gutted I only went on my last day as I would’ve gone twice if I’d had time! Locally-sourced ingredients used to create innovative dishes, excellent views over the port and friendly service.
- Restaurant Akrogiali for a beachfront lunch
- Bacco Island for delicious pizza, pasta and other Italian dishes
- Favela for great Mexican and cocktails
- Red Rooster for quick and easy gyros and souvlaki
Shop at the Women’s Agrotourism Cooperative (IKOS)
One way to have a positive impact while travelling is to be conscious about where you spend your money, and buying locally-made goods from cooperatives is a great way to do that.
The Women’s Agrotourism Cooperative is a one minute from Patitiri and you can try treats like cheese pie, pastries and jam as well as stock up on some to take home with you.
Visit the magical Alonissos beaches
Alonissos has a variety of beaches to discover, from accessible family-friendly beaches to off-the-beaten track bays and everything in between. Here are the best ones to add to your Alonissos itinerary!
Probably the most famous beach in Alonissos, Agios Dimitrios is a pebble beach with water so clear and blue it blew my mind. If you drive to the far end you’ll find an organised beach with some amenities like sunbeds, changing pods and umbrellas for rent, but on the northern end of the beach it’s unspoiled and quiet.
My personal favourite beach on Alonissos, Leftos Gialos is somewhere you could easily spend an entire day.
There are a couple of tavernas that serve up food and drinks as well as rent out sunbeds, the cheapest sunbeds are from 7EUR and the ones on the beach are 12EUR. If you don’t want to pay there’s a pebbly area at the northern end as well as a stone pathway built over the rocks where you could set up shop.
It’s super dreamy with clear water, protected from any ocean wind and swell, and there’s daily happy hour deals with 3EUR wine, what more could you ask for?
Just be careful swimming around the rocks as there are loads of sea urchins!
Chrisi Milia is a narrow sand beach with shallow, clear water and shaded sunbeds for 8EUR for a pair. Because this is one of the few sand beaches on the island it does get busy, so get there early if you want to secure a comfortable place to sit.
This one wasn’t really my jam because there were kids everywhere, it was more of a family playground than a relaxing beach. Ideal for families with little ones, not so great for anyone wanting peace and quiet.
The restaurant above the beach is really decent for a tourist tavern, choose from fresh fish, famous Alonissos cheese pie or classic Greek and Italian dishes, and enjoy incredible ocean views while you eat.
Particularly magical from above, Kokkinokastro (meaning ‘red castle’) is known for its unique red cliffs and turquoise water, providing an incredible contrast and making it perfect for photographers and geology enthusiasts.
The beach is a mix of sand and pebbles with some limited amenities, you can snorkel around the bay and it’s especially stunning at sunset, when the golden light hits the already-vibrant red rocks.
There’s historical significance to this area too, remains of prehistoric settlements have been found nearby that suggest Alonissos was one of the first Aegean islands to be inhabited.
Suelto Beach Bar
Just north of Steni Vala on the road to Agios Dimitrios, Suelto Beach Bar is an excellent place to spend a relaxing day.
The beach here isn’t the best for swimming but it still looks divine, there are shaded sunbeds for 5EUR and the tavern offers a menu of fresh seafood dishes, other Greek specialties and yummy cocktails.
The perfect five-day Alonissos itinerary
Day one: Agios Dimitrios in the morning, Suelto Beach Bar for lunch and afternoon, then Steni Vala for dinner
Day two: Boat tour, snorkel tour or diving trip. dinner in Patitiri
Day three: Leftos Gialos for the day, sunset and dinner in Chora
Day four: Hike in the morning, Patitiri for lunch by the water and some souvenir shopping, chill out in the afternoon
Day five: Alonissos museum, lunch in Chora, final dinner somewhere fancy!
I hope this detailed Alonissos travel guide has helped you plan your holiday! If you have any Alonissos travel questions or other suggestions to add into this blog post then let me know in the comments.
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