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What to do in Patmos, Greece's mysterious holy island

What to do in Patmos, Greece's mysterious holy island

Patmos, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, is where St John wrote the Book of Revelations, and is known for its hidden caves, divine beaches and seaside cuisine

Home to the Cave of the Apocalypse, where Saint John wrote the Book of Revelations, Patmos is one of the most significant Christian pilgrimage sites in the world.

See the Monastery of Saint John and the Cave of the Apocalypse

Cave of the Apocalypse and monastery in PatmosSaint John is said to have penned the Book of Revelation in Patmos's Cave of the Apocalypse

Sitting pretty at the highest point of the island in the clifftop old town of Hora, the Monastery of Saint John is a majestic citadel with heavenly views over the archipelago below.

The story goes that Saint John was sent to Patmos in 92AD by the Romans as a punishment for preaching the words of Jesus Christ.

On arrival, he was confronted by a pagan man nicknamed “Dogface”, who would impersonate dead family members to deceive people and earn their respect. When he tried to deceive Saint John, the theologian saw through the trick and threw Dogface into the water, upon which he turned into stone.

This act earned Saint John some admiration on the island, but he was still forced to find refuge in a cold, damp cave nestled among the hills. In this cave, Saint John is said to have received spiritual visions, which he immortalised in the Book of Revelations of the New Testament.

"In this cave, Saint John is said to have received spiritual visions, which he immortalised in the Book of Revelations"

Today, the grotto, known as the Cave of the Apocalypse, is a calming place filled with incense and an intangible feeling of the supernatural. While the monastery is home to fascinating gilded frescoes and haunting images of purgatory, heaven and hell.

To make the most of your visit to the cave and monastery, it is worth seeking the services of trained historian and tour guide Marina Pente, who works for the Municipality of Patmos.

Marina is well versed on the island’s turbulent past and is incredibly insightful on the impacts of hundreds of years of Byzantine and Ottoman occupation.

Other attractions close to the monastery include the Monastery of Zoodohos Pigi and the Mansion of Simantiri, the oldest home on Chora, which has been painstakingly conserved and opened as a museum by the tenth generation of the family.

Arrive via Kos by flights and ferry

Start your pilgrimage to Patmos with a direct flight to Kos and make use of the fast ferry to island hop to your destination in just over two hours.

Eat salty seafood and enjoy beachside tavernas

Pantelis restaurant in PatmosPantelis will serve you a traditional Patmos dinner in the centre of Skala Town

For grilled meats, look no further than You Souvlaki. Sit beside the water’s edge in Skala Town and enjoy succulent skewers of herby pork and chicken with crunchy chips, divine tzatziki, tomato and onion garnishes and soft toasted pita to soak up all the juices.

For a hearty homecooked meal with a view, head to Flisvos at Grikos beach. Perched on the cliffside facing the Rock of Kalikatsou, you’ll find a tasty selection of salads, dips, fried seafood and their specialty dish: chickpeas in the oven.

For a taste of the sea, visit the hustling and bustling Trehantiri Taverna. Nestled among the backstreets of Skala Town with its blue and white tablecloths and nautical wall-hangings, this lively establishment serves some of the island’s best seafood.

"Sit beside the water’s edge in Skala Town and enjoy succulent skewers of herby pork and chicken"

Start with creamy pink taramasalata mousse, zingy anchovies and a tomato and onion salad before moving onto sweet grilled prawns and grilled sundried octopus—all dishes come drenched in olive oil and served with salty sea herbs.

For a traditional dinner in the centre of town, perfect for people watching and sure to leave you stuffed and smiling, sit down outside Pantelis. Try delicious fried feta saganaki with fresh green salad and addictive tzatziki followed by tasty grilled pork and chicken souvlaki skewers with chips.

For a delightful meal on a carpet of sand, with the soothing sounds of the ocean as a backdrop, take the trip to Kampos Beach for a dinner of earthy black bean salad with oil and vinegar, succulent cinnamon beef in tomato sauce and creamy bechamel moussaka at Ta Kavourakia.

Drink Aegean cocktails and specialty coffee

Perfect for a pre-meal aperitif or post-dinner nightcap, the quiet backstreet cocktail bar Tail serves a selection of inventive takes on classic cocktails. Choose from standout drinks, such as the Aegean Sour, the Santa Muerte and their perfectly balanced Strawberry Negroni.

Top up on caffeine at stylish bar and café, Holy, which offers shaded seating on the patio to enjoy their rich range of hot and cold specialty coffees.

Hike to hidden beaches and meet the blue-haired artist

St John the Theologian monastery in Chora, PatmosFollow a mountain trail to Chora, where you can visit the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian

Patmos is home to myriad beautiful beaches, such as water sport hotspot Kampos, tranquil Livadi Geranou and relaxing Petra with its enigmatic landmark, the Rock of Kalikatsou, which is thought to have previously served as a temple to Aphrodite.

But the truly intrepid will find no greater pleasure than walking the mountain path that leads from Diakofti to the secluded crystalline waters of Psili Ammos. Walk beside pungent thyme, carob and oregano groves, while enjoying gorgeous views of the ocean.

The trail, which takes around 30-40 minutes, is fairly demanding but well worth it for the satisfaction of arriving beside the ocean to find a taverna serving fried zucchini, fresh tzatziki and ice-cold beer.

"Patmos is home to myriad beautiful beaches, such as water sport hotspot Kampos"

Visit Koukoumavla, a colourful art and bookshop sitting incongruously among the cafes and religious giftshops that surround the entrance to the Monastery of Saint John in Chora, to meet the blue-haired effervescent patron.

She’ll wow you with her passion for Greek philosophers, owls, homemade art and swimming in the ocean.

The town centre is filled with high-end boutiques, but you’ll struggle to find a better spot to pick up a souvenir or a gift for loved ones.

Brilliant breakfast and views at the Blue Bay Hotel

Stay at the Blue Bay Hotel for a quiet, comfortable room with views to the ocean and a prized location just a few minutes’ stroll from the hustle and bustle of Skala Town.

Start each morning with a delicious breakfast buffet of hot and cold treats served on the terrace, before asking the friendly receptionist to recommend a beach that will be sheltered from the day’s winds and therefore benefitting from glassy turquoise waters.

It takes just two-and-a-half hours to reach Patmos by ferry from Kos. Leading leisure airline offers friendly low fares, great flight times and a generous 22kg baggage allowance to Kos from Bristol airport. Flights start from £99 one way. Airport parking and hotel was provided by Holiday Extras.

Josh was invited to visit the island of Patmos by RE:MAKE.grMeals, accommodation, transport and tours were provided by the Municipality of Patmos

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