Lesser known than Skiathos and Skopelos, its neighbouring islands in the Sporades, Alonissos retains a charming, undeveloped vibe which appeals to those wanting to relax and enjoy a slow pace of life. Given the lack of rain in the summer months it’s a surprisingly green island; the interior offers some of the best walking among all of the Greek islands (quite a claim), with many trails winding their way between the island’s oak and pine forests. For those who prefer to hang around the coast, there are plenty of secluded coves as well as lively beaches.
Alonissos is modest in size (around 12 miles long and only a couple wide). The main settlement on the island is Patitiri, and despite having barely 1,500 residents it’s home to over half of the population of the island. As with much of the island Patitiri was mainly destroyed by a strong earthquake in 1965 and has since been almost entirely rebuilt. It’s from the harbour in Patitiri that the ferries come and go, and visitors inevitably end up making trips to Patitiri for shopping and eating out.
High above Patitiri, the settlement of Alonissos (often referred to as the Old Town), was abandoned after the earthquake and its grand old houses are now largely restored – they’ve become popular with artists and writers. There are a few tavernas and cafés here and the old town is particularly atmospheric in the evenings – wherever you’re staying on the island it’s worth making plans for at least one evening meal here. A bus link connects the Old Town with Patitiri with services running around 10 times a day during the summer season; for those who prefer to walk there’s an old goat track which leads downhill all the way to the coast.
The popular beach of Megalo Mourtia is about 1 km downhill from the Old Town; it’s a steep descent and even those who choose to walk down to the sea may be wise to summon one of the island’s four taxis for a ride back up the hill.
Those coming to Alonissos for its legendary walking trails should pick up a copy of ‘Alonnisos Through the Souls of your Feet’ by Chris Browne. It offers walking maps (always important in Greece, where trail marking is often half-hearted at best), as well as a field guide to the variety of flora and fauna on the island. The book also includes sections on “what to take and wear” and information on snorkelling sites. You can buy Chris’s book online or pick it up on Alonissos for around €15.
Getting there: There’s a Friday day flight from Gatwick or Manchester to Skiathos, and from Skiathos it’s a 90 minute journey to Alonissos by ferry or fast cat. Providing schedules remain as currently listed, there will be 2-3 services a day between Skiathos and Alonissos.