Patmos island lies in the north Dodecanese islands, just off the Turkish coast and south-west of the large island of Samos.
Lack of an airport, even for domestic flights, has kept it off the tourist trail, but a deepwater port and strong links with the apostle St John, author of the Book of Revelations, makes it a favourite haunt of pilgrims and cruise ship visitors.
Ferries and cruise ships bring in the vast majority of holiday visitors. Most visitors base themselves in the main harbour of Skala and the Chora above where the Monastery of St John dominates the skyline.
Good roads link most of the beach resorts and, being such a small island, walkers can make it overland to the more remote beach spots or take regular buses to the island villages.
A famous port of call for pilgrims, Patmos has a good range of holiday accommodation, from high-end hotels to basic apartments and cheap rooms.
Patmos has no airport and the nearest are on the neighbouring islands of Leros and Samos. Most visitors get a flight to Kos or Samos, then catch a ferry to Patmos.
The nearest international airport is Samos (SMI) otherwise called Aristarchos Airport, about three kilometres outside Pythagorion and 10 kilometres from the capital.
There are good ferry connections from Pythagorion, and the summer ferry schedules (July-September) are usually posted in the port. If you have to stop overnight, there is typically no problem with finding rooms as Pythagorion is a big holiday centre.
Flying to Kos International is also a reasonable option, although the island is considerably further away and it's a two-three hour ferry trip. There are two ferry ports in Kos. Mastichari is only eight kilometres from Kos airport but ferry connections are few, and it may mean changing boats at Pothia on Kalymnos.
There are more direct ferries from Kos Town, but this is 26 kilometres west of the airport and getting there will require catching a bus or taking a relatively expensive taxi ride.
Patmos can be reached on Ferry from the Athens port of Piraeus, from neighbouring Samos to the north, which has an international airport, or on a fast ferry from the holiday island of Kos to the south.
Daily ferry sailings leave from Gate E1 gate at Piraeus, with routes to the Dodecanese operated by Blue Star Ferries and ANEK Lines with journey times of 7-10 hours depending on the ferry type and the course taken.
Dodekanisos Seaways operates two high-speed catamarans from Rhodes that also call at Lipsi, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos and Rhodes with journey times from Rhodes of five hours and Kos is just over two hours.
With cheap flight airlines now operating to Kos, this route makes for a reliable way to reach Patmos, although it may require an overnight stop on Kos to catch the morning catamaran. Blue Star also operates ferries on this route with a crossing from Kos taking three hours.
A flight to Samos and a hydrofoil to Patmos used to be an option until the service suspended. Getting a boat from Samos can now prove a problem. ITSA Travel on Samos run daily trips to Patmos in the summer.
ANEK runs the ferryboats Nissos Kalymnos and Kalymnos Star between Kos and Samos calling at Leros, Patmos, Astpalea, Lipsi, Agathoisi and Pythagorion and can be contacted on their website here.
There are a number of small ferry companies operating in the region. The Patmos Star runs daily services between Patmos, Leros and Lipsi. The boat usually leaves Patmos at 9 am, Lipsi at 10 am and arriving on Leros at 2 pm and returning to Patmos in the afternoon. It opens the possibility of a flight from Athens to Leros before catching the ferry to Patmos. Sailing time can change, but Astoria Travel on Patmos may help with latest sailing times
Caiques from Skala visit all the main beaches in the summer months. There are often daily cruises on offer to Samos, Ikaria, Fourni, Lipsos and the surrounding islands of Marathi, Agathonisi, Aspronisi, Macronisi, and Tiganakia. Daily cruises also leave for beaches at Psili Amos and Lambi. in the high season. Details on +30 22470 32664.
Patmos is a small island, and most beaches are walkable from the capital port of Skala. Good roads link Skala to all the main beaches and there are short dirt tracks to others. The only beach without any road access is at Psili Ammos which is reached by boat, or along a hill track.
A road to the north leads through Meloi to Kambos village and beach then around the coast to Linginos when it peters out. A branch west from Kambos heads to the east coast at Levkes. A south road leads to the Chora and down to the beach resort of Grikos, then to the narrow neck at Stavros where it ends abruptly.
Buses on Patmos
A daily bus service operates from the harbour entrance at Skala, near the police station, with ten buses a day to Chora, a journey time of 10 minutes. Eight buses a day continue to the beach resort at Grikos, another 10 minutes to the south. There are also four buses daily to Kambos beach in the north that takes about 15 minutes.
Patmos bus schedules are usually posted in the central square in Skala, at the main Skala bus stop and the tourist office.
Taxis on Patmos
The taxi stand is at the entrance to Skala port, but cars get snapped up quickly when ferries and cruise boats arrive. Visitors won't have long to wait on such a small island. Check the fare before getting in; Patmos taxi drivers tend to charge extra when they can – the consequence of so much traffic from visiting cruise ships.
Several car rental firms operate in in Skala and petrol stations usually open 7 am – 9 pm weekdays and 7 am – 3 pm on Saturday. There are petrol stations in Skala, Chora, Grikos and Kambos.
Patmos island has a good range of holiday accommodation, from high-end hotels to cheap rooms. The popularity of the island for those visiting the Cave of St John means the main port of Skala has plenty of hotels and domatia.
Most rooms to rent are in Skala, the main south-east coast resort of Grikos and Kambos, to the north. Finding accommodation in the hilltop capital of Chora can be tricky in the summer months or during the holy island's Easter week celebrations.
Plenty of room owners meet passengers off the ferries as they arrive in Skala but don't commit yourself until you've seen the accommodation. There are often good budget options on offer, but some places can be isolated.
Backpackers usually head for the Stefanos Campsite at Meloi beach, about two kilometres north-east of Skala, which has an excellent taverna, laundry, fridges and grill facilities. You can take your tent or rent one, and it has a minibus service to the port.
Both Kambos, north along the coast from Skala, and Grikos, to the south, have a good supply of hotels, rooms and self-catering apartments.
Patmos one of the most northern of the Dodecanese islands and lies to the south-west of Samos. The has an area of 24 sq km, wasp-waisted at Skala and just 12 kilometres north to south with a heavily serrated coastline of around 63 kilometres.
Two main land masses, north and south, are linked by a pinched isthmus at the port capital of Skala. Patmos is more hilly than mountainous, and the indented lace-like coast has many small bays and coves.
Several islets lie offshore all around the coast, the largest being Hiliomodi in the Gulf of Skala. To the north are the islands of Santa Thekla, Agios Georgis, Tragonisi, Prasonisi and several others.
The highest peak on Patmos is Mount Profitis Elias, which rises to 270 metres, with many smaller hills scattered around the island.
Patmos has a population of around 2,500, mostly concentrated in the main port of Skala and the Chora above. The only other significant settlement on Patmos is the village of Kambos in the north of the island.
Climate of Patmos
Patmos has a mild Mediterranean climate with some 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and very little rainfall over the summer. Rain falls on average for about 80 days each year, mostly between November and February.
The holiday season starts in April/May when temperatures rise to the mid-20s. In summer months the average temperatures reach day-time highs of 30°C and night lows of 23°C. In winter months the average daytime highs on Patmos are 14°C and night lows stand at 9°C.
|Size||20 sq km|
|Season||May – Oct|
|Time (GMT)||+2 hrs|
|Coast Guard||Dial 191|