Eight nights from £1,235 per person
Departing 2 September 2012
You'll love this tour if you like:
- The great outdoors
- Tradition and culture
The success of our Crete walking tours has led us to explore and research interesting trails elsewhere amidst the Greek archipelago! With the help of experienced local guides we have found some lovely trails and put together some spectacular walks. Like our other Crete walking tours, this tour will similarly display the natural and authentic landscape of the region whilst, with the help of our knowledgeable guide, will also provide an insight into the traditional ways and culture of the islands visited.
Situated in the northern Cyclades the neighbouring islands of Tinos and Andros provide the opportunity to walk amongst a beautiful and relatively untouched nature that is prominent on both islands. They also offer a cultural richness and an ancient heritage.
This tour is split-centre with one night in Rafina, on the mainland, on arrival, 4 nights in Tinos and 3 nights in Andros. Our walks here are easy to medium with walks averging between 6 to 12kms a day.
Tinos has kept its deeply Greek character and is an island for those who appreciate the 'old ways' and the simplicity of island life. Here you will find the authentic picturesque villages that one hopes to find on a Greek island, blue and while coloured houses are evident everywhere as is a renowned friendly and warm island hospitality. Peculiar to Tinos are hundreds of ancient and beautifully ornate dovecotes. The oldest ones are believed to be from the 17th & 18th centuries. It was the Venetians who first started a systematic breeding of pigeons here after discovering their meat tasted excellent and their droppings offered high quality manure. The exact number of dovecotes on the island is unknown but it is thought to exceed 600!
The Island is also well-known as a site of pilgrimage, which stems from enduring legends of miraculous icons found here. Greeks come in droves each year to visit the church of Panagia Evangelistria for the 15th August celebration of the Virgin Mary, many covering the distance from the port to the church on their knees!
Andros offers the same authenticity and simplicity as Tinos. It is quiet and reserved, cultural and traditional, picturesque and historic. Overflowing with water, few other islands offer such a wealth of shady walks. This is above all a place for lovers of the great outdoors and those interested in visiting an island for its peacefulness and unspoiled landscape.
- Return charter flights from London Gatwick to Athens, including all payable taxes
- 1 night's accommodation in standard room on bed & breakfast basis at the 4-star Avra Hotel, Rafina
- 4 nights' accommodation in standard room on bed & breakfast basis at the Vincenzo Family Rooms, Tinos
- 3 nights' accommodation in standard room on bed & breakfast basis at the Egli Hotel, Andros
- 6 lunches (either picnic or taverna lunches) and 1 dinner
- Transfers and excursions as detailed
- Guide throughout
- Single room supplement
- Holiday insurance
- Meals other than those stated
- Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls
- Porterage and gratuities
PLACES OF INTEREST VISITED ON THE TOUR
The island of Tinos
Tinos is the largest of the Cycladic islands situated in the north of the Aegean Sea and neighboured by Andros, Syros and Mykonos. The magic of Tinos lies in its authenticity, tradition, history, art and its wonderful nature. Dovecots, windmills, chapels and monasteries, intriguing architecture and cobbled roads, prickly pears, cool springs, aromatic sage, green marble, unspoilt picturesque villages, beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and local delicacies;' louzes' made from smoked pork, sweet cheese pies, crushed almond and marzipan sweets, meringue 'pastelli' in lemon leaves, dried figs and thyme honey are just a little of what you can expect from a visit to Tinos. The expansive island scenery is, simultaneously, dramatic and serene. Rolling hills of green and brown, laced with an intricate series of endless rock walls, a landscape dotted with clusters of white villages, churches and ornate dovecotes. The island gives an overwhelming feeling of 'going back in time' to a 'centuries-old' way of life. Here you can still see the farmer ploughing the fields using a donkey and observe the ancient craft of basket weaving. The islands long tradition of painting and sculpture continues with the island a 'showcase' for its marble artists. Some of the most exquisite artistry is to be found on the 600 or more dovecotes, each handcrafted in a unique and complex design, as well as in its ornate fountains, statues and churches. The emphasis on art is well-merited and is a continual source of pride for Tinian artisans who are known the world over.
Once the Venetians came up with the plan to attract and breed pigeons skilled craftsmen, who usually built artistic houses, chapels and windmills, were set to work to build the dovecotes. The right to raise pigeons was reserved to Venetian nobles until they finally left the island, after which the locals carried on this unique practice. Many are well preserved and still in use today. These elaborate dovecotes are unique masterpieces and in many ways are trademarks of the island. They have influenced Tinos architecture so much so that you will notice even some of the houses have adopted a similar design.
Tinos Town & The Church of Panagia Evangelistria
The capital of Tínos is pleasant little town with an attractive harbour lined with tavernas, shops and cafes. It is dominated by the church of the Panagía Evangelístria. The history of the church begins in 1822 with a vision, with the Blessed Virgin appearing to a nun in the convent of Kechrovouni. The nun was told of a buried icon, and, in 1823, an image of the Virgin was found. The church stands on the spot where the miracle-working icon was discovered. Numerous reports of miracles of healing rapidly increased the fame of the Church, with the result that today the sacred icon is the most venerated pilgrimage item of the Greek nation. Countless pilgrims arrive each year to revere it. Panagia Evagelistria is celebrated every August 15th.
The largest village on Tinos, Pyrgos is a village of very traditional architecture and is historically linked with marble carving, for which Tinos is well known. There are numerous small carving studios in the village, along with many cafes and small shops. The central square has a beautiful old plane tree and a marble spring. A School of Fine Arts is located in the village and two beautiful churches. Relatively new to the village is the Museum of Marble Crafts, which has a unique and fascinating exhibition of the history of marble from antiquity to the present day.
One of the sweetest villages on the island, and the smallest, Volax is located in the interior and set on a plateau. The terrain surrounding the village, of large rocks and enormous boulders, is quite unique, as is its architecture and design. Many of its houses are actually built on top of the boulders! Though tiny in size, the village has two tavernas, a folklore museum, a small open-air theatre and a few basket weavers.
This island landmark is quite visible as you approach the island by boat. Its craggy surface rises 640 meters. It was the original site of the administrative capital during Venetian rule (1207-1715). On going excavations at the base of the mountain have revealed some incredible finds of the Geometric period and from the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. At the eastern side of the mountain, you can clearly see the remains of fortified walls. The view from the top on a clear day is impressive, it is said you can see all the way to Santorini!
The island of Andros
The magic of Andros lies in its simplicity and nature. The second largest island of the Cyclades, it is 39.8 kilometres long and 16.7 kilometres at its widest point. The island is known for its beautiful nature; high mountains, deep valleys, running rivers, shady forests and a rich vegetation, that leave an unforgettable impression. The abundance of fresh water on the island means it is exceptionally fertile so agriculture is strong, although the areas for cultivation are relatively small as they are confined to the valleys that lie tucked snugly between the mountains, protecting them from the winds that are characteristic of these island's.
This picturesque and elegant town originated from the Venetian period of occupation when it was a small settlement protected by a castle, the entrance of which remains today and is still the main entrance to the ‘old city’. The town maintains its original medieval road layout and the architecture stands out with its mix of Byzantine, Venetian and neo-classical style buildings, remnants of a bygone age. The town has a museum dedicated to ship building through the ages and an archaeological museum displaying artefacts from the island. The centre of the town is pedestrianised, which adds to the attraction of this lovely town.
It was not chance that brought the first visitors to Andros during the 19th century: they came because of the reputation of the curative powers of its mineral water. Around 1841 seven springs with reputed restorative powers were reported. In 1902 D. Paschalis, an Andros historian, raised this number to ten and became the first to carry out chemical analysis on some of these springs.
The most famous spring on the island is Sariza, found in the village of Apikia. The beautiful fountain is of unknown date, however, the beneficial qualities of the spring water have been known since long, long ago. The water is diuretic and is believed to cure kidney ailments and stomach problems. The spring water is bottled and sold throughout Greece.
The tree covered valley of Messaria covers the complete width of Andros. Here you can find some of the most beautiful villages of the island. On the northeren side are the villages of Strapouries, Pitrofos, Menites, Lamira, Mesathouri and Ipsilou and, to the south, the villages of Aladino, Falika, Koureli and Sasa. In Byzantine times, the area was the centre for the economic development of Andros. The same area saw a second boost in its development at the beginning of the 20th century with the growth of navigation. In this area, too, are many of the island's beautiful Byzantine churches.