Alonissos is the third member of the Sporades group of islands, after Skiathos and Skopelos.
It is 3 km east of the island of Skopelos. Alonissos is also the name of a village on the island.
The island at its widest is 4.5 km from northwest to southeast and at its longest is 20 km from southwest to northeast.
The island is mostly limestone.
Alonissos lies surrounded by 25 uninhabited islets which all together consist the National Marine Park (NMPANS), first established in 1992 in order to protect the Mediterranean monk seals Monachus monachus.
The village of Alonissos is located on the southern part of the island. It is locally known as Chora.
The main port of the island is located in the southeast and is called Patitiri. There is ferry and hydrofoil
service from Patitiri to Volos, Agios Konstantinos, and Thessaloniki on the mainland and to the islands of Skiathos,
Skopelos and Skyros. The bay at the southern end of the island is also called Alonissos.
In the Middle Ages and until the 19th century, the village was known as Chiliodromia which means "a thousand routes". Other names included Liadromia and Heliodromia. In ancient times, the place was known as Ikos Evonymos.
Alonissos is still quite untouched by tourism which is growing slowly. The extreme beauty of the island is also due to its dense forests of pine covering a great part of the island. It is an island of an incredible natural beauty and amazing beaches. Most of the island’s coasts offer the superb image of with marble formation, striking with red and descending into crystalline emerald waters. Oak trees, mastic and arbutus bushes as well as fruit trees are also covering the surface of the beautiful Alonissos. The waters of Alonissos are the cleanest of the Aegean Sea and have been declared a marine park because they are a breeding ground for rare species of seal which seek refuge in the many submarine caves and are considered as endangered and protected. Holidays in Alonissos is ideal for those seeking calm holidays in a beautiful, unspoiled natural environment. Because of the richness of the soil and the mild climate, a wide range of herbs are growing in Alonissos which is why the island is the centre for the International Academy of Classic homeopathy.
Communities and Settlements in Alonissos
Patitiri is the island's main harbour and the first place you see when you arrive on Alonissos.
After a devastating earthquake in 1965, the local population moved from the Old village (Chora) down to Patitiri. Re-construction and growth was rapid and now Patitiri is the biggest village and the capital of the island.
"Patitiri" means winepress in Greek and the village got its name from the fact that all the winepresses and storage areas for the wine of Alonissos used to be in this area. Unfortunately, the island's vineyards were devastated by Phylloxera (a North America bug that eats vine roots) in the late 60's.
The majority of hotels and shops are in Patitiri as are the post office, supermarkets, banks (Agrotiki and National Bank of Greece with a 24h cash machine), tourist agencies, police station, health centre etc. Patitiri also provides most of the island's nightlife, with several bars and clubs.
The bus route to Old Alonissos (Chora) and Stenivala starts from here as do the taxis and excursions to beaches and the National Marine Park of Alonissos. Despite Patitiri being the main harbour of the island, the water at the village's popular beach is crystal clear and perfect for swimming.
The Old Village of Alonissos is situated up in the hill 3km away from Patitiri. It was the capital of the island until 1965, when an earthquake happened and the people moved down to Patitiri. After the earthquakes many foreigners start to buy the old houses, lovers of the traditional style of the island, who kept the character of the village, repairing many of the old buildings. Because of its location, the views are really fantastic, with one of the best sunsets all around Greece, and now the Old Village is becoming one of the best parts of the island to visit. The visitors will find traditional rooms to let, many nice tavernas and small shops, feeling a completely different atmosphere from the rest of Alonissos.
It's 3km away from Patitiri, and you can take the bus with its frequent timetable, to go there, you can use the taxis or the old footpath, walking approximately 30' to go up and 20' to come down.
Rousoum Yialos is the most popular beach in the area; 7 minutes walk from the centre of Patitiri and only 5 from Patitiri. There are tavernas and rooms to let. Rsoum (now Rousoum), means 'tax' in Turkish. During the long period when the islands were under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, wine was shipped from this beach and all the island's taxes were collected here by the Turks.
The small harbour of Votsi is 20 minutes walk from Patitiri. It has many nice tavernas overlooking turquoise-green water surrounded by steep ochre-yellow cliffs. There is also a small quiet beach where you can swim. You can also swim at the nearby beach of Spartines. It used to be a separate village from Patitiri, but with Rousoum Yialos, Votsi has grown with the building of new houses so that the three villages have merged to form the municipality of Alonissos. Votsi has no shopping centre so the harbour is the most lively place with its small tavernas. This small village takes its name from Admiral Votsis, who made Alonissos his base for the Greek naval fleet during the Balkan wars.
Stenivala is a small fishing harbour 10km from Patitiri. The village is quite old, older than Patitiri, but has kept its traditional character, with not many rooms to let or tavernas. Like Kalamakia, Stenivala is famous for fresh fish in the tavernas, all owned by fishermen. There is a twice-daily bus from Patitiri, or you can go by taxi, hire car or bike. The hospital unit for monk seals is in Stenivala and if you are lucky you might see one there. Stenivala is becoming a popular yachting destination and the small port is usually full of sailing boats, giving a unique atmosphere.
Kalamakia and Agios Dimitrios
Kalamakia is a small fishing harbour, 12km from Patitiri and even quieter than Stenivala. The village is quite new, with not much in the way of rooms to let and only a few tavernas. The village is a popular for the fresh fish and lobsters served in the waterside tavernas - all owned by fishermen. Unfortunately there is no bus to Kalamakia from Patitiri, so to get there you must either take a taxi or use your own hire car or bike. Kalamakia and Agios Dimitrios, which is considered as the best beach on Alonnisos, make a good combined trip. Kalamakia's beach is small, but you could swim at nearby Agios Dimitrios and have lunch in Kalamakia.
Alonissos offshore islets
The scarcely inhabited islet, was once joined to Alonissos and is graced with some nice sandy beaches usually relatively unpopulated. The place is a popular haunt of barbecue boats in the high season and a taverna sets up on the main beach. Underwater archaeologists recently discovered and ancient wreck off the island.
The ancient island of Alonissos which is also referred to in the later years as Pelagos or Pelagonisi, is the first island to be met in the northern part of the National Marine Park. With an area of 25 square kilometres, Kyra Panayia is the largest of the desert islands. It is hilly, with a rounded relief and has two deep bays, Agios Petros (St. Peter) to the south and Planitis to the north, which are safe natural havens. The island is mainly covered by dense macchia vegetation. The interior of the island consists of areas covered by holly (Quercus coccifera), small open areas, rocks and hilltops with a view of the surrounding country. In the east of the island is a recently repaired post-Byzantine Monastery dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary.
Gioura is dramatically rocky with precipitous cliffs and is specially protected as its underwater caves are the main habitat of the Monk Seal. It also harbours a rare species of wild goat and a remarkably beautiful cave in the interior reputed to be the original dwelling of the Cyclops.
Psathouria is small and flat with the remains of an ancient city sunk beneath the waves to the east. In the north is a large lighthouse built in the last century by the French.
Piperi, closed to visitors as it is the most important habitat for the Monk Seal, Eleonara's Falcon and rare plants, has a precipitous rocky shoreline.
Skantzoura has a series of low hills on shores of white marble with an abandoned monastery in the centre.
Beaches of Alonissos
- Mourtias: South and close to Patitiri,overlooked by the old town, is covered with flat stones,crystal clear water,with several tavernas on the beach.
- Vithisma: A small lovely bay,little visited, with big and small stones and black sand.
- Marpunta: A very gorgeous beach covered with sand , to the North of the island.
- Rousoum: Near Patitiri, this beach is covered with stony sand.There are several traditional tavernas along the beach.
- Votsi: The harbour of Votsi is very traditional and charming, with small fishing boats and romantic tavernas.
- Milia: A beach with blue crystal clear waters.
- Chrisi Milia: A long and sand beach, ideal for children since there is a sandy bottom for some distance out.
- Tzortzi Yialos: A beach with her own special color.
- Agios Dimitrios: Perhaps one of the best beaches on the island,with a spectacular view.
- Yialia and Vrisitsa: Both are very beautiful, consisting of flat stones and black sand.
- Megali Ammos and Agalou Lakka: Small virgin beaches, facing the west coast of Alonissos, very ideal for the nature lovers.
Worth Seeing on Alonissos
National Marine Park of Alonissos - N. Sporades (NMPANS)
In the area of Alonissos - N.sporades, has been established in 1992, the first National Marine Park of Greece, that includes extensive islands and sea regions, of the broadness island complex of Alonissos, with particular natural, morphological and geographical characteristics. Alonnisos is the largest island in the Park. The highest level of local government within the Park is the County Council of Alonnisos. The Park also encompasses six smaller islands (Peristera, Kyra Panagia, Gioura, Skantzoura, and Piperi) and 22 uninhabited islands and rocky outcrops. In areas where approaching is permitted, swimming, observation of the sea bed, amateur photography and filming are allowed. There are specific restrictions on amateur fishing. Approach to certain islands in the zone requires special permission from the responsible authority.
In Alonissos operates the center of Medical care of Seals and their safe return to their natural environment. The team is always in presence, in order to give the first-aid and if there is a need to carry out any other kind of animal that needs care, into the center. The return of the healthy animals to their environment increase the hope of the survival of their kind.
For many years the spectacular world of diving in the beautiful Aegean Archipelago was open to only a few individuals who were granted special permission by the authorities striving to protect the many underwater treasures and wrecks of archaeological importance. It is true that the seabed of Greece is among the richest in ship wrecks dating as far back as the 5th century B.C. More specifically the area around Skopelos, Alonissos and the Marine park have the second largest concentration of ancient and Middle Ages sea wrecks in the world. Many shipwrecks have been discovered with the most famous being that off the coast of Peristera island across Alonissos where the findings are stunning. The National Marine Park, one of the best preserved marine ecosystems in the Med, is an excellent opportunity to dive into crystal clear waters of significant importance to our European and world heritage.