Patmos – “Island of the Apocalypse”, Stunning and Spiritual

Patmos island is also known as the “Island of the Apocalypse”. Therefore, it has a strong spiritual atmosphere. It is, though, also one of the most stunning Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

  1. What is Patmos famous for?
  2. Patmos – How to get there?
  3. Where is Patmos island?
  4. Patmos on the Map
  5. Patmos – Where to stay?
  6. Chora Patmos – a World Heritage Site
  7. What happened to John in Patmos?
  8. History of Patmos
  9. Religious Festivals and Feasts in Patmos
  10. Patmos Beach Guide
  11. Things to do in Patmos
  12. Patmos – What to see?
  13. Weather and Climate in Patmos
Beautiful sunset view of Skala village in Patmos, Dodecanese Greece
Beautiful sunset view of Skala village in Patmos

What is Patmos famous for?

After Saint John, the Divine was given a vision from Jesus, he was inspired to write the Book of the Apocalypse (or Revelation) inside a cave in Patmos in Greece. At least, so the story goes. Today the “Cave of the Apocalypse” is one of the main attractions in Patmos. Another great attraction is the large monastery dedicated to Saint John, rising above Chora, the capital town of the island protected by thick walls, which make it look like a fortress. Along with the historic centre of Chora the Monastery of Saint John and the Cave of Apocalypse were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1999. Every year, thousands of pilgrims come to Patmos to visit the two religious sites.

Patmos – How to get there?

Overview of Patmos, Dodecanese Greece
Skala port in Patmos

Airports near Patmos

The small island of Patmos has no airport. The nearest ones are in Kos and Leros. Kos International Airport “Hippocrates” is receiving domestic flights all year from Athens, and frequent flights are carried out from Rhodes, Heraklion, Thessaloniki, and Astypalea as well. The flight duration from Athens to Kos is approx. 1 hour. Upon your arrival in Kos airport, you should take a taxi to the port and embark the ferry for Patmos. If you choose to fly from Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos” to Leros Municipal Airport the flight duration is approx. 50 min. Arriving in Leros you should take a taxi to the port and embark the ferry for Patmos.

Ferries to Patmos

You can also choose to embark the ferry from Piraeus port in Athens. Ferries for Patmos depart from Piraeus 3 times per week, the trip lasts almost 8 hours. Patmos is interconnected by ferry with Kalymnos, Kos, Rhodes, Leros, and Lipsi as well.

Where is Patmos island?

Monastery of St Ioannis in Patmos, Dodecanese Greece
View from the Monastery of St Ioannis in Patmos

Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. It is one of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex with a population of nearly 3,000. The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 metres above sea level. It is part of Kalymnos region.

Patmos on the map

Map of Dodecanese Archipelagos
Click to enlarge the map – Coordinates: 37°19.5′N 26°32.5′E

Patmos – Where to stay?

Chora Patmos is the capital of Patmos, it is also a charming village and the centre of most activities in the island. The traditional architecture with whitewashed houses, narrow alleys, and stunning views to the Aegean Sea it is a perfect place for wandering around. Chora is also the place where you will find most Patmos hotels, apartments, and studios. Walking around the paved streets you will find cafes, taverns, and restaurants where you can enjoy the local specialties.

Chora Patmos – a World Heritage Site

Inside the Monastery of St. John - Photo by S. Lambadaridis
Inside the Monastery of St. John@S. Lambadaridis

Where Chora is the capital town of Patmos, Skala is the only commercial port. Other villages are Grikou and Kampos. Skala is a busy spot in Patmos and rather touristy. The churches and communities on Patmos are of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. In 1999, the historic centre of Chora, along with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse, were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The monastery was founded by Saint Christodulos. Patmos is also home to the Patmian School, a notable Greek seminary.

What happened to John in Patmos?

John the Apostle on Patmos by Jacopo Vignali
John the Apostle in Patmos by Jacopo Vignali

Patmos is mentioned in the Christian scriptural Book of Revelation. The book’s introduction states that its author, John, was on Patmos when he was given (and recorded) a vision from Jesus. Early Christian tradition identified this writer John of Patmos as John the Apostle, though some modern scholars are uncertain. As such, Patmos is a destination for Christian pilgrimage. Visitors can see the cave where John is said to have received his Revelation (the Cave of the Apocalypse), and several monasteries on the island are dedicated to Saint John.

After the death of John of Patmos, possibly around 100 A.D., several Early Christian basilicas were erected on Patmos. Among these was a Grand Royal Basilica in honour of Saint John, built ca 300-350 at the location where the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian stands today.

Early Christian life on Patmos, however, barely survived Muslim raids from the 7th to the 9th century. During this period, the Grand Basilica was destroyed. In the 11th century, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos gave Reverend Father Christodoulos the complete authority over the island of Patmos, as well as the permission to build a monastery on the island. The construction of the monastery started in 1101.

History of Patmos

Monastery of Prophet Elias in Patmos, Dodecanese Greece
Monastery of Prophet Elias in Patmos

The earliest remains of human settlements date to the Middle Bronze Age (ca 2000 BC). They consist of pottery shards from Kastelli, the most important archaeological site so far identified.
Patmos is seldom mentioned by ancient writers. Therefore, extraordinarily little can be conjectured about the earliest inhabitants. In the Classical period, the Patmians prefer to identify themselves as Dorians descending from the families of Argos, Sparta, and Epidaurus, further mingling with people of Ionian ancestry.
Judging from archaeological finds, Kastelli continued to play an important role on the island throughout the Ancient Greek period (ca 750 BC-323 BC).
During the 3rd century BC, in the Hellenistic period, the settlement of Patmos acquired the form of an acropolis with an improved defense through a fortification wall and towers.

Religious festivals and feasts in Patmos

Monastery of St. John and Chora of Patmos, Dodecanese, Greece
Monastery of St. John and Chora of Patmos

Patmos is hosting many religious festivals and feasts because of its religious character. I suggest you visiting the island during one of these to get a perfect introduction to traditions and history of Patmos.
As for Patmos beaches, they are beautiful! The best-organized beaches in Patmos, such as Agriolivado and Livadi Geranou, are located on the northern side of the island. The rest of the island’s beaches are secluded, thus perfect for those who seek privacy.

Patmos Beach Guide

Grikos beach in Patmos, Dodecanese Greece
Grikos beach in Patmos

In Patmos you will find beaches, organized as well as secluded non-organized. The most organized ones are Livadi Geranou, Skala, and Agriolivado. Most of the beaches are accessible on foot from Skala. Find a list of great beaches below.

Organized beaches

  • Kambos beach – Sandy, family friendly, water sports, located 9 km north of Chora.
  • Agriolivado beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 8 km north of Chora.

Partly organized beaches

Livadi Geranou beach in Patmos, Dodecanese Greece
Livadi Geranou beach in Patmos
  • Livadi Geranou beach – Pebbled, located 13 km north of Chora.
  • Skala beach – Sandy, family friendly, harbour, located 4 km north of Chora.
  • Grikos beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 4 km south of Chora.
  • Petra beach – Pebbled, also known as Kallikatsou beach, located 6 km east of Chora.
Rock cave sunset at Petra beach in Patmos, Dodecanese Greece
Rock cave sunset at Petra beach

Non-organized beaches

  • Lambi beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 14 km north of Chora.
  • Psili Ammos beach – Sandy, secluded, located 10 km south of Chora.
  • Meloi beach – Sandy, secluded, located 5 km north of Chora.
  • Loukakia beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 2 km northeast of Chora.
  • Agios Nikolaos beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 12 km north of Chora.
  • Vagia beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 11 km northeast of Chora.
  • Diakofti beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 6 km south of Chora.
  • Alikes beach – Sandy, secluded, located 7 km south of Chora.
  • Lefkes beach – Pebbled, secluded, 10 km northwest of Chora.
The beach at Meloi, within walking distance of Skala, Patmos, Greece
The beach at Meloi, within walking distance of Skala, Patmos

Things to do in Patmos

Scuba diving

Diving in Greece

In the port of Skala you will find the scuba diving centre and shop Blue Fin Center. Here you can buy your diving and fishing gear and rent equipment as well. They offer lessons if you want to get your full certification and diving lessons during your stay in Patmos. Find contact info at Blue Fin Center (in Greek).

Patmos – What to see?

View of Monastery St John in Patmos, UNESCO heritage site, Dodecanese Greece
View of Monastery St John in Patmos, UNESCO heritage site
  • Cave of Apocalypse – is supposedly the cave where Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation, inspired by Jesus. Around the cave a monastery has been built.
  • Monastery of Saint John – The Orthodox Monastery of Saint John the Theologian was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is constructed on a hilltop above Chora, built on the site of an ancient temple. It is one of the most important religious centres in Greece.
  • Monastery of Zoodochos Pighi – is located in Chora near the Monastery of Saint John. It is a female Monastery dedicated to Virgin Mary the life giver.
  • Monastery of Panagia – is situated in Lambi in the region of Livadi Kalogiron near the sea.
  • Patmian Ecclesiastic School – or the Patmiada Scholi is in Chora near the Cave of Apocalypse. The foundation of the school was the most important event of the 18th century.
  • Folklore Museum – is housed in Simantiri Mansion in Chora. The mansion which hosts paintings, furniture, photographs, and family relics, was constructed in 1625.
  • Arki and Marathi – are two remote islands with only a few inhabitants. They are connected to Patmos daily by boat. They are known for their beaches with crystal-clear sea, only to be accessed on foot.
  • Agathonisi – is the northernmost of the Dodecanese islands. With only a few inhabitants and basic tourist amenities, it is not developed for tourism. If you enjoy tranquillity and nature you might enjoy going there for relaxation.
Cave of the Apocalypse - Entrance to the Apocalypse Complex, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Patmos, Greece
Cave of the Apocalypse, entrance, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Patmos

Weather and climate in Patmos

Patmos has like the rest of the Dodecanese islands a mild Mediterranean climate and endless sunny days all year round. For many months, the sea temperature remains rather high, permitting visitors to enjoy swimming even in low season.

AprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober
Air17°21°25°29°29°25°21°
Sea17°20°22°24°25°23°22°
Average air and sea temperatures in Patmos in °C