• Photo: Panos Karas / Shutterstock


For better or worse, it can be difficult to reach Patmos. For many travelers, this lack of access is definitely for the better, since the island retains the air of an unspoiled retreat. Rocky and barren, this small, 34-square-km (13-square-mile) speck in the Aegean lies beyond the islands of Kalymnos and Leros, northwest of Kos. Its size certainly offers little clue to its larger influence. Here on a hillside is the Monastery of the Apocalypse, which enshrines the cave where St. John received his “visions” in AD 95, which became the Book of Revelation.

The island's reputation as the "Jerusalem of the Aegean" is not unfounded, and it is duly popular among the faithful, who make pilgrimages to its monasteries. As such, the tone of the island is very different to the rest of the Dodecanese, even on the beaches, where signs make the authorities' views on the matter of nudism abundantly clear—though the fact that these are more loosely interpreted these days shows how things have changed. The flip side is that administrators were also careful to contain development, meaning Patmos remains happily off-radar, even in the busy month of August. Those who find their way here tend to be a varied bunch, from vacationing Athenians to the large number of wealthy international types that have settled around Chora, lending this holy island an agreeably cosmopolitan vibe.

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