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Tilos’s location has tended to work against any speedy rise in popularity. Its small population means that, like its neighbour Nisyros, it sees few calls from the big steamers plying between Piraeus and Rhodes and today even the fast cats of the Dodecanese Express serving most of the islands from Rhodes to Patmos have been upstaged by Symi, whose traffic merits daily calls which, in turn, makes calls at Tilos and/or Nisyros on the way north to Kos, into inconvenient dog’s legs.
The flip side of that, of course, is that Tilos has been far less touched by negative elements of tourism, notably over-building. On the contrary, it has been able to ban all hunting and shooting and is therefore a paradise for bird watchers (and birds).
Most tourists stay in the small hotels and self-catering establishments just back from the shingle and pebble (sand once you’re in) beach which sweeps for a mile or so eastwards from the small harbour and the recently refurbished village square and coast path. Hills rise steeply on all sides and there is excellent walking to small monasteries and churches as well as to secret coves – all virtually untouched by man.
The capital of the island, Megalo Chorio (= Big Place) is some 20 minutes away by the local bus on the other side of the island. This is an attractive flower-ridden village with sweeping views over the gently sloping landscape separating it from long sandy Eristos Beach. This used to be utterly peaceful, with just a taverna for drinks and meals with a few rooms behind; but it has now been hugely developed into some kind of all-inclusive hotel for a Scandinavian operator; it does not impinge unduly on the beach, but it has altered the atmosphere a bit.
A stay on Tilos may be combined with Rhodes and Symi or Halki. The gateway airport is Rhodes.