Local Crafts and Art on Greek Ferry Routes

Island Artistry Local Crafts and Art on Greek Ferry Routes

Ever dream of dropping everything and moving to a remote island where you can pursue your creative passion? It’s a dream many artists have made true.

Cypriot collector Dakis Joannou opened a DESTE Foundation space on Hydra, and new island-based contemporary art projects are cropping up. You can find them if you know where to look.


The island of Tinos is one of the most religious places in Greece and attracts thousands of pilgrims each year to its church of Panagia Evangelistria. This is a place where locals fulfill their vows in the presence of the Virgin Mary. The island also offers a lot to see in terms of natural beauty and architecture. You will find windmills, a large number of churches, and approximately 1,000 artistic dovecotes in a style that combines original Cycladic architecture with Venetian influences.

Taking a ferry to Tinos is easy and the island is connected to Piraeus and Rafina on a daily basis. Ferry routes are available with different companies and you can compare prices and book online.

From the island of Tinos you can easily visit Syros, Ermoupoli with its neoclassical architecture, and Naxos, which has beautiful beaches and its iconic Portara, an ancient temple’s entrance.

The picturesque villages of Tinos are a must-see. Pyrgos, the island’s artistic capital, will charm you with marble streets and whitewashed houses. The Zarifio Craft School draws talent from all over the world to its shores and is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates the art of handmade woven textiles. The village of Volax is like no other, with its lunar landscape of giant granite boulders. Its narrow paved alleys are a delight to explore and feel like walking through a surreal painting.


The largest island in the Cyclades is a destination steeped in history. The island’s long tradition of marble sculpting, ceramic making and impressive hand loom woven textile creations have made their mark since early habitation. Today, locals continue to express their creativity through impressive jewelry and pottery making.

The art of weaving is a special craft that requires a lot of time, patience and attention to detail. The resulting products are impressive and eloquent. They include embroidered fabrics with monochrome or multi-color flushes, curtains, table cloths and runners, wallets, scarves, aprons, living room decorations and more. There are workshops-exhibitions that demonstrate the weaving technique and showcase the resulting creations.

There are also small galleries and shops throughout Naxos where you can browse the impressive handmade pieces. Located near the central market in the heart of the town is TEKhNE, a store that has been operating since 1987 and features handmade embroidery with various stitches and techniques, wool kilims, as well as textiles such as curtains, aprons, place mats and more.

Other highlights of the island include a visit to the Eggares Olive Press where you can learn about the process of pressing olives and enjoy tasting a variety of wines. A trip to Naxos town is also a must, where traditional white Cycladic houses line the waterfront, and a 13th-century Venetian castle towers over a maze of paved streets lined with bougainvillaea.


The Aegean island of Samos has all the hallmarks of a peaceful travel hotspot: homey restaurants, fisherman’s boats and stray cats sleeping in the sun. But it also has one unlikely addition: a contemporary art venue in Pythagorion that conjures a miniature Museum of Modern Art. The two-story box sits right on the seafront of the port. Built by the Munich-based Schwarz Foundation, it has no commercial interests and aims to enrich local culture with world-class exhibitions, artist residencies and other community-driven programs.

HANDMADE: On the Social Dimensions of Craft, a group show curated by EMST | National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, has opened here at the venue, which was donated by the foundation and is part of its commitment to building a network of cultural centers in Greece’s peripheral regions. The show features work by nine artists including Nikos Alexiou, Bertille Bak, Silvina Der Meguerditchian, Maria Louizou, Jennifer Nelson and Sphinxes.

The exhibition’s title references the mystical Sufi sage-cum-fool Molla Nasreddin Hodja, who was known in Greek as Naşreddin Hodja (or Naşreddin Hodja), connecting the two countries via an ancient process of language conversion. Amid these historical connections, the art reflects on borders, both real and imagined, that define nations and peoples. In a room dedicated to the theme, a film of interview excerpts from Syrian single mothers and Pakistani asylum seekers plays. Their voices — and their determination to make a better life for themselves and their families — underscore how borders are inseparable from the mythologies that shape identities.