Arguably the most beautiful, certainly the best known of the smaller Dodecanese, PÁTMOS has a distinctive, immediately palpable atmosphere. In a cave here, St John the Divine (known in Greek as O Theológos, “The Theologian”, and author of one of the four Gospels) set down the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament. The huge fortified monastery that honours him remains the island’s dominant feature; its monks owned all of Pátmos until the eighteenth century, and their influence remains strong.
For those visitors not motivated by religion, Pátmos’s greatest strength is its beaches. With so many attractive strands, you can usually escape the crowds even in high season, though you may need a vehicle to do so. Day-trippers exceed overnighters, thanks in part to the island’s lack of an airport, and Pátmos feels a different place once the last excursion boat has left after sunset. Among those staying, no single nationality predominates, lending Pátmos a cosmopolitan feel almost unique in the Dodecanese. The steady clientele can be very posh indeed, with assorted royal and ex-royal families among repeat visitors.