Home to most of Pátmos’s 3200 official residents, SKÁLA seems initially to contradict any solemn image of the island; the commercial district with its gift boutiques is incongruously sophisticated for such a small town. During peak season, the quay and inland lanes throng with trippers, and visitors still tend to be arriving after dark, including from the huge, humming cruisers that weigh anchor around midnight. Skála becomes a ghost town in winter (which here means by early October), when most shops and restaurants close.

Given time, Skála reveals more enticing corners in the residential fringes to its east and west, where vernacular mansions hem in pedestrian lanes creeping up the hillsides. At the summit of the westerly rise, Kastélli, masonry courses from an ancient acropolis enclose a more recent chapel. An easy ten-minute walk southwest across the flat isthmus, starting from the central market street, brings you to pebbly Hokhlakás Bay on the island’s west coast. More of a quiet seafront suburb than a beach, it enjoys wonderful sunset views.