Minor Cyclades

Floating on the emerald sea of the Aegean, the Minor Cyclades is a group of small islands in the eastern part of Cyclades. The more important islands are Schinoussa, Donousa, Koufonisia, Iraklia and the uninhabited Keros. They are nestled southeast of Naxos and northwest of Amorgos.

They are known for their suntrap, golden beaches, due to the imposing mountains of Naxos and Amorgos creating a calm landscape. They have limpid turquoise waters and breathtaking geological formations creating an undeniably idyllic environment. By boat, they are connected daily with Naxos and Amorgos, so as directly through Piraeus port.


Schinoussa is a purely Cycladic island of Aegean, with the homonym capital of Schinoussa. It is located approximately in the center of Minor Cyclades, has an area of 9 square kilometers, and its permanent population is approximately 250 residents. The port of Mersini is one of the safest in Minor Cyclades.

According to the tradition, Schinoussa owes its name at the scrubby plant “Schino” that flourishes in the entire island. There is, however, another version according to which the island earned its name from the Venetian lord Schinoza. Actually, it is one of the islands where Cycladic civilization emerged. Columns, statue bases, statuettes and fragments of vessels have been found at times in different parts of the land and sea.

The island’s formation is hilly and flat, with the highest top being the Mill (133m), thus it is ideal for trekking, even though the island doesn’t have an organized network of paths. Whichever path you follow will lead you to a beautiful and hospitable part of the island.

The countryside, the sandy beaches, the peninsulas, and the capes are breathtaking. Moreover, the island has joined the Natura 2000 network, as it accommodates a wide variety of Cycladic plants and is an important migratory station for many migratory birds.

The island has two settlements, Chora and Messaria. Choria or Panagia is built on a hill above Mersini (1,2km away) and a central road crosses through it. The residents built Panagia village on a hill so as to attend the sea and protect themselves from pirate raids. It is the biggest settlement of the island and brings together the most activity of the island.

The second and smaller settlement of Messaria is located at the north part of the island, 2km away from Chora and stands out for the church of Evangelistria. The island’s houses are built with the classic Cycladic architecture – a harmonious mix of white cubic houses with light blue shutters and small cobblestone courtyards with flowers.

It is an ideal island if you want to escape from everything and relax, enjoying the wonderful landscape. The moment you reach the island, you will forget the hectic life pace and follow the tranquility that Schinoussa offers, without any stress.


The island encompasses in its boundaries 18 fabulous beaches with limpid turquoise waters. Most of them are sandy and tree-shady, which promises moments of precious relaxation in a natural environment unspoiled by human interventions.

However, don’t rush to the conclusion that Schinoussa is a destination for romantics or nature-lovers only. If you enjoy outdoor activities, the island offers many choices for exploration, trekking in paths among amazing landscapes, and also for sea sports such as fishing, surfing – and if you enjoy diving, the diverse underwater of Schinoussa will definitely impress you! In this section you can find some of the beaches you could visit.

There are other tiny beaches that we have not included here, that we leave to you to discover if you seek quietness and adventure.

The Gerolimnionas Beach of Schinoussa


The Livadi Beach of Schinoussa


The Tsigkouri Beach of Schinoussa


The Almiros Beach of Schinoussa


The most popular beach and the nearest one to the capital at a distance of just 450m, (5′) five minutes by foot. It is lengthy and sandy (approximately 350m long), with big tamarisks along the sore and crystal clear waters. It offers sunbeds free of charge and a beach bar. The road is a dirt track in good condition.

It is a sandy beach (approximately 230m long) with a tamarisk shade, at a distance of 850m from the capital, (10′) ten minutes by foot. Eating and drinking facilities are provided.

It is a sandy beach with splendid underwater, located at a distance of approximately 1700m to the capital, (13′) thirteen minutes by foot. It has no tree shade and the access is rather difficult via a dirt track road.

It is a small beach (approximately 30m long) surrounded by caves. It is situated 2,2 km from the capital, (18′) eighteen minutes by foot. It is accessible via a path of 60m and no tree shade is available.

It is a small beach (approximately 40m long), a mixture of sand and rocks, just 2,6km away from the capital, (20′) twenty minutes by foot via a dirt track road. Its underwater is ideal for fishing.

It is a rather small sandy beach (approximately 50m long), located 2,7km away from the capital, (30′) thirty minutes by foot. The beach offers a tamarisk shade and in the surrounding area, you will find shops in case you wish to eat or drink something.

It is the natural continuation of the Lioliou beach, separated by a rocky shore (approximately 80m long). The beach is located 2,8km away from the capital, (35′) thirty-five minutes approximately by foot, and does not provide a tree shade.

It is a long sandy beach with an equally sandy bottom (approximately 350m long), located 2km from the capital, about 15 minutes by foot. It has tamarisk-shade and shallow waters and thus is ideal for families. The beach is separated in two by the few rocks that arise almost in the midst of it, while in its back part and at a distance of approximately 100m there is a snack-bar.

It is a relatively small sandy beach (approximately 40m long) with a rocky shore, located about 1,5km away from the capital, (12′) twelve minutes by foot. The road is a dirt track. The beach has no trees or amenities of any kind.

It is a “private” beach (approximately 15m long), for anyone who gets there first. It has no tree shade, yet it is ideal for underwater fishing. It is situated 3km away from the capital, about (35′) thirty-five minutes by foot. The beach is accessible via a dirt road that leads to a path.

It is an incredible and rather small beach (approximately 60m long) with a tamarisk shade. It is characterized by the thin sand that reaches up to the hill. It is located 2,8km to the capital, (35′) thirty-five minutes by foot, and 450m from the Messaria settlement (5 minutes by foot). Since the beach does not offer any kind of shops you should return to Messaria or to the capital if you wish to have something to eat or drink.

It is a small idyllic beach (approximately 30m long) with azure waters, some young tamarisk trees for shade, and an impressive underwater. It is situated 3,1km from the capital, about (40′) forty minutes by foot. No shops are provided.

It is a small sandy beach (just 15m in width) and a rocky shore, embraced in the arms of a wonderful big cove. The underwater is ideal for fishing, while the surrounding landscape will enchant nature-lovers and those who enjoy trekking. The beach is located 3km away from the capital and (35′) thirty-five minutes by foot. It has no trees or amenities of any kind. The road is a dirt one that ends on a path.

It is a quaint, remote cove, with no shore, ideal for underwater fishing and trekking. In the old days, the cove and the nearby Marousou Cave served as a shelter for pirates. Sifneiko is situated 2,2km away from the capital, (25′) twenty-five minutes by foot. The road is halfway asphalt, halfway dirt, and ends to a path. The access becomes rather difficult at the last 800m. The nearest shops are found in the Mersini harbor (12 minutes by foot).

The beach (approximately 60m long) is located at the back part of the harbor and it is used mainly by yacht owners. It provides a tamarisk shade, yet it is not so peaceful due to its proximity to the harbor and also because it is a passage for the locals. However, it is suitable if you wish to have one last bath before embarking. In the surrounding area, there are shops that serve food and drink.

It is a quaint and remote beach (approximately 40m long) located in the opposite of Schinoussa islet. It is a sandy one with wonderful underwater and nudist-friendly. The beach has no trees and it is accessible only by boat or by swimming.


One of the sights worth visiting is the Maniatis Cave. According to the tradition, a pirate from Mani went to Schinoussa for piracy and chose to rob the Church of Panagia Akathi. During the robbery, he thought that the figure of Panagia (Holy Mary) was watching him. So he got angry, pulled the gun and shot the figure. While he was running with the loots, he slipped and fell next to a cave and died. It is said that when the locals found him, they burned him right there and the cave got black. Until today, those rocks remain total black.

Some more places worth mentioning in the island, is the Church of Panagia Akathi, which is the patron saint of the island and the church of Evangelism of Theotokos with the ornate bell tower at Messaria settlement.

Entertainment and Market

You will find a great variety of options to entertain yourselves, both in the settlements and by the harbor. On the island, there are about twenty-five shops to eat or drink something. Fifteen of them are in the capital, while the rest of them are spread out on the beaches and in the other settlement of Messaria.

There are mini markets, bakeries, bars (occasionally with greek live music), shops of folk art and tourist shops, a post office, and a naval agency. There is no bank, but an ATM machine of Piraeus Bank is provided for your convenience.

On the island, there are no buses, but there are taxis and rental motorbikes, ideal for island exploration. In addition, there is an organized agricultural medical center and three heliports (1 public and 2 private). If you by any chance need to leave the island, there is a speedboat available 24/7.


In Schinoussa, the visitor can taste the delicious local dishes, like its fresh fish, and entertain themselves at the local fests.

The island is famous for the tasty split peas (1st prize at the Festival of Cycladic Gastronomy Nikolaos Tselementes) as well as for its livestock and agricultural products (such as beef, pork, kid, ladotiri, xinomizithra, kopanisti and vine leaves), which can be found at the local shops and their producers.

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