Schinoussa Travel Guide: History, Customs, Festivals & Traditions

Discover Schinoussa's rich history, vibrant customs, and lively festivals in our comprehensive travel guide.

Schinoussa Travel Guide: History, Customs, Festivals & Traditions

Schinoussa Travel Guide: History, Customs, Festivals & Traditions

Welcome to Schinoussa, one of the picturesque islands in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea. This island is a serene paradise, perfect for travelers seeking tranquility, authenticity, and a peek into traditional Greek island life. Here, we delve into its rich history, vivid customs, colorful festivals, and cherished traditions.


Ancient Times

Schinoussa, known as Schoinoussa in Greek, is believed to have been inhabited since ancient times. Archaeological findings suggest its history dates back to the early Cycladic period. Due to its strategic location, the island was an important link in maritime routes established by ancient Greek civilizations.

Mediæval Era

During the Mediæval era, Schinoussa fell under the influence of the Venetians and then the Ottoman Turks, like many of the Cyclades. These periods saw varied cultural influences that have left their mark on the island’s architecture and traditions.

Modern History

In more recent times, Schinoussa has remained a peaceful and lesser-traveled destination, which has preserved much of its traditional lifestyles and practices unchanged. Today, the island has a small yet vibrant community that thrives on tourism, agriculture, and fishing.



Schinoussa is known for its warm hospitality. Visitors often note how the locals, known as "Schinoussitans," show genuine friendliness and willingness to welcome guests into their homes. It is customary for hosts to offer visitors a 'rakomelo,' a local drink made of raki and honey.

Traditional Dress

On special occasions and during festivals, locals often wear traditional dress. Women might wear colorful dresses with intricate embroidery, while men might don classic white shirts and blue trousers, symbolizing the sea and sky.


Panagia Akathi Church Festival

The festival of Panagia Akathi, held on the 15th of August, is one of the most significant annual events on Schinoussa. This festival celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and includes a series of religious processions, traditional music, and dance performances.

Fishermen's Festival

Celebrated in mid-July, the Fishermen’s Festival is a colorful and lively event where locals and visitors alike come together to enjoy fresh seafood, traditional dances, and music. The festival commemorates the island’s long-standing fishing traditions.

Easter Celebrations

Easter is a major celebration in Schinoussa. It is marked with a series of religious rituals, including the Midnight Mass and the 'Anastasi' (Resurrection), followed by feasts that feature lamb, red eggs, and traditional 'tsoureki' (sweet bread).


Music and Dance

Music and dance are an integral part of Schinoussa’s culture. The island has a rich folk music heritage with traditional instruments such as the lyre and laouto (lute). The 'Ballos' and 'Ikariotikos' dances are particularly popular, often performed during festivals and celebrations.

Culinary Delights

Schinoussa's cuisine is a blend of simple ingredients and hearty flavors. Favorites include:

  • Kakavia: A fish soup made with the catch of the day.
  • Fava: A creamy puree made from yellow split peas, often served with caramelized onions and capers.
  • Homemade cheeses: Like myzithra and manoura.
  • Local honey: Used in various desserts and drinks.

Celebrating Nature

The natural beauty of Schinoussa is deeply cherished by its residents. The island boasts verdant greenery and crystal-clear blue waters, making it a haven for nature lovers. The community often engages in beach clean-ups and environmental preservation initiatives to maintain the island's pristine condition.

Folklore and Stories

Schinoussa is rich with folklore. One popular local tale involves the legend of a subterranean chamber, believed to be located under the Church of Panagia Akathi, filled with treasures and ancient artifacts. Such stories add a mystical charm to the island.

Interesting Facts

  • Schinoussa has a population of less than 300 residents, giving it an intimate and close-knit community feel.
  • The island is composed of three main villages: Chora, Mesariá, and Mersini.
  • Chora is the main village where most of the island's facilities, including shops and restaurants, are located.
  • Schinoussa means "juniper island," named for the juniper bushes that thrive here.
  • The island’s waters are rich with marine life, making it a great destination for snorkeling and diving.