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The tourism office (tel. 22470/31-666) in the port town of Skala is directly in front of you as you disembark from your ship; it's open June through August daily from 9am to 10pm. It shares the Italianate "municipal palace" with the post office and the tourist police (tel. 22470/31-303), who take over when the tourism office is closed. The port police (tel. 22470/31-231), in the first building on your left on the main ferry pier, are very helpful for boat schedules and whatever else ails or concerns you; the building is open year-round, 24 hours a day. There is also a host of helpful information about Patmos at www.patmos-island.com or www.travel-to-patmos.com.

Apollon Tourist and Shipping Agency, on the harbor near the central square (tel. 22470/31-724; fax 22470/31-819), can book excursion boats and hydrofoils and arrange lodging in hotels, rental houses, and apartments throughout the island. It's open year-round from 8am to noon and 4 to 6pm, with extended summer hours.

Orientation -- Patmos lies along a north-south axis; were it not for a narrow central isthmus, it would be two islands, north and south. Skala, the island's only town of any size, is situated near that isthmus joining the north island to the south. Above Skala looms the hilltop capital of Hora, comprising a mazelike medieval village and the fortified monastery of St. John the Divine. There are only two other towns on Patmos: Kambos, to the north, and Grikou, to the south. While Kambos is a real village of roughly 500 inhabitants, Grikou is mostly a resort, a creation of the tourist industry.

Most independent visitors to Patmos, especially first-timers, will choose to stay in Skala (Hora has no hotels) and explore the north and south from there. Patmos is genuinely addicting, an island to which visitors, Greek and foreign, return year after year. So while it makes sense on your first visit to Patmos to be centrally located, you may wish to stay elsewhere during future visits.

On Patmos: Don't Drink the Water! -- One essential you need to know about Patmos from the outset is that tap water is not for drinking. Drink only bottled water.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.