Just a breath away from the Asia Minor coast, in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea, five big islands (Ikaria, Samos, Limnos, Lesvos, Chios) and some smaller ones (Agios Efstratios, Agios Minas, Antipsara, Thymaina, Oinousses, Samiopoula, Fournoi and Psara) offer you exciting holiday options.
Despite their distance from mainland Greece, they have grown into popular destinations thanks to frequent ferry and flight connection.
Discover fascinating green landscapes, crystal clear waters, beautiful sandy and pebbly beaches, traditional villages and a rich history on each island.
Ikaria is a place with rich mythological past, and it has connected its name with the mythical figure Icarus. Sandy beaches, running waters, mountains and lush green hillsides compose the majestic relief of the island.
Ikaria is also famed for its thermal springs, unique in the whole world for their chemical composition and radiation. Moreover, the unparalleled local lifestyle with a unique work-rest schedule, the famed festivals with traditional dances, the local manners and customs, are very impressive features for the visitors.
During Byzantine era, the city of Oinoi was the center of the island and a place of exile for members of the Royal family. In the beginning of the 13th century, Ikaria was a part of the Latin empire of Constantinople, while in 1484 came under the authority of the Knights of Rhodes and in 1521 was occupied by the Turks. The island was liberated in November 1912.
The island of Hephaestus (god of fire and protector of blacksmiths) is the ideal laid back holiday destination. Visit Myrina, which is the island capital and port, learn more about its interesting history and enjoy fresh fish dishes. Explore the volcanic areas and visit the island’s museums. Visit Alyki and Chortarolimni Lakes, the areas are part of the European NATURA 2000 network.
The history of Limnos is lost in the mists of time. According to mythology, Hephaestus had his forge on the island and taught its first residents, the Sinties, the art of processing copper. The Island flourished during the prehistoric times. In 512BC it was conquered by the Persians, but it regained its liberty after the end of the Persian Wars. Since then, it had been subjugated consecutively by the Romans, the Venetians and the Turks, until its definitive liberation in 1912 during the 1st Balkan War.
The gorgeous sandy beaches of the islands, which range from peaceful, remote, romantic to busy and well-organised ones. Especially the water sports lovers will go crazy for the beaches of Thanos, Gomati (treat yourself with the pleasure of rolling on the sand dunes there) and Keros, with the last one being a well-known centre for aquatic pleasures and sports activities. Nevertheless, the repeaters of the island and the locals would answer Platý or Chavoúli should they be asked to choose a beach to appear on a postal card from Limnos.
Sappho, one of the most famous lyric poets of ancient Greece, was born on the island of Lesvos. You will find grand beautiful houses in Mytilene, the island capital, and traditional villages across the island (Agiassos, Assomatos, Vatousa, Eresos, Mantamados, Mithymna, Petra, Plomari, Polichnitos, Sigri, Sykamia). Plomari Village is known for its top quality ouzo, which is famous across the country and around the world. Accompany your ouzo drink with sardines from Kaloni. Enjoy the hot springs at Thermi, Eftalou and Gera or walk along unspoilt, golden beaches.
It is the third biggest island in Greece, after Crete and Evia, with an area of 1,630sq. km and a coastline of 370km. It has 90,000 residents. A few miles away from the SW coast of Turkey, it is located almost at the entrance of Adramytios Gulf, N of Chios. It belongs to the Lesvos Prefecture that includes Limnos and Ag. Efstratios. It is famous for two products, Ouzo and Olive Oil.
It was also called Imerti (delicious), Pelasgia, Eolida and Makaria. The name Lesvos was from the mythical hero Lesvos who came here with Lapithes from Thessaly and married Mythimna, daughter of the settler Makaras. During prehistoric times it was a significant cultural centre of the NE Aegean Sea, and it flourished economically, commercially and culturally during Archaic times (7th – 6th century BC).
Chios is known as the mastic island because of this unique natural resin collected from mastic trees cultivated at the south part of the island. Explore the Mastichochoria, a group of fortified villages of great beauty built in the 14th century when the island was under Genovese rule. Mesta is a medieval heritage town with preserved towers, ancient churches and magnificent stone houses joined together with arches. Taste delicious dishes cooked with mastic, or have a sip of soumada, a traditional drink made of almonds.
Quite a few museums and traditional open air festivals reveal the island’s long history and interesting culture. Long sandy beaches, secluded or not, as well as quiet coves are also there for the visitor to explore. A mastic-scented island with fascinating historyMuch as Chios is famous for its mastic, it is not the only “magic” one can find on this island. Alongside its rich history starting from the Neolithic Age and including adventures with Saracene pirates and the Turks during the Greek Revolution, Chios also claims to be the birthplace of Homer. It was certainly the birthplace of eminent Greek politicians and writers such as Adamantios Korais, Emmanouil Roidis and Alexandre Mavrokordatos.
No one who loves the sea could ever leave Chios dissatisfied. You don’t want to go far from the town? The beaches of Ormos tou Lo (=Lo’s Bay) and Tagma are at your disposal. Are you into sea sports? Bella Vista and Afanis Naftis (=Unknown Sailor) are perfect for wind surfing.
Do you want to combine legend with pleasure? Swim at the beach of Daskalopetra, where Homer was supposed to sit on a stone and teach. “Daskalopetra” actually means “teaching stone”.
Samos is the birthplace of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, the philosopher Epicurus, and the astronomer Aristarchus of Samos, the first to suggest that the Earth revolves around the sun.
Visit the UNESCO monuments of Pythagoreion, an ancient fortified port with Greek and Roman monuments, as well as the Heraion, the temple of the goddess Hera. Attend cultural events and music festivals. Stroll around Vathy, a traditional village, and learn more about the island’s history.
Samos is a green island with many white-sand beaches and picturesque villages. The island is also well-known for its top quality natural sweet wine.
Samos does not only feature important monuments and historical tales, nor just mountains and hiking trails. Above all else, Samos is a modern island, with immaculately organized beaches, such as Tsamados and Lemonakia, Votsalakia in Marathocampos, Chryssi Ammos (= “golden sand”), which more than lives up to its name, and Psili Ammos (= “fine sand”), where, according to the people of Samos, one can hear the roosters across the sea in Turkey crow at dawn.
But Samos is also cosmopolitan if you stay at Vathy, Kokkari or Pythagoreion. It is isolated if you prefer Marathocampos, Kerveli or Mykali. It is a place of late-night revels, as well as a place of peace, ideal for rest, relaxation and contemplation.
Oinousses is a cluster of nine islands, located between Chios Island and the Erythraian Peninsula of Asia Minor. It is a quiet summer destination, an idyllic place for those who prefer underwater activities such as exploring the colourful seabed. Learn more about the centuries-old maritime tradition of the islands at the Maritime Museum. The whole island complex has been included in the European network NATURA 2000.
However, the true secret of the Oinousses is their desert islands. Whether you decide to sail around them on one of the islands’ caiques or paddle to each one in a canoe and spend a night on one of their beaches – as an increasing number of tourists do during summer – you will discover an idyllic natural wealth, virgin fishing grounds and enchanting depths that make up the panorama of the unexplored Aegean Sea.
The Oinousses have always been considered the islands of ship owners.
The island’s main claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of several of the most wealthy Greek ship owning families, including the wealthiest of all, the Lemos clan, statues of the various members of which can be found all over the town. During August there is usually a “gathering of the clans” and the large natural harbour of Mandraki on the S side of the island can often be crammed to bursting with yachts and motor yachts of all sizes. Outside these times the harbour is usually very quiet and visiting yachts rarely have any problems finding a berth anchor moored on its long “yacht club” jetty or lying alongside one of the extensive and well-maintained quays. At the north end of the harbour is a large naval boarding school, accounting for the numerous youngsters with cropped haircuts usually seen around the town. Shelter in the harbour is excellent in winds from any direction, although, as with most Aegean harbours, gusts will be experienced with a strong meltemi.
The island was first mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. Despite its size, it played an important part during the Greek War of Independence (1821) as the local competent mariners with their ships fought for the cause next to other Greek revolutionaries. The island’s maritime power ranked third after that of Hydra and Spetses Islands. As a result, Psara holds a special place in recent Greek history. Follow the hiking trails and explore beautiful churches and monuments. Don’t forget to try the local lobster pasta dish (at affordable prices).
The people of Psara are, first and foremost, proud of their glorious past. The revolutionary flag of 1821 – white and red, with a cross and an anchor wrapped by a serpent – welcomes visitors at the harbour, reminding them that the history of this island is interwoven with the history of its untamed soul.
Continuously inhabited since the Mycenaean era, as shown by the significant archaeological finds from the cemetery excavated in Archontiki Gulf, Psara provides travellers with a precise dose of serenity and splendour – and that’s not all. The residents’ helpful disposition is legendary, while the island’s beaches are never too crowded, whether one visits the popular beaches of Katsounis and Kato Gialos, with its local beach volley tournament, or Lazaretta, with its fine sand and seashells, Lakka or Lemnos beach.
Fournoi is a group of small islands that used to be a pirate hideaway. The aromatic plants and olive groves are part of a land of pristine beauty. Mediterranean monk seals, dolphins and sea turtles find refuge in the clear waters of the island.
The shoreline of Fournoi, with countless coves and canals that stab inland, like knives, into the island, is 120 kilometres long. Ideal moorings for all weather are Kamari, Elidaki, and Bali. Wonderful beaches for swimming are Psili ammos, Vlychada and Vitsilia.
It is a small volcanic island in the northeastern Aegean Sea surrounded by Limnos, Lesvos, and Skyros islands. Visit the ruins of ancient towns surrounded by serene unspoilt nature. The island has been declared a Site of Community Importance (SCI), and an Important Bird Area of Greece.
Ai Stratis is hardly a strange place. All it takes is a few days for one to discover the thirst for communication, the kindness and the courtesy of the locals. Unreserved and with no shyness, ulterior motives or personal gain in mind, they will open their hearts to you just as easily as they will show you the map of their island. They will speak to you of the volcanic grey beach with its warm waters just a short distance from their homes. From the beautiful harbour, next to the caiques and fishing boats, you can set off in their own vessels on a tour of the island and beaches not accessible by land, such as Agios Dimitrios Trygari, Trypiti, Ftelio, Gournias, Lydario.
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