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Why Should I Visit Chios?

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Chios at a glance

The birthplace of Homer, according to tradition, Chios is one of the most authentic and unexplored islands in the Aegean, and can be reached by taking a ferry to Chios.

Fragrant Chios, with its unique mastic trees and the intoxicating orchards of the famous Kambos, captivates visitors with a kaleidoscope of irresistible images.

It is a place with a unique history and identity, blessed with medieval fortified towns full of atmosphere and stunning architecture, an abundance of nature from the wild beauty of its boundless seas to its mountain pastures, and an enviable culinary tradition.

Chios is the island of legendary sea captains, the Genoese Christopher Columbus, and the Greek War of Independence. It is also an island where the ordinary people demonstrate a well-bred dignity and genuine hospitality. All of this makes it the ideal destination for travellers that want an alternative holiday experience full of unknown treasures and surprises that you can discover by looking one of the itineraries and book a ferry ticket for Chios.

10 reasons to visit Chios
  1. To discover the famous Mastic Villages, labyrinthine fortified settlements built of stone with a medieval atmosphere and unique architecture, a legacy of the period of Genoese rule (14th-16th century). Following the devastating earthquake of 1881, only 24 of the villages were left standing.
  2. To visit the 11th-century Byzantine monastery of Nea Moni, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for the quality of its beautiful mosaics.
  3. To be enchanted by the mysterious aura of the medieval settlement of Anavatos. The ruined ghost village of tower-like houses with black empty windows rises like a fortress at the top of a steep conical rock.
  4. To wander the stone-paved paths of the famous Kambos, between the fragrant citrus orchards and beautiful mansions of the old Genoese and Chian aristocracy, hidden behind high stone walls with impressive gates.
  5. To visit the excellent Chios Mastic Museum and be initiated into the secrets of Chios’s most precious natural resource and the art of mastic production. The museum's position, surrounded by mastic trees on a hilltop with a view of the medieval village of Pyrgi, makes for an unforgettable experience.  
  6. To stand on Homer's Rock, the ancient stone where the poet reputedly sat when teaching poetry or declaiming his works to his pupils.
  7. To see up close the spectacular Rocket War in the village of Vrontados. This takes place on the night of the Resurrection every Easter, when improvised rockets are launched between the parishes of St Mark and the Virgin Mary Erythiani, with each side aiming to hit the clock of the rival bell-tower. Just make sure you keep a safe distance from the “battlefield”!
  8. To walk around Chios Town, built in the shape of an amphitheatre and known as the “Venice of the East” until its destruction by the Ottomans in 1822. Don't miss the impressive 9th century castle and the romantic stone windmills with an unimpeded view of the sea.
  9. To watch the sunset from the volcanic Merikounta beach near Mesta.
  10. To drink the famous “Greek mojito” made with mastic liqueur, basil and sugar.
The top 5 beaches

Mavra Volia: The island's most famous beach owes its name to the large black pebbles left behind by a volcanic eruption. The wild, rugged beauty of the landscape and the cool, crystal clear waters create a spectacular setting that is best seen at sunset. Note that it is not permitted to remove pebbles from the beach.

Glari Beach: One of Chios’ most fashionable beaches, with coarse sand and turquoise waters kept cool by its currents. Surrounded by the white rocky hills of an old quarry, it is a favourite haven for seagulls and lovers of all-day beach parties with loud music. It is situated on the north side of the island, 9 km from Chios Town.

Karfas: The ideal destination in southern Chios for anyone who loves playing in the sand, sunbathing and water sports. The beach at the island’s most touristy resort is wide and sandy with shallow water, making it perfect for families with young children.

Agia Fotia: One of the island’s most popular and best-organised beaches, 11 km south of Chios Town. The superb pebble beach and the deep, crystal-clear sea give the place a wild beauty. It is a favourite destination for young people looking for ferry tickets to Chios.

Managros: Chios’ biggest beach is 2 km long and is located near Volissos. It combines coarse sand and pebbles and the sea is deep and crystal-clear. Its wide view makes the Aegean seem like an ocean and it is ideal for anyone who wants to combine relative quiet and seclusion with the basic amenities of a tourist beach.

Don’t leave Chios without…
  • Visiting the house of Christopher Columbus in Pyrgi. According to tradition, the legendary seafarer and explorer lived for a time on the island.
  • Going to Mesta, the best preserved of the Mastic Villages. Built as a maze of narrow cobbled streets and vaulted passageways under the terraces of the stone houses, it retains the enigmatic charm of the medieval world. Go inside the church of the Old Taxiarch with its superb carved wooden icon screen.
  • Stopping to admire the painted houses of Pyrgi, decorated with black and white geometric designs created by scratching into fresh plaster, similar to the Genoese “sgraffito” technique. The distinctive setting is complemented by strings of cherry tomatoes hanging from the balconies of the village.
  • Strolling through the atmospheric lanes of Volissos, a village built in the shape of an amphitheatre, and stopping at the imposing Byzantine castle with its six round towers. From here, it is worth following the circular trail that goes through the Malagiotis valley, passing by olive groves, watermills and small churches.
  • Visiting the village of Armolia, famous for its pottery.
  • Stocking up on traditional mastic products such as liqueur, ouzo, and sweets, as well as natural cosmetics from the official store of the Association of Chios Mastic Producers.
  • Exploring Olympi Cave, with its impressive stalagmites and stalactites. From its entrance there is an amazing view of the Aegean.
  • Taking a boat trip and spending a day discovering the picturesque island cluster of Inousses and the historic island of Psara.
  • Discovering the numerous Genoese watchtowers that guard the west coast of Chios. These imposing circular structures look out over the sea from the capes of Emporeios, Elinta, Trachilia and Lithi, and other locations on the island.
  • Hiking through the spectacular Kambia Gorge, one of Chios’ most beautiful trails. The sound of water, the dense vegetation with plane trees and rose bushes, and the wooden bridges add up to a magical experience.
  • Seeing the red tulips that grow wild on the island and make the landscape near the village of Tholopotami a picture of unique beauty every March.
Tasty Experiences
  • Try the famous Chios Mastelo (soft white cheese made of cow’s milk) grilled or fried as saganaki.
  • Don't forget to drink a refreshing mandarinade. The Chios Mandarin, the island’s king of citrus fruits and much sought after for its uniquely intoxicating aroma, is a protected designation of origin (PDO) product.
  • Make a stop at the historic Avgoustakis patisserie in Chios Town for traditional island sweets such as masourakia (crunchy flutes of filo pastry filled with honey and almonds).
  • Try the delicious local kourmades (wrinkled olives flavoured with mastic) with a shot of souma (fig tsipouro).
  • In the traditional tavernas of the island you can enjoy delicious local mezes such as tabouropita (pumpkin pie), malathrokeftedes (fennel rissoles), sfouggato me koutsounades (omelette with poppy leaves), melitzanopilafo (rice and aubergine), fried green tomatoes, begoto (a fried pie of whitebait or smelt and finely chopped onion), and avgokalamara (small omelettes with minced meat).
  • Imbibe the ancient wine culture of Chios with a glass of “Ariousos”. This renowned wine of antiquity, the nectar of the gods, has been revived in the region of Amani where the red varieties of Chiotiko Krasero and Agiannitis are cultivated.

The destruction of Chios and the massacre of thousands of the islanders by the Ottoman army in April 1822 was an event that resonated worldwide and a source of inspiration for artists of the day. They included Victor Hugo, who dedicated his poem “L’Enfant de Chios” (8-10 July 1828), included in the collection “Les Orientales”, to the Greek War of Independence, while in 1824, Eugene Delacroix painted the famous “Massacre at Chios”, which hangs in the Louvre Museum. 

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