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Why Should I Visit Lesvos?

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Lesvos at a glance

The home of the lyric poet Sappho and the folk painter Theophilos, a timeless inspiration for artists and writers, a popular place of recreation for the great and the good of the Roman Empire, but also the “garden of the empire” for the Ottomans, Lesvos has always held a unique position in the cultural history of the Mediterranean.

The third largest Greek island is an earthly paradise with an inexhaustible variety of landscapes to beguile the visitor. Endless olive groves and dense pine forests, majestic mountains, wetlands inhabited by rare wildlife, otherworldly lunar landscapes, picturesque villages, idyllic bays and stunning beaches form a mosaic of unparalleled natural beauty that you can enjoy by choosing ferry tickets for Lesvos.

The splendid architectural heritage of the island, the important museums, the delicious cuisine and the authentic spirit of hospitality of the locals bear witness to a remarkable centuries-old culture, promising visitors an unforgettable holiday full of beauty and cosmopolitan sophistication.

10 reasons to visit Lesvos
  1. To explore Mytilene, the beautiful capital of the island, built in the shape of an amphitheatre across seven pine-covered hills. Discover a medley of cultures in its picturesque cobbled streets, the imposing Byzantine castle above the port of Mytilene, the Hellenistic theatre on the hill of Saint Kyriaki, the Ottoman monuments, the Archaeological Museum and the Municipal Art Gallery. Take a stroll along the bustling seafront, which is full of character.
  2. To discover the mysterious beauty of the world-famous Petrified Forest at Sigri. A colourful world of plant fossils and volcanic rocks where time stands still, it has been declared a Protected Natural Monument and is part of Unesco’s Global Geoparks Network. The extraordinary Natural History Museum of Lesvos Petrified Forest relates the 20-million-year-old geological history of the Aegean.
  3. To admire the magnificent church of Saint Therapontas, with its iconic dome that dominates the Mytilene skyline. The impressive edifice, an eclectic mix of neoclassical, gothic and baroque elements, was inaugurated in 1935.
  4. To explore the enchanting town of Molyvos, one of the most beautiful listed settlements in Greece. Built in the shadow of the imposing Byzantine castle of Mithymna with a view of the Aegean, the town is an attractive maze of narrow cobbled streets with magnificent stone-and-wood mansions whose vibrant colours are particularly striking.
  5. To discover the art of the famous folk painter Theophilos (Hatzimichail) at the Theophilos Museum in the leafy suburb of Varia. The collection comprises 86 paintings on themes from history, mythology and folklore. It also includes landscapes and scenes of everyday island life in the early 20th century.
  6. To taste the delicious Kalloni sardines along with the island’s famous ouzo.
  7. To visit the beautiful Lesvos Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production, housed in the old community olive press in Agia Paraskevi. The museum tells the story of the island’s industrial heritage and the technological development of olive oil production with exemplary clarity.
  8. To admire the island’s dazzling architectural heritage in some of the neighbourhoods of Mytilene, such as Aklidio, Sourada, Kioski and Makris Gialos. Listed neoclassical houses and mansions with baroque, neo-gothic and belle epoque elements testify to the wealth and prosperity of the shipowners, industrialists and merchants of the cosmopolitan upper middle classes of the 19th century and early 20th century.
  9. To enjoy a relaxing and therapeutic bath at the famous Hot Springs of Eftalou that bubble up beneath the sea. Combine the experience with a dip in the cool waters of the Aegean.
  10. To watch the sunset from the castle of Mithymna, one of the best-preserved fortresses in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The top 5 beaches

St Isidore: The beach of the picturesque Plomari offers a paradise of small white pebbles and cool blue waters on the south side of the island, next to the small church of the same name. It has tourist facilities and is extremely popular, especially among lovers of water sports.

Vatera: The island’s longest beach has coarse sand and crystal-clear blue waters. One part offers tourist amenities such as umbrellas, sun loungers and a beach bar, but most of its 8-km length is perfect for people seeking quiet and seclusion. Ideal for water sports, sailing and fishing, it is a fantastic beach for all ages and tastes.

Skala Eressou: The ultimate alternative destination, combining total relaxation with intense nightlife on the southwest side of the island. It is ideal for water sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing but also for sitting back and watching the magical sunset from the wooden decks of the bar-restaurants that extend over its dark volcanic sand.

St Hermogenes: An enchanting bay with a small strip of sand, emerald waters and pine trees that come up to the water’s edge. The pretty white church of Saint Hermogenes that stands above the beach perfectly complements the idyllic setting. In east Lesvos, 20 km south of Mytilene.

Petra: One of the island’s most beautiful and best organised beaches, with golden sand and crystal-clear waters, it is ideal for a carefree dip, water sports, diving, and snorkelling. It also offers dazzling views of the sunset and the attractive islets of Glaronisi, Myrmigi, Mikro Nisi and Agios Georgios.

Don’t leave Lesvos without…
  • Visiting the excellent Teriade Museum of Modern Art in Varia, an aesthetic gem dedicated to the work of the renowned Paris-based art critic and publisher Stratis Eleftheriades. The exhibition includes the 26 “Grands Livres”, enormous handmade albums of text and images by leading twentieth-century artists. There are also works by Chagall, Matisse, Miro, Picasso, Giacometti, Le Corbusier, Tsarouchis, and Rorris.
  • Climbing up to the church of the Virgin Mary Glykofilousa in the village of Petra to admire the rare Byzantine icons and the uniquely beautiful carved wooden episcopal throne. The church is built like a fortress on the top of a 40-metre rock. You will need to climb up 114 carved stone steps to get there, but once you do, there is an unsurpassed view to reward you.
  • Exploring the Gulf of Kalloni wetland, one of the top 10 European destinations for watching rare and protected birds. The area is a paradise for nature lovers, with 252 species of birds, including white storks, swans, and pink flamingos.
  • Visiting the traditional pottery and wood-carving workshops in the villages of Mandamados and Agiassos. Buy unique ceramic items for everyday use or decoration, as well as wonderful olivewood works of art.
  • Learning the secrets of ouzo at one of the historic distillery-museums in the picturesque town of Plomari, home of the famous Greek aperitif.
  • Exploring the picturesque mountain village of Agiassos, situated on the verdant slopes of Mount Olympus. Take a stroll through its cobbled streets and follow a hiking trail through magnificent chestnut trees.
  • Discovering the impressive tower houses around Thermi, symbols of the social power of the 18th century bourgeoisie and the prosperity that olive oil brought to the island.
  • Visiting a Women's Cooperative to buy traditional preserves, homemade sauces, liqueurs, amygdalota (almond sweets) and pasteli (bars of honey and sesame seeds).
Tasty experiences
  • Learn how to drink ouzo like a Greek by pairing it with some of the island's famed mezes such as giouzlemedes (fried cheese pies filled with mizithra cheese and mint), giaprakia (dolmades made with vine leaves, rice, onion and courgettes), and anthismata and sougania (respectively, courgette flowers and onions stuffed with cheese or rice).
  • Enjoy fresh fish and seafood mezes at Sigri, Kalloni and Sykamnia. Make sure you try the island's famous salted seafood (Kalloni sardines, bonito in an oil and lemon dressing, anchovies, and mackerel), as well as delicacies such as the famous Lesvos octopus and scallops with rice pilaf.
  • Take the ferry to Lesvos and taste the local sfouggato (a kind of baked omelette with courgettes, feta cheese and eggs).
  • Enjoy the island’s famous PDO (protected designation of origin) cheeses: feta, ladotiri and kasseri.
  • Try selinato (pork with wild celery) and stuffed goat.
  • If you are on Lesvos in the autumn, don’t miss the delicious wild mushrooms from the island’s mountains, such as bloody milk caps and oyster mushrooms.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with platzenta (the local baklava made with filo, walnuts and syrup) and gemata (almond sweets).
  • Try hachles, a type of trachanas (fermented grain and yoghurt) dried and shaped into bowls, which are made only on Lesvos. You can enjoy them as the basis of a dakos salad (filled with tomatoes, olives and feta cheese) or crumbled into soup.
Trivia

“Nowhere else in the world do the sun and moon coexist so harmoniously, do they share their power so justly, as on this piece of land which once, who knows in what fantastical time, some god, for his own sport, picked and blew far away, just like a leaf from a plane tree, into the middle of the sea. I am talking about the island which later, once it was inhabited, was called ‘Lesvos’, and whose position, as we see it marked on geographical maps, does not seem to correspond overmuch to reality.”

Odysseus Elytis

MAP OF LESVOS
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