Welcome to Lesvos
! The ‘homeland’ of ouzo, that welcomes you with a delicious coffee in its capital, a glass of the island’s iconic drink and unforgettable experiences. We have singled out ten of the best experiences on the island and are presenting them here. Select as many activities that fit into your itinerary… and you’re off!
1. The town of Mytilini: Its history begins in the 10th century BC. Its memorable images are the ‘Statue of Liberty’, the church of Agios Therapontas with its magnificent dome, the Metropolitan church of Agios Athanasios, important Ottoman monuments, such as Geni Tzami (Mosque) and the adjacent Tsarsi, as well as the impressive castle under the rule of the emperor Justinian. Enjoy strolls in Prokymaia, with its impressive neoclassical buildings, the restaurants and cafes, the cobblestone streets of town and Ermou Street with its modern shops, ouzeries and tavernas. In the neighbouring area of Vareia, you’ll find the famous museum of the Greek folk painter Theofilos as well as the Museum of Modern Art with works by Matisse, Miro, Picasso, and Tsarouhi.
2. Molyvos, the one and only: Homes made of stone and wood, little shops of all kinds, cafes and ouzeries, cobblestone streets. And the Byzantine castle, one of the best-preserved in all of the Eastern Mediterranean. Walk along the main street in the village, admire the central market and head up to the castle: the view is spectacular. In Molyvos Park, an old olive oil factory has been converted into one of the most interesting hotels on the island. It’s worth visiting the picturesque fishing port of Molyvos, with its caiques and trawlers, where the commercial activities of the islanders never stop. There you can sit at an ouzeri and enjoy a meze paired with ouzo.
3. The Petrified Forest: Among the most beautiful and oldest geological heritage monuments worldwide. The UNESCO-protected natural monument has an area of 150.000 sq. metres with hundreds of standing and fallen petrified tree trunks and volcanic rocks. There is no need to walk it all: the Natural History Museum in Sigri that is part of the worldwide UNESCO Geopark Network will satisfy your curiosity.
4. Authentic villages: The villages of Lesvos are an open and hospitable embrace for all. It is worth visiting the following:
5. Unforgettable beaches:
- Plomari: the homeland of ouzo, with a central market buzzing with life and old coffee shops serving traditional Greek coffee.
- Agiasos: a preserved traditional village on the slopes of Mount Olympus. In its cobblestone streets you’ll find shops selling wooden sculptures and fabrics. Visit the Church of Panagia with its miraculous icon that dates back to the 4th century.
- Petra: one of the most impressive villages in Lesvos, with an incredible view from the Church of Panagia.
- Skala Sykamias: here, the old stately houses will impress you – as will the chapel of Panagia Gorgona.
- Asomatos: here you’ll buy wooden sculptures, homemade jams and sweets.
- Mantamados: this village is famous for its fresh dairy products and ceramics. Visit the potters at their workshops and discover how they create their works with the wheel. In the same area, outside of the famous Taxiarchis Monastery, you’ll find a picturesque coffee shop serving delicious loukoumades (traditional doughnuts) and other local products in the shade of the plane trees.
- Agia Paraskevi: here, in the last weekend in June, the famous ‘Bull Festival’ is organised.
- Sigri: The revival of the custom of Ai Yianni Klidona occurs on the 24th of July, followed by a folk festival where fires are lit and the locals jump through the streets of the village.
259 kilometres of coastline, nine beaches awarded with Blue Flags in 2014, and crystalline waters, deep enough for scuba diving.
- In Molyvos, you’ll find organised beaches with beach bars, and you’ll feast on fresh fish at the nearby tavernas.
- In Eftalou, you’ll enjoy the thermal springs as well as the crystal clear water of its famous beach.
- In Tarti, at the Gulf of Gera, you’ll fish and eat fresh seafood at the little tavernas.
- In Skala Kalloni, with its beautiful beach, you’ll drink ouzo and try the famous sardine of the same name.
- On the western side of the island, at Sigri, you’ll swim under the castle, while surfers will opt for the nearby beach of Faneromeni.
- Young groups of friends gather at the organised beach of Skala Eressos, at Kanoni beach and at Agios Ermogenis near the capital.
- For family-friendly holidays make your way to Petra, Vatera beach with all the facilities needed for water sports, Anaxos with its tavernas and view of the Molyvos castle, as well as the organised beach of Tsamakia, near Mytilini.
- Those that prefer seclusion, choose the beaches of Tsonia, Chrousso, Chryssi Akti and Antissa.
6. Ouzo brings happiness to the heart: Its history begins with the Greeks of Alexandria and Smyrna – experts in the techniques of distillation from the 15th century. Centuries later, the so-called rakitzides produced a spirit with anise and fragrant herbs, which charmed the affluent class of the Ottoman Empire. After the Asia Minor catastrophe, the rakitzides migrated to Greece and ouzo found in Lesvos the perfect homeland, due to its vineyards and exceptional quality of anise. Enjoy it straight or with water, and pair it with mezedes of all kinds, including fresh fish, the famous olives and oil of Mytilini, and the delicious ladotyri, a sheep’s milk cheese.
For a unique experience, try ouzo paired with the famous sardine of Kalloni. Take note of some of the other local specialities: koutavakia (baby shark fry), stingray, giouslemedes (small cheese pies with mint), zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese, and lakerda (cured bonito).
7. Thermal springs and waterfalls: 14 waterfalls can be found throughout the island and at the thermal springs of Thermis, Lisvorios, Gulf of Gera, Eftalou, and Polihnitou… and they will revitalise your body and your soul. In the area of Eressos, in a large olive grove, there is a meditation centre that provides the treatments of the famous Indian mystic and philosopher, Osho.
8. Archaeological sites: The Ancient Theatre of Mytilini in the area of Kamares was built in the early Hellenistic years and had a capacity for 10,000 spectators. The Ionic temple of Messa near Agia Paraskevi is one of the most significant monuments and attractions of Lesvos, together with the Ancient Temple of Klopedi, near Agia Paraskevi, and the Roman Aqueduct at Moria, just outside the capital.
9. The monasteries: Sensational traditions, heirlooms, and priceless treasures of the Orthodox religion: The miraculous ‘bas-relief’ icon of the Archangel Michael in Mantamado, they say was made of clay and blood. On the south side of the ‘Iero Vima’ at the Monastery of Limonas, there is a water fountain from which holy water flows. The Monastery of Pammegiston Taxiarchon was built in the 16th century. The Monastery of St. John the Theologian looks like a fortress, and because of its position on the summit of Mount Ordymnos, it is called ‘Ypsilos’ (High).
10. Birdwatching: Its position in the Eastern Mediterranean and the large variety of wetlands gifts it with visits from endemic and migratory birds from Asia, Africa and Europe – at least 134 different kinds! Discover those in Agia Paraskevi, Dipios – Larsos and Kalloni, that is a nesting place for rare and endangered birds. Nature lovers and scientists observe black and white storks, Ruddy, Avocets, jackdaws, shags and pink flamingos. The islets of Glaronisi and Myrmingi are a protected wild bird area and at Agios Georgios there is an ecological observatory.