Chios has made quite a name for itself with its so-called mastic villages and proud sea captains. And yet, it’s one of the most unexplored islands of the North Aegean, full of secrets, surprises and hidden treasures. Blessed by nature and history, it is fragrant, authentic and irresistible. When you come here on holiday, be prepared to leave behind a little bit of your soul.
What to do on Chios
The fertile and stately Kambos
Discover a network of narrow roads that barely fit a car, tall walls made by skilled stonemasons and ornate doors with beautiful arches. Chios’ most aristocratic families once lived here, in the island’s most fertile valley, and it is where the Genovese built their mansions in the 14th century.
The legendary mastic villages
There are about 20 medieval mastic villages in southern Chios and the experience of walking within, and even between them, is magical. Particularly noteworthy are Pyrgi and Mesta, followed by Vessa, Armolia, Nenita and Patrika.
You will be surrounded by the famed mastic fields, full of the low bush with outstretched branches and a bent trunk that related to the pistachio tree – and the symbol of the island. The harvesting of its resin, which consists of making incisions in the tree (what the locals call Kentima or embroidery) results in mastic ‘tears’ dripping from the trunk and gathered in August.
The gentle, fragrant and pricey product is exclusive to Chios and has been cultivated here since the 1st century AD. It is also believed to have therapeutic properties. Tradition says that the mastic trees began crying when Agios Isidoros was tortured on Chios by the Romans.
The Byzantine village of Anavatos
An unforgettable sight, the once fortified Byzantine village of Anavatos lies in ruin, but it still clinging defiantly to the side of the cliff.
A suburb of the island’s main town, Vrontados is famous for its rocket wars (roketopolemos) which happen every Easter, when thousands of rockets are fired from opposing camps, creating an incredible spectacle across the night sky.
Hidden gems of Chios
The treasures of the north
The landscape surrounding the highest mountain, Pelinaio, is exhilarating, with picturesque villages and the dirt roads that lead you to secret, secluded beaches. If you’re looking for a suggested route, try Kardamila-Nagos-Amades-Viki-Kambia-Kipouries-Diefha.
Nea Moni Monastery and its masterful mosaics
The most important monastery in Chios, and one of the most notable in Greece, it was established in 1024 by the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos. It has been recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site and the mosaics by the altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary are amongst the most beautiful in the world.
The food of Chios
Other than its famed masticha, Chios offers a large choice of local produce and authentic tastes. The culinary wealth of this island includes butter and cheeses (such as mastelo), citrus fruit (mandarins), ouzo and aromatic liqueurs, wines of excellent quality, local sweets, pasteli (a sesame and honey bar) and of course abundant fresh fish and seafood.
Experience the best of Chios
Exploring the mastic traditions of Chios
- The legendary mastic villages
- The Byzantine village of Anavatos
- Rumbling Vrontados
- Nea Moni Monastery and its masterful mosaics