North Greek Islands
NORTH GREEK ISLANDS
Chios- The home of Saint Christopher
The port is a city with traffic and buses. Lots of interesting fortress villages known as Mastichochoria for their historic manufacturing of Mastika, a gummy sap that had major value in cosmetics and medicine before the use of petroleum and still used for a variety of purposes (including a kind of chewing gum and a liquor). Chios is one of the most beautiful of the Aegean islands and has a capable bus system. Renting a car is the best way to see it though. The tiny island of Psara is accessible only from Chios. Be sure to read Was Columbus Greek? An article about his possible origins on the island of Chios. Daily boats from Piraeus take about 8 hours and arrive at 4 am. They continue on to Lesvos, Limnos and on some days to Kavala or Thessaloniki. There is also a boat that goes to and from Volos once a week and another to Samos and the major islands in the Dodecanese.
Hot springs at Therma and Therma Lefkada. The Port of Ag. Kyriakos is the main town as well.Arministis is the island’s main resort town and is surrounded by forests and fine beaches.There is an art school here called the Hellenic Cultural Center that may be worth checking out. They offer classes in Greek language and other programs as well. Ikaria is known for its apricots and lack of tourists. It was the Ikarians who dredged the Cape Fear river making Wilmington, North Carolina’s primary seaport because it was a source for pine resin (as in Retsina). The Fourni islands, between Ikaria and Samos, are a group of small islands with secluded beaches, accessible by small caique from Ag. Kyrikos that are well worth a visit if you like to swim and spend your time in small fish tavernas. Connected by ferry to Samos with a daily boat to and from Pireaus, nine hours away. If you are looking for a non-touristy island this might be for you.
Far enough away to have avoided the mass tourism which has infected other islands, Limnos has some of the best beaches in the Aegean. The town of Myrina is famous for its excellent fish restaurants and massive volcanic rocks. There are ferries from Pireaus, Thessloniki and Kavala and excursion boats to the nearby island of Agis Efstratos.
I love this island, also known by the name of Mytilini, the name of the main city, which is the port where most people will arrive either by boat or plane. Great market. The best food, especially seafood. Famous for ouzo and sardines. Try Dimino and Gianatsi which are my favourites and are distilled in the traditional way. Popular brands like Mini, Plomari and Veto are better than the commercial brands you will find in the airport or at home. (tip: to find the best ouzo check the alcohol content. The closer to 40%, the better the taste. The sardines come from two big bays, Yera and Kaloni. Skala Erressos is the birthplace of Sapho. It’s one of the best beaches in the world and a popular family destination as well as alternative travellers meaning, in this case, gay women, spiritually-minded people and poets. It also has some of the best restaurants on the island and cafes and bars right on the sea. One of the best towns for families with children since it has a long boardwalk and is basically car-free for the most part.
Molyvos is built around a medieval castle. Many foreigners, some visiting, some living there. There are a Zen centre and other spiritual and cultural forums. Plomari is famous for having the best ouzo, and the strongest. Kaloni is the bird-watching capital of Europe and has more wildflowers then anywhere in Greece. The best sardines too. Thermal spas at Skala Thermi, Eftalou and Yeros which people say can cure a variety of ailments. (They worked on my back). The beach at Vatera is about seven kilometres long one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. The town of Sigri has amazing beaches, most long and empty and a summer wind that keeps the place so cool you don’t need air-conditioning. The island is big. Too big for motorbikes. You will need a car if you want to explore but you can be perfectly happy without one. The Sunrise Hotel is Luxury at economy prices. Also, the Sea Horse in Molyvos is right in the harbour and is cheap. Lesvos is inexpensive! You can save money by going here and have as much fun or more then you will elsewhere. You can also do day trips and overnight trips to Avalik, Turkey, about an hour away by ferry.
Ferries leave Pireaus at dusk and arrive in Mytilini at 7 am every day, stopping in Chios though in the last couple years they have added some fast boats that take about 7 hours. There is also an international airport so close to the beach that you can go for a swim if your flight is delayed.
Big and green. Nice beaches. Tourism is down here for some reason so take advantage while you can. Car or bike essential. The industrial city of Karlavassi with deserted warehouses and factories would make a cool set for a movie about the end of the world and is an up and coming tourist destination with bars, cafes and restaurants. The main port is busy but fun. Samos was the island that was on fire for a week during the summer of 2000. But don’t let that scare you away because even though some of the forests in the interior of the island were pretty much destroyed, the coastal areas, beaches and resorts were unscathed and tourists given the choice to continue their holiday elsewhere opted to stay. Day trips to Turkey. Ephesus is fantastic, an entire ruined ancient city that is a stop for just about every cruise ship in the Aegean.
This small island between Limnos and Alexandroupolis in Thrace is one of the most beautiful islands and boasts the highest mountain of all the Aegean islands. It is an island of forests and olive groves, springs and waterfalls and has some of the most abundant wildlife in Greece. Though virtually unknown to tourists, many Greeks visit the island during July and especially in August. Daily ferry connections to Alexandropoulis and several a week to Kavala. There is also a boat to Lesvos and in the summer a hydrofoil service to Limnos, Thassos, Kavala, Halkidiki, Porto Lagos and Alexandropoulis. The Winged Nike of Samothrace in the Louvre Museum in Paris came from here.
The beautiful island in the Northern Eastern Aegean that used to be popular with Germans because they could drive down easily when there were not all the problems in Yugoslavia. But now it is popular with Eastern Europeans and people from the Balkan countries who can get here fairly easily. It’s a beautiful island and not a lot of tourists though if you are coming in late July and August you would be smart to book well in advance. You have to take the ferry from Kavala which leaves every hour and there are 6 hydrofoils a day in the summer. Great beaches.