The Greek island of Lesvos is also known as Lesbos island and many times called Mytilene among the locals, who use the name of its capital to refer to the whole island. It is located in the North-East Aegean and is the third largest island in Greece.
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While it hasn't gained the fame other Greek islands have, it is an authentic Greek holiday destination one should choose in the summer to avoid the large tourist crowds.
However, full of rich history, fresh local produce, and stunning coastal walks, the island of Lesvos has a lot to offer visitors all year round.
Lesvos island was the birthplace of poets Sappho and Alcaeus, artist Theophilus and famous Greek author Stratis Myrivilis. The beautiful island of Lesvos, however, is mainly known as the home of the popular ancient Greek poet Sappho, from whose association with homosexuality, the word lesbian derives its modern meaning.
Olive groves cover most of the area and are separated by two deep, close bays. Lesvos is also a rich cultural town with vibrant traditional villages with miles of beaches, ouzo distilleries, and exquisite food.
Here is a highlights guide to the magical island of Lesvos to navigate your way through it like a local!
The best towns and villages on Lesvos island
Molyvos - credits: en.wikipedia.org
The most beautiful village of Lesvos is located in the northern part of the island, at a distance of 60 km from the capital, Mytilini.
Molyvos impresses the visitor by maintaining its imposing Genoese castle, which "crowns" the settlement and is considered one of the best-preserved castles in the eastern Mediterranean.
The village, with its traditional stone-built cobblestone streets, beautiful stone mansions with wooden balconies, as well as the dreamy view of the sunset, is a favorite destination on the island for those who want to discover places that really remain engraved in their memory forever.
A walk through the flowery alleys offers incredible picturesque images, while the fragrances that emerge from the village's ouzos are among its main features that delight the visitor.
What is worth mentioning about Molyvos is the fact that to preserve the architectural specificity of the settlement and its traditional color and aroma – since 1965, it has been declared a protected settlement – building is not allowed unless the materials used are stone and wood.
Antissa is the second most important village in the region and the birthplace of the ancient poet and musician Terpandros.
Its square with the centuries-old plane trees, which create a beautiful landscape with the shade they give to the coffee tables, will attract your attention.
Its port is the picturesque settlement of Gavathas, where most of the inhabitants are engaged in fishing, while tourism is a growing employment sector. According to legend, the lyre and the head of Orpheus were found here after he was killed by the Maenads.
At a short distance from the settlement is the Monastery of Perivolia, which was built at the beginning of the 17th century, and is decorated with remarkable Byzantine frescoes.
Traditional house in Lesvos - credits: Pixabay.com
A village is known worldwide for its ouzo, and, of course, the large village of Plomari could not be without an ouzo museum.
Today, in the picturesque Plomari of Lesvos, technology coexists with history and tradition. Next to the modern, privately owned distilleries of the Varvagianni Distillery is the Ouzo Museum of the Varvagiannis family.
The museum exhibits the first tools used for bottling and affixing the famous Blue label and the first cauldron built in 1858 in Constantinople, in which centuries-old secrets and techniques were tested to give birth to the recipes of the Varvagiannis family.
In the area of Plomari, you could not miss the beaches with the best of them Ag. Isidore. Agios Isidoros is located 2 km after Plomari in a tourist area with hotels and restaurants.
It is about 1500m long and is a beach with fine pebbles. It is an organized beach and is considered one of the cleanest beaches of Lesvos with very clear water and has been awarded a blue flag.
Kalloni is a large settlement in terms of population. It is located 40 kilometers northwest of Mytilini and spreads out in a large and fertile plain in the island's center.
The plain of Kalloni, the island's largest plain, with its abundance of water and rich soil, is the center of Lesvos, which has been densely populated since ancient times. In its fertile plain, olive trees, fruit trees, and potatoes are cultivated, while there are also smaller crops with vines and citrus fruits.
At a distance of 4 kilometers, there is Skala Kallonis, an organized commercial and picturesque port in the Gulf area with an abundance of fish taverns. With its port, Skala Kallonis, it has experienced quite intense tourism and has become one of the best-known tourist destinations on the island due to its central location.
Skala Kallonis, with its long sandy beach that is awarded every year with a Blue Flag and with the development of hotel units, is also famous for the well-known Kallonis sardine or "papalina" which is one of the classic Greek delicacies. In fact, as part of cultural events, the seafood "Festival of Sardines" is organized every summer.
The picturesqueness of the area is completed by the bay's salt marshes and the wetlands, which, due to the presence of a large number of rare birds, is a point of attraction for intense ecotourism. It is worth visiting the wetland, the area with the rarest species.
The coastal areas of the Gulf of Kalloni have been included in the "Natura 2000" network since they are an excellent refuge and breeding ground for rare and protected bird species. The salt marshes of Kalloni gather many species of birds, such as flamingos, which offer observers an impressive sight.
The best beaches on the Greek island of Lesvos
Lesvos beach - credits: pixabay.com
Tarti is one of the best beaches on the island, with pebbles and a large area in the southern part, east of Plomari. The first taverna you will meet there, which is almost always full, is the best fish tavern in the area where the locals also eat.
North of Mytilini, you should go to Mandamados, and on those shores to the east are the beaches of Agios Stefanos (St. Stefan), one of the few sandy beaches on the island. Many dirt roads will take you to various beautiful beaches.
Lesvos- credits: Nejdet_Duzen/Shutterstock.com
Vatera below Polychnitos has been voted one of the best beaches in Greece. I think it is the longest beach on the island and you can enjoy your swim.
Next to the beautiful Molyvos, to the east, there is Eftalou, a beautiful beach with large pebbles and stones, but it deepens abruptly, and you will not understand them.
With a family profile, excellent facilities for games, and water sports over 8 km, this beach will become your favorite. Around it, there are taverns, beach bars, and hotels.
Sailboat in Lesvos - credits: pixabay.com
In the northern part of the island and to the left of Molyvos, there is Anaxos (Anaxos) below the village of Skoutaro, where it is also very beautiful and touristic.
Beach with umbrellas and sunbeds – everything for families and water sports enthusiasts. Three kilometers west of the village is the beach of Anaxos, an organized sandy beach with tavernas and a great view of Molyvos.
Open the umbrellas and relax on the sunbeds of Kanoni beach, in Thermi, north of Mytilini, where you will find beach bars and tavernas as well as water sports.
Skala Eresou - credits: en.wikipedia.org
A beach with crystal clear waters, fine gray sand, and a length of 2.5 km. They are suitable for a casual atmosphere, while its remarkable infrastructure makes it one of the most important tourist resorts on the island with a special lifestyle – as the birthplace of Sappho, it is a classic destination for gays from all over the world.
Just 4 km from the village of Mesotopos, there is this beautiful sandy beach with the small plain to the Mallionta river. Although deserted, here you will also find a canteen with a few suggestions for food.
Near the village of Klio, this water oasis is the best secret. Crystal clear waters, red sand, and – if you are lucky – dolphins basking in the waters of the North Aegean! It is recommended to bring a cooler with the essentials to spend several hours there.
The sandy beach of Kalloni attracts those in the area to drink ouzo and taste the famous sardine. Bars and taverns are spread along it.
Lesvos - credits: pixabay.com
The beach of Plomari will reward anyone who swims in its deep blue waters. Plus the green landscape, the fine gravel, and the excellent tourist infrastructure.
In the village of the same name, on the west of the lovely island, spread a towel on the sandy beach, admire the castle and take a dip in the shallow waters. It has many hotels, nice restaurants, and cafes around it. On the other side is the more deserted, huge beach of Faneromeni, which is often caught by the wind, so surfers will love it.
Lesvos - credits: en.wikipedia.org
You will prefer Kampos, near Antissa, if you like... solitude. With large pebbles and fine sand just a few inches before you reach the sea, it's a good idea to bring supplies as there is nothing nearby. In Ancient Antissa, the beaches (some sandy and others pebbly) are shallow and surrounded by green plains. They are usually preferred by older people for the few but good fish restaurants. You will discover them coming from Kampos by crossing a river.
Gulf of Geras
There are many beaches in the bay, but the wide, sandy Tarti is just what you need for those who like fishing. There are taverns and well-kept guesthouses around.
Things to do on Lesvos island
Explore the Castle of Molyvos
Molyvos Castle - credits: en.wikipedia.org
Molyvos Castle is a great historical monument that stands tall on the island of Lesvos. The castle is open to visitors and is one of the best-preserved castles in the Mediterranean. It is worth spending some time here to explore the site and learn about its history.
The castle is also a popular cultural hub for the island and hosts many festivals, music concerts, and cultural events throughout the year, so it might be worth checking if there are any performances here during your visit to the island. It is located above the picturesque, traditional village of Molyvos and the cobbled streets here are well worth a visit. You will find many traditional cafes and taverns to stop for refreshments and take in the beautiful views.
Visit the ancient theatre of Mytilene
Did you know that Mytilene has an ancient theater? This Hellenistic jewel (2nd century BC) is the most prominent public monument of the ancient city. It was built on the highest point of Mytilene, next to the inland walls, in an exceptional area that is believed to have been a grove in ancient times. It was also visible to those approaching the city from the sea through its two ports.
It is considered one of the most important theaters of the ancient world, as according to Plutarch in the Life of Pompey, it was the model on which the construction of the permanent stone theaters of Italy was based. Pompey, having a close relationship with the Lesbian historian and scholar Theophanes, liberated Mytilene in 62 BC.
The city celebrated the triumph of the Roman emperor in the theater. Pompey admired it and ordered his architects to design it and build a copy of it in Rome, but bigger and brighter. The capacity of the horseshoe-shaped hollow is estimated at approximately 18,000 spectators. It is worth visiting and admiring the surrounding area.
Stop by Panagia Glykofilousa
Mountain village in Lesvos - credits: en.wikipedia.org
At Panagia Glykofilousa, in the small town of Petra, you can follow the flight of 114 steps to the top of the rock, where you will find a beautiful church and courtyard, offering a picturesque view overlooking the coast, mountains, and Rabbit Island. worth the trip to the top.
It is a place of pilgrimage for many Greeks, especially on the fifteenth of August, for the celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin.
Go to Eftalou for its thermal baths.
Just 4 kilometers away from Molyvos, the beach of Eftalou with its thermal baths is hidden. I imagine you think that thermal baths are only for old people, but a test will convince you and above all it will relax you.
After all, we are not talking about an ultra-luxurious spa, but a pure, authentic spring in a wonderful spot, which makes the experience different, in addition to therapeutic.
Walk in the Petrified Forest of Lesvos
Lesvos Petrified Forest - credits: en.wikipedia.org
The Petrified Forest of Lesvos is a petrified forest on the island of Lesvos, Greece. It is a UNESCO World Geopark and well worth a visit.
The forest was formed from the fossilized remains of plants and trees, which are found in many locations in the western part of Lesvos.
Here you can find some hiking trails and routes to explore the area. Bring water in summer as there is little shade and it can get very hot.
Discover ancient history at the New Archaeological Museum of Mytilene
The New Archaeological Museum in Mytilini is small but charming, you could easily spend a few hours going through the details of each exhibit on display.
The museum's highlight is the breathtaking mosaic floors that can be found around the building and are commonly found in houses in Mytilini.
Be sure to check out the photo on the screen that helps explain how the mosaics were removed from their original locations.
Also worth seeing is a collection of ceramics exhibited by local artists from the island.
Mytilini is the island's capital and is worth exploring for its castle, beaches, architecture, and restaurants.
Hiking in the northern foothills of Mount Scotino
Make the most of the incredible foothills trails you can find around the island of Lesvos.
For those looking to do a moderate half-day hike on the island, I would recommend the Petra – Lafionas hiking trail.
It is 11 kilometers long and will take you to Mount Skotinos, offering stunning scenic views of the coast and accessible all year round.
Or, if you prefer a coastal hike, try walking from Petra to Ampelia via Anaxos.
Learn about the olive culture on the island at the Industrial Olive Farming museum of Lesvos, Greece
Learn about the adoption of the industrial phase of olive production and how it transformed olive oil on the island of Lesvos at the Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production.
There are said to be over 11 million olive trees on Lesvos – that's 122 olive trees per inhabitant!
The museum focuses on the legacy of the mechanical machines that transformed olive oil in the region and throughout Greece and looks deeper into the architectural, social, and cultural context of the era and how the machines helped change everyday life.
And, of course, on Lesvos, you can taste this liquid gold with every meal!
Visit the Ouzo Barbagiannis Museum
Lesbos is famous for the quality of ouzo production.
And what better place to learn all this than the Ouzo Barbagiannis Museum?
Here you can learn about the production process, the history of ouzo on the island, and what ingredients go into making ouzo.
Before you leave, be sure to grab a bottle or two of ouzo to bring a taste of the island back home with you.
Sip it over ice like the locals do, accompanied by delicious local meze (tapas).
Lesvos - credits: pixabay.com
Is Lesvos, Greece worth visiting compared to the other Greek islands?
Lesvos is surrounded by olive forests and spectacular scenery. The island is famous for producing quality olive oil and ouzo. Moreover, Lesvos, Greece, has countless beautiful villages and stunning beaches. As a result, we consider Lesvos an island in Greece that is well worth a visit despite gaining little attention from worldwide media.
How do you get to Lesvos island in the North Aegean?
Although very far from Greece's capital city, Athens, Lesvos island can be accessed relatively easily, as it is connected to mainland Greece by both ferry boats and airplanes and has its own airport.
The island of Lesvos is connected to the port of Piraeus, with regular ferry services throughout the year. There are at least five ferry routes per week in winter, while in summer, the Piraeus - Mytilini ferry connection is daily. The Piraeus - Mytilini journey takes from 11 to 17 hours, depending on the intermediate stops on the route.
The ferry connection between Lesbos and the port of Kavala is regularly served all year round. More specifically, in winter, there are at least two weekly ferry routes from Kavala to Mytilini, while in summer at least four weekly routes. The duration of the journey from Kavala - Lesbos is from 6.5 to 10.5 hours, depending on the stops on the route.
Lesvos island - credits: en.wikipedia.org
Lesvos is an island that is a surprise even to local Greeks, as it has unmatched beauty and traditional character that has yet to gain the attention of travelers worldwide. We speculate this is not gonna last for much longer, so buy your tickets and make it in time to see a side of Greece even the postcards don't do justice.