Although Lesvos is Greece's third largest island it is a haven of traditional life, oozing with history, and there's a myriad of wonderful beaches for enjoying the sunshine.
Lesvos is a jewel, often called the emerald isle because much of it is covered in lush forests and olive groves. It is one of the biggest and most beautiful islands in Greece, large enough to have an unbelievable wealth of attractions but traditional enough to overflow with charm and character.
So if you want an action-packed, fun-filled family holiday, or to relax under a sunshade on a secluded beach, delve into fascinating history, sip an ouzo in a tranquil village, climb a mountain or explore a petrified forest - then welcome to Lesvos.
There are long, lively sandy beaches such as those at Eressos, Kalloni, Molyvos and Anaxos; quieter beaches including Ermogenis, Kambos and Gavathas, plus windsurfing at Sigri.
Bustling Mytilene, the cosmopolitan artistic and commercial centre, is full of shops, bars and restaurants. It has lovely 18th century mansions and what is believed to be the largest castle in the Mediterranean.
The winding streets of magnificent Moylvos lead from the town and beach to a gloriously-preserved medieval castles. Moylvos is a busy, popular resort and a great place to enjoy the sunset.
There are many villages to visit, so make time to choose from delightful places like the traditional craft centre of Agiassos, in the mountains. Petra, with its church high on a rock, and Polichnitos, with its hot thermal springs is on the coast.
It’s difficult to go to Lesvos and avoid history that rewinds beyond the time, 2,600 years ago, when the woman poet Sappho was born there. At least eight ancient communities have been discovered and the remains of a towering stone aqueduct date to when the Romans needed to channel water from the mountains to the coast.
It really is an island that offers something for everyone.
Things To Do
Dive, swim, walk or ride – so much to do
Snorkelling, scuba diving and water sports like kayaking and windsurfing are popular on many of the beaches. Boat trips go to neighbouring islands and nearby Turkey. Hiking and biking trails along the coast or up into the mountains offer enjoyable ways to explore the wonderful countryside. Great for bird watchers too.
Step up for a great view
The busy seaside village of Petra has a long sandy beach, an interesting traffic-free centre and a church in the sky. You climb 114 steps carved out of rock to get to the hilltop church of Glykfylousa Panagia (Our Lady of the Sweet Kiss) to enjoy the panoramic sea view.
Relax in a natural hot tub
There are several thermal springs around the island and three provide hot tubs for visitors. The hot, healing water is cooled down for the pools at Gera Bay near Mytilini, Eftalou on the beach near Molyvos and a third next to the ancient chapel of St John in Lisvori.
Trees frozen in time
Trees petrified by a volcanic eruption about 20 million years ago make an unusual stone forest near Sigri on the north-west corner of Lesvos. They are a globally protected natural monument. A museum in the village explains what happened and boat trips from the harbour reveal trees under the sea.
Chill out in a hot resort
Skala Eressos is said to be one of the coolest counter-culture resorts in Greece and boasts one of the best beaches, two miles of soft sand. It has yoga, massage parlours, spiritual centres, gay bars and excellent restaurants. Eressos, birthplace of lesbian poet Sappho, holds a festival for women every September.
Chapel inspired The Mermaid Madonna
A charming white chapel on the harbour of the pretty fishing hamlet of Sikaminia was the inspiration for a best-selling book set in Lesvos, The Mermaid Madonna. You can buy a copy in English in the village and read it under the plane tree where the author used to sit.
Things To See
It is well worth exploring all of the different villages, beaches and towns that Lesvos has to offer. Stop at beautiful beaches such as Skala Eressos and Vetera, explore traditional villages such as Agiassos and be sure to visit the charming medieval town of Molyvos. The capital of Lesvos, Mytilini, is home to a historic castle. There are also museums and ancient settlements to discover at the monastery in Limonos offers an interesting selection of artefacts on display for visitors.
There are various thermal springs located around the island for those who are interested in learning about the benefits of these natural waters.
The roads on Lesvos can be mountainous and curvy, so if you don't hire a car, the best way to get around is by taxi or bus.
There are plenty of taxis at the airport, at Mytilene town centre near the country bus station. The taxis are usually silver or yellow and charge using a meter. There are taxis at all the main resorts such as Petra, Molyvos and Kalloni. Most of the small villages will have at least one taxi driver available. Drivers prefer not to use meters outside the capital and charge around one euro per kilometre but prices can vary. Always feel comfortable agreeing a price before you begin your journey by taxi.