LESVOS (Lesbos – Λέσβος) is the 3rd biggest among the Greek Islands located in the north eastern Aegean Sea and generally referred to Mytilene after its Port and the capital city. Also it is the birthplace of the female lyric poet Sappho who is a symbol of female homosexuality; the common term lesbian derived from Sappho due to the Lesbos Island.
It is one of the closest Greek Islands to my home town, famous with Ouzo and olive oil production, variety of fresh sea food and its blue flagged Beaches. This island is a combination of several ancient Greek cities / villages and they are very far away from each other. Some of those famous cities/villages can be listed as; Mytilene, Molyvos, Petra, Agiassos, Plomari, Kalloni, Sigri, Eressos. As it is the 3rd biggest among the Greek Island , I recommend you to visit by car. You can buy a ferry ticket including your own car or just arrange one from a rent a car agency there.
If you are planning to go there from Turkey (as I did), you may access there simply from Ayvalık (Turkey) by getting a daily or touristic Schengen Visa and a ferry ticket. It takes up to 1,5 hours to cross the border by ferryboat depending on the regulations of travel agency and international customs department. In the high season which is basically the whole summer from June to late September, it may be better booking your tickets online in advance. After some general information about historical details and travel options you may find some useful advises about the accommodation, cuisine and locations below.
- Local ferry companies operate between Ayvalık and Mytilene: Turyol, Jale Tur, Jalem Tur.
Molyvos is one of the most touristic and alive city of the Island. It is located on the northwest edge of the island and the region is called Mithymna on the touristic maps (also on the traffic signs). I stayed there for 5 days and visited almost every other villages near or far, but I think Molyvos was definitely the best one. It is suitable for visiting both with families and/or friends. You can find authentic souvenir shops, fun beaches (and beach bars), relaxing cafés and local taverns.
I have stayed at a hotel called Molyvos I. I can recommend this one as it has a magnificent location with a great view and beach nearby, not more than 10 steps from the forecourt.
The Castle, locals’ houses and the shops are located on the hill (as in the picture above), but hotels and the fishermen’s port are found at the opposite edges of each other which are the plane parts near the sea level. That’s why you need to use your car or touristic transportation (a little tour train) for going up to the Castle. On the other hand, it is easy to discover the city centre and taverns by walking.
There are lots of taverns and restaurants with plenty of fresh sea food, serving all the other local cuisine. My first recommendation is to taste as much sea food as you can. The portions are too big. So it may be a good idea to order a portion from each and share every taste together. Appetizers (Meze / Mezedes) are very delicious and more than satisfying when consumed together with a kind of sea food.
- My favorite appetizers are; fried aubergine and zucchini, Greek salad with Feta cheese, calamari, octopus and shrimps. I think Mistral restaurant is the best place among dozens of options as all of them are very fresh and tasty.
- In my opinion, No: 1 local dish is Stifado: beef with slightly sweet baby onions, served with potatoes or rice is optional. Restaurant called Gatos is a great place to taste Stifado up on the hills accompanying the romantic sea view before sunset and the tasty house wine.
- Generally restaurants have à la carte menu as thick as an encyclopedic dictionary because they have special language editions for each nationality 🙂
Petra is a close city to the Mithymna region. It is also located at the northwest part of the Island. It has a small center by the sea and enjoyable shopping area with a lot of local products and hand crafts.
Whilst making a quick tour at Petra, you can come across a small art gallery named First Kiss Gallery on the main shopping street. As I searched though the web later, I realized that the gallery belongs to a Canadian Artist, Paul Henry and definitely worth seeing his artistry. You can also catch him modeling at his workshop and get one of them with a reasonable price.
Agiasos is a small village, located at the slopes of mount Olympos and it is circle shaped around the Church of Panayia (Virgin Mary in Greek). Local houses and shops surround the historical church combining with narrow streets and little coffee shops at the center. There is nothing much to do rather than visiting the Historical Church and having a cup of coffee but it is a nice spot to get to know more about the local culture and history.
On the way, up to the Agiasos, you can find some nice spots to rest and enjoy the panoramic view. Following a quick sightseeing tour around the village, I suggest you to pop in a local café nearby the Church of Panayia and have some Greek coffee (or Turkish coffee, they are almost same 😉 ) served in handmade ceramic cups.
Plomari is located at the south part of the Island. It has a bigger Port than the other ones and has a magnificent coast with the most vivid sea I have ever seen around Lesvos. It is also considered as the origin of Ouzo. The best anise (aromatic Mediterranean herb) which is the most essential ingredient for the production of Ouzo; is produced in a village called Lisvori at the northwest of Plomari. You may visit The OUZO BARBAYANNI MUSEUM to find out the history of this very local taste and then hit the road to the Plomari Beach.
All in all, 5 days are more than enough to discover every part of Lesvos Island, taste many fresh local cuisine, relax under the sun and enjoy the geniality of the local people!