25 Reasons to Visit the North Aegean Islands

The scattered islands of the North Aegean are known for their rugged, unspoiled landscapes, hidden beaches, and laidback way of life. Here, you can really go off grid.


Samothraki

A new hangout

The elegant Maia (Τel. (+30) 690.720.3871) opened this year and is located next to the small port of Therma. Its bar offers views of the area’s famous sunset, playing all types of music, from soul and jazz to bossa nova. They organize music nights and serve coffee, breakfast, meze for ouzo or wine, and cocktails. It has its own parking area.

Scuba diving and more

There is no connection by road between the beaches of Pahia Ammos and Kipi, and the southern side can only be reached by sea. Indulge in scuba diving at Kipi – at a depth of only 5m you’ll see many sponges and shellfish – and rent an inflatable boat to reach Kremasto Nero, the country’s tallest waterfall at a height of 180m. For organized diving activities, contact H20 Dive & Fun, Τel. (+30) 698.581.0649.

Rendezvous at the “balcony”

 

The Kardeli Gorge is located near the Monastery of Christ, on the northern side of the island. Inside a dense forest of plane trees, oaks, and various other trees, a series of natural pools are formed culminating in a small, elongated one at the edge of the cliff. Called the “balcony”, it resembles a private jacuzzi and offers unique views of the sea.

Thasos

Cooling off at the waterfall

Running waters, small bridges, plane trees, and good food. In Theologos, the settlement in the inland of Thasos (10km from the village of Potos), you will find a much-needed respite from the summer heat. Walking for about 15 minutes from the point where you leave your car, you’ll reach the Kefalogourna waterfall.

As for culinary treasures, you must definitely try the famous local goat dish in the village tavernas.

Ikaria

Evenings at the Lighthouse

The most beautiful time of day on Ikaria is undoubtably dusk. After a shower at the beach, you can take a seat at one of the wooden tables of Almyra (Τel. (+30) 22750.322.45) and tuck into a plate of kathoura, the local cheese, and Begleri, a local white wine. Afterwards, you can enjoy a game of backgammon (“tavli”) with one of the locals.

An unexpected snack

Descending the steps to Skourdouliaris Beach you’ll come across a canteen that offers the epitome of organization on a beach: the freezer is packed with chilled bitter Caprice (crispy wafer rolls with cocoa and hazelnut filling). Buy two boxes and start consuming them immediately; but make sure to leave it at least an hour before diving into the emerald waters!

Traditional goat

 

Marathos is a peaceful mountain village with 50 inhabitants on the side of Evdilos, offering mesmerizing views. There, at the Slow Food taverna (Τel. (+30) 22750.311.82) – known by the locals as “Marinakis,” you’ll taste the deliciousness of Greek cuisine made with local products. Mrs. Evangelia cooks fried rabbit, Ikarian goat, and pan-fried potatoes. It only opens in the evening. Don’t forget to bring a jacket!

A beach for hermits

Forgotten by time, the horseshoe-shaped and deserted Trapalou Beach in the southern part of the island has crystal clear, turquoise waters and coarse pebbles. To get there you take an accessible dirt road after the village of Karkinagri. Head to the unique taverna, Mouries (Τel. (+30) 22750.914.14), for fresh fish and handmade, pan-fried potatoes under the shade of the trees.

The most beautiful view

If you are in search of tranquility, then drive up to Kouniadi, an amphitheatrical village built on Mount Atheras, west of the village Rahes. The old school has been transformed into a kafenion (traditional Greek café), which, apart from its breathtaking sea views, offers daily dishes according to the chef’s mood: from rooster with pasta to roast goat. Musical events are also organized in the evenings.

 

Lesvos

Animals of the world

The eco-farm Kariofyllis (Τel. (+30) 697.945.8991) in the mountain village of Lepetimnos supplies the chokeberries for the jams and teas made by local producer Giorgos Kariofyllis. In addition to the fields of chokeberries, there is also a small, visitable ark hosting over 15 different species of animals: from ducks, geese, royal pheasants, black chickens, and peacocks to parrots, deer, and horses.

Lesvos’ oldest distillery

It is the first ouzo the locals will tell you about if you ask them which one is their favorite. It is ubiquitous at every taverna and eatery on the island, but wouldn’t it be a great idea to also see where and how it has been made for the last 160 years? The distillery and the adjacent Barbayannis Ouzo Museum (Τel. (+30) 22520.327.41, 22520.333.00) are located in Plomari, where, among other things, the original pots and equipment from their first factory, the rakario, are exhibited. They also organize tastings for visitors.

Early morning, warm mizithra cheese with vrasma

 

Skopelitis’ grocery store (109 Ermou, Τel. (+30) 22510.266.39) brings all the goods to Mytilene: “hahles” (traditional rusks), ouzo and oils, honey, ladotiri (“oil cheese”), feta, and kasseri cheese, full-fat sheep yogurt and baked mizithra cheese. If you go early in the morning, you will find the ultimate delicacy: the fresh and warm morning mizithra cheese, which you must try before it cools down, topped with a little vrasma (local fig molasses).

Everything with ouzo

After a later afternoon plunge at the beautiful beach of Hrousos, it’s time for ouzo: you can drink it either in the cool square of Mesotopos, at Pallas café (Τel. (+30) 22530.962.43) with its delicious meze and great meat dishes, or at Paloukos (Τel. (+30) 22530.962.29) in Tavari, accompanied by fresh fish and seafood, at reasonable prices.

Limnos

Afternoon walks

The quiet dirt footpath that connects the villages of Romanou and Lichna was once a commercial road. It is ideal for an evening walk, as your surroundings, such as the thyme and tall wheat spikes, are painted with a bright golden-yellow color. The route of about 2km smells of herbs and is full of fig trees.

No Crowds

If you want to avoid the crowds, stock up on water and food, pack a beach umbrella and go to Parthenomitos or Karvounolakka. The first beach is located south of Moudros, with thick sand and turquoise waters, but it’s more secluded. The second one, on the western side, has easier access and boasts an endless sandy beach.

The best sunset

 

The residents of Myrina head to Riha Nera Beach for a quick swim during the day. It is serviced, with restaurants and beach bars, and offers a spectacular sunset, with the sun setting behind Mount Athos. There you can also find the Petasos Cape. This is from where, according to the myth, the women of Limnos killed their men by throwing them from the rocks into the sea

Gastro-café

Riza (Τel. (+30) 22540.295.19) is an affordable gastro-café in Myrina that celebrates culinary simplicity. They primarily cook with local products, source their vegetables from their garden, or from their friends, they avoid fancy culinary techniques, and serve delicious dishes of all kinds: from roast okra and baked scorpion fish to filleted swordfish.

Samos

Alone in Ormos

You will not find the small beach at Ormos Marathokampou recommended on any list, as the island has dozens of beaches to suit every taste. However, this little cove is ideal for families with young children seeking calm and shallow waters. With a few tamarisk trees providing natural shade, it is only a few meters from the car park and just twenty steps from Trata (Τel. (+30) 22730.375.70), one of the best tavernas on the island.

Hike with a generous reward

The waterfalls in Karlovassi are ranked among the island’s top 5 activities. Most visitors stop at the first one during their hike, but those who persevere – either by swimming or climbing some steep steps – will be rewarded generously. The hidden taverna Archondissa (Τel. (+30) 698.657.9090), with views of the mountains and the sea, serves cold beers and traditional food cooked in a wood-fired oven. The rest after this demanding hike will relax you so much that you may not be bothered at all by the loud, and somewhat mismatched, music.

Dine in a colorful setting

 

You will see one of the most beautiful sunsets from the village of Platanos. From an altitude of almost 600m, the view reaches as far as the islands of Fourni and even Chios. To enjoy it, make a reservation at the restaurant Orizontas (Τel. (+30) 22730.394.57) which serves Mediterranean cuisine, and ask for one of the tables in the first row. They have an excellent wine list and sumptuous desserts in the perfect natural setting.

Fourni

Relaxing swims

Vlychada, the southernmost beach of Fourni, is nestled in a narrow bay and remains secluded due to its difficult access. To reach the sandy beach, you will descend several steps carved in the rocks. It has crystal-clear waters, and a serene tranquility prevails, where only the sound of the sea can be heard. Remember to bring all the essentials with you.

Chios

Vitality in Kambos

Kambos village in Chios is one of the most unique places on the island, with a fascinating history; however, it hasn’t been widely promoted for visitors to explore. An exceptional opportunity is offered through the Citrus Museum (tel. 22710-33202), housed in a stately mansion with its own orchard. This is where café Perivoli operates, which also hosts music and cinema evenings. Don’t forget to try their citrus products.

A mysterious night

In the labyrinthine alleys of Mesta village you will discover the bar Paxata (Τel. (+30) 22710.765.17). Although this is the most famous village in Chios, visitors usually leave in the evening or hang around the central square. As such, this bar located opposite the church of Palios or Mikros Taxiarhis is serene and atmospheric, with good music and occasional live performances.

Mixing with the locals

 

Two secret spots in Chios town, where you can sit peacefully, accompanied only by locals. The first is Alkyoni (Τel. (+30) 22710.423.13), a new-style café with specialty coffee, homemade pies, and cakes. The other is the taverna Ichthyoskala (Τel. (+30) 22710.421.14), ideal for fresh fish by the waterfront, simple and unpretentious.

Going off grid

In the village of Pirama in northwestern Chios, a place rarely visited by tourists, you will find the traditional kafenion-grocery store (Τel. (+30) 693.715.2502) owned by Eleni and Kostis, who came from Athens. They keep it open even during the winter for the village’s 17 permanent residents. A few tables, excellent meze, and occasional live music events.



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