Greek Guide

Alonnisos Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Guide Alonnisos

Alonnisos Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Greek Travel Guide

Lesvos is the third largest island in Greece (after Corfu and Evia) and offers the first time visitor such a myriad of sights to see and places to visit that there's little hope of taking everything in during a fortnight's holiday. The island has everything from hot healing springs and ancient monasteries to gorgeous hill villages and wonderful walking trails. Bird lovers flock here in droves and gay women descend on the island in large numbers to pay homage to the legendary poet Sappho who was born on Lesvos in the 7th century BC.

The capital Mytilini is a bustling commercial port, lacking the charm of picture postcard Mithymna in the north of the island, but its two interesting archaeological museums and 14th century Byzantine castle are well worth a visit. The old museum, on Argyris Eftaliotis behind the ferry dock, has an extensive collection of pottery, vases and figurines found on the island or in local waters. The new museum, a short walk up the hill towards the castle, is devoted to finds from the Roman era and includes a reconstructed house from the 3rd century AD.

Wear sturdy walking shoes to explore the extensive grounds of the castle, perched on a steep hill surrounded by pine trees at the northern edge of the city. The original castle was built by order of Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD and was later restored and enlarged by the Genoese. Even if you're not particularly interested in ancient sites the views from the ramparts make a visit worthwhile and it's a great picnic spot.

The delightful artists' colony of Mithymna (also known as Molyvos) is a must on most tourists' itinerary. This is one of the most picturesque villages on the island with its narrow cobbled streets and tiers of stone mansions draped around a hillside crowned by a Byzantine castle.

The western section of the island is best known for its petrified forest, monasteries and resort of Skala Eresou, built over the ancient town where Sappho was born in 615 BC.

The forest consists of the petrified remains of sequoia trees which were turned to stone after being buried in volcanic ash up to 20 million years ago. You can also see some fragments of the petrified trees in the courtyard of the 12th century Ypsilou Monastery, perched on the 511 metre summit of Mount Ordymnos.

The area around Eresos is a popular spot for bird watchers along with Petra in the north of the island and Skala Kallonis on the northern shore of the Bay of Kalloni. More than 280 bird species inhabit the island or make it a stopping point on their migratory route.

Hikers head for the many marked trails which weave through the olive groves and hill villages in the south of the island around Plomari. If you buckle down with the locals and help to clear and mark the paths you might even be rewarded with free accommodation in a village home.

Less energetic types prefer to relax in the therapeutic waters of one of the island's hot springs. There are thermal baths at Loutra Yera, on the Gulf of Yera west of Mytilini, at Polyhnitos and Lisvorio, to the south of the Bay of Kalloni and at Eftalou near Mithymna. At Polyhnitos you can bathe in a renovated Byzantine building in waters of 87 C which make them among the hottest natural springs in Europe.