Greek Guide

Chios Car Hire Greece Chios

Chios Car Hire Greece Greek Rentals

You might want to hire a car or motorbike for at least part of your stay on Chios as the bus service is fairly limited. Buses run frequently to the mastic villages in the southern half of the island and to the most popular east coast beaches. But if you want to explore the sparsely populated, mountainous north of the island and uncover quiet, secluded coves you'll need your own transport.

There are numerous car rental firms in Chios Town including a cluster in Evyenias Handhri at the southern end of the harbour. You'd be well advised to make an advance reservation if you want to hire a vehicle for the weekend in high season when rental cars are in big demand.

With your own set of wheels you'll be able to visit the famous medieval mastic villages at your leisure, rather than relying on an organised excursion. A tour of these unique and fascinating fortified towns in the southern half of the island is an absolute must for all first time visitors to Chios.

The villages were built by the Genoese in the 14th and 15th centuries as fortified centres of production of a special gum made from the resin of the mastic bushes which flourish in the area. With pirates and other predators keen to cash in on the lucrative gum trade, the Genoese devised a unique town plan designed to deter invaders. The mastic villages were constructed with the outer ring of houses forming a defence wall guarded at each corner by a watch tower. A maze of narrow streets, vaulted by arched buttresses, led inwards to the central tower which served as the villagers' final refuge in times of attack.

One of the most interesting features of these villages is the intricate artwork on the outer walls of many of the buildings, created by medieval graphic designers using a combination of black volcanic sand and whitewash. The largest and most awe inspiring of the villages is Pyrgi, 26 kilometres south west of Chios Town. The road leading north west from Pyrgi takes you to two more villages built in the same style Olympi and Mesta.

The winding road west of Chios Town into the mountainous centre of the island leads to the spectacularly located Nea Moni monastery which is one of the finest Byzantine buildings in the whole of Greece. Continue five kilometres north west of the monastery and you'll come to the haunting hill top village of Anavatos where 400 women and children hurled themselves from a cliff rather than surrender to the Turks during the atrocities of 1822.

One of the most beautiful hilltop villages on the island is Volissos, 42 kilometres from Chios Town. The village was the reputed birthplace of the blind poet Homer, one of the greatest writers of Ancient Greece, and is a delightful concoction of old stone houses and steep streets leading up to the ruins of a Byzantine fortress.

You'll need steady nerves to tackle the tortuous roads at the northern end of the island which is dominated by the three peaks of Mount Pelineo, Mount Oros and Mount Amani.