Greek Guide

 

Samos Greece Greek Holiday Destinations

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Samos is one of the Greek North Eastern Aegean Islands located 322 kilometres east of the mainland port of Piraeus and less than three kilometres from the west coast of Turkey.

According to Greek mythology the goddess Hera was born on the island and married Zeus, father of the gods, here. Anthony and Cleopatra are said to have holidayed on Samos bringing entertainers from all over the ancient world to keep them amused. In the 1980s the tour operators finally discovered the Samos secret and set about transforming the island into the top holiday spot in the archipelago. Now hordes of package holidaymakers arrive here each summer, lured by the island's winning combination of superb beaches, beautiful mountainous countryside and plentiful tourist facilities.

Both the north and south coasts have numerous sandy beaches most of which tend to get very crowded in high season. But if you're prepared to hike, bike or 4x4 your way off the beaten track you'll be able to find quiet secluded pebble coves. The island's heavily forested and mountainous interior makes it a paradise for ramblers, hardened hikers and cyclists. Away from the busy seaside resorts you'll find beautiful unspoilt mountain villages, lush valleys, rushing streams and dramatic ravines carpeted with wild flowers and scented with aromatic herbs.

Samos has an international airport with several flights daily to and from Athens and charter flights bringing seasonal tour groups directly from several north European countries. The island has no less than three ports making it the transport hub for the North Eastern Aegean group.

Many visitors stop here briefly in transit while travelling between the Cycladic islands and Turkey. But if you're an independent traveller it's well worth taking a few days to explore the island's many attractions which include some fascinating ancient sites, magnificent Mount Kerkis which is the second highest mountain in the Aegean and many excellent traditional tavernas where you can savour the famous Samian wine.

The capital Vathy, in the north east corner of the island, is a bustling port town awash with waterfront bars, cafes and all manner of tourist facilities. Few visitors venture to the old part of the town, Ano Vathy, where 19th century red tiled houses flank pretty cobbled lanes which wind their way up the hillside away from the mid summer mayhem of the highly commercialised seafront.

Pythagorio, on the south coast, is a more picturesque port named after Pythagoras, who was born on the island in 580 BC. The great mathematician and mystic failed to find favour with the tyrant Polykrates who ruled the island from 538 to 522 BC. Pythagoras spent much of his life in exile in Italy while Polykrates was busy using his ill gotten gains and countless slaves to create some of the greatest wonders of the ancient world.

To the west of Pythagorio you can see the ruins of the once magnificent Heraion sanctuary built on the orders of Polykrates to be the finest and biggest temple in ancient Greece. The temple, dedicated to Hera, was four times the size of the Parthenon and was approached by a now submerged Sacred Way lined with thousands of statues. Priceless treasures excavated at the site are on display at the impressive archaeological museum in Vathy.

Polykrates also ordered the construction of the awe inspiring 1,040 metre aqueduct which brought mountain water into the city from the 6th century BC until well into the 20th century. As long as you don't suffer from obesity or claustrophobia you can explore part of the tunnel which was the work of an estimated 1,000 slaves.