Just a breath away from the Asia Minor coast, in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea, explore islands with fascinating green landscapes, crystal clear waters, beautiful sandy and pebbly beaches, traditional villages and rich history on each island.
Choose among big islands (Ikaria, Samos, Limnos, Lesvos, Chios, Thasos, Samothrace) and some smaller ones (Agios Efstratios, Agios Minas, Antipsara, Thymaina, Oinousses, Samiopoula, Fournoi and Psara) offer you exciting holiday options.
Despite the fact that some of these islands are far from mainland Greece, they have grown into popular destinations thanks to frequent ferry and flight connection.
A small island on the edge of the Aegean, marked by Greece's modern political history, as it was a place of exile, Agios Efstratios – Ai Stratis to the locals – is blessed with the beauty of its landscape and, mainly, the fortitude of its people.
The only hamlet on the island lies in the valley formed by two dried river beds. Until the devastating earthquake of 1968 this is where the locals’ vegetable and fruit gardens used to be. The old hamlet was perched at the top of the hill, above the harbour, with stone built, two- or three-storey traditional houses, but after '68 the few residents were forced by the military government to move to uniform homes, abandoning their old “Chora”. Thankfully, some of the stone homes were saved from complete destruction; these were restored with reverence by the locals of Agios Efstratios. Οne of them, the Marasleios School of 1909, presently houses the Museum of Democracy.
Much as Chios is famous for its mastic, it is not the only “magic” one can find on this island. Alongside its rich history starting from the Neolithic Age and including adventures with Saracene pirates and the Turks during the Greek Revolution, Chios also claims to be the birthplace of Homer. It was certainly the birthplace of eminent Greek politicians and writers such as Adamantios Korais, Emmanouil Roidis and Alexandre Mavrokordatos.
There is only one way to travel back in time and experience old Greece up close: take a ship and get off at Fournoi!
The place is pregnant with history: there are ancient finds scattered throughout the island dating back to the Ionians, Classical and Hellenistic times. The Cyclopean wall with traces of an Acropolis on the Hill of Ai Giorgis, the ruins of the ancient temple at Kamari and the remains of homes on the sea bed, the shrine to Poseidon at Agia Triada in Chryssomilia, the ancient quarry at Petrokopio. An ideal base for pirates in the Middle Ages, due to the hundreds of small fjords and hidden beaches where their ships could be concealed, Fournoi were once called “Corseoi Islands”, after corsairs, i.e. pirates.
Ikaria is a place with rich mythological past, and it has connected its name with the mythical figure Icarus. Sandy beaches, running waters, mountains and lush green hillsides compose the majestic relief of the island.
Ikaria is also famed for its thermal springs, unique in the whole world for their chemical composition and radiation. Moreover, the unparalleled local lifestyle with a unique work-rest schedule, the famed festivals with traditional dances, the local manners and customs, are very impressive features for the visitors.
The island extends over a surface of 260 km2, its coastline is 102 km long and it has 8,500 inhabitants.
Beautiful Lesvos with many streams, rich flora and fauna, famous olives groves, the mild Mediterranean climate, charming traditional villages and remarkable examples of industrial architecture (olive presses, soap factories, tanneries) dating from the Island's industrial development in the 19th century, impress all visitors.
Serenely floating in the north of the Aegean Sea, Limnos (also spelt Lemnos) is a destination for a peaceful holiday in close contact with nature.
Sheltered gulfs, extensive beaches and landscapes of volcanic rocks, alternate with small hills and traditional villages of stone houses. The volcanic island of Hephaestus, god of fire, lends its fertility to fruitful plains, which the locals make the best of by producing goods of unique taste and excellent quality. Among them, the renowned Muscat of Limnos, a Designation of Origin of Superior Quality sweet white wine with golden colour, rich aroma and full taste, and the cheese “kalathaki” (=little basket) a kind of white cheese that is left to dry and mature in small straw baskets, as well as its delicious yellowish version called “melíchloro” (meaning soft cheese of honey colour). The tasteful thyme honey and the fresh fish are also some of the great gifts of nature to the lucky island.
Oinousses is a cluster of nine small islands and islets, namely Oinoussa, Panagia, Vatos, Gaidouronissi, Pontikonisso, Archontonisso, Pontikoudiko, Laimoudiko and Prassonisia. At the last census, their population exceeded one thousand people.
Oinousses islands are located between Chios Island and the Erythraian Peninsula of Asia Minor. It is a quiet summer destination, an idyllic place for those who prefer underwater activities such as exploring the colourful seabed. Learn more about the centuries-old maritime tradition of the islands at the Maritime Museum. The whole island complex has been included in the European network NATURA 2000.
When the Greek Revolution began, an island offered up its entire commercial fleet – the third largest in Greece after those of Hydra and Spetses – to the struggle for liberation. That island was Psara!
Travel guides describe the island as “a dot in the sea, far away from established tourism destinations” – but that is only half true, because on this dot shrewd travellers from around the world discover – or, better yet, create – their own personal paradise, with the materials offered by the untamed nature of the Aegean Sea.
The people of Psara are, first and foremost, proud of their glorious past. The revolutionary flag of 1821 – white and red, with a cross and an anchor wrapped by a serpent – welcomes visitors at the harbour, reminding them that the history of this island is interwoven with the history of its untamed soul.
Samos is an island ruled by legend and beauty. It is the island of the father of mathematics, Pythagoras, the astronomer Aristarchus and the philosopher Epicurus. It is the home of Hera and the land that hosted Herodotus and Aesop. An important center of trade in the Aegean and a major naval force in antiquity, it came into contact with important Mediterranean cultures.
It is no accident that the great historian Herodotus considered Samos first among all Greek and barbarian cities. Centre of the Ionian civilization, the island saw times of indescribable splendour, which still remains. Even today, its proximity to the coast of Asia Minor makes the island a ‘bridge’ between the two cultures, a difference that did not hinder the co-existence, cooperation and friendship of the two peoples living across the water from each other.
The mythical birthplace of Hera, Samos is home to the largest temple in Greece (according to Herodotus) at the seaside settlement of Heraion, dedicated exclusively to the goddess of marriage and women. Of its 155 gigantic columns, only one still stands and is indicative of the scale of this place of religious worship that includes ruins of at least three earlier temples.
Referred by mythology as island of Aeolus, Samothrace (you’ll see it spelt “Samothraki” too) is adorned with Mount Saos, the highest mountain in the Aegean; legend has it that Poseidon sat on its top to watch the Troy war. The island with its steep peaks (the highest peak – 1.611 metres- is called “Fengari” = “moon”), the ancient legends, the pebbly beaches, the streams and rivers, the pristine nature, the famous springs and the archaeological finds are just some stuff you'll come across and in love with.
With its rich history and archaeological remains, wonderful beaches, variety of activities to do and friendly people, Thasos has become one of those islands holidaymakers return to year after year. It is also very popular with the Greeks because of the good food, the high-standarded services provided and the very intriguing mixture of the modern and the traditional.