- Introduction to Lesvos
- Brief history of Lesvos
- Geographic location and climate
- Local customs and culture
- Best time to Visit Lesvos
- Seasons and weather
- Popular festivals and events
- Top Attractions in Lesvos
- Petra and Molyvos villages
- Therma hot springs
- The Petrified Forest
- Mytilene Castle and Archaeological Museum
- Moni Limonos monastery
- Local Foods and Drinks to Try
- Traditional Greek Food
- Local delicacies of Lesvos
- Famous Drinks native to Lesvos
- Fun Activities and Experiences in Lesvos
- Beach activities and water sports
- Nature and wildlife tours
- Local market tours and shopping
- Hiking and outdoor activities
- Vineyard and olive oil tours
- Tips for Travelers to Lesvos
- Getting there and transportation within Lesvos
- Accommodation options
- Safety and health precautions
- Local etiquette and tip
- Currency and payment methods
- Itinerary Suggestions for your Lesvos Trip
- One-day itinerary
- Three-day itinerary
- One-week itinerary
- Family friendly itinerary
- Adventure-focused itinerary
Introduction to Lesvos
Brief history of Lesvos
Lesvos has a history dating back to the Bronze Age with traces of human habitation from 3300-1200 BC. It was an important center during the Greek Classical period and greatly prospered during the Roman era. Famed as the birthplace of the poet Sappho and the musician Arion, Lesvos has a rich cultural heritage. Ottoman rulers governed the island from the 15th to the 19th century. In the 20th century, it was incorporated into Greece. Today, Lesvos is known for its vibrant culture, traditional architecture, petrified forest, and as a welcoming haven for refugees.
Geographic location and climate
Lesvos is the third-largest Greek island situated in the northeastern Aegean Sea near the coast of Asia Minor. The island, also known as Lesbos, is known for its diverse landscape that ranges from forested mountains to sun-kissed beaches. The climate of Lesvos is typically Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The generous sunshine and the refreshing breezes from the Aegean Sea make Lesvos a delightful destination almost all year round.
Local customs and culture
In Lesvos, the charm of Greek tradition thrives. Locals relish in their ancestral customs, including the celebration of name days over birthdays and late-night feasting during Panigiria, comprising dance, music, and food. The island prides itself on its rich artistic heritage, with poetry and music deeply interwoven into daily life. It’s also home to a unique spirit, Ouzo, savored during social gatherings. The warm hospitality of Islanders, known as "Philoxenia" reflects the essence of Greek culture, where every visitor is considered a guest. Simple gestures like welcoming you with a cup of Greek coffee exemplify this warmth.
Best time to Visit Lesvos
Seasons and weather
Lesvos experiences a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. July and August are the hottest months, with temperatures rising above 30°C, while January is the coldest with temperatures around 7°C. The best time to visit is from April to October when the weather is pleasant. Spring offers blissful temperatures around 20°C, while autumn offers slightly cooler weather. Remember, rainfall is minimal throughout these seasons, ensuring your outdoor plans remain uninterrupted.
Popular festivals and events
In spring, the Ouzo Festival is a must-visit. A celebration of Lesvos' famous liquor, it's a unique cultural experience packed with tastings and local gastronomy. Another spring event, the Easter festivities in Agiasos, are full of vibrant traditions and rituals. Summer offers the Sardine Festival in Kalloni, where fresh sardines are grilled in the streets. Meanwhile, the International Eressos Women's Festival, an event celebrating women and diversity, carries cultural significance and creativity. These events add an authentic local color to your Lesvos visit.
Top Attractions in Lesvos
Petra and Molyvos villages
Petra village, dominated by the rock-crowned church of Panagia Glykofiloussa, is a must-visit. Relish panoramic views of the island or visit the local art workshops for unique souvenirs. The village is filled with traditional houses, gourmet restaurants, and joyful festivals in summer. Next stop is Molyvos, marked by a grand castle, narrow streets, and scenic stone houses. This medieval town is perfect for a romantic stroll or a swim at Molyvos harbor. Don't miss the Sunset bar for the best views of the Aegean Sea. These villages offer the true essence of Lesvos.
Therma hot springs
On the island’s eastern side, the Therma hot springs are a sumptuous natural wonder. Esteemed since ancient times for their therapeutic properties, these thermal baths offer a unique spa experience in Lesvos. The springs vary in temperature from lukewarm to hot, catering to different comfort levels. The area is enveloped in greenery, creating a serene ambiance. After immersing in the waters, relax amidst beautiful surroundings. Visiting Therma hot springs is not just about wellness, it's a step back in time with an added bonus of rejuvenation. Don't forget to add this must-visit spot to your itinerary.
The Petrified Forest
Nestled in the western part of Lesvos, the Petrified Forest is a captivating natural phenomenon. Estimated to be about 15-20 million years old, this UNESCO protected site showcases a unique collection of fossilized tree trunks, branches, and roots, each turned into stone over time. Visitors can explore the forest through established trails or visit the Natural History Museum of the Petrified Forest for a deeper insight into its history. This cherished wonder, highlighting the island’s geological history, is a must-see in your Lesvos visit.
Mytilene Castle and Archaeological Museum
The Mytilene Castle is a grand medieval fortress towering over Lesvos. Explore its historical walls presenting a spectacular view of Mytilene's cityscape and the Aegean Sea. The Castle houses an open-air theatre, hosting cultural events in summer. Right next to the castle, the Archaeological Museum of Mytilene exhibits an extensive collection of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts. Unearth the fascinating history of this Aegean island through the well-preserved mosaics, sculptures, and ceramics. The museum is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Lesvos. Don’t miss its garden, home to many stone inscriptions.
Moni Limonos monastery
The Moni Limonos monastery is an important spiritual center in Lesvos, famed for housing an impressive collection of relics and manuscripts. Built in 1527, its whitewashed walls and Cerulean domes offer picturesque views amidst serene surroundings. Visitors also rejoice at the sight of over 40 chapels within the complex, each possessing unique iconography. Experience tranquility paired with historical exploration at this religious edifice, befitting both pilgrims and casual tourists alike. Be sure to visit the fascinating on-site museum, with artifacts dating back to the Byzantine era.
Local Foods and Drinks to Try
Traditional Greek Food
On Lesvos, start off your dining journey with the famous traditional Greek dish, Moussaka. This layered eggplant and potato dish, topped with béchamel sauce, makes for a delightful mix of flavors. The island is also known for its local cheese, Ladotyri, a hard, salty cheese that’s stored in olive oil for a unique, sharp taste. Visit tavernas to try other traditional Greek foods including souvlaki, a popular meat skewer, and Tzatziki, a creamy yogurt and cucumber dip. End the meal with a portion of Baklava, a sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts, held together with honey.
Local delicacies of Lesvos
Beloved for its diverse culinary offerings, Lesvos is notorious for its "ouzo", the popular anise-flavored spirit. Enjoy it alongside the local's favorite seafood meze for a truly authentic taste of Lesvos. Besides that, one shouldn’t miss the unique flavors of local cheeses such as ladotyri, a cheese cured in olive oil. Lesvos also boasts a varied honey production, including chestnut and pine honey. A delectable dish made from lamb or goat, slow-cooked in a clay pot called "kleftiko", should also not be missed. For dessert, indulge in "loukoumades", sweet dough balls soaked in syrup.
Famous Drinks native to Lesvos
On Lesvos, ouzo reigns supreme. It's a potent anise-flavored liquor, often served with a meze platter to titillate your taste buds. The most renowned brands are Barbayanni and Ouzo Plomari, both have distilleries on the island for visitors to explore. A sip of local wine is a must. The Methymnaos Winery in the village of Chidira offers tastings of their organic wines, grown on volcanic soil and aged in French oak barrels. Finally, try a refreshing glass of Soumada, a sweet almond-flavored drink. Often served with dessert, it's a Lesvos specialty not to be missed.
Fun Activities and Experiences in Lesvos
Beach activities and water sports
In Lesvos, spend your days on the sun-kissed sand of Vatera or Petra’s pristine beaches. These spots offer relaxing activities like sunbathing and beachcombing. Children love creating impressive sandcastles, a perfect family holiday snapshot. For adrenaline junkies, there are exhilarating water sports including windsurfing and jet-skiing. Try snorkeling or scuba diving to explore the rich marine biodiversity. Kite surfing is also gaining popularity, with dedicated schools providing lessons. Lesvos' beaches truly offer something invigorating for everyone. Ensure to wrap up your day watching the glorious sunset, leaving you mesmerized and totally captivated by Lesvos' natural beauty.
Nature and wildlife tours
Explore Lesvos's diverse wildlife through guided tours around this fascinating island. Wander through lush forests, spot rare bird species, or experience the thrill of a horseback ride overlooking the magnificent Aegean Sea. For the marine life enthusiast, boat tours offer a chance to observe the island's sea creatures up close. Alternatively, discover the island's hidden gems on exciting hiking trails. These tours often include visits to traditional villages, olive groves, and local wineries. From rare orchid discovery to bird-watching, the natural beauty of Lesvos ensures an unforgettable adventure for every nature enthusiast. Ensure to have your camera ready.
Local market tours and shopping
Experience the vibrant local culture of Lesvos by taking a tour through its bustling markets. You'll find various goodies such as fresh fruits, vegetables, local cheeses like ladotyri and the popular ouzo liquor. Dive into the island's thriving craft scene through local shops offering hand-made pottery and olive-soap. Don't miss the quaint antique shops dotted across the island offering unique souvenirs. Delight in bargaining with friendly vendors and come away with a trove of authentic Greek products. A not-to-miss experience that distinctly connects you to the local life and tradition of Lesvos.
Hiking and outdoor activities
Take a thrilling hike up the Lepetymnos Mountain or through the Petrified Forest for breath-taking views and a dose of ancient history. Lesvos’ diverse terrain offers picturesque trails for all levels of fitness. The island is also a hub for birdwatching enthusiasts. Explore the wetlands, home to pink flamingos and other rare species. Water lovers will enjoy sea kayaking and sailing in the crystal clear Aegean Sea. For a more leisured outdoor experience, visit the local markets to shop for olive oil, ouzo, and other regional favorites. Lesvos seamlessly blends exciting outdoor activities with tranquil escapes.
Vineyard and olive oil tours
Lesvos offers unforgettable gastronomic experiences, particularly through its vineyard and olive oil tours. Visitors can explore vast vineyards of the island, participate in the grape harvesting process, and taste world-renowned local wines straight from the barrel. Another highlight is the insightful tours to traditional olive oil mills. Understand the oil extraction process and learn about the types of olives grown on the island. Complete the experience by tasting freshly-pressed, high-quality Greek olive oil. Enjoy the rich flavors of Lesvos, and take home a bottle or two for a lingering taste of your memorable trip.
Tips for Travelers to Lesvos
Getting there and transportation within Lesvos
Fly into Mytilene International Airport from Athens or Thessaloniki to reach Lesvos. You can also utilize ferries from Piraeus port. Renting a car is advisable for getting around and exploring the distinct landscapes of the island. Public buses are reliable but their schedules can be inconsistent. Traditional taxis are readily available. Small boats also offer trips along the coast. Remember to wear comfortable shoes, as walking is common, especially in pedestrian-friendly areas like Mytilene Town.
Lesvos boasts a range of accommodations suitable for varied budgets and preferences. You can pick between more luxurious villa or boutique hotel experiences and budget-friendly apartments, guesthouses or holiday homes. For those seeking to immerse themselves in culture, try a traditional house rental in a quaint village. If comfort, convenience, and modern facilities are your preference, urban and coastal hotels provide these in plenty. For nature enthusiasts and campers, Lesvos also offers eco-lodges and campsites. Always, remember to book ahead, especially during peak seasons, as Lesvos is a highly sought-after destination.
Safety and health precautions
Whilst Lesvos is generally safe, it's wise to exercise caution. Avoid deserted areas at night and secure belongings. In peak summer, the sun can be intense, so sun protection and staying hydrated are essential. Water quality is excellent, but still consider bottled water. Thoroughly cooked seafood reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses. Ensure you have adequate travel insurance including medical cover, and pack any necessary prescription medicines. While mosquitoes are not usually a problem, some precautions like repellents or netting are beneficial. Finally, a basic knowledge of first-aid could prove invaluable.
Local etiquette and tip
When in Lesvos, Greeks appreciate politeness. A simple "please"(parakaló) and "thank you"(efcharistó) can go a long way. Also, dress modestly when visiting churches or monasteries. Tipping isn't mandatory here, yet appreciated for good service. In restaurants, round up the bill or leave a 5-10% tip, if you're satisfied with the service. For taxis, small change or rounding up the fare suffices. Lastly, Greeks toast saying "Yamas!" which means "to our health". So, don't forget to raise your class and say "Yamas!" when you're clinking glasses with a local.
Currency and payment methods
Lesvos, like the rest of Greece, uses the Euro (€) as its official currency. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and many shops but it's also recommended to carry some cash for small purchases. Withdraw cash at any ATM around the island for a small fee. It's advised to always keep smaller denominations for public transportation or establishments that don't accept cards. Before traveling, inform your bank about your plans to avoid any card blockage.
Itinerary Suggestions for your Lesvos Trip
Start your day by exploring the enchanting town of Mytilene, where you can visit the Byzantine Castle for panoramic views. Then stroll through its vibrant market, picking up unique local goods. Later, travel to the picturesque village of Molyvos. Enjoy a traditional Greek lunch, visit the impressive Molyvos castle and take a dip at the local beaches. Finish your day tasting ouzo in Plomari, the home of this famous Greek spirit. Remember to unwind and soak in the beautiful sunset views that this charming island offers, making your one-day trip to Lesvos unforgettable.
Begin your Lesvos adventure in Mytilene town, exploring the castle of Mytilene and taking a leisurely stroll in market area. Make sure to unravel local restaurants for authentic Greek gastronomy. On day two, head to the charming coastal town of Molyvos. Bask in its medieval ambiance and visit the imposing Molyvos Castle. Finish your day at Petra, enjoying the beach and dining harborside. Spend your final day at Sigri for its Natural History Museum showcasing rare "Petrified Forest". Later, unwind at Eressos beach and savor a beautiful sunset. Before leaving, treat yourself with the traditional ouzo drink.
Kick off your week in Lesvos with a visit to the capital, Mytilene, exploring its vibrant markets and historical museums. Spend a day at the mesmerizing petrified forest of Lesvos, a unique natural wonder, taking guided tours. Venture to the traditional village of Molyvos, home to the mythical castle of Mithimna. Visit popular beach locations such as Anaxos and Eftalou. In the last two days, treat your tastebuds to Lesvos’s gastronomy. Enjoy local cuisine and ouzo distilleries for an unparalleled experience.
Family friendly itinerary
Start your day with a fun-packed trip to Vatera’s long sandy beach perfect for family playtime. Enjoy lunch in a nearby tavern, appreciating local delicacies like souvlaki and moussaka. Post-lunch, explore the Natural History Collection of Vrisa, fascinating for children and adults alike. Next day, head north to visit the Petrified Forest Museum at Sigri. This awe-inspiring window into ancient history will captivate the entire family. To round off your Lesvos adventure, spend an evening stroll in Mytilene's bustling market area, a great place to pick up souvenirs and experience local atmosphere.
Embark on a thrilling adventure with your hiking boots to the Petrified Forest, a natural monument with fossilized relics of a subtropical forest. Marvel at the raw beauty of the mountainous Lesvos terrain as you navigate its scenic trails. Explore the hidden gorges of Lesvos by canyoning, and join a jeep safari tour for an exhilarating traverse through unspoiled landscapes. Lastly, enjoy a sunset getaway to the hot springs in Eftalou and relax as you admire the sublime Aegean Sea panorama. Lesvos promises an adrenaline-infused trip like none other!
Have a good trip!