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Home > Itineraries > Northern Greece & Turkey

Northern Greece

Embarkation: SAMOS
Disembarkation: PORTO KOUFO

Day 1

Samos - Kusadasi (Turkey) (12 miles)

Day 2


Day 3

Kusadasi - Hios (55 miles)

Day 4

Hios - Lesvos (63 miles)

Day 5


Day 6

Lesvos - Limnos (120 miles)

Day 7

Limnos - Ouranopolis (70 miles)

Day 8

Ouranopolis - Porto Koufo (23 miles)

SAMOS: Samos's location played a great role in its development. It lies in the Eastern Aegean, very close to the coast of Asia Minor, in the heart of Ionia, almost midway along the sea route that links Greece with Anatolia, the Black Sea, Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean. The name Samos is most probably of Phoenician origin. Over time, however, it had many other names: Anthemis, Dryousa, Doryssa, Kyparissia, Imvrasia, Melamphylos, and Parthenia.

Great intellectuals and artists were from Samos. The mathematician-philosopher Pythagoras, with his celebrated theorem, the cornerstone of geometry, along with Rhoikos and Theodoros, the architects of the Sanctuary of Hera and pioneering sculptors, and the astronomer Aristarchus, are the best known.

The capital, Samos Town or Vathi, is built on the verdant slopes that surround the island's deepest bay. It has retained its individual appearance, with its attractive neo-classical houses, old mansions with pastel facades.

And do not forget that ancient Anthemousa (as the island was once called), with 1,100 known species of plants, including aromatic and medicinal herbs with a prehistory of thousands of years, has apart from its exceedingly tall plane trees, a large number of wild orchids (about 50).

"Samos" ouzo, which has been produced by its original recipe since 1910, is one of the most popular drinks on the island. Also keep in mind that Samos produces many different kinds of wine and is known as one of the best places to grow the Muscat grapes. The most popular wines are the worlds famous "sweet Samos wine" and the "Samos nectar."

The cave of Pythagoras is located at the Eastern side of mount Kerkis and is a distance of 3 km from Kampos Marathokampou. The cave got its name from the philosopher Pithagoras who found a refuge there for meditation. In order to get there, you have to climb about 300 m the rocky slope of the mountain Kerkis. Well worth the hike. Also located in this area is the beach of Chrisi Ammos (golden sand) which is probably the most beautiful beach of Samos. It is a wide sandy beach surrounded by pine trees. It's about 600m wide. The water is green and clean and rather shallow.

Varsamo beach is located on the southwestern part of the island by the village of Kalithea. It is an amazing beach surrounded by steep rocks and is 200 m in length. Varsamo has green and black pebble and deep clean waters.

Potami is in the area of Karlovasi, a very beautiful bay with little white pebbles, deep and clear waters, covered with pine trees.

Samos offers visitors many possibilities of enjoying local specialities and traditional Greek cuisine in general. Both the town and the countryside have beautiful little coffee shops where one can have a coffee, refreshment or traditional sweets. The island's picturesque tavernas and restaurants serve a great variety of delicacies for every taste. In the town of Samos, there is taverna "O Tasos," and the ouzo places "Katoy" and "The Odeon." They serve tasty spinach pies and pumpkin pies. A walk to the Pithagorio should be combined with dinner at "Varka" or "Faros." In Manolades, one should eat at "Paradisos" restaurant, which offers a great variety of dishes. Every dish is served with top quality local wine.

KUSADASI: Kusadasi is located on the Aegean coasts of Turkey, 75 km south of Izmir. This beautiful town offers an enormous potential of tourism with outstanding natural beauty and rich historical remains of past civilizations. A small settlement founded by Ionian settlers and known as Neapolis is known to have existed at the site even in ancient times, but it was always overshadowed by its mighty neighbor Ephesus.

Ephesus is 18 km from Kusadasi and is deservedly the most popular ancient site in western Turkey. Ephesus became the most important city of Asia Minor throughout several civilizations and was once thriving with as many as 200,000 inhabitants. The highlights of Ephesus are the temple of Artemis, the Isa Bey Mosque, the Ephesus Museum and the house of Virgin Mary.

Guvercin Adasi (Pigeon Island) is a small island close to the shores of Kusadasi. On the sharp rocks of the island rests a Byzantine castle also know as Pirate Castle. Today there is a teashop, a cafeteria, a restaurant and a discotheque to satisfy ones needs.

The beaches in Kusadasi guarantee endless fun and unlimited sunbathing during your holiday. Sandy beaches including City Beach, Yilanciburnu Beach, Ladies Beach, the fabulous Kustur Beach, and Long Beach, as well as the beaches in Icmeler, Aydinlik, Kavakli, Karasu and Dipburun bays in the National Park present an ideal opportunity for you to sunbathe and swim. In particular, the beaches in the natural surroundings of the National Park allow for swimming in the clearest, most beautiful water you will ever experience. The National Park, which is under state protection and covers an area of 11000 hectares, hosts rare plants only found in the Mediterranean, as well as reptiles, mammals, birds, and sea turtles.

Kusadasi is truly a shopping paradise. The presence of many shops in and around Kusadasi provides the city with the appearance of a huge shopping centre. Historically, Kusadasi has always been a harbour city with extensive trade. It still preserves that quality today. Bearing thousands of years of Anatolian motifs, one of the most important Turkish handicrafts, Turkish carpets, are available to customers in large and small shops in Kusadasi. Additionally, you'll find attractive and fashionable leather products including jackets, trousers and coats that are completely produced in Turkey, as well as a rich variety of jewels and hundreds of pieces designed with precious stones from antique Anatolian designs to modern day designs.

"The Mill Restaurant," located in Mevkii, Kusadasi, will let you taste the different Turkish dishes in a natural environment. Most of the foods served are produced on the owners' farm. For those into nightlife, "Ecstasy Disco," located on Sakarya Street, is a classic. With its two floors, folding roof, vast space, 3 bars, exciting sound and a professional staff, the fun at "Ecstasy Disco" has no limits.

HIOS: south of Limnos, claims to be the birthplace of Homer around 800 B.C. and (possibly) that of Christopher Colombus in 1451. Its landscape is very varied and its main crop is mastic, the "chew in chewing gum", produced by trees that grow nowhere else in the world.

Its capital and chief port, also called Hios, is a lively town on the East Coast of the island, opposite the shores of ancient Ionia. Hios has a large mediaeval castle which dominates the harbor, a happy blend of traditional and modern. Its walls enclose the old section of town, whose houses are embellished with lattice windows and balconies.

The town also has two distinguished museums, the Archaeological Museum with finds from the island, and the Museum of Modern Greek Sculpture with works by the internationally famous sculptor, Halepas, among others. In addition, the Korai Library, one of the most important in Greece, contains 95,000 volumes, including the founder's collection of rare books, and an exhibit of local costumes. In the hills to the west of the capital stands Nea Moni, the island's most important Byzantine monument. Founded in the 11th century by a monk named Constantine, the monastery contains extraordinary frescoes and mosaics.

South of Hios in Emporio lies the beach of Mavros Gialos, a beautiful beach with black pebbles, consisting of three bays. The water is very deep near the beach, but clear as never before seen. The beautiful West Coast offers opportunities. Try Agia Markela, close to the city of Volissos. It's a very long, small pebble, almost sandy, beach. For a new taste experience, try some of the traditional Greek "spoon sweets," preserves made from a plethora of ingredients, for which the island is famous.

You will undoubtedly enjoy at some taverna of Hios the fresh seafood and its specialties: "tighaniti atherina" (tiny fried fish) with onions and "sardeles kolymvites" (a sardine dish), accompanied by their famous ouzo and souma (a local potent drink made from figs). The "Byzantio" restaurant (on Ralli and Rothinou St.) serves a variety of traditional Greek dishes. "Ta Delphinia," on the waterfront offers a good meal and a good seat to observe the passers-by. The "Tria Adelfia" on Livanou St., besides tasty BBQ dishes, offers a nice garden atmosphere. Taste delicious yogurt with honey and "loukoumades" at "No-Name" on Roidou and Venizelou St. Be entertained at the many bars lined up on the coastal road towards the airport: "Kouraghio", "Mythos," and "Iviskos." The "Omirio," a cultural center, offers many significant activities, events and exhibits. Foreign and Greek performers often give concerts at the very comfortable auditorium located in the central park. Taverna "Zorbas,df" located on one of the most popular beaches of Hios, Karfa, will provide you with a pleasant and friendly atmosphere. Surrounded by plants and vines one may enjoy the finest that Greek cousine has to offer. When in Megas Limionas one shouldn't miss the taverna "Steki," located right on the beach, which serves seafood, octopus, fresh fish and even steaks.

MYTILINI (Lesvos): The lush green island of Lesvos (also called Mytilini), is like no other. It is one of the four largest Aegean islands. Virtually unaffected by the mass tourism that has turned other islands into amusement parks, Lesvos is the perfect place to visit for people who want to experience the real Greece. For the Greek Island traveler who is worried about not having enough to do, Lesvos is the perfect destination.

The castle located on the north side of Mytilini and overlooks the city is one of the largest in the eastern Mediterranean. It's foundations were laid during the time of Justinian on the ruins of an even older fortification which can still be seen in sections of the walls. It has been used and rebuilt by the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and the Turks and is now used in the summer for cultural events.

The castle Mithimna that crowns the heights of the town is from Byzantine times and was later repaired by Francesco Gattelusi. In terms of majesty and size it is the second most impressive on the island.

The best beach in Lesvos, if not all of Greece is Skala Eressos. If you have kids, this is the place to be especially around sunset. There are numerous beaches in the Gulf of Yera. The sea is usually shallow and the views are gorgeous. Tsichlioda beach is remote and beautiful and most important can only be accessed by boat. The endless beach at Vatera is over seven kilometres long and is one of the most impressive on the island of Lesvos. There is a section that is semi-developed with a hotel or two and some cafes but it's pretty easy to find solitude here, no matter when you go.

Lesvos is known to the birding world as one of the best locations in Europe to see migrating birds. The island's vast and varied landscape offers numerous species of birds exactly what they want and thus it is a haven not only for birds but for birdwatchers too who arrive in droves in the spring. This is also the best time to see the beautiful display of wildflowers. For people interested in birds the best place to stay is Skala Kaloni.

After a beautiful fish lunch with ouzo at 'Remezzo's' in Sigri, what better way to spend an afternoon than to explore the Petrified Forest of Lesvos The Petrified Forest of Lesvos is bigger than the more famous one in Arizona.

Policritos has the hottest natural springs in all of Europe. The baths are 60 meters above the sea close to the banks of the 'Almyropotamos' river. There are five mineral springs but only three are used, two by the municipality and one is privately owned. Nearby are the hot springs of Lisvori with therapeutic mineral bath installations on the banks of a torrent of water that flows into the Bay of Kalloni. In general there are many hot springs on the island of Lesvos, be sure to visit at least one!

At Eftalou make sure you stop at the 'Eftalou' restaurant and try the finest spinach pie (spanakopita) and zucchini pie (kolokithopita) along with the fresh caught fish of the day.

Perched above the town of Molyvos on an adjoining mountain is the village of Vafios with one of the finest tavernas, taverna 'Vafios' The 'Vafios' has some of the most varied and delicious mezedes available. Try the stuffed onions, skordopsomo (garlic-cheese bread), melitzanosalata (eggplant salad), stuffed zucchini flowers, and keep in mind that the recipes belonged to the owner's grandmother. For main courses they have island specialties, clay pot cooking, fish and roast lamb on a spit.

'The Captains Table' in Molyvos sets the standard for the restaurants in the harbor of Molyvos, perhaps the most enjoyable and romantic area to eat on the island. Besides making excellent seafood and Greek dishes, one can find some Italian pasta dishes and non-Greek specials. Afterwards why not move over to 'Café del Mar' for an afternoon cocktail or ice cream.

One of the best restaurants in Skala Eressos is the 'Boem' located to the left of the main square. They specialize in grilled meats and fish, salads and oven specialties.

The panoramic 'Sallimar' club , located in the town of Mytillini, has excellent music, live shows with famous Greek artists, swimming pool, exotic atmosphere and four bars. When in Skala Kalloni don't miss the 'Karma' club. If you like quality music, if you want to meet beautiful people all in a wonderful atmosphere, 'Karma' is the answer.

LIMNOS: a volcanic island, looks bald when one approaches by sea. Once on the island however, green trees and valleys mingle with the white of the houses. Mythology tells us that this island was the home of the god Hephaestus and Homer teaches us that the island's inhabitants comprised of blacksmiths and the scholars of Hephaestus.

The island is full of contrasts; hills, dark barren rocks, deep bays and peaceful beaches. The capital of the island is Myrina built on the ruins of the ancient city of the same name. The island's second largest town, Moudros offers some of the islands many beautiful beaches and lovely homes. To the east of Moudros is Polichni which has ruins of a Neolithic town and the unusual sandy landscape known as the "Sahara of Limnos" can also be seen here stretching to the southernmost point of the island.

In Myrina you must visit: The Castle built in Byzantine times by emperor Andronikos A Komninos in 1183-1185 on the pre-existing Pelagian Walls. The Genoese Ioustiniani later reinforced the castle. Today deer live and find shelter quite freely in the Castle and the various caves that surround it.

In Repanidi one may visit the ruins of a Byzantine castle. In the place "agiochoma" the mineral 'limnia' was taken which was used first by Hippocrates as being therapeutic to various diseases and it continued to be used until the beginning of this century. The coasts of Fanaraki in Moudros have as "roof" the rocks that surround them forming cliffs. The small numbers of sea seals that are noted in the region are associated with the caves that exist there. In the northern part of the island the most famous cave is that of Filoktitis.

Limnos is well know for the honey it produces, make sure to pick some up, you can find it in almost all the shops.

On the West Coast of the island, 4 km from Myrina, is Therma, a spa set in a glorious landscape. Its medicinal waters relieve disorders such as those of the digestive system, the kidneys, the bile duct, the skin, the joints and gynaecological problems.

Like most Greek islands Limnos has wonderful beaches. Evgati is a beautiful sandy beach located 1km from Kondias. One of the best, and most popular beaches is Keros. Riha Nera offers the visitor a fine-grained sandy beach with shallow waters, ideal if one has a family. The beach of Thanos is a stretch of golden sand. And for those seeking peace and quiet, the nearby beaches of Nevgati and Simata are unrivalled.

OURANOPOLIS: Ouranopolis is the gateway to Mount Athos. For over 10 centuries the peninsula existed as if it were a world of it's own. Divorced from the modern world this area is occupied by a holly community and has no roads or electricity and few telephones. It has administrative autonomy, which includes financial and judicial authority. Medieval monasteries are set on spectacular sites on rocky bluffs and precipitous cliff sides. Females are not allowed to set foot in the monasteries. The countryside is densely wooded, mostly with pine that grows down to the water's edge and shades what are considered the finest sandy beaches in Greece.

PORTO KOUFO: is one of the most magnificent natural harbors. Sheer red cliffs at the entrance open up to the large landlocked bay bordered by cultivated fields. It is the ancient Kofos Limin (Deaf harbor) mentioned by Thucydides.

Turkish pirates used Porto Koufo as a base. In the summer of 1334 they struck the Ormilia region with 60 ships and destroyed the region. The Byzantine Emperor Ioannis Katakouzinos surprised the invaders and defeated them. During the 2nd World War, the Germans used the big harbor as a U-boat base and fortified the area. Many of the fortifications are still in evidence today.

On the south side of Porto Koufo - at the site of ancient Toroni - you can still see the ruins of the old fortifications dating back to antiquity and continually augmented up until Byzantine times, as well as the ruins of Early Christian basilicas. The wines produced in this area are excellent and the reds and whites bottled under the appellation "Porto Carras Domaine" are well worth sampling.

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