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Chios: the ultimate guide about the mastic island

Chios ● 01 November 2018
 
Chios is a unique island with volcanic beaches, medieval villages and high-level gastronomy. The island is worldwide famous for its product, the mastic, which can be found only there and has amazing benefits to the human health. If you visit Chios, which is located in the northern Aegean Sea, in a close distance to Lesvos, Samos and Limnos, you will enjoy delicious cuisine, precious local products to take back home, swimming in extraordinary beaches and strolls in stunning, well-preserved villages inside the verdant nature. Get ready for amazing vacation on a Greek island different than the others!


Where to go

Your first stop should be the main town and port of Chios, which combines uniquely the modern and the old elements in a multicultural setting. The signature landmark of the capital is the Medieval Castle, which was built by the Venetians and dates back to the 9th century, with a Byzantine structure that was later incorporated into the Genoese fortification. It encloses the whole capital of Chios, giving the town a special atmosphere. Neoclassical, medieval and new buildings constitute what Chios is about, a unique island, which surprises you on every corner.

The town and port of Chios has also important museums and points of interest that remind of the long and rich history of the island. Of the Ottoman history remind the Ottoman cemetery, the hamam as well as the Bayrakli Mosque, which is situated within the walls of the Castle, and the Mecidiye Mosque, which today, hosts the Byzantine Museum in the central square of the town. Worth visiting are also the Maritime Museum, the Municipal Gardens, filled with flowers and palm trees, the Archaeological Museum and the Koraes Public Library, which is considered to be one of the most prominent libraries in Greece. Generally, your stay in Chios can be characterized by cultural vacation and a travel back in time, from the antiquity to modern period.

Chios has also astonishing villages that have kept their authentic character. In addition to the mastic villages (read further for a guide to these amazing villages), there are also many other settlements that are worth your visit. Avgonyma is a traditional medieval village, and Anavatos is an abandoned medieval village of magnificent beauty. Volissos is said to be the birthplace of Homer, while in Daskalopetra, Homer taught his pupils and you can see the stone, where he was sitting when reading his poems. On the eastern side, Vrontados is a small seaside town that is well-known for the Easter tradition of rouketopolemos (rocket war). Here, but also in other villages of the island, the local people throw homemade firework rockets to each side of the island, creating a fantastic scenery. if you visit Chios in Easter, you will enjoy a spectacular sight.

Anavatos

In a close distance to the village of Avgonyma, spend a few hours to visit the Nea Moni Monastery. The monastery, which was built in the 15th century, is one of the oldest monasteries in Greece and was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Another place you should definitely go during your holidays in Chios is Kampos. Kampos is a Genoese settlement that flourished until 1822. If you want to learn the entire history of the area, visit the Citrus Museum, where you will also find delicious delights, such as amygdalota (=almond cookies), mandarin vanilla spoon sweet and orange or cacao flavoured loukoumi. Mansions of unique architecture and scented citrus orchards make Kampos a place you should definitely explore, especially if you want to explore the nature of the area. 

We also recommend you to spend some hours or days in Emporio. The town is believed to be the ancient Leukonion, which was mentioned by Thucidides, and excavations have unearthed an ancient temple to Athena and other buildings including a sanctuary to the Goddess near the port. In the archaeological site, many houses and other buildings have been also excavated. Very impressive is the volcano of Psaronas very close to the modern village. Chios is a volcanic island with black beaches, which look like the famous black beaches of Santorini!
Pyrgi

Mastic villages

Don't leave Chios without tasting its delicious local product, the mastic, which can be eaten as a delicacy or as liqueur. The island is the land of mastic thanks to its 24 villages (Mastichohoria), which took their name from the mastic trees, a precious source of wealth for the island. Medieval ambience, towers, arched doors, impressive architecture, traditional cafés and outstanding landscape are the characteristics that will make you adore these historical villages. Don't forget to visit the Chios Mastic Museum, located in the village of Pyrgi, which is a modern museum that informs you about the cultivation and processing of mastic over the years.
Mastic tree

Of these villages, the most impressive are the above mentioned Pyrgi, which in addition to the museum has also intricately painted houses, Olympi and Mesta, which are both untouched medieval fortress towns. These villages were built out of sight from the sea and surrounded by high walls with a central tower that was the last resort for the residents to be protected from the Arab pirates. 

Olympi has a well-preserved, impressive outer wall, which encloses a beautiful little square with cafe, traditional taverns and churches. In a close distance to this village, is located the Cave of Olympi, which has the largest number of stalagmites and stalactites per square meter of any cave in Europe. Mesta is one of the best-preserved mastic villages with a vivid history and a cultural museum about the life in the village and the cultivation of this precious product. It also has the largest church in Chios, the Church of Saint Taxiarchis.

Beaches

The beaches in Chios are characterized by their gorgeous natural beauty and most of them are organised. Emporios and Mavria Volia, which took its name after the black volcanic landscape in this area, are the best beaches on the island. Black is fascinating, when it comes to beaches. Mavra Volia is a unique beach, where the volcano has left its marks. The explosion of Psaronas volcano in antiquity has coloured the round, shiny beach pebbles, which reflect on the blue of the crystal sea. A unique picture, which is something you haven't seen before! Emporios is maybe the most beautiful beach on the island with imposing black pebbles!
Mavra Volia

On the northern coast, the quiet beach of Limnos in Volissos is an ideal place for peace and privacy. If you want to enjoy a gorgeous sunset, go to Sidirountas. The nearest beach to the town and the airport of Chios is Karfas, the busiest and best-developed tourist resort on the island, where you can find numerous traditional Greek taverns, hotels and other accommodation options.

The beach of Agia Dynami, in a short distance to the mastic village of Mesta, has the most turquoise sea waters you have seen in the Mediterranean Sea and offers you privacy and contact with nature. Near Agia Dynami, the bay of Trachilia is a narrow peninsula that leads to a rocky island that is ideal for scuba diving. Both beaches are accessible via a footpath through the olive and mastic groves. 

Family-friendly are the beaches of Vrontados and Agia Fotini. Shallow and crystal-clear waters, fish taverns and peaceful atmosphere with some sunbeds and umbrellas constitute the perfect scenery for a day by the sea with your kids!

For the ultimate relaxation away from the crowds, go to the secluded and totally unorganised beaches of Didima. They are two unspoiled bays with pebbles that are also nudist-friendly.

Hiking paths

Chios has verdant nature, which can be explored on foot. There are many hiking paths and routes, perfect for the lovers of nature, where you can discover the lush greenery, the flora and fauna as well as the hidden villages of Chios. A stunning route, which has been included in the famous "Chios Half Marathon" and can be done whether on foot or by bicycle, is the route in Frangovouni, starting south of the airport and heading towards the beautiful villas of Kampos, a distance of about 10-12 kilometres.
For the lovers of adventure, who are in an explanatory mood, the tour of the 10 villages in the hills of Mount Amani is a must. The higher up to the mountain you go, the wilder the natural surroundings, and you may even see hares, partridges and foxes. Inside the villages, you will see grocery stores and cafés where the time seems to have stopped decades ago.
At Agios Galas, there is a fascinating cave where evidence of Neolithic human activity has been found. On the east side of the mountain, you should head down from Keramos to Agiasmata on the coast and enjoy a natural spa experience in the thermal springs of the area.

Gastronomy

Chios, exactly like all Greek islands, is the ideal place to have an abundant culinary experience. The traditional taverns are everywhere, serving seafood, fresh fish and delicious appetizers, such as tomato fritters, grilled octopus, oysters, feta cheese with honey and shrimps in tomato sauce. Chios is also famous for ouzo. The gastronomy of Chios means visiting as many ouzo joints and trying as many local brands as possible. Ouzo in Chios is a little lighter than ouzo in Lesvos, and it is a perfect match for culinary specialties. Chiot local dishes include small gastronomic treasures, such as pie made with sand smelt (begoto), sun-dried fish and grilled mastelo cheese. A gastronomic miracle is also the wine of the island. Don't miss visiting some of the many wineries of Chios, where you can taste authentic local wine. On the northern side of the mountain, the village of Kourounia has a brand-new winery that has revived the island's Kourouniotiko wine. 


Greek Island Hopping

Chios is a large island, which ideally need many days to be discovered as it has many things to see. However, if you want to explore more Greek islands, you can do so, because in a close distance to Chios are located beautiful islands, such as Limnos, Lesvos and Samos. The islands of northern Aegean Sea will impress you with their authenticity and hospitality and are ideal for family-friendly vacation. All these islands are connected via ferry or boat in less than 1-2 hours. There are also many ferry deals in Greece to book online your tickets and save money for your routes. You can pay only for one ticket and do multiple routes between the islands in order to explore the famous Aegean Sea. Thus, you can visit more Greek islands, understand better why the summer in Greece is so famous and spend some amazing weeks in a world that has something unique to give you. Try Greek Island Hopping, take a lot of photos and live an unforgettable experience with your friends or your family!
Samos

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Where to Stay

Hotel in Chios, Greece Esperides Hotel
Esperides Hotel
Agia Foteini Beach, 82100 Chios, Greece

Esperides Hotel is located just one minute's walk from Agia Foteini Beach. Chios town and Chios Port are approximately a 20-minute drive away. Chios National Airport is a 16-minute drive away.

Appartment in Chios, Greece Iro Apartments
Iro Apartments
Agias Fotinis Beach, 82100 Chios, Greece

Iro apartments are located just 10 meters from Agia Fotini beach and offer self-catering accommodation in studios and apartments with sea-view balconies. Chios town is at 10 km, while Chios National Airport is at 8 km. Chios island can be reached with a ferry boat from Piraeus, Athens, from Samos, Lesvos islands and from Cesme in Turkey.

Hotel in Chios, Greece Agia Markella Hotel
Agia Markella Hotel
Vrontados, 82200 Chios, Greece

Agia Markella Hotel is located just 2 minutes from Afani Nafti beach and offers accommodation in bright rooms with balconies overlooking the Aegean Sea and mountains. Chios town and the main port are 5 km away, while Chios airport is at 6.5 km. The popular sandy Daskalopetra beach is at 1 km. A bus station, restaurants and a mini market can be found within a short walking distance.


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