How to do Greek Island Hopping in northern Aegean Sea
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How to do Greek Island Hopping in northern Aegean Sea

Chios ● Fourni Ikarias ● Ikaria ● Lesvos ● Limnos ● Northern Aegean Sea ● Samos ● Samothrace ● Thasos ● 01 June 2018
 
Northern Aegean Islands are an off-the-beaten-path choice for Greek Island Hopping. Pristine, hospitable, with a touch of undiscovered Greece, they are ideal if you want to spend vacation away from mass tourism and find peace and relaxation. Some of them are large islands with many things to do and see, while other are small islands that are perfect to get rest and enjoy your island hopping in Greece.

Chios

Chios is famous all over the world for 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 mastic villages (Mastichohoria in Greek), which took their name from the mastic trees, which are being cultivated there since antiquity. Medieval ambience, towers, arched doors, impressive architecture, traditional cafés and amazing natural landscape are the characteristics of these villages. Don't miss the 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. In addition to Pyrgi, Avgonyma is a worthwhile medieval village, and Anavatos is an abandoned medieval village of exquisite beauty. In a close distance to the village of Avgonyma, you should visit the Nea Moni Monastery, which was built in the 15th century, is one of the oldest monasteries in Greece and was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The beaches in Chios are distinguished by their gorgeous natural beauty, and most of them are organised. Emporios and Mavria Volia, which took its name after its black volcanic landscape, are the top beaches on the island. 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 beaches to the Town are Karfas and Agia Fotia.


Psara

Near Chios, is located the island of Psara. It is a tiny island with only 500 residents and a few hotels and rooms to let. Around Psara, there are a few other, uninhabited islands you can visit, such as Agios Nikolaos and Antipsara. There, you will enjoy swimming in the amazing sea waters and also eat fresh lobster, as the island is well-known for the recipes with lobsters.


Lesvos

Lesvos is a large island with beautiful villages, medieval ambiance and great cuisine. Lesvos is the homeland of ouzo, the famous national drink of Greece! Very impressive on the island is the Petrified Forest, where trees have been turned into stone in a procedure called petrification. Millions of years ago, the volcanic ash of the island covered the trees of this forest creating a rare natural phenomenon, which has been declared as Protected Natural Monument. Trees are made from stone and not from wood!

Very beautiful are also the castles and well-preserved towns of Lesvos. The medieval castle of Mytilene, the capital of Lesvos, is considered as one of the best-preserved castles in Eastern Mediterranean. The Old Town of Mytilene under the castle has vivid nightlife and many interesting museums. Molyvos, a picturesque coastal settlement, has as trademark the medieval castle at the top of the hill with its magnificent view of the Aegean Sea. Agiassos is one of the most beautiful villages with cobblestone streets and neoclassical mansions. It is famous for its fine potteries and wood carvings, which are being sold in the local art shops.

Ouzo is the natural drink of the island, and you can find many distilleries that are also museums. There, you can be informed about the production of ouzo, its history and distillation process as well as buy a bottle of ouzo out of the large collection.

Lesvos has gorgeous sandy beaches with crystal clear waters and astonishing landscape around them. Vatera, Eressos, Molyvos, Plomari, Skala Kalonis, Petra and Anaxos are organised beaches with all the facilities you may need. 


Limnos

Limnos is a lovely off-the-beaten-track island with wonderful landscape, beaches and villages. Myrina, the capital and port of the island,  is a beautiful town with neoclassical buildings and a castle, which is one of the biggest and best preserved in Greece, home to around 70 deer. Other worthwhile villages are Kontias, Portianou, Palaio Pedino and Kontopouli. Kontias is one of the biggest villages of the island with beautiful stone mansions, which were built by Greek ship owners in the 19th and 20th century as well as pretty paved paths. Portianou has also impressive mansions, such as the one, in which Winston Churchill stayed in 1915.

The natural beauty of Limnos is one of a kind. Near the village of Katalakko, the area of Ammothines comprises 7 hectares of undulating dunes, while the volcanic formations at Faraklo Gelogical Park are fascinating. The island has also numerous wonderful beaches, which are popular for their water sports facilities, such as wind surf and kite surf. The best among them are Kotsinas, Keros, Platy, Gomati and Megalo Fanaraki. 


Samos

Samos was an important island during antiquity, and nowadays impresses the visitor with its picturesque seaside settlements as well as the significant historical sites. Vathy is the capital and the main port of the island. It is a lovely town around a bay with magnificent sea view, Venetian, neoclassical and modern buildings. Kokkari is a fishing village with the ultimate summer atmosphere. Fishing boats and yachts, taverns by the sea and bars with cocktails create the perfect scenery to adore during your Greek Island Hopping. Karlovasi is the prettiest village of Samos with stone mansions, lush greenery, impressive churches, waterfalls, neoclassical houses and a Byzantine castle. Pythagoreion, the second port of Samos, has a very nice beachfront, traditional architecture and amazing atmosphere.  It is the homeland of philosopher and scientist Pythagoras, from whom it took its name.

The most impressive sample of Samos' ancient history  is the Tunnel of Eupalinos, the cradle of engineering. Eupalinos managed to dig a tunnel through a mountain using basic measuring tools and complex mathematical calculations. Two teams were digging their way through the mountain, and they managed to meet midway in this tunnel of 1,036 meters length and 1,80 meters width and height! Heraion is also an ancient site you should definitely visit. In Herodotus day, Heraion was the biggest temple in Greece, but today the temple is destroyed, and only one column is left. Heraion Sanctuary, which was dedicated to goddess Hera, is believed to be the place where Zeus and Hera had spent their honeymoon.

From Samos, you can combine Greek Island Hopping with a daily excursion to Turkey. Samos is located very close to Kusadasi. Daily tours are organised from Pythagoreion to Kusadasi, where you can admire the ancient site of Ephesus, walk around the beautiful city and enjoy the Turkish market and cuisine.


Ikaria

Ikaria is the epitome of easy-going island, where everything is relaxing an no one suffers from stress. This ultimate vacation destination has beautiful settlements and exotic beaches. Agios Kirykos is the capital of the island and its second largest port. It is considered one of the most picturesque settlements of Aegean Sea. Neoclassical houses, flowered balconies and narrow streets create an amazing picture. Armenistis is a lovely fishing village, which is the main touristic resort of the island, but it has managed to keep its authentic and untouched atmosphere. Evdilos is the main port and a beautiful village by the sea, which is built amphitheatrically with neoclassical buildings of unique architecture, traditional houses and impressive alleys.

The most famous beaches are Kambos, Armenistis, Seychelles and Livadi. The main characteristic of these beaches is that they have azure sea waters, white sand and are secluded, offering you the best experience of peace and privacy.


Fourni

Fourni Ikarias is a tiny island with emerald waters in a very short distance to Ikaria. On this secluded and undiscovered island, you will appreciate your privacy and inner peace. It is an authentic, fishing island where you will be impressed by its crystal waters, the calm sea and the scenery of past decades. You can make a day excursion to Fourni from Ikaria.


Thasos

Thasos is located very close to the northern Greek town Kavala, but it is also situated close to Thessaloniki. It is an island with lush greenery and exotic beaches that will steal your heart. Very beautiful are also the traditional villages of Thasos. Limenas is the capital and main port of the island. It is a touristic town with wonderful surrounding nature. Theologos is the oldest and most beautiful village of the island with stone-built houses, elegant boutiques and traditional restaurants with delicious Greek cuisine. Potamia is a mountainous village, which is distinguished by its magnificent sea view as well as the authentic atmosphere that travels you back in time. Panagia was the old capital of the island with well-preserved houses surrounded by lush greenery, while Kastro is not only beautiful with authentic character but also situated in an amazing location near waterfalls.

The most worthwhile sightseeing in Thasos is the Ancient Agora, where are located the ruins of ancient Thasos with sanctuaries, temples, an odeum, a theatre and the Acropolis from the 4th century B.C.

The beaches of Thasos are exotic and impressive, full of pine trees down to the beach. Golden Beach, Makriamos, Paradise and Alyki are long sandy beaches, have various touristic facilities and  water-sports centers.  Alyki combines two small beaches with golden sand and calm waters, and Gkiola is an imposing rocky formation that creates a natural pool!


Samothrace

Samothrace is located in a close distance to Alexandroupolis. It is a different island with mysterious energy that captivates the visitor. The natural landscape of Samothrace is impressive: hot springs, waterfalls, crystal waters, rare ecosystems and sacred ancient monuments. The main mountain of the island is called Saos, and it is full of natural pools that are formed by waterfalls. These pools, which are called by the locals "Vathres", are a rare physical phenomenon, which is characterised by numerous waterfalls. Vathres is the ultimate meeting point of hippies, hipsters and alternative travellers away from the crowds. In Samothrace, you can also admire the largest waterfall in the Mediterranean Sea, Kremastos, whose waters fall directly into the sea from a height of 100 meters! The southern part of the island is full of waterfalls that fall into the azure sea water of remote beaches you can reach only by boat.


How to get there

Some of the Northern Aegean islands are located in a close distance to each other (Samos, Chios, Psara, Lesvos, Limnos, Ikaria, Fourni), while other (Thasos, Samothrace) are close to mainland Greece. Thus, you can combine Thasos with a visit to Kavala or Thessaloniki and Samothrace with a tour in northern-eastern Greece, Alexandroupolis and Evros Delta. To Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis, you can go by aeroplane from Athens, but there are also many international flights that arrive there.

Ikaria, Lesvos, Limnos and Chios have airports. Thus, you can go there from Athens in less than one hour, but you can also find numerous charter flights from various cities all over Europe. Boats to northern Aegean islands depart from Piraeus in Athens, but keep in mind that you need more than 8-9 hours to get there. If you are in northern Greece, remember that boats do not depart from Thessaloniki but from the nearby town of Kavala, and you need 4-5 hours. 

Thus, if you don't like many hours on the boat, we recommend you to go there by aeroplane and then discover all the nearby islands that are connected by boat or ferry in less than 1-2 hours.

Boat connections to northern Aegean islands are also available from other Greek islands, such as the Dodecanese and the Cyclades. Of course, Greek Island Hopping is more convenient if you do it inside the same complex of islands, but if you are adventurous type and you want to see various destinations, you can combine island hopping in the Dodecanese or the Cyclades with island hopping in northern Aegean Sea.

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