What? Samos… Where? Northern Aegean… When? Early spring to late autumn…Why?
With a history going back to the Neolithic era, Samos is rich in a varied and impressive archaeological beauty that can raise the pulse of even the most bored, tag-along visitor. Firstly, it is the homeplace of Pythagoras, real-life God of Mathematics and Music (and creator of the Monochord sound healing instrument). Then there’s the geometrical architectural wonder known as the Efpalinios aqueduct tunnel, built in the 6th Century BC. And the only second one of its kind in world history that was excavated from both ends. Oh, and let’s not forget the Sanctuary to Goddess Hera, the Heraion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its magnificent ruins and giant sole-standing column.
Samos’ viticulture roots back to antiquity, although it was fully resuscitated in the 19th century. The island has a United Winemaking Agricultural Cooperative with two winemaking facilities, one in Karlovassi, and the other in Malagari, where you can also visit the Museum of Samos Wine, which arranges tours and even wine tastings. The island is famous for Moschato grape wine, so seek it out wherever you dine. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on Samos’ well-known Vin Doux (sweet wine), traditionally served with ice and a slice of lemon like a refreshing liqueur.
Hiking in beautiful nature
If you enjoy discovering places by walking, buy the Samos Hiking Guide by Stavros Psimmenos, which presents 32 of the island’s best routes. The author, who has spent decades exploring the island’s pathways, says “hundreds of kilometres of forest trails and cobbled paths crossing through a beautiful countryside link many of the most interesting places of the island: traditional villages and monasteries, mountain tops and impressive ridges, remote beaches and ancient ruins. Lush landscapes and amazing ocean views alternate for a most rewarding experience.”
The charming villages
Apart from the busiest villages of Pythagoreio, Vathy, and Votsalakia, each with its own charm, it’s worth also driving to Samos’ pretty villages of Mt Kerki, such as Kallithea, Lekka, Nikoloudes, and Kallithea, or on Mt Karvouni, such as Pandrosos, Mesogeia, Manolates and Vourliotes, and those of. At the eastern foothills of Mt Karvouni is Mitiliniaios village, where you can enjoy a wonderful open-air cinema (Cine Rex) experience straight out of the ‘60s!
The beautiful beaches
West of Kokkari village is the lovely pebble beach of Tsamadou, known for its clear waters and chilled vibe. On its eastern end, beneath the cliff-rocks is the island’s only remaining official nudist spot. Nearby is Limanakia, a smaller and during high season more crowded pebble beach that’s equally pretty. If you prefer sand, there are several options; head to Psilli Ammos which faces Turkey’s Dilek peninsula, or scenic Livadaki. If you want to combine a good hike with a reviving swim, start from the village of Potami and take the 5km path to Megalo and Mikoro Seitani (also reachable by boat from Karlovassi). For a beach tightly embraced by lush greenery walk or take the boat to Mikri and Megali Lakka beaches on the east of the island.
How? By ferry either from Rafina port to Karlovassi or from Piraeus port to Vathy (around 10-12 hour journeys). Or you can fly to the island from Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos in 55 minutes.
P.S. When in Samos…Visit the Museum of Pythagoreio, where you’ll see magnificent displays of ceramics from the 9th Century BC until the Golden Age. If you’re more spiritually inclined visit the Monastery of Panagia Spilianis, a truly mystical experience.