A holiday on Greek’s third-largest island, Lesbos, is spent meandering between fishing villages and lounging on perfect sandy beaches, before lining up the cocktails at one of its low-key bars.
Lesbos has earned its place in ancient and modern-day mythology. Some 2,600 years ago, the legendary Greek poet Sappho, who wrote erotic poetry about women, was born in the small village of Eresos. The terms ‘lesbian’ and ‘sapphic’ are directly linked to the island and the poet, respectively. Its nightlife is low-key compared to on other Greek islands, but features atmospheric watering holes, including – quite rightly – a lesbian bar that’s the centre of gay nightlife in Lesbos. Here are the coolest bars in Lesbos, Greece, today.
Parasol Beach Bar
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Greek, Pub Grub, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, $$$
Decked out like a funky beach hut, perched on stilts and topped with a thatched roof, Parasol plies regulars and visitors with a vast array of tropical-themed cocktails (think mai tais and piña coladas). During the day, the kitchen serves an eclectic range of global-themed dishes, from curries and chicken satay to bao buns and falafel. When night comes around, reggae and DJ sets keep the place hopping, attracting partiers of all ages and orientations.
If you’re after a lazy day at the beach, join locals and visitors on the cushion-strewn terrace of this waterfront cafe-bar, which happens to be on one of Lesbos’s most popular beaches, Skala Eresou. Come evening, you can perch on a stool at the curved bar and bop your head to a DJ set. Cocktails are the speciality here, and the bartender puts a creative spin on the classics. The Summer Mule (ginger beer, vodka, lime and pineapple) or the Mastichito (mojito infused with mastika) are particularly good.
From the pink deck chairs on its seafront terrace offering an unobstructed view of the Mediterranean, to the kitsch, brightly painted interior filled with lanterns, Flamingo is hard to miss. It’s long been a hub of lesbian culture on the island, transforming from a chilled cafe by day to a hip bar by night, with nightly DJ performances in the summer, quiz nights and owners who greet you like a long-lost friend. It’s a mostly female crowd, but everyone’s welcome.
Two blocks from the waterfront in the port of Mytilene, this snug, subtly lit, stone-walled cafe-bar serves excellent espresso by day and morphs into a stylish cocktail bar come evening. The bartenders mix classic and original cocktails – try the tropical Jack Sparrow – using a vast array of high-end spirits (including the very local Mastic Tears), while the resident cat oversees proceedings, and jazz, swing and funk tunes add to the ambience. For more intimate seating, head to the alleyway outside.
Overlooking the marina in Molyvos, on the north coast, this British-run bar inside a traditional stone house attracts a lively crowd of expats, international visitors and locals. The balcony is the place to perch if you’re into sunset-viewing, and owners Giorgos, Paul and Martin mix excellent drinks to the sound of ’80s music, including peach bellinis, the Jellybean (an ouzo-based cocktail) and the best sangria on the island.
Found in the labyrinth of narrow lanes near Mitilini’s port, this retro spot is the best-known cafe-bar on the island. A popular local hangout at any time of day, it serves up breakfasts and good coffee in the mornings, signature mint lemonades and snacks during the day, and then morphs into a live music venue at night. There’s inexpensive beer served at the bar, and a soundtrack provided by local indie, rock and electronica performers, and occasional DJ sets.
Vinyl records and musical instruments adorn the walls at this well-established cafe-bar in Mitilini’s Old Town. Local students and professionals stop by for specialty coffees, a tap on the laptop and a quick meal of quesadillas or burgers during the day. You can join them, or get the bartenders to mix you one of their infamous rum-based cocktails and nurse it on the seafront terrace. Look out for live DJ sets on Wednesdays and Fridays.
A traditional stone house on the edge of Molyvos harbour hides a quirky interior, with playful touches like a cheese grater for a ceiling lamp. This buzzy, American-run spot has won numerous local fans with its stellar cocktails and sea views from the balcony. The Kamikaze, White Lady and Cosmopolitan cocktails are particularly popular, but the must-try is the Sexy Spritzaki: the Misirlou take on a spritz, with a couple of secret ingredients.