If there is a Greek island for every taste, then Lesbos is for the art-loving, alternative crowd. The home of the ancient Greek poet Sappho, the Nobel prize poet Elytis and the renowned folk painter Theophilos; the island has a good reason to be proud of its cultural heritage. Lesbos casts a spell on its visitors, making them want to come back again and again. Here, The Culture Trip lists the 10 things to see and do on this captivating island.
Built upon the ruins of the ancient city of Mithimna, this well preserved Byzantine castle offers spectacular views of the island and is a popular romantic spot during sunset . In the summer months the castle bustles with cultural activity by hosting events such as the International Festival of Classical Music of Molyvos.
As one of the two biggest petrified forests in the world, this 20 million year old site is of unique geological importance in Europe. The awe-inspiring perfectly preserved trees offer valuable information about the volcanic activity of the island millions of years ago.
Surrounded by mountains and volcanic rock that shape like an amphitheater around it, the beach Skala in the community of Skala Eresou is a place of immense beauty and boasts one of the cleanest patches of sea in the Mediterranean. This is a serene, unpretentious place to unwind and relax.
Once you get to Skala Eresou make sure to stay at least one night to enjoy a well made cocktail at the famous bar Parasol, right in front of the beach! This Latin themed bar, that is styled like an exotic beach hut, offers the ultimate relaxing beach bar experience. Latin music, imaginative decoration and excellent drinks will guarantee to give you a summer night to remember. Open all day.
Lesbos is famous for its churches, monasteries and religious character. Every year hundreds of people climb the imposing 40 meter high rock in the village of Petra (114 steps overall) to kneel before the miraculous image of Panagia Glykofilousa (Mother of Jesus). From the church you can enjoy spectacular views of the community of Petra too.
Explore the architecture in the main city of Lesbos, Mitilini
Mitilini , the capital of Lesbos, is famous for its beautiful architecture, which is described by an elaborate combination of different styles such as neoclassic, renaissance and belle epoque. Strolling its narrow alleys you will discover hidden gems: traditional cafés, antique shops and food markets. Make sure to buy some Ouzo, for which the island is famous.
The green mountain village of Agiasos is a picturesque, traditional community with cobblestone leafy alleys, old style cafés and historic buildings. It has been described as the “small Switzerland” of Greece because of its immaculate clean streets, musical population (it is said that almost everyone in the village plays the santouri!) and the wood and ceramic artefact tradition. Make sure you enjoy some ouzo and greek meze at one of the local cafés, and visit the local shops that sell hand made art.
This seafront restaurant in Petra offers “Mama’s cuisine” and it is the best place to try traditional greek food, all made with local fresh ingredients. It was originally created in 1983 with an initiative of the Ministry for Sexual Equality with the purpose to help local women earn an income of their own and become more independent. Today, Women’s Cooperative is one of the most popular restaurants in Lesbos offering a beautiful location to enjoy a home-cooked meal.
The ancient hot springs of Eftalou in Molyvos are famous for healing conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, neuralgia and sciatica, to name a few. The springs, that have an average temperature of 46°C, are near the beach of Molyvos and therefore offer an idyllic location for visitors to enjoy both the healing experience and the serene surroundings.
Take advantage of the proximity to Turkey and have a day trip from Mytilini to the coastal city of Ayvalik to browse the large Turkish bazaar that takes place every week. The journey is around one hour and 30 minutes long and the round trip ticket costs around 25-30 euros per person.