If you were to sit down and list all that’s best about a holiday on the Greek islands, it’s likely that Lemnos will manage to tick pretty much every item on that list. With great beaches, pretty coves, historical attractions and a way of life that doesn’t appear to have changed despite the onset of tourism, in many respects it can lay claim to the being the perfect Greek holiday island. Best of all, despite its charms Lemnos still attracts a relatively small number of tourists, so those who come can enjoy an unspoilt island at a gentle pace.
The most distinctive claim to fame for Lemnos is undoubtedly its legend relating to the super-jealous goddess Aphrodite. The story goes that she was so angry with the local women for failing to worship her that she inflicted them all with the foulest of body odour. Their husbands were repulsed and acquired a new set of wives in the form of slave girls from Thrace. The women of Lemnos did not take kindly to this, and drugged their husbands before throwing their bodies from the cliffs. After that the island remained entirely female until the arrival of Jason and his Argonauts.
While you’re unlikely to find any trace of this legend (except perhaps in the names of the tavernas and gift shops around the island) there are plenty of signs of the more recent occupiers of Lemnos. The Romans, Venetians and Ottomans have all been here, and their legacy is present in the island’s ruins and historical buildings, especially in the pretty main town of Myrina. Myrina has a population of around 4,500 and is the sort of town made for wandering, especially on the warm summer evenings when the shops and restaurants do a good trade and people find a pleasant table from which to watch the sunset. The Kastro, a 12th-century fortress, looms over the town and helps create what is a dramatic backdrop, while the centre of activity, as on many islands, is the lively harbourfront with its tavernas and cafes. There are several nearby beaches, including Riha Nera (which can get busy and has a restaurant and a few beach bars) and Romeikos which has no facilities but offers a quiet alternative.
While visitors to Lemnos can choose to do nothing more than enjoy the sunshine and food, one hotel offers a cookery program which not only teaches a few basics of local cuisine, but also provides an insight into the Lemnos way of life. The program at the Varos Village Hotel includes hands-on cooking lessons and starts with picking the produce for the meal from the hotel garden. The culmination of the hard work is of course the lunch produced by the students.
There are plenty of alternatives for those who prefer their adventures in the water. Activities such as water-skiing and windsurfing can be pre-booked, and motorboats are available for rental at reasonable daily rates.
A range of water-based activities and sports can be pre-booked from Riha Nera beach on the outskirts of Myrina (near Sotiris Apartments).
Visit the Sunvil Holidays website for more information about holidays in Lemnos.