Situated in the heart of the Central Aegean, the 8th largest Greek island is located literally 0.75 miles from the Asia Minor coast. It’s fertile and mountainous and offers the visitor a variety of things to see and do ranging from snorkelling, hiking, experiencing traditional villages, festivals and archaeological sites as well as a range of traditional products to buy such as the famous Muscat wine.
Here we’ll take a look at some of the reasons why Samos as an island should not be overlooked as a holiday destination.
If you’re arriving into Samos by ferry, the capital – Vathy – is where you will alight. It’s a pretty place with old buildings such as the place that housed the Parliament, the Town Hall and the Archaeological and Byzantine Museum. Its cobbled streets are overflowing with gorgeous bougainvillaea and as you wander along the harbour, it does feel as if you’re stepping back in time.
There are two main mountains in Samos – Karvounis and Kerkis – and it’s here that most of the small villages are located. They’re considered the heart of the agricultural community; producing wine and olive oil. For a taste of the ‘real Greece’, it is worth taking time to visit one of the villages in the mountains.
In Manolates, for example, you’ll find hens and goats roaming freely through the square, farmers using donkeys as their means of transport and should you wish to eat in one of the tavernas, without charge you’ll automatically be served with local chickpea croquettes and souma wine made locally.
Vourliotes – one of the very first villages ever to be built on the island and close to 1000 ft above sea level – has streams, traditional houses all surrounded by pine trees and vineyards.
More of a town, the fishing port of Pythagorion is a popular resort with a long coarse sand beach, but the best point of interest here is to travel approx. 4 miles south east of the town and come to the Cave of Pythagoras; the place where the famous Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras lived and studied most of his life.
Greece is famous for its celebration of religion and life, and what better way to do this than through festivals throughout the long summer months? Samos is no exception and visitors to the island will find feasts on various days throughout the year, celebrating the various saints in the Greek Orthodox religion such as the feast day of Agia Marina on 17th July in the village of Vourliotes, the birth of the Virgin Mary at the Monastery of Panagia Vrondiani on 8th September and the feast of Panagia Spiliani near Pythagorion on 21st November. Festivals of this kind in Greece are known as Panigiri’s and usually involve the whole community who each provide a dish and congregate in the town square until way into the early hours of the morning, eating, dancing and socialising. There’s sure to be even a small panigiri taking place during your visit to Samos, be sure to seek one out and take part.
Approx. a mile behind the pebbly beach of Potami – along a path following the river through the forest in the direction of the mountains – you will come to a small waterfall forming a beautiful, but ice cold, lake. Here there are several steps carved into the rock, worth climbing to reach the second lake and waterfall. The Waterfalls are a testament to the fact that Samos offers diverse topography.
As with anywhere in Greece, archaeological sites abound – and Samos is no exception. A few examples of sites that should not be missed include the Tunnel of Eupalinos – a 4,000ft long water tunnel built through solid limestone in the 6th century and constructed with no magnetic compass, surveying instruments or even written mathematical instructions.
Lykourgos Logothetis Castle is southwest of the fishing town of Pythagorion and, built at the beginning of the 19th century, acted as the headquarters for the islanders to plan their resistance movement against the invading Ottoman fleet. All islanders at the time assisted in its construction and it perches proudly on top of a hill, believed to be one of the oldest acropolis’s of the island.
As you’ve seen, Samos offers the visitor a plethora of activities and opportunities to soak up the real island. With seasonal flights direct from European cities, regular connections from Athens and ferry services, it’s an island that most definitely should be on your radar.