Somehow, when tourism was developing and spreading rapidly throughout the Greek islands, Lesvos was slumbering gently on the back row. Thank goodness for that! Today's travellers to Lesvos, better know as Mytilene, can find all the flavours of Greece of yesteryear but set in a modern infrastructure. The very best of both worlds.
Unspoilt is an over used word in tourism these days which rarely means unspoilt. It usually compares a less developed resort or island with an over developed location. Applied to Lesvos it really does mean unspoilt. Vast areas of countryside to explore on quiet roads, peaceful beaches, wonderful wild flowers and a display of migrating birds in the spring unrivalled anywhere else in Europe.
Where is Lesvos and how do you get there?
Lesvos is huge, the third largest island in Greece. Shown in green on the map, it lies on the eastern side of the Aegean Sea and close to Turkey (not shown on the map!). There are direct flights from the UK and Europe in the summer months and flights by Olympic Airways and Aegean Airlines from Athens (several daily) throughout the year. The romantics can go to Lesvos from Athens by ferry. The fast ferry takes about 5 hours.
Places to stay in a nutshell
Molyvos; castle on a hill, good character, no beach, popular.
Petra/Anaxos; good family beach resorts.
Skala Kallonis; well positioned centrally, village character, good beach.
Vatera; fabulous long beach, quiet resort.
Plomari/Ag Isidoros; Plomari provides the town and nearby Ag. Isidoros the beach.
Skala Eressos; fairly remote good beach, attracts the ladies.
Sigri: very remote, small beach, very quiet
Things to do on Lesvos ... apart from the usual summer activities.
Walking: So natural and unspoilt, the island is a walkers paradise. Old donkey trails, footpaths, good mountains, fantastic scenery and fabulous flowers, walkers could not ask for more. Fortunately, there is an excellent book in the Sunflower series, 'Landscapes of Lesvos' newly published in 2004 and written by Brian & Eileen Anderson (available from http://www.sunflowerbooks.co.uk or www.amazon.co.uk ). There are two smaller books available on the island in the Around & About series. One for Skala Kallonis region and the other for Vatera.
Birdwatching: This is seriously big on Lesvos, especially in the spring. There are plenty of web sites which give good details. See www.lesvos.com/wildlife.html or use the search engines to find more sites.
Lesvos has many very early ancient sites reaching back to the emergence of city states around the 5th century BC. Many of the sites are unprotected and some prior knowledge is useful to help with the interpretation. Most of these sites are marked on maps, many vaguely so, but are difficult to find. The best guide to help here is the Landmark Visitors Guide to Lesvos by Brian & Eileen Anderson. The Andersons were resident on Lesvos for a time back in the 1980's. Returning to the island more recently, they were dismayed to find how little progress the island had made in promoting itself and decided to throw their weight behind efforts to raise the profile of the island, especially for green tourism.
Driving is a pleasure on the island's modern roads which are mostly quiet outside the main town of Mytilene. With two gulfs biting deeply into the island, the traditional around the island tour is not feasible. It is better to plan tours to take in one section at a time.
It takes at least four to five days touring to reach each corner but there is plenty to see in each area. Not to be missed is the incredible and different scenery in the volcanic west, the 11 million olive trees gracing the eastern half of the island and surrounding the mountain village of Agiassos, the aqueduct at Moria (shown) and the resort of Molyvos. That just names a few of the highlights.
Churches & Monasteries:
Lesvos has some important churches and monasteries important enough to attract religious tourism. These include Moni Limonas, Ag. Rafael and the church of Agiassos dedicated to the Virgin Mary.