The ideal destination
Welcome to Chios, the homeland of Homer, with a rich history and cultural heritage, all waiting for you to explore and admire. An island of exceptional natural beauty with mountains, historic caves, a gorge, a canyon, and rivers, offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor and eco-touristic activities in order to discover this wonderful land and the proud producer of top quality mastic around the world.
Visit the Town of Chios or the traditional hamlets of Pyrgi, Mesti and Olympi situated in the heart of the mastic tree groves to admire the well preserved medieval part of the Chian history, also apparent to the several castles and fortresses strategically situated in major towns of the island. Several museums present all the historical phases of Chios with its brighter colors, while the numerous churches and monasteries offer spiritual escape to areas of historical importance. The island of Chios being a tourist attraction for decades has a fine tourist infrastructure to offer with luxury hotels, resorts and traditional villas to satisfy every visitor while offering high end services.
Year round tourism is well offered at this gifted land with plethora of outdoor activities in eye catching landscapes, warm hospitality in medieval stone villages, while being an island of religious and well as archaeological importance. Wonderful beaches complete a picture of unique holidays in this special land of Greece to provide unique and authentic experiences of the rural Greek way of living.
Chios can be accessed either air or sea with regular connections throughout the year. The airport of Chios links with major Greek cities such as Athens, Thessaloniki and Lesvos, while during the summer period, a number of charter flights from abroad land at the island. By boat there are several routes operating within the year getting more frequent during the summer between the ports of Attica Piraeus and Rafina, as well as Thessaloniki, Volos, Kavala, and the islands Lesvos, Limnos, Kos, Rhodes and Patmos. There are also boat connections between Chios and Turkey at the port of Cesme on Asia Minor Coast all through the year.
Located at the eastern coast of the island, is its capital Town Chios, the commercial, administrative and cultural centre of the island. Despite the several damages that the city suffered especially during the 1881 earthquake, a part of the old city still remains as a kind reminder of its former glory. Traditional mansions, marvellous neoclassic buildings, an ancient theatre, mosques, remains of a medieval wall, a public garden, statutes and monuments are some of the characteristic aspects of the town. Nearby the area of Mastichochoria is the traditional village of Pyrgi, one of the most scenic areas of Chios and the centre of mastic production. With a central medieval tower, numerous stone houses, some of them having their facades painted in geometric shapes, all built close to each other in order to serve past fortification needs, surrounded by narrow stone paved winding streets and balconies full of flowers or sun dried tomatoes, Pyrgi is a unique and must visit site. Another village surrounded by mastic trees featuring a medieval architecture is Olympi, established during the 13th century. The surrounding buildings of the village especially constructed to create a strong fort as being attached to each other, offering no openings to the outer of the village other than a door, housing a central tower, medieval buildings, wells and churches Olympi is a beautiful trip back in time. Likewise Mesta is a traditional hamlet to follow the same standards of architecture, being among the best preserved Mastichochori of the area. Last but not least, Volissos is an amphitheatrically built settlement on a hill’ s slope, overlooked by the medieval castle of the city. Thought as the hometown of Homer, Volissos and the surrounding area feature castles, water mills, Byzantine monasteries and churches, are all part of the picturesque atmosphere of the area.
Sightseeing & Monuments
The historical significance of the island is well reflected on the several museums to reveal all aspects of the local history, economy and cultural heritage. The Archaeological Museum of Chios exhibits findings from around the island to refereeing to prehistoric till early Christian years, mainly from the cave of Agio Galas, the archaeological site of Emporio, the Fana area etc., such as sculptures, prehistoric pottery, jewellery, signs, bronze objects as well as transport amphorae of wine, including a letter of Alexander the great to the people of Chios. Roofed under a 19th century Ottoman mosque is the Byzantine Museum of Chios, to exhibit finds from the the latest Christian till the late Byzantine period, including the Jewish and Muslim tombstones, sculptures, capitals, folk art as well as detached frescoes from the Byzantine church of Panagia Krinas. Within the castle of Chios is the Palace of Ioustiniani, built during the 15th century as the headquarters of the Genoese empire. Although damaged by the Ottomans, the building was refurbished to house a fine collection of Byzantine frescoes, icons, ornate statues and a marble parapet with depictions of mythical animals. Chios is also known for its long naval power across the years until the current days, all depicted in the Maritime Museum of Chios Located at the center of Chios Town. The naval tradition of the island is presented through paintings of sailing ships, miniature ships, boats parts and old photographs. Another aspect of the island’ s richness is highlighted at the Folk Museum of Kallimasia to revive over forty former 19th and 20th century traditional trades and occupations, through this fine collection of tools and equipment as well as interior spaces of houses.
Chios due to its strategic position and long war history, boasts a number of astonishing castles the most impressive being the Castle of Chios, to dominate the north side of the town. Built during the 9th century, it was later restored by conquerors such as the Genoese and the Ottomans to go through severe damages due to bombings, the 1881 earthquake and later demolitions of its south walls. After entering its Venetian south gate, visitors find the palace of Ioustiani to exhibit Byzantine finds featuring the remarkable murals of Panagia Krina, a water tank, and one of the remaining Ottoman towers and baths, along with a Turkish cemetery. Places of Christian and Ottoman worship such as the church of Saint George and the Bairakli Mosque, as well as a prison to hold the 70 elders of Chios after the Greek Revolution against the Turks all stand as a memory of the legendary past of the island. The Byzantine Castle of Volissos is maintained in a very good condition, where six towers lie on its walls and features buildings, wells, and some small churches. Nearby the village Armolia is the Castle of Apolihnon, built by the Genoese, bearing the symbol of authority of Justinian. Surrounded by olive and pine trees, the castle is ideally situtated on a top hill that overlooks the watchtowers of the surrounding area and houses double walls crowned with many towers, several rooms and a well. The Caste of Gria lies next to the village Kardamyla, had a leading role towards the liberation of the island against the Turks, nowadays only featuring a 25meters wall and two towers.
The island of Chios features some amazing and historical Byzantine churches and monasteries, with Nea Moni being the most remarkable one also protected by UNESCO, situated in the centre of the island. Built by Emperor Constantine IX at a spot where monks found the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary, after having the vision about the emperor’ s return on the throne. This vast land of 17 acres includes stone walls, a spectacularly constructed church of eight angles and a dome, a defensive tower, water storage tanks, while the monks’ cells house a museum. This monastery to dominate the entire Aegean Sea suffered distractions from the Ottomans where the monks martyred and damages from the earthquakes while the holly icon of Virgin many still surviving. The Metropolitan Church of Chios, Saint Victors proudly stands in the city centre, build on the remains of an old church built by the Genoese and destroyed by the Ottomans, with several latin inscriptions, a Russian-style chest on the Holy Table, the shrine of the protomatyr of Chios, St. Isidoros, the prelatic adornment of St Nectarios as well as other valuable utensils and objects.
Things To Do
Chios is an island of magical landscapes of exceptional natural beauty with lush forests, mountains, caves, a gorge, a canyon, and rivers all waiting for you to explore them. Several hiking trails lead to some of the most astonishing natural jewels of the island such as the Gorge of Kambia a canyon and the river while the mountains offer for the climbers indulge. Over 70 caves of the island, both above and underwater, providing difficult access have been partly explored, waiting for the spelunkers to discover their hidden secrets, Olympi Cave being the most visited one, where beautiful stalactites and stalagmites with spectacular interiors. Also horses are available for renting by the local owners for joyful rides. The coast of the island is an ideal platform for practicing sea fun sports along with canoeing, wind surfing, scuba diving, sailing or fishing. Agrotourism finds a good shelter in Chios as local farmers offer to provide authentic hands-on experience on the cultivation methods and the collection of mastic in their fields.
Chios counts several beaches across its coastline to suit all tastes, from cosmopolitan and fully organized beaches to secluded and tranquil ones, with white or black volcanic pebbles and thick sand, all washed with crystal clear waters. Nearby the city of Chios are the beaches of Bella Vista and Karfas with sandy shores and shallow waters, ideal for families. The latter beach being the most popular across the island and a summer resort, offers a range of water sports. The busy beaches of Megalos Limnionas and Agia Fotia are to be found around the same area. Just a few kilomenters northern to the town of Chios is the renowned Daskalopetra where according to tradition, the great poem Homer was taught has a wonderful pebble beach, while the neighbouring beaches in Ormos Lo with a sea sports club awarded with Blue Flag and Paralia Glaron one of the most beautiful in the island is full of seagulls to nest around it. The traditional village of Kardamila hosts the beautiful beach of Nagos bounded with a forest with running waters, while the northwestern part of the island has plenty of wonderful sandy beaches such as Elinda near the village Anavatos, the popular Lefkathia beach, the secluded beach of Trahili, the long beach of Managros and Agia Markela right opposite the heroic Psara. In addition the small docks of Lithi, Limnia and Lemnos offer not only clear waters, but also delicious fresh fish at the numerous local restaurants. Nearby Mastihohoria at the southern part of Chios lies one of the most prominent beaches of the island, Mavra Volia named after the black volcanic pebbles of the shore, while Komi is a lively resort with a sandy beach and several tourist facilities. Finally those who seek for tranquillity can go to the beaches in close distance from the caste village Pyrgi with white pebbles, Agia Dynami, Vroulidia as well as Salagona.
A visit in Chios is a gastronomic feast with a number of unique local products such as the top quality citrus fruits lemons and tangerines, along with olive oil, grains, legumes, vegetables including the local small size tomatoes, mountain tea, herbs, honey, plenty of fresh fish and homemade spaghetti or diary products. Chios is also widely known for the production of high quality of wine and ouzo together with the local drink souma which is made of figs. To complete the gastronomical treat in Chios, local deserts such as the citrus fruit spoon sweets along with the widely produced amygdaloto made of almond powder and sugar, can be found with a delicious twist to include tangerines’ skin. Above all, Chios is the unique around Europe homeland of Mastic due to the ideal weather conditions and the certain soil to make the cultivation of the mastic trees a deep-rooted tradition since antiquity, hence granted as a Product of Protected Designation of Origin. This aromatic tear drop from the tree’s bark has myriad applications, other than flavouring several foods, desserts and liquors it is thought to have anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties, thoroughly used in cosmetic skin care, toothpastes and chewing gums while used as a stabilizer in paints and making varnishes
Useful Telephone Numbers
Airport of Lesvos: +30 22510 38700
Port Authority of Mytilene: +30 22510 40827
Lesvos Bus Services: +30 22510 46436
Lesvos Police: +30 22510 41911
Lesvos Tourist Police: +30 22510 22776
Lesvos Hospital: +30 22510 43777