Samos is a magical island. Large, covered in green, full of history, with amazing landscapes, and lovely beaches. Don’t forget that, according to legend, this is where goddess Hera was born, as well as Epicurus and the great philosopher Pythagoras. It’s quite something to be walking on the same paths Pythagoras walked on.
It’s a destination that requires time to fully discover its beauties. And it has beauties for everyone. For beach or mountain lovers, for hikers, for divers, for history buffs, and for those who just want to relax.
Stroll around the traditional Vathi on the slope with the lovely houses and the wonderful alleys; the scenic fish port of Kokkari; the stone-built village of Kosmades on mount Kerkis; the traditional Manolates where you’ll get through a verdant route; the Vourliotes with the lovely view and the running waters; and also, Karlovasi with the old mansions, as well as Pythagorio, the island’s ancient capital, to get your fill of images and discover the tradition and culture of Samos.
How to get there
By boat from Piraeus to Karlovasi and Vathi – connected to many Aegean islands – and by plane from Athens and Thessaloniki – via Athens.
Where to stay
‘Casa Cook House’: a new arrival on the island, that opened in May. Earthy colours, simple lines and luxury aesthetic. The rooms have modern design and at the same time are atmospheric, while the balconies in the ground floor are equipped with lush mattresses and wooden chairs that come out directly to a huge pool. (Potokaki beach, www.casacook.com/casa-cook-samos).
‘Semeli Hotel’: one of the new hotels on the island, with minimalist modern aesthetic. The spacious rooms with the large windows and the paved floor, adding a more earthy feel, have a light décor that relaxes the eyes. The pool space with the verdant mountain right behind it is very beautiful. Its ‘brother’ ‘Armonia Bay’ in the same area, also has nice décor while the infinity pool with the sea view is its biggest advantage. (Tsamadou beach. Kokkari, tel.: 0030 22730 92111, www.armoniahotels.com).
‘Doryssa Seaside Resort’: one of the best hotels on the island, with light and cosy atmosphere. The huge serviced beach and the large pool are two of its advantages. The décor of the spacious rooms is minimalist, and they also offer bungalows. (Pythagorio, tel.:0030 2273088300, www.doryssa.gr).
‘Kalidon Panorama’: just outside the village Kokkari, with a lovely view of the sea. The rooms are modern and elegant, as are the shared spaces. (Kokkari, tel.:0030 2273092800, www.kalidon.gr/panorama/).
‘Proteas Blu Resort’: located in huge grounds covered in green on a small hill with an amazing view. Tasteful room, lovely gardens and spa facilities. (Pythagorio, tel.: 0030 2273062200, www.proteasbluresort.gr).
‘Samian Mare’: a modern building on the main road of Karlovasi. The rooms are all white, with minimalist décor. They also have a pool. ‘Samian Mare’ is ideal for those of you who don’t want to be away from the urban centre but want to be near the sea. (Karlovasi, tel.: 0030 2273200210, www.samianmare.com).
Where to eat
‘Pefkos Bella Vista’: in a lovely location, surrounded by green, right next to sea on the beach. You’ll enjoy fish and seafood and lovely fresh salads. (Skouraika, tel.: 0030 2273100325).
‘Galazio Pigadi’: a traditional island tavern with blue shutters and chairs. They serve all kinds of meze, kebabs, meatballs, homemade fries, dolmas and many more. (Vourliotes-Kokkari, tel.:0030 2273093313).
‘Elia’: a beautiful restaurant with a view of the sea and an unexpected menu. Tagliata, orzo with shrimp, mussels, grilled octopus and many more. (Pythagorio, tel.: 0030 2273 061430).
‘Hippy’s’: a very well-kept tavern right next to the sea, serving seafood and comfort food ideal for grabbing a bite on the beach (Potami beach – Karlovasi, tel.:0030 2273033796)
‘Psarades’: a well-kept tavern right by the sea. Sundried octopus, fresh fish, grilled calamari, tasty mezze and a lovely sunset. (Agios Nikolaos – Kontakeika, tel.: 0030 2273032489).
What to see
Archaeological site of the ancient city of Samos: remains of the city still survive, paved streets, squares, the agora, public buildings, shops, houses and mansions with elaborate mosaic floors and murals, sports facilities, baths, necropolises, temples etc. Together with Heraion they are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. On the way from Pythagorio towards the ancient city you’ll come across the Roman baths that date back to the second half of the 2nd century AD (Pythagorio, tel.: 0030 2273062813).
Heraion: a 6th century BC Ionian style temple. According to Herodotus, it was the largest temple in Greece. The only surviving column that still stands is half of its original height, something indicative of the temple’s original size. The temple is dedicated to goddess Hera, while the myth says that the goddess was born and raised on the island. (Pythagorio, tel.: 0030 2273062811).
The tunnel of Eupalinos: an exceptional work of engineering, of the 6th BC century, built by Eupalinos to provide water supply to the ancient capital of Samos, that was located south of mount Kastro. The aqueduct is 2,385 m long, 1,035 of which go through the tunnel.
Pythagoras’ Cave: it is considered to be Pythagoras’ hermitage where he would go to meditate. It’s located on a slope of mount Kerkis, in the gorge of Kiourka, and you’ll need to go up about 300 steps to reach it, however the view from there will reward you. At its entrance you’ll see the church of Panagia Sarandaskaliotissa.
Archaeological Museum of Pythagorio: 3,000 findings from the ancient city of Samos are on display at the museum, dating between the 4th millennium BC until the 7th century AD. Among other exhibits you’ll see findings from the Neolithic village of Kastro and from the Geometric necropolis of ancient Samos, as well as interesting pottery. (Pythagorio, tel.: 0030 2273062813).
Archaeological Museum of Vathi: it’s housed in two buildings, the Old Museum, built in 1912, formerly housing the ‘Pashaleion archives’, and the New Museum. The collections include archaic sculpture, pottery, bronzes, ivory objects, clay figurines, wooden items etc. A 5.5m tall kouros is very impressive. (Vathi, tel.: 0030 2273027469).
Natural History Museum of the Aegean – Palaeontology Museum of Mitilinion: a unique museum where you can see palaeontological findings of animals that lived in Samos 8-10 million years ago, around 300 fossils from around Samos, Greece and abroad, 500 seashells from various places around the world, replicas of fish etc. (Mitilinii, tel.: 0030 2273051691, www.nhma.gr)
Where to swim
Psili Amos: its shallow waters make it ideal for families with small children. It’s a serviced beach.
Votsalakia or Marathokampos: probably the largest beach on the island. Fully serviced but it also has trees for natural shade. It’s pebbled and it has amazing waters.
Limnionas: one of the best-known beaches on the island with great sea, perhaps a bit colder, since it has currents and springs that come from mount Kerkis. It’s a nice sandy, serviced beach.
Tsamadou: one of the most cosmopolitan beaches on the island. It’s fully serviced and very beautiful.
Potami: a gorgeous large pebbled beach with crystal-clear waters. Part of it is serviced.
Mikali: a pebbled beach with lovely waters. It’s serviced, with umbrellas and sunbeds, but there are also trees and space for you to lay down your towel. There are facilities for water sports. It’s an ideal beach for families.
Balos: a small bay with sand and bright blue waters. It’s a serviced beach.
Livadaki: a small sandy bay with turquoise waters. It’s fully serviced.
Megalo Seitani: an amazing sandy beach with crystal-clear waters, surrounded by green. You can only reach it via a path or by boat. It’s not serviced. Next to it, there’s also the equally lovely Mikro Seitani, that you can only approach the same way.
Mourtia: turquoise, shallow waters, with pebbles and pine trees in the background.
Tsabou: surrounded by tall rocks and incredible green, it’s one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. The rocks are perfect for diving and also exploring.
What to do
Samos has activities for everyone. Head to the beaches of Kokkari, Pythagorio and Mikali for windsurfing, jet skiing, water skiing, canoeing or riding a paddle boat. For kite surfing go to Kokkari or Kedros. If you like diving, there are more than twenty spots on the island that are interesting, like Makronisi, Melisovraha, the bay of Kerveli, Klima, Mirtziki, Karavopetra, Tsopela, Samiopoula, Limnionas, Katergo, Potami, while many of them are great for night-time diving too.
The two waterfalls of Potami, just outside the village, are a must. The largest is 5m tall. To get there, you walk among a forest with round rocks and running waters. Another waterfall worth a visit is the one west of Ampelos village, 8m tall. It’s located at 300m altitude and it’s a 1.5km hike in the trees.
The route from Platanakia to Manolates, through the valley Aidonion is very pretty. The nature is incredible, with the plane trees being a showstopper. If you’re fans of birdwatching, go to the east of Samos, to the Aliki wetland, where, if you’re lucky, you can see flamingos, Dalmatian pelicans and egrets.
The island is also great for hiking. It has 40 marked trails, of a total distance of 260 km, some of which cross through gorges, waterfalls, thick pine forests, scenic villages and lovely beaches (www.samoshikes.com). If you’re skilled hikers, go to the top of mount Kerkis, at Vigla, at 1,400m altitude, and see half of the Aegean. There are also around 100 marked climbing trails all over the island, like in Potami, in Drakei, in the Marathokampos area, on the rocks of mount Kerkis, as well as on the beach of Tsampos.
For longer hikes, take the boat from Pythagorio to the skerry Samiopoula, south of the island, and swim in its turquoise waters. There are also boats leaving from Vathi and Pythagorio to Kousantasi and Efessos.
Visiting the waterfalls of Potami and Ampelos. Make sure to wear a swimsuit!
And swimming in Mikro Seitani.
Samos police department: 0030 2273087315
Samos bus coach: 0030 2273027262
Samos port authority (Vathi): 0030 2273027318
Karlovasi port authority: 0030 2273030888
Pythagorio port authority: 0030 2273061225
‘Agios Panteleimon’ general hospital of Samos: 0030 2273083100
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