Nestled in the Eastern Aegean island group, Chios is a hidden gem that boasts a wealth of natural beauty and fascinating history.
Unlike many of its Grecian counterparts, this island is comparatively remote, making it a perfect escape for those seeking a more authentic experience.
With its stunning beaches, medieval villages, and a unique cultural heritage revolving around mastic production, Chios offers visitors an enchanting journey through time and nature.
The distinct character of Chios is apparent in the fortress-like architecture of its villages, setting it apart from the traditional sugar-cube designs found on other Greek islands.
As you wander through the charming streets, sample mastic-flavoured coffee and explore the rich traditions of this magical locale. Delight in the wild and unspoiled beauty of Chios’ beaches, such as the striking Mavra Volia, and take time to appreciate the vast diversity of the island’s landscapes.
Whether it’s your first time to Greece or you’re a seasoned traveller, Chios delivers an experience unlike any other.
Immerse yourself in the intriguing legacy of mastic production at the Chios Mastic Museum, or embrace the mesmerising allure of the island’s picturesque locales, such as Pyrgi.
With a wealth of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered around every corner, Chios will leave you captivated and yearning for more.
Getting to Chios
Chios Island is a beautiful destination in Greece, well-known for its stunning beaches and medieval villages. To help you plan your visit, here is a guide on how to reach Chios by air and by ferry.
Chios has its own airport, which makes it easy to reach the island via plane. There are flights to Chios from Athens, operating daily. The flight duration is approximately one hour. During the high season (May to late September), there might be more frequent flights or additional options available. You may want to book your flights early, as seats tend to fill up quickly.
Another popular way to reach Chios is by ferry. Ferries to Chios depart from Piraeus port in Athens and operate all year round, with about three departures each week. The journey lasts around 9 hours.
Ferries also connect Chios with other Greek islands like Lesvos, Mykonos, Syros, Ikaria, and Samos. The frequency and duration of these trips may vary, so it’s a good idea to check the schedules before booking.
Remember, traveling by ferry to Chios requires some additional time, but it can be a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Aegean Sea views along the way.
When visiting the beautiful island of Chios, there are a couple of top attractions that should not be missed. These include the picturesque Mastic Villages, Chios Castle, and the historic Nea Moni Monastery.
The Mastic Villages of Chios are well-known for their unique architecture and their production of mastic, a resin obtained from the mastic tree. Some of the most popular mastic villages include:
- Pyrgi: Known for its narrow streets and decorative houses covered in geometric patterns called “xysta”, Pyrgi is a must-visit village. Be sure to try a mastic coffee while exploring the area.
- Mesta: This well-preserved medieval village features a labyrinth of narrow streets, stone houses, and charming churches.
Located close to Chios Town, the Chios Castle is a medieval fortress with a long history dating back to the Byzantine period. Visitors can explore the castle’s three main areas:
- The Inner Castle is the oldest section, featuring remnants of Byzantine architecture and the ruins of the Ottoman Baths.
- The Outer Castle is surrounded by impressive walls and houses the 19th-century Korais Library & Philip Argenti Museum.
- The Kato Frourio or Lower Castle is home to several old mansions from the Genoese and Ottoman periods.
Nea Moni Monastery
Nea Moni Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a significant historical and religious destination in Chios. Founded in the 11th century, the monastery boasts impressive architecture, intricate mosaics, and stunning surrounding scenery. While visiting Nea Moni, be sure to explore:
- The main church with its stunning mosaics depicting biblical scenes and the lives of saints.
- The monastery museum where various artefacts are on display, including manuscripts, wood carvings, and icons.
- The monastery grounds that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
These attractions showcase the rich history, natural beauty, and charming architecture that Chios has to offer. Ensure that you take the time to visit these top sights during your stay on this picturesque island.
Beaches and Natural Beauty
Chios, a captivating island in the Aegean Sea, is renowned for its stunning beaches, natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, and diverse coastal landscapes. It’s a haven for beach lovers and sunseekers. In this section, you’ll discover the beauty of Mavra Volia, Komi Beach, and the Anavatos Ruins.
Mavra Volia is arguably the best beach in Chios, known for its unique volcanic black pebbles and crystal-clear waters. It consists of three adjacent beaches, providing plenty of space for relaxation and sunbathing. Its uniqueness and picturesque landscape make Mavra Volia an excellent choice for those looking to unwind in beautiful and unforgettable surroundings.
Komi Beach, well-known for its long sandy shore, offers shallow waters and an array of amenities for families and kids. This beach is perfect for those seeking a family-friendly environment with a laid-back atmosphere. The nearby restaurants and cafes provide refreshments and meals, allowing visitors to relax and enjoy their time by the sea.
The Anavatos Ruins are set in a picturesque location surrounded by lush greenery and steep cliffs. This medieval village, often referred to as the “Mystras of the Aegean,” offers a fascinating glimpse into Chios’ history, with its remaining stone structures, abandoned houses, and cobbled streets. A visit to Anavatos Ruins is an excellent opportunity for nature and history lovers to explore and take in the breathtaking, panoramic views of the island.
Local Cuisine and Dining
Chios, a picturesque island in the Aegean Sea, is renowned for its unique culinary delicacies and vibrant dining scene. This guide will walk you through the must-try dishes and popular restaurants in Chios, ensuring a delicious and memorable gastronomic experience.
- Mastelo: A delicious traditional dish from Chios, Mastelo is made with lamb or goat, cooked slowly in a clay pot with red wine, garlic, and dill. It’s usually enjoyed during festive occasions and is often cooked in the island’s local wood-fired ovens.
- Mamoulia: These festive Greek cookies are a staple on the island of Chios and other Greek islands. Made with flour, butter, fresh milk, sugar, eggs, olive oil, and baking powder, they are a delightful addition to any dessert table.
- Mastic: Chios is the only place in the world where the Mastic tree grows, and the island has a long history of producing mastic-based products. Locally, several dishes and drinks are enhanced with the unique flavour of mastic, making it a must-try when dining out in Chios.
- My Cafe: This charming cafe and wine bar is an excellent place for breakfast, lunch, or evening snacks. With 222 reviews, it’s highly popular for its great coffee, a fabulous menu, and friendly staff.
- Agia Markella Restaurant – Cafe: With 160 reviews, this seafood and Mediterranean restaurant is known for its amazing dishes and choices of both fish and meat. The delicious menu makes it a top choice for food lovers on the island.
- Ta Katsarolakia: Another delightful option for a memorable dining experience in Chios. This restaurant is known for its scrumptious dishes and lovely atmosphere. Make sure to give it a visit during your trip to Chios.
- Oz Cocktail Bar: Located in Chios Town, this bar and cafe is the perfect spot for a late-night drink or a light bite. The mastic cocktails are said to be among the best, making it a must-visit for cocktail enthusiasts.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Chios or a seasoned traveller, make sure to indulge in the island’s local cuisine and treat your taste buds to the unique flavours that it has to offer.
Chios Island has a variety of accommodation options available for travellers, catering to different preferences and budgets. From hotels to vacation rentals, you’ll surely find something that suits your needs. In this section, we’ll explore some options for hotels and rentals on Chios Island.
Chios has a good range of hotels to choose from, catering to various budgets and tastes. Some popular locations with hotels in Chios include:
- Megas Limnionas: 6 hotels
- Volissos: 13 hotels
- Monolia: 3 hotels
- Mesta: 7 hotels
- Vrontados: 13 hotels
If you’re looking for family-friendly accommodation options, consider staying at Karfas or Lithi. Karfas is a tourist-friendly area closest to Chios Town, the airport, and the port. It offers numerous hotels, beach cafes, restaurants, a mini-market, and a bakery.
One notable hotel in Chios is the Agora Residence. Conveniently located near Port of Chios, this hotel offers non-smoking rooms, a shared lounge, free WiFi, and a terrace. Known for its excellent location, decoration, and cleanliness, Agora Residence is particularly suitable for families with kids.
Chios Island also offers a variety of vacation rental options, such as apartments, villas, and traditional houses. These rentals provide more space and privacy, making them perfect for families, groups, or those looking for an authentic Chios experience.
When searching for rentals, look for properties close to popular attractions and hubs such as Chios Town or the famous medieval villages and castles in the area. With a rental, you can also prepare your own meals, giving you both flexibility and a chance to explore the local markets for fresh ingredients.
In summary, Chios Island provides a range of accommodation options, including hotels and vacation rentals, to ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Whether you prefer the convenience of a hotel or the privacy and space of a rental, you’ll find something that meets your needs and preferences.
Tips for Travellers
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit Chios is during the late spring and early autumn months, specifically from May to June and September to October. During these periods, the weather is pleasantly warm, yet not unbearably hot and the island is less crowded compared to the peak summer months. It’s also a great time to explore the stunning beaches, impressive medieval villages, and indulge in the unique local culture.
Getting to Chios can be done either by ferry or plane. If you choose to travel by ferry, you’ll need to arrive in Athens and head to Piraeus port. The trip from Piraeus to Chios takes approximately 8 hours, so it’s a good idea to book a cabin for a comfortable journey.
For air travel, Chios has its own airport that connects to Athens and several other Greek destinations. Keep in mind that flights may be less frequent during the off-peak seasons.
Once you’ve arrived on the island, the most popular modes of transportation for exploring Chios include:
- Car rental: A great option for those who want the freedom to explore the island at their own pace. You can find various car rental agencies in the main town and airport.
- Public buses: These can get you to the main villages and attractions at a lower cost, but keep in mind that schedules might be limited.
- Taxis: Ideal for shorter distances or when you prefer added convenience. It’s recommended to agree on a fare with the driver before the trip to avoid misunderstandings.
Chios is generally considered safe for travellers, but as with any destination, it’s important to take sensible precautions:
- Keep your personal belongings secure and don’t leave them unattended at the beach or in public areas.
- Pay attention to local customs and respect the environment and historical sites.
- In case of any emergency, the European emergency number 112 can be called for assistance.
Remember to always be aware of your surroundings and exercise common sense during your visit to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in Chios.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best way to get to Chios?
Chios can be reached by air or sea. There are regular flights from Athens and Thessaloniki to Chios Island National Airport. Additionally, ferries operate from Piraeus (the port of Athens) and other nearby islands like Samos, Mytilene, and Ikaria. Travelling by ferry gives you the opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Greek islands.
Where are the best beaches in Chios?
Chios boasts numerous beautiful beaches, each with a unique charm. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Mavra Volia: Known for its black pebbles and crystal-clear waters, this is an ideal spot to enjoy the sun and sea.
- Agia Dinami Beach: A hidden gem away from the crowds, this unspoilt beach offers peace and picturesque surroundings.
- Vroulidia: A small, secluded cove with turquoise waters perfect for relaxation.
What are the main attractions in Chios?
Chios is rich in history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes. Some of the top attractions are:
- Anavatos: A deserted, medieval tower village with iconic fortifications.
- Pyrgi: A unique neighbourhood known for its distinctive architecture and decorative geometric patterns.
- Nea Moni Monastery: A UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring impressive Byzantine mosaics.
- The Chios Mastic Museum: Dedicated to the history and production of the island’s famous mastic resin.
What are the best activities to do in Chios?
There is a wide range of activities to enjoy in Chios:
- Explore the medieval villages and castles that showcase the island’s rich history.
- Discover a different beach every day for sunbathing, swimming, and relaxation.
- Taste local specialities like mastic-based jams, sweets, and ouzo.
- Participate in traditional events, such as the rocket war during Easter celebrations.
How long is it recommended to stay in Chios?
The ideal length of stay in Chios depends on your interests and travel goals. For a balanced trip that includes sightseeing, beach time, and cultural activities, a stay of 5 to 7 days should be sufficient.
What are the best transport options for getting around Chios?
Chios offers various local transport options for visitors. Renting a car or a motorbike is the best way to explore the island at your own pace. However, there’s also a public bus service connecting Chora (the main town) with nearby villages and popular beaches. Taxis can be found in Chora and at the airport, which is a convenient option for short distances.
Eleni Vasiliadis, a native of the picturesque island of Corfu and co-founder of Greek Island, is a seasoned traveller, accomplished writer, and passionate advocate for Greek culture and cuisine.