Lesvos, also known as Mytilene, is a picturesque island in the eastern Aegean Sea, offering a serene and enchanting environment for travelers. Famous for being the birthplace of the poets Sappho and Alcaeus, this Greek island boasts a rich history, traditional villages, and captivating natural landscapes. From ancient monuments to spectacular beaches, Lesvos promises an unforgettable experience to families and other visitors who seek tranquillity and a chance to explore its extraordinary offerings.
A must-visit destination in Lesvos is the Castle of Molyvos, an 11th-century Byzantine fortress located in the quaint town of Mithymna. This historical site offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area, while countless beaches with crystal-clear waters provide the perfect setting for relaxation and water-based activities. Other popular attractions include the Petrified Forest, the Monastery of Saint Raphael, and the Roman Aqueduct, all contributing to the island’s fascinating blend of history and natural beauty.
In addition to these remarkable sites, Lesvos also hosts various city tours, specialty museums, and architectural landmarks such as churches and cathedrals, offering something for everyone. As you explore the island, indulge in its unique charms and discover a world of exceptional experiences awaiting you in this captivating Aegean destination.
The Petrified Forest of Lesvos is a unique natural phenomenon and a must-see attraction on the island. Spread over an area of 150 square kilometers, this UNESCO Global Geopark features petrified tree trunks and plant fossils dating back 20 million years. Visitors can explore the park’s walking trails, admire the ancient landscape, and learn about the area’s geological history at the onsite museum.
Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production
Discover the rich history of olive oil production in Lesvos at the Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production. Housed in a restored factory in the village of Agia Paraskevi, the museum showcases the traditional methods of olive oil extraction, including:
- Stone mills for grinding the olives
- Hydraulic presses
- Storage vats and containers
Visitors can take guided tours, participate in interactive exhibits, and even taste some of the locally produced olive oils.
Ouzo Barbayannis Distillery
Experience the flavours of Greece’s most famous spirit at the Ouzo Barbayannis Distillery. Located in the town of Plomari, this renowned distillery offers informative guided tours that explain the:
- History of ouzo
- Barbayannis family’s secrets to crafting the perfect ouzo
- Distillation process
After the tour, guests can sample various types of ouzos and enjoy an authentic taste of Greek culture.
Eressos Beach, a popular destination on Lesvos Island, is a must-visit location for those who enjoy lounging on sandy shorelines and soaking up the sun. It’s an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and participating in various water sports. Eressos Beach is also well-known for its vibrant atmosphere and beachside tavernas, where visitors can grab a refreshing drink or indulge in mouth-watering local cuisine.
Molivos Village, often referred to as Molyvos, is a beautiful and historically significant settlement on the island of Lesvos. Apart from its enchanting narrow cobbled streets and traditional stone houses, the village is known for its imposing 13th-century castle. As you explore the village, you’ll find various shops, tavernas, and cafés where you can experience the warm hospitality of the locals. Molivos Castle, an iconic landmark worth visiting, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the picturesque village and coastline.
Potamia Valley is a nature lover’s paradise, located near the island’s capital, Mytilene. The valley boasts a diverse array of flora and fauna, as well as picturesque walking trails that meander through lush greenery and enchanting olive groves. Hikers can explore the valley’s rich biodiversity, discover picturesque waterfalls and rivers, and enjoy serene moments surrounded by the area’s vibrant natural beauty. The unspoiled landscape of Potamia Valley makes it a perfect destination for an authentic outdoor experience in Lesvos.
Historic and Cultural Sites
Mithymna Castle, also known as Molyvos Castle, is a prominent attraction in Lesvos. This impressive fortress, dating back to the Byzantine era, overlooks the beautiful town of Molyvos. It has been modified and renovated by various empires throughout history, including the Genoese and the Ottomans. Apart from its historic significance, the castle offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the surrounding area.
Church of Taxiarches
The Church of Taxiarches is a fascinating religious site in the village of Mandamados. This 17th-century church is dedicated to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Known for its beautiful frescoes and iconography, the church attracts numerous visitors throughout the year. An important tradition associated with the Church of Taxiarches is the creation of “Archangel Michael’s Miracle,” an earthenware tile decorated with an embossed image of the Archangel, made from the clay of the church’s courtyard.
Panagia Tis Gorgonas
Panagia Tis Gorgonas, or Our Lady of Gorgona, is a picturesque seaside monastery situated on the island’s northwestern coast. Dating back to the 18th century, the monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and houses a unique silver-plated icon of her. According to legend, a fisherman discovered the icon in his nets and decided to build the monastery at that location. Visitors can admire the church’s intricate wood-carved iconostasis and enjoy serene moments in the peaceful, scenic surroundings.
Festivals and Events
Summer Film Festival Eressos
The Summer Film Festival Eressos takes place on the charming island of Lesvos every year. This unique event showcases a wide range of films, including local and international cinema. Whether you’re a film enthusiast or simply enjoy a good movie night, the Summer Film Festival Eressos is definitely worth checking out. Stay tuned for the upcoming festival dates and programme highlights.
Lesvos is famous for its production of ouzo, the iconic Greek spirit. To celebrate this, the island hosts an annual Ouzo Fest in August. At the Ouzo Fest, you can taste various ouzo varieties produced by local distilleries, enjoy Greek music and dance performances, and indulge in tasty treats that complement the exquisite flavours of ouzo.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in cultural events that highlight the traditions and flavours of Lesvos. From enjoying cinema under the stars at the Summer Film Festival Eressos to celebrating the island’s signature spirit at the Ouzo Fest, Lesvos offers unique experiences for visitors to immerse themselves in its rich culture.
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.