Samos | North Aegean
37.7477° N, 26.9422° E
Samos is a place of rare beauty. A coastline fringed by spectacular beaches, lush green valleys that seem to go on forever, rolling hills that give way to imposing mountains lined with trees, hidden waterfalls, sunsets that make the sky explode with colour; these sceneries have turned the island into the stuff of legends since ancient times.
Samos was the birthplace of the great mathematician Pythagoras, philosophers Epicuros and Aesop and astronomer Aristarchos, the first person who proposed that the earth revolves around the sun.
The island's natural beauty is matched by its rich cultural life and easy-going, unpretentious ambience - something of a rarity for a place dubbed as a tourist destination. Samos is vast in Greek island standards, its two main towns and 33 villages ranging in colour and character as much as its coastal and mountainous landscapes.
Vathi and Karlovasi, the island's two ports and main settlements, are buzzing with activity all year long. The cosmopolitan retreats of the coastline are brought back to life by the cheerful crowds of tourists every summer. The quaint villages nestled into the mountains have their own distinctive character and pace of life.
Ano VathiThe old settlement of Vathi boasts beautiful traditional houses with architectural influences from Greek Macedonia and Minor Asia, charming alleys adorned with colourful pots, small plazas with natural springs and a number of buildings and churches that you can find with the help of the “cultural map”.
PythagorioThe cosmopolitan settlement of Pythagorio has been renowned since the 6th century BC. Visit the ancient port and the ancient theatre, the famed aqueduct of Efpalinio Origma and the Heraion, the greatest temple of goddess Hera in ancient times. In the renovated archaeological museum, you will find well-displayed exhibits from Pythagorio and Heraion.
Music FestivalsIreon Music Festival is an annual three-day music festival that takes places in August, featuring acclaimed Greek DJs and bands of many different genres, from reggae and SKA to rock. Also check out the exquisite Samos Young Artists Festival, organised at the ancient theatre of Pythagoras, with performances of classical music, opera, jazz, folklore and music of the world.
The PanigiriaAsk the locals about the Panigiria, the traditional feasts that take place in the villages, where you can listen to live traditional music, taste local delicacies and dance with the locals until dawn. In Fournoi, Pefko, Kastania, Hydroussa, Koumeika, Platanos you will get an idea of old island life, and you will be introduced to Samos' rich musical heritage.
Samos has something for everyone. Families can enjoy the island's ample facilities and serene spots, singles can opt for the seaside bars and nightclubs. The local cuisine is superb and the dining options unlimited. Samos also boasts an excellent network of hiking trails, as well as some excellent diving sites.
Vathi, the capital and main port of the island, buzzes with activity throughout the year. There, you will find everything you need, and more - shops, restaurants, bars, night clubs, the town-hall, the court-house, stunning neoclassical buildings and an exquisite archaeological museum.
You can also visit the Ecclesiastical museum and the museum of Samian Wine, the famed sweet local wine that is being produced here since ancient times.
Karlovasi is the second town and port. A cluster of 5 areas that hosts the University of Aegean, which lends the town a lively vibe of youthful bonhomie. Karlovasi has a romantic quality, with its the abandoned tobacco factories lined-up at the waterfront, the old mansions, the magnificent sunsets and the imposing mount Kerkis looming at the backdrop.
The unspoilt fishing village of Kokkari is one of the island's most popular places, not least because of its scenic setting, beautiful beaches and traditional island charm. Time here seems to have stopped sometime in the early '90s, lending it a perfectly relaxing vibe despite the crowded bars and tavernas lapped by the sea.
The village of Ambelos boasts vineyards and waterfalls, and Manolates is home to a group of Greek and international artists who arrived and fell in love with the village. From the village Vourliotes, with its quaint plaza shaded by trees, you can get to Moni Vronda, the island's oldest convent, and the diminutive church of Profitis Ilias, built at 1,150m height on the slopes of lush mount Karvounis.
You can fly from Athens International Airport. The flight lasts 55min. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from the port of Piraeus. The ride lasts from 6-12 hrs depending on the route, so be sure to find out about it before you book your ticket.
A destination whose popularity has been increasing the past few years, Samos’ accommodation choices vary from cozy boutique hotels to luxurious private villas. Holiday villas to rent are dispersed throughout the island offering sanctuaries of cocooning to all types of guests. The Greek Villas’ team of experts has composed a list with the best luxury villas in Samos which will definitely cover any taste and need.