Tropical beaches, rolling mountains, pine forests and vineyards
Samos is one of the North-Eastern Aegean Islands and is located in the southern part of the group, near the Turkish coast, from which it is separated by the narrow Mykale Straits. It is the most visited island of the region, and the eighth largest Greek island. Samos lies very close to the Turkish mainland and is a popular stopping off point for travellers between the two countries as it lies on the route between Izmir and Athens.
The most easterly island of the Aegean, Samos was one of the first Greek islands to take full advantage of the package holiday boom that really got going in the 1980s. Today, many of the beaches are dotted with sun beds and offer water sports, and its waterfronts are lined with tavernas, bars and cafes. Tourism may be on the increase, but Samos hasn’t lost its traditional charm, its laidback feel, or its picturesque beauty. The population of the island is around 35,000 and it is comprised of four municipalities: Vathi, Karlovasi, Pythagorio and Marathokampou.
Samos’ capital is Samos Town, or Vathi. The main port is Samos Town; smaller ports include Karlovassi and Pythagorio. The main tourist areas include Samos Town, Karlovassi, Pythagorio, Ireon, Kokkari, Mykali, Votsallakia and Kerveli. Samos Town curves around a semi-circular bay with attractive pastel-coloured buildings that rise up a green hillside from the waterfront. Numerous other coastal towns and villages encircle the island, all offering holiday accommodation. Inland there are some beautiful mountain villages with picturesque alleyways which appear unspoilt by mass tourism, particularly out of season.
Most people holiday in Samos for the beaches and nightlife, but some visit for the mountain walks and hikes and the rugged scenery of the mountainous interior. The dramatic, indented coastline is dotted with sand and shingle coves, while inland the slopes of the mountains and hills are covered in vines and verdant forest. It gets extremely hot in the height of summer, so most people wanting to take in the scenery rather than the beach resorts head to Samos out of season.
Many visitors also come to Samos for the wealth of ancient archaeological sites. Highlights include Pythagoras’ cave, the temple of Hera, Logothetis Castle, the ancient theatre of Pythagoras and the tunnel of Eupalinos. Culture buffs will want to visit the folklore museum and the Aegean natural history museum, while art enthusiasts will want to check out the Theriade Library and Museum of Modern Art in Andros Town.