Chios

The Greek island of Chios or Hios is a large island in the North East Aegean close to the Turkish coast, south of Lesvos and north of Samos, and famous for its mastic trees.

Cute cat sitting in a pipe on the Greek island of ChiosChios Cat

Chios is the 5th largest island in Greece, with a population of just over 50,000 people. Because of its location, needing a long ferry ride or a connecting flight from Athens, it receives fewer visitors and is much less touristy than most big islands. Its size also means that those people who do visit are spread out more rather than being based in one or two places. Fewer visitors also means that local people have more time for you and can be overwhelmingly hospitable.

Getting to Chios

By Air: Chios has an airport and there are regular flights from Athens and Thessaloniki on Olympic and Aegean. You can fly from other islands such as Crete and Rhodes but will need to change planes in Athens. The airport is about 2.5 miles (4km) from Chios Town and you'll need to take a taxi to get there.

By Ferry: There are ferries to Chios from Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Kavala on the mainland, and you can also get to Chios from some of the other Aegean islands including Rhodes, Samos, Lemnos and Lesbos. There are also ferries between Chios and Cesme in Turkey. Most ferries come into the main port in Chios Town.

Blue Star Ferries also call in at Chios on their Thessaloniki-Piraeus route, enabling you to island-hop to some of the North-East Aegean and Cyclades islands on the same route.

The Mastic Island

Chios is known as The Mastic Island because of the mastic trees that grow in the south and south-west of the island. These trees used to be more widespread but today Chios is the only place in the world where they are still harvested commercially. The resin from the trees produces mastic gum, a chewing gum that is popular in Greece. Mastic can also be used for other purposes including perfumes and soap, and also in cooking. You should try the liqueur that's made from mastic, too.

The mastic growing area comprises seven main villages known as the Mastichochoria, although there are several other smaller villages where mastic is grown. In one of the villages, Rachi, there's a Mastic Museum you can visit. They're all attractive old villages of great character, and if you have a car you can spend an enjoyable few hours visiting them and wandering round.

Church by the water on the Greek island of Chios

Things to Do on Chios

Chios Town. The capital of Chios is also known as Chora (or Hora), and this is where the main ferries come in. The waterfront bustles with cafes and bars, but head away from the water and you can see the quieter quarters, filled with old buildings. There's the remains of a Genoese castle and several museums to visit too.

Visit the Mastichoria (see above).

Boat on the Greek island of ChiosBoat on Chios

Visit the offshore islands. Chios has two small satellite islands, Psara and Inousses, and they both make for a good trip if you really like to get off the beaten track in the Greek islands. You can do Psara as a day trip. For Inousses there's a ferry from Chios Town, and water taxis also leave from Lagada, which is about 10 miles (17km) due north of Chios Town along the coast. Depending on the timings, you'll probably have to allow for an overnight stay on Inousses.

Tiny Inousses, with a permanent population of less than 1,000, has its numbers swollen in summer by descendants of the many shipping barons who came from this island. A remarkable number of wealthy Greek shipping magnates came from here, and you can see the grand houses that today's generation keep on as summer homes.

The village of Volissos on the Greek island of ChiosThe Village of Volissos on Chios

Day Trip to Turkey. The Turkish coast is only about 4 miles (7kms) away so it's a fairly quick crossing and you'll find options for taking regular ferries or day trips to Cesme or to some of the Turkish beach resorts nearby.

Hiking. There are numerous hiking opportunities on this big island, which has a mountain ridge running down its backbone and a high point at Mount Pelineon (4,255ft/1,297m).

Nea Moni Monastery. In the centre of the island is the Nea Moni Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It dates to the 11th century and at one time was the wealthiest monastery in Greece. It was said that three shepherds saw a vision of an icon of the Virgin Mary, and as a results many artists came here to help create the remarkable mosaics in the main church and around the monastery. Nea Moni is about a 25-minute drive into the hills due west of Chios Town.

Donkey in the narrow streets of a Chios VillageDonkey in a Chios Village

Our Pick of Greek Islands Guides

Rough-Guide-Greek-Islands-2022.png

Other North-East Aegean Islands Pages

  • The North East Aegean Islands include Lesvos, Thassos, Chios, Samos, Fourni, Ikaria, Limnos, Samothraki and here are tips on ferries, flights and what to do.

    North East Aegean Islands

    The North East Aegean Islands include Lesvos, Thassos, Chios, Samos, Fourni, Ikaria, Limnos, Samothraki and here are tips on ferries, flights and what to do.

  •  Thassos is in the North East Aegean and on this page from the Greece Travel Secrets website you can also see information about flights and ferries to Thassos.

    Thassos in the North East Aegean Islands of Greece

    Thassos is in the North East Aegean and on this page from the Greece Travel Secrets website you can also see information about flights and ferries to Thassos.

  • Samothraki (Greek) or Samothrace (English) is a small island in the north-east Aegean Sea with the closest Greek islands being Thassos and Lemnos.

    Samothraki

    Samothraki (Greek) or Samothrace (English) is a small island in the north-east Aegean Sea with the closest Greek islands being Thassos and Lemnos.

  • The island of Lemnos (or Limnos) is in in the North East Aegean Islands and on this page you can see information about flights and ferries,

    Lemnos or Limnos in the North East Aegean Islands of Greece

    The island of Lemnos (or Limnos) is in in the North East Aegean Islands and on this page you can see information about flights and ferries,

  • Ikaria (or Icaria) is an island in the North East Aegean Islands of Greece between Samos and Mykonos and is truly one of Greece's travel secrets.

    Ikaria

    Ikaria (or Icaria) is an island in the North East Aegean Islands of Greece between Samos and Mykonos and is truly one of Greece's travel secrets.

  • The best things to do on Thassos in the North East Aegean islands of Greece include its beaches, mountain hikes, and visiting its ancient archaeological sites.

    Best Things to Do on Thassos

    The best things to do on Thassos in the North East Aegean islands of Greece include its beaches, mountain hikes, and visiting its ancient archaeological sites.

  • The A-Z Thassos travel guide, including Kavala and Philippi, is newly updated for 2022 and is the most comprehensive guide to Thassos available.

    Thassos Travel Guide

    The A-Z Thassos travel guide, including Kavala and Philippi, is newly updated for 2022 and is the most comprehensive guide to Thassos available.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Greek Fried Bread: Tiganopsomo from Evia

    Enjoy this simple, savory fried bread for breakfast or with a cold beer. Ready in just over an hour and perfect for any occasion!

    Read More

  2. 8 Must-Visit Museums in the Cyclades

    Embark on a journey to the sun-kissed Cycladic isles and explore ancient treasures, traditional crafts, and contemporary art at 8 must-visit museums.

    Read More

  3. “I Think It’s Time We Listened”: The Music of 20th-Century Greece

    An exhibition at the Benaki Museum’s Ghika Gallery introduces the cultural world of 20th-century Greece through its composers.

    Read More

  4. Hidden City: Discover Athens’s Arcades

    Embark on a guided tour of Athens' hidden arcades, a unique journey through time, nostalgia, and vibrant local culture away from the usual tourist trails.

    Read More

  5. Greece’s First Helicopter Airline Connects Athens to 10 Islands

    Those looking to travel to the Greek islands fast and safe can now reach their dream destinations in less than an hour, thanks to a new helicopter airline company that recently launched in Greece. Hop…

    Read More

  6. Greece Faces Intense Heatwave with Temperatures Set to Reach 42°C

    Greek authorities have issued a high alert warning for an imminent heatwave, expected to begin on Tuesday, June 11, with temperatures forecasted to rise up to 42 degrees Celsius in the coming days.

    Read More

  7. Ten Highest Mountains in Greece

    bigstock-Olympus-Mountain-42500611.jpg
    Greece may be better known for its beautiful islands but it is also a country of dramatic mountain landscapes, and here are the ten highest mountains in Greece.

    Read More

  8. Thessaloniki Welcomes 17 New Electric Buses to Fleet

    Better services, accessibility, environmentally friendly, and sustainable are the main benefits of 17 new electric buses added to Thessaloniki’s fleet, said Infrastructure and Transport Minister Chris…

    Read More

  9. Athens Epidaurus Festival Unveils 93 Spectacular Summer Events

    The Athens Epidaurus Festival returns this year with 93 productions over 85 days, featuring approximately 2,500 performers and creators from around the world. Since its inception in 1955, the festival…

    Read More

  10. Athens’ Technopolis to Stage More Than 50 Concerts this Summer

    Technopolis, the most renowned cultural hub in Athens, recently announced its summer program of events, featuring famous Greek and foreign artists taking the stage from May to September.

    Read More