Ten Reasons to Visit Lesbos

Greece Travel Secrets suggests ten reasons to visit Lesbos in the North-East Aegean in Greece, including its cuisine, birdwatching and its beaches.

Here are just ten reasons for visiting Lesbos (or Lesvos), where we've been several times - Sigri's our favourite place. There could be many more reasons but let's stick with ten to start with.

Boats in the Harbour at Molyvos on LesbosBoats in the Harbour at Molyvos on Lesbos

Ten Reasons to Visit Lesbos

Here are ten reasons to visit Lesbos in Greece:

1. Stunning Beaches: Lesbos is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, with crystal-clear waters and golden sands. Here are our favourite beaches on Lesbos, in no particular order, just as we thought of them:

  1. Petra Beach
  2. Eftalou Beach
  3. Molyvos Beach
  4. Anaxos Beach
  5. Skala Kallonis Beach
  6. Tarti Beach
  7. Kagia Beach
  8. Vatera Beach
  9. Agios Isidoros Beach
  10. Tsonia Beach
Beach near Molyvos on LesbosBeach near Molyvos on Lesbos

2. Rich History: Lesbos has a rich history dating back to ancient times. The island is known for its archaeological sites, including the ancient city of Mytilene and the Roman aqueduct. Here are some of the main historical notes:

  1. Ancient Period:
    • Lesbos has a significant place in ancient Greek history. It was the birthplace of several famous individuals, including the poets Sappho and Alcaeus.
    • The island was colonized by Aeolians in the 10th century BCE, and the city of Mytilene became a major center for commerce and culture.
    • Lesbos played a role in the Greco-Persian Wars, and during the Peloponnesian War, it was a major player as it aligned with Athens against Sparta.
  2. Roman and Byzantine Periods:
    • Like many parts of Greece, Lesbos came under Roman rule in the 2nd century BCE. It later became part of the Byzantine Empire.
    • During the Byzantine period, the island faced invasions by various groups, including Goths and Slavs.
  3. Ottoman Rule:
    • Lesbos was under Ottoman rule from the 15th century until the early 20th century. The Ottomans influenced the island's culture, architecture, and way of life.
  4. Modern Era:
    • In 1912, Lesbos was occupied by Greek forces during the Balkan Wars, leading to its incorporation into Greece.
    • The island, like many others in the region, witnessed population exchanges between Greece and Turkey in the early 20th century.
Beautiful Molyvos on LesbosBeautiful Molyvos on Lesbos

3. Traditional Villages: Lesbos is dotted with charming traditional villages, where you can experience the authentic Greek way of life. Explore picturesque villages like Ayiassos, Sigri, and Plomari.

At a Fish Market on LesbosAt a Fish Market on Lesbos

4. Delicious Cuisine: Lesbos is famous for its gastronomy, particularly its olive oil, ouzo, and seafood. Here are some special dishes to try when visiting Lesbos:

  1. Sardines:
    • Lesbos is known for its fresh seafood, and sardines are a popular choice. Grilled or fried sardines, often seasoned with local herbs and olive oil, are a tasty and common dish.
  2. Ladotyri Cheese:
    • This is a special cheese from Lesbos that is matured in olive oil. It has a unique flavor and is often served as part of a meze platter.
  3. Ouzo Meze:
    • Ouzo, an anise-flavored spirit, is a popular drink throughout Greece, but Lesbos is home to some of the best brands and best ouzo in the country. When enjoying ouzo, locals often accompany it with various meze dishes, including olives, cheese, and seafood.
  4. Kalami:
    • Kalami is a traditional dish from Lesbos, consisting of goat or lamb cooked with onions, tomatoes, and various herbs. It is slow-cooked until the meat is tender and flavorful.
  5. Revithato:
    • This is a chickpea soup that is popular in Lesbos. It typically includes chickpeas, olive oil, onions, and various herbs. It's a comforting and nutritious dish.
  6. Soutzouk Loukoum:
    • Lesbos is known for its version of soutzouk loukoum, a sweet treat made with sugar, water, cornstarch, and various flavorings. It's often dusted with powdered sugar or desiccated coconut.
  7. Octopus with Fava:
    • Grilled or stewed octopus is a favorite seafood dish on the island. It is sometimes served with fava beans, creating a delicious and hearty combination.
  8. Bourekia:
    • These are pastry parcels filled with various ingredients such as cheese, greens, or meat. They can be baked or fried and are a popular snack or appetizer.
  9. Moussaka:
    • A classic Greek dish, moussaka consists of layers of eggplant, minced meat (often lamb), and a creamy béchamel sauce. It's baked until golden brown and delicious.
  10. Fasolada:
    • While not exclusive to Lesbos, fasolada is a traditional Greek bean soup made with tomatoes, olive oil, and vegetables. It's a wholesome and nutritious option.
Ouzo Glasses with MezeDon't Miss Ouzo with Meze on Lesbos

5. Natural Beauty: Lesbos is a paradise for nature lovers. The island boasts diverse landscapes, including lush forests, hot springs, and the unique Petrified Forest of Sigri, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

6. Birdwatching: Lesbos is a haven for birdwatchers, as it is a major migratory route for various bird species. The wetlands of the Kalloni Gulf attract thousands of birds, making it a popular spot for birdwatching enthusiasts. Others include the Alykes Wetlands, Metochi Lake, Ipsilou Monastery, and the Petra Hills.

7. Cultural Events: Lesbos hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year, including music festivals, art exhibitions, and traditional celebrations. The Ouzo Festival in Plomari and the Sardine Festival in Kalloni are particularly popular.

8. Warm Hospitality: The locals of Lesbos are known for their warm hospitality and friendly nature. Visitors can expect a warm welcome and a genuine Greek experience.

Walking near Ayiassos on LesbosWalking near Ayiassos on Lesbos

9. Outdoor Activities: Lesbos offers a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and water sports. Explore the island's nature trails, go kayaking along the coast, or take a boat trip to nearby islands.

A Tranquil Spot Facing Molyvos on LesbosA Tranquil Spot Facing Molyvos on Lesbos

10. Relaxation and Tranquility: Lesbos is a peaceful and tranquil island, perfect for those seeking a relaxing getaway. Whether you want to unwind on the beach, enjoy a spa treatment, or simply soak in the island's natural beauty, Lesbos has it all.

These are just a few reasons to visit Lesbos in Greece. The island offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality, making it an ideal destination for travelers.

Lesbos Beach SunsetLesbos Beach Sunset

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