Recently I visited one of the most popular Northern Aegean Islands: Lesbos, Greece. Soaking up the last rays of summer sun when the rest of Europe was getting cold. This peaceful island was putting a summer smile on my face at the end of Autumn. Lesbos is a great place to go off the beaten path in Europe. In this blog you can read how I explored the island by car and checked out all the Lesbos tourist spots for you with things to do, places to visit and many more Lesbos tips.
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Lesvos or Lesbos
Let get this misunderstanding out of our way straight away. The official name is Lesvos as in Greek spelling the name of the island is Λέσβος and the letter ‘β’ is pronounced as a ‘v’. That is why local authorities name the island Lesvos. But as in English the ‘v’ is pronounced as a ‘b’, almost everyone writes Lesbos and that is also why I chose to name it Lesbos in this article. The island is often confused with ‘Lesbian’, the international term for homosexual women, but that has actually to do with a lady called Sappho who was born on the island a couple hundred years before Christ. She wrote poems with in which she expresses a strong desire for other women. Got it? :)
Now that we have all the facts right, let's travel to Lesbos and look at the things to do on the island.
Where is Lesbos Island
If you would look at the map and look for Lesbos Greece, you would almost think this island is be part of Turkey, but nope it is still part of Greece.
In fact if you walk out of the Lesbos Island airport and look across the water you will see Turkey mainland. The difference between Europe and Asia is only 7 kilometers here. Therefore I also named Lesbos Island in a list of hidden gems in Europe.
This was the view over Turkey on the other side when I walked out of the airport.
How to get to Lesbos
There are regular daily flights to Lesbos arriving on Mytilini International Airport. Domestic flights mostly arrive from either Athens or Thessaloniki, international flight come directly from Northern Europe as the biggest markets for Lesbos tourism is Scandinavia, Holland, Germany and the UK.
Ferries to and from Lesbos Island
There are of course also ferries that connect the island. Hopping on a ferry is in most cases significantly cheaper than a flight to Lesbos, but journeys are pretty long. Before the pandemic there were daily ferries (12h) from Piraeus to Mytillene. There is normally also a ferry from Lesbos to Thessaloniki that goes through Limnos Island.
Because of the global pandemic a lot of ferries are not operating, therefore I recommend you to check the below public transport search engine that includes all operating ferries in Greece.
Ferry from Lesbos to Turkey
There is also a boat connection with Turkey for people who are on an onward journey. If you are traveling from Europe to Turkey the Greek Island Lesbos can be your last stop in Europe.
How to get around in Lesbos Greece
There are public busses and I spoke to some backpackers traveling in Lesbos, but they weren't convincing. Traveling by public transport in Lesvos is not ideal at all! Bus schedules cant be really trusted and journey are long. One of the best things to do in Lesbos is to rent a car for your own convenience. Cars can be rented straight at the airport and you can already find car rentals for 1 week for €150. You just gotta search a little. Here are two local websites for car rentals:
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Planning your Lesbos holidays
The island is not the typical popular Greek island where mass tourism killed the vibe. Lesbos Island is still a place where you can find the authentic Greek laid-back lifestyle. The island is a hotspot for those tourist that are looking to have a drink on the side of the ocean overlooking idyllic bays and pretty calm beaches. Looking for that Mediterranean lifestyle? You will find it on a trip to Lesbos. Even after the main tourist season that is of course during the European summer, Lebos is still a great place to visit in Greece in October.
Steep cobbled stoned streets in Molyvos. Make sure to try one of the many delicious Greek desserts.
Ocean views are everywhere you go in the idyllic villages around the Lesvos coastline.
Your Lesbos holidays will be super relaxing and I am sure you will finish your book while enjoying the sun and eating delicious sea food at the same time. The slow paced islandlife feeling will get to you and I am sure you wont have a problem adapting to it, cause in the end this is a Lesbos holiday should be all about: serenity!
A beautiful quiet street in Petra.
The perfect place to chill in Molyvos.
Things to do in Lesbos
If you rent a car it is not a question of what to do in Lesbos, but more about what can you do in the number of days you have. There are so many things to do in Lesbos that I would recommend you to stay on the island for about 6 days and stay overnight at at least 2 different places. But more about that later.
Sample delicious food in traditional restaurants everywhere you go. This is in the Molyvos Harbour.
Enjoy the tranquillity in Lesvos.
1. Visit Molyvos
This is the most iconic town of Lesbos Island and such picture perfect place. Of all the things to do in Lesbos you cannot miss this one.
Molyvos is the pearl of the Greek island Lesbos with its town perched into the cliffs with the majestic castle on top like a guard keeping an eye on the town and its surroundings. Lesbos tourism can be proud to have such a jewel.
The tiny little streets leading uphill to the castle are adorned with numerous cute coffee places, souvenirs shops, bakeries and ice cream stalls. This is such a lovely place and a must do during your Lesbos holidays.
2. Hike, climb, bike or go horse riding in Molyvos
If you are looking what to do in Lesbos in terms of activities then this Northern region is perfect for you as well. There are many great hiking routes available, mountain biking tours can be found even as rock climbing. I passed these activities but went horse riding instead.
Since this island has such a laid-back feel I chose the horse riding activity, it fits the Lesbos island vibe completely. Click here for more info about horse riding in Molyvos.
3. Scuba diving in Lesbos
Go scuba diving in Lesbos. There are amazing shipwrecks and the visibility is exceptional. Have a look here for more info about scuba diving in Lesbos.
4. Glass bottom boat tour
Lesbos holidays aren’t complete without a boat tour of course. In the morning the sea was completely flat and we decided to book the glass bottom boat Calypso. They also organize barbecue tours to the nearby Rabbit Island.
The pituresque town of Petra seen from the ocean.
5. Visit the idyllic town of Petra
Petra is a little beach town with narrow streets and a kind of boulevard. Its beach is a popular hangout with sun beds and umbrellas in the peak season but the reason I went was the Panagia Glykofiloussa or in English the Church of Virgin Maria on top of the rock looming large over the little village.
There are 114 stairs that lead up to the church with an impressive interior and an even impressive view.
6. Have lunch in Skala Sikamnia
This is probably the cutest town on Lesbos island. It feels like there are a couple houses built around a little fishing marina and a church.
The ocean around this part of the island is crystal clear but I fell in love with the little colorful restaurants surrounding the marina.
A perfect place to have lunch on the water or jump in.
7. Pottery Art workshop in Mantamados
An hour drive southeast from Molyvos there is the sleepy little village of Mantamados that is famous for its pottery art. There are many workshops you can sign up for and it is great fun to try and make pottery and I can tell you it is not as easy as it may seem!
8. Monastery of Taxiarches
Just outside of Mantamados there is a beautiful monastery with an incredible church. Unfortunately it was not allowed to take pictures inside, but this is a photo from the peaceful courtyard.
9. Museum of industrial Olive Production
This museum will show you how they produced olive oil about a 100 year ago. The machinery and the production hall are still intact and the coolest thing is the whole process still works.
The entrance is a couple dollars and well worth checking out. On your way to The Museum Of Industrial Olive Production you will see the Olive plantations and be careful for wild sheep as they may suddenly cross the road! And the best things about visiting this museum is some samples of their products!
10. Birdwatching in the Wetlands
The flamingo is not something you would travel to Lesbos for in the first place I guess but damn I had never seen flamingos in Europe (didn’t even know they existed on our continent). There are bunch of bird watching places around and some watch towers to climb into. I wish I had a zoom lens! :)
11. 4x4 Safari Lepetymnos Mountain
Get to the highest point in Lesbos at 994 meters above sea level in a 4x4 jeep and see wild horses on your way. You are able to feed them even. From the top of the Lepetymnos Mountain you have breathtaking views over Lesbos all the way to Asia. One of the coolest things to do in Lesbos when you ask me. Click here for more info about the 4x4 safari in Lesvos.
12. Petrified Forest
The Natural History of The Lesbos Island Petrified History Museum is the main tourist drag on this side of the island. This geological museum shows you fossils dating more than 20 million years ago, which apparently give away a lot of information about the existence of the earth. Definitely interesting for those who are into these kind of geological facts and studies.
The town of Sigri is not the most popular place on a greek island. Lesbos has more beautiful towns but people come here for to escape the tourists. Sigri tends to be more quiete and beaches are not busy at all. Also Sigri is due to strong winds always a little cooler and therefore in the hot summer months more pleasant. It has a small Turkish castle and some restaurants, but that is about it.
Of course don’t skip the vibrant capital of Lesbos Island. Mytilini is where everything happens in terms of nightlife and where young people gather. There is a University and a lot of lovely coffee shops, a shopping street, artistic cafes and hip bars. Terraces are full of people and at nighttime the city comes alive in the area around Sappho Square.
15. Archeological Museum Mytilini
Roam around the harbour in the morning and look at all the fishing boats coming in and out. Visit the fish market and watch the big ferries arriving then head up to the archaeological museum where you can find remnants of houses dating back from before Christ and pottery and statues from ages ago. It was pretty interesting, entrance fee is €4.
16. Castle of Mytilini
To get the best views over Mytilene head up to the castle on top of the hill. The entrance fee is €3, but the views from the fortified walls are worth it. Even in summer it is pretty quiet up here. Check out the Mytilene Caste's Wikipedia Page for more info and history.
17. Therma hot springs
For just a couple dollar you can dip into the hot springs overlooking the Bay of Geras. Therma Spa is a perfect place for a relaxing afternoon plus they have delicious sandwiches and good coffee. This place is totally worth it and among my favorite things to do in Lesvos.
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About 40 minutes drive up hill from Mytilini you can find the sleepy but beautiful mountain village of Agiasos. The narrow and steep cobblestoned streets are amazing to wander through and surely you will find local hidden gems like small restaurants with authentic food, cute souvenir shops, etc.
The little square houses a bunch of colorful restaurants and some places to have a drink around a church. I really loved this cute little town with its steep streets and colorful houses. Such a photogenic pituresque village perfect for Instagram shots with old colorful houses and small wooden doors.
Last but not least make sure to visit the town of Plomari or even stay here overnight. This cute town is the birthplace of the well-known Greek signature drink: Ouzo. There are 2 Ouzo Museums that can be visited: Barbayanni Ouzo and World of Ouzo.
The vibe in Plomari was cool, I liked hanging out there plus it had some beautiful deserted beaches close to the city. Sadly my Lesbos itinerary did not make me stay there overnight, but next time I visit Lesvos, I definitely will do so.
Best beaches in Lesbos Greece
With more than 350 kilometers coastline there is plenty of choice is you want to find a beach that suits your mood. Deserted beaches, rocky, pebbled beaches, cliffs, hidden bays and popular beach spots with beach huts and sun beds. My favorite beaches in Lesvos are:
- Stefanos Beach in Agios
- Eftalou Beach in Molyvos
- Skala Kallonis Beach in Kalloni
Where to stay in Lesbos
The best thing to do is to stay in at least two different places on the island. Lesbos has two main tourist drags that cannot be missed, so I recommend to stay around Molyvos and Mytilini for sure. A third place to stay would be around the Sigri in the West to see the Museum of the Petrified Forest and discover some deserted beaches and bays.
Lesbos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
If you travel to Lesbos you now know what to do and where to sleep, but what I did not mention yet is that Lesbos Island is a UNESCO world heritage site, yes the complete island!
The rich history, the culture, beautiful nature and its friendly people all contributed towards international recognition of this lovely island. Whether you come to relax and visit its peaceful little fishing villages, you come to hike, bike or dive or you come for its many beaches and clear blue waters I am sure your Lesbos holidays will be a winner.
For more info about a trip to Lesvos take a look at Tourism Greece & The Other Aegean. I traveled around the island together with @justonewayticket, we decided where to go, where to stay and about the things to do. All opinions in this article are my own.