Spectacular routes around Greece’s third-largest island.
The starting point is Mytilene, which has beautiful mansions in its Sourada district. The city’s main landmarks are the castle, right next to the old port, and the Cathedral of Agios Therapon, with its impressive dome. Don’t miss the market on the cobbled part of Ermou Street. Drop into the Kampouris butcher shop for pastourmas (seasoned, airdried cured beef) and the Albanis grocery store for Lesvos cheeses and Papagiannidis jams. A stop for an ouzo and a quick bite at Ermis (tel. 22510-26.232) is something of a local tradition, given that the coffee shop has been serving great mezedes for the past 200 years.
Next stop is Karini, a village which has a coffee shop featuring work by the great naïf painter Theofilos. Take a detour for Agioi Anargyroi and the Lionas kafeneio (tel. 22520-22.765): Set in enchanting surroundings, it serves local and Spanish cuisine in the shade of huge plane trees. Continue on to Agiassos, a mountain village which draws a lot of visitors. Take a walk along the narrow streets and drop into the Giannakis coffee shop, opposite the entrance to the church, to try some kainari, a beverage made using eight different herbs and spices. Pick up rusks, nuts, spoon sweets and marzipan sweets made by the local women’s cooperative. At Hatziyiannis, at the entrance to the village, you can find lovely ceramic art.
Plomari, with its fabulous old mansions, is renowned for the ouzo distilleries, such as Ouzo of Plomari Isidoros Arvanitis. After Plomari, you’ll find the Melinda beach with a wooden pier and a super taverna. Continue on towards Palaiohori, and Vatera beach, which, knowing to its size and beauty, tends to be quite busy. On the way back to Mytilene,
head towards Perama and the enchanting Gera Bay, home to what is perhaps the best fish taverna on the island. Baluchanas (tel. 22510-51.948) serves “giousleme” (a type of fried cheese pie), fresh fish and other seafoods. Drop into the Vranas Museum (tel. 22510-82.007) in Papados, which offers interesting insights into olive oil production.
On the road to Molyvos The bays of Gera and Kalloni define the island. Kalloni is famous for the “papalina” sardine, which is smaller but meatier than normal sardines and locally is eaten after being cured in coarse sea salt for 2-3 hours.
From Mytilene, take the road on northeastern side of the island to Skala Neon Kidonion, where you can find the Magganas ouzo taverna (tel. 22510-94.229).
If you have a sturdy vehicle, take the mountain dirt road which ends at Agia Paraskevi, a vibrant village with many old mansions. Continue for Mantamados, where, at the village entrance, you will find the Stamatis family’s ceramics workshop, with lovely kitchen and table ware. The Mystakelli creamery is considered the best on the island, and is a great
place to pick up ladotyri cheese (made from sheep and goat milk and aged in olive oil), feta, butter, and yoghurt made from sheep milk. Pass through Pelopi, which is crossed by the Tsiknias River, and continue on to Ypsilometopo, and then Stypsi and Petri, where there is a fine taverna with a great view of the Bay
1. γλυκά κουταλιού στην κυρα-ρήνη./ ηοmemade spoon sweets.
2. Μουσείο Βρανά, παπάδος./ the Vranas Museum in Papados.
3. η ταβέρνα Μπαλουχανάς. / the Baluchanas taverna.
4. Άγιοι Ανάργυροι. / agioi anargyroi.
5. το Parasol στη ςκάλα ερεσού./ Parasol bar at Skala Eressou.
At Petra, stop to admire the imposing Church of Panagia Glykofilousa, which is built atop a towering rock in the middle of the settlement.
Next stop is Molyvos, one of the most stunning villages in Greece, especially by night when the the castle is lit up and candles flicker on the taverna tables in the pebble-paved streets. Take a dip at one of the four beaches at Agioi Anargyroi, the first of which can be found immediately after the Eftalou thermal springs. Continue for Sykamnia, have a fizzy, fruity “gazoza” soft drink at the Rematia coffee shop and explore the village’s lovely narrow streets. The nearby
seaport is Skala Sykamnias, with the impressive Panayia tis Gorgonas (Church of the Our Lady the Mermaid), built on a rock next to the pier. Stop for coffee and ice cream at Kavos. To return to Molyvos, take the coastal road – it will take you past the traditional taverna Lygaria, which has fine food.
Αfter a swim at the Pseiriara beach (5 minutes from the Molyvos), head to Filia, where you can stop at Nikos Koutsavlis’ coffee shop (est. 1932). Then head south for the most impressive sight on the island, Sigri’s Petrified Forest, where you can see the impressive petrified tree trunks spread around an area of 150 square kilometres. Also excellent is the Museum of Natural History of the Lesvos Petrified Forest (tel.22510-47.033), which you’ll find in the village of Sigri.
The nearby Faneromeni beach is one of the most stunning on the island. Next stop is Tsichlionta, a huge beach, also beautiful, where the river delta comprises an important wetland. For lunch, go to Chroussos beach, home to a number of wild ducks, where Mrs Maria has turned and old bus into a cantina with delicious food.
Finally, the last stop is seaside Skala Eressou, where the Parasol (tel. 22530-52.050) bar livens things up with wonderful cocktails and ethnic music.