Lesvos is the third largest island in Greece and is first true to herself. Lesvos is a beautiful Greek island in the Northeastern Aegean Sea close to the coast of Turkey. Lesvos is famous worldwide because of its poet Sappho, a symbol of female homosexuality. The word Lesbian is derived from the name of the island Lesbos (Lesvos).
Covered with mountains and olive groves, the island of Lesvos is renowned for its high-quality olive oil, but also for the best ouzo in all of Greece. With a rich tradition and a long history, the island of Lesvos attracts families and travelers who prefer private settings and a laid-back holiday style.
Top 10 Things to do in Lesvos
- Drive around the island discovering beaches, sights, and picturesque villages
- Discover the Petrified Forest in Sigri
- Scuba diving to shipwrecks around Lesvos
- A night at a traditional open-air cinema
- Wine-tour with wine tastings at local wineries
- Visit the 3 most important Medieval castles on Lesvos (read further below)
- Stay a night or two in the picturesque village of Molyvos
- Windsurfing or kitesurfing in the beautiful Aegean Sea
- Taste the delicious sea food accompanied with the famous, local ouzo
- Go shopping for souvenirs and gifts – olive oil, ouzo, folk art, and jewelry
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What is Lesvos famous for?
Lesvos is famous worldwide because of its poet Sappho, a symbol of female homosexuality. The word Lesbian is derived from the name of the island Lesbos (Lesvos).
Where is Lesvos in Greece?
Map of Lesvos in Greece
How far is Lesvos from Turkey?
Lesvos is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait. When you travel around the island you can see the coast of Turkey from almost everywhere.
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How big is Lesvos?
Lesbos (transliterated from Modern Greek as Lesvos, sometimes also referred to as Mytilini after its major city Mytilene) is a Greek island located in the northeastern AegeanSea. It has an area of 1632 km² (630 square miles) with 320 kilometers (almost 200 miles) of coastline, making it the third largest Greek island and the largest of the numerous Greek islands scattered in the Aegean.
Molyvos – a must-see in Lesvos
The most famous of all the picturesque villages in Lesvos is Molyvos. Molyvos is a traditional village sitting right below an imposing Medieval castle on the slopes of a hill. It has the most breathtaking view towards the Aegean Sea. The narrow alleys of Molyvos are filled with restaurants, cafés, and bars – all with an amazing view of the Aegean Sea. Here you can enjoy some of the delicious grilled sardines or squids accompanied with great local ouzo. In the morning hours before the sun gets too hot, you can go and explore the old, impressive castle on the hilltop.
How do you get to Lesvos?
Mytilene International airport “Odysseas Elytis” is receiving flights from Athens as well as Thessaloniki all year round. Flight duration is about an hour from Athens. During high season in the summer, the airport receives flights from some European countries as well as flights from Heraklion (Crete), Rhodes, Samos, and Chios.
You can also reach Lesvos by ferry. From Piraeus Port near Athens, the ferries depart for Lesvos 4 to 5 times per week. Lesvos is also connected with some islands, including Syros, Ikaria, Mykonos, and Chios as well as Kavala Port on the northern side of the Greek mainland. Some routes are also working between Lesvos and the Turkish port of Ayvalik.
Weather and climate in Lesvos
Lesvos island has, like the other islands in the Northeastern Aegean Sea, a typical Mediterranean climate with strong north and northwestern winds. The summer is hot with extraordinarily little rainfall and the winter is short and mild with a lot of rain.
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Beaches in Lesvos
Lesvos in Greece is a large island with many great beaches – some of which are organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, and watersport centers, while other beaches are secluded and perfect for privacy.
Island hopping from Lesvos
Lesvos in Greece is perfect for relaxing holidays, off the beaten track in the easternmost part of the Aegean Sea. Being one of the largest Greek islands, it is spacious with many activities and sights, but if you have days enough during your travel, Lesvos is also a perfect base for island hopping, thanks to its short distance to the islands of Chios and Lemnos.
Lesvos – What to see?
Rent a car for a day or two and drive around the island of Lesvos to get to see the many historical monuments of the island. From Roman aqueducts to Byzantine castles and monasteries, you will find the opportunity to explore sites dating several historical periods back. Most important monuments are the Medieval castles of Mytilene, Molyvos and Sigri, all of which used to protect the towns of Lesvos against attacks from pirates.
Of course, on your travel to Lesvos in Greece, another must-see is the Petrified Forest in Sigri, which you will find on the western side of the island. The forest was due to volcanic activity petrified 15 to 20 million years ago. It is considered worldwide to be a rare geological monument.
The Petrified Forests of Lesvos
The petrified forest has been declared a Protected Natural Monument, included also in the European Geopark Network. Fossilized plants have been found in many localities on the western part of the island. The fossilized forest was formed during the Late Oligocene to Lower–Middle Miocene, by the intense volcanic activity in the area. Neogene volcanic rocks dominate the central and western part of the island, comprising andesites, dacites and rhyolites, ignimbrite, pyroclastic, tuffs, and volcanic ash. The products of the volcanic activity covered the vegetation of the area and the fossilization process took place during favorable conditions. The fossilized plants are silicified remnants of a sub-tropical forest that existed on the north-west part of the island 20-15 million years ago.
Significant monasteries on Lesvos
If you love to explore historical monuments in Lesvos you will find many old monasteries, like the Monastery of Ipsilou and the Monastery of Saint Raphael, who also happens to be the protector of Lesvos.
12 historic churches on Lesvos
Twelve historic churches on the island were listed together on the 2008 World Monuments Fund’s Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world. Exposure to the elements, outmoded conservation methods, and increased tourism are all threats to the structures. Hopefully, the increased attention to their declining states will aid in their preservation.
Towns and villages in Lesvos
Its population is approximately 90,000, a third of which lives in its capital, Mytilene, in the southeastern part of the island. The remaining population is distributed in small towns and villages. The largest are Kalloni, the Gera Villages, Plomari, Agiassos, Eresos, and Molyvos (the ancient Mythymna). Mytilene was founded in the 11th century BC by the family Penthilidae, who arrived from Thessaly, and ruled the city-state until a popular revolt (590–580 BC) led by Pittacus of Mytilene ended their rule.
The nature of Lesvos
The island is forested and mountainous with two large peaks, Mt. Lepetymnos at 968 m (3,176 ft) and Mt. Olympus at 967 m (3,173 ft), dominating its northern and central sections. The island’s volcanic origin is manifested in several hot springs and the two gulfs.
Ancient history of Lesbos
According to Classical Greek mythology, Lesbos was the patron god of the island. The oldest artifacts found on the island date to the Paleolithic period. Important archaeological sites on the island are the Neolithic cave of Kagiani, probably a refuge for shepherds, the Neolithic settlement of Chalakies, and the extensive habitation of Thermi (3000–1000 BC). The largest habitation is found in Lisvori (2800–1900 BC) part of which is submerged in shallow coastal waters. There are also several archaic, classical Greek and Roman remains. Vitruvius called the ancient city of Mytilene “magnificent and of good taste”. Remnants of its medieval history are three impressive castles.
Famous persons from Lesbos
Lesbos is the birthplace of several famous persons. In archaic times, Arion developed the type of poem called dithyramb, the progenitor of tragedy, and Terpander invented the seven-note musical scale for the lyre. Two of the nine lyric poets in the Ancient Greek canon, Alcaeus, and Sappho, were from Lesbos. Phanias wrote history. In modern times the poet Odysseus Elytis, descendant of an old family of Lesbos received the Nobel Prize.