Samos is one of the best-known northeastern Aegean islands in Greece – lying just off the Turkish coast. The island of Samos is outstanding for its great beaches and green, beautiful landscape. It is the perfect travel destination for activities in nature.
What is Samos famous for?
Legend has that Samos was the birthplace of Hera, and the ruins of the ancient sanctuary, Heraion, are famous as well as impressive. Of other ancient celebrities born on Samos is the great mathematician Pythagoras and the 4th-century-BC philosopher Epicurus, father of atomic theory. On your visit to Samos do not miss to explore the 524 BC Evpalinos Tunnel, yet another spectacular example of ancient engineering – this one continuing for more than 1000 meters into the underground.
Top 10 Things to do in Samos
- Hike your way up to the Cave of Pythagoras – the place where the famous mathematician and philosopher was hiding from Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos
- Visit Heraion of Samos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Explore secluded coves and forest paths leading to waterfalls
- Hike your way up to Monastery of Panagia Spiliani
- Spend an afternoon at the Museum of Samos Wines
- Go windsurfing near the village of Kokkari
- Explore the Tunnel of Eupalinos, an aqueduct of ancient engineering
- Go scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters of Samos
- Rent a boat and go sailing for a day along the coast the island
- Go on a day trip to Kusadasi in Turkey
Where is Samos island?
Samos is a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea, south of Chios, north of Patmos and the Dodecanese, and off the coast of Turkey, from which it is separated by the 1.6 kilometers wide Mycale Strait. Samos island is 43 km long and 13 km wide. While largely mountainous, Samos has several relatively large and fertile plains.
The capital of Samos is Vathi but driving along the coastline you will see many beautiful seaside villages, such as Pythagorion, the capital of Ancient Samos, as well as Kokkari, Karlovassi, and Heraion.
Samos – how to get there?
Best beaches on Samos
The beaches in Samos are of a stunning exotic beauty. Some of the top beaches are Tsamadou, Potokaki, Mykali, Kokkari, Lemonakia and Agios Konstantinos. There are beaches for every taste and preference, both secluded and organized. Even some naturist beaches, as well. Being a rather big island Samos beaches are never crowded.
Island hopping from Samos
Samos is one of the most beautiful Greek islands lying off the Turkish coast, with daily ferries to Kusadasi in Turkey. This island of the Eastern Aegean Sea is famous for its lush green landscapes, picturesque fishing villages and great beaches. When you spend your holidays in Samos you have a great opportunity for island hopping to the nearby islands of Fourni and Ikaria or for a day trip with the ferry to Kusadasi in Turkey.
Samos – what to see?
Did you stay too long in the sun yesterday? Then you should leave the beach for today and head for some sightseeing in Samos. You will find many archaeological monuments and sites scattered all around the island. Do not miss the large sanctuary constructed in the honor of goddess Hera, the Heraion. Nearby there is the Tunnel of Eupalinus, once the aqueduct of Samos and one of the most amazing technological achievements of the ancient years.
If you love exploring things there are many places to discover in Samos. Go for a hike all the way up to the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani above Pythagorion Cave. Here you will find the cave church where the holy icon of Virgin Mary was found.
The famous wine of Samos
Samian wine was well known in antiquity and is still produced on the island. A great portion of Samos today is covered with vineyards, from which muscat wine is made. The Samian climate is typically Mediterranean, with mild rainy winters, and warm rainless summers.
The mountains in Samos
Samos is dominated by two large mountains, Ampelos and Kerkis. Ampelos is the larger of the two and occupies the center of the island, rising to 1,095 meters. Mt. Kerkis, though smaller in area is the taller of the two and its summit is the island’s highest point, at 1,434 meters. The mountains are a continuation of the Mycale range on the Anatolian mainland.
What does Samos mean?
According to Strabo, the name Samos is from Phoenician meaning “rise by the shore.”
In classical antiquity the island was a center of Ionian culture and luxury, renowned for its Samian wines and its red pottery (called Samian ware by the Romans). Its most famous building was the Ionic order archaic Temple of goddess Hera – the Heraion.
Ancient history of Samos
Concerning the earliest history of Samos, literary tradition is singularly defective. At the time of the great migrations it received an Ionian population which traced its origin to Epidaurus inArgolis: Samos became one of the twelve members of the Ionian League. By the 7th century BC, it had become one of the leading commercial centers of Greece.
The vases of Samos were among the most characteristic products of Ionian pottery in the 6th century.
This early prosperity of the Samians seems largely due to geographic position of Samos near trade-routes, which facilitated the importation of textiles from inner Asia Minor, but the Samians also developed an extensive oversea commerce. They helped to open trade with the population that lived around the Black Sea as well as with Egypt, Cyrene (Libya), Corinth, and Chalcis. This caused them to become bitter rivals with Miletus. Samos was able to become so prominent despite the growing power of the Persian empire because of the alliance they had with the Egyptians and their powerful fleet. The Samians are also credited with having been the first Greeks to reach the Straits of Gibraltar.
Activities in Samos
Rock climbing: Currently many rock-climbing fields are under development all over Samos island, but the real awesome land for rock climbing and mountaineering is the western side of Samos. The highest peak of Kerkis mountain range, bearing the name Vigla, is about 4,700 feet, making it the 2nd highest peak in the East Aegean.
Both sport and traditional climbing routes of all levels can be found on the Samos island, much of which have great views over the Aegean Sea.
Hiking: Within the mountains of Samos island there are many natural beautiful caves and ancient mines. More than 70 caves have already been found on the Samos island, but many undiscovered are still believed to exist. Just ask the inhabitants, they will pass along mythologies about caves you would have to enter from Aegean Sea cliffs only to emerge at ancient sites. Locals are still looking for the undiscovered hides of Polykrates with treasures of gold. Most caves require a guide and equipment to navigate their massive chambers and small spaces, but still Samos island has such a wide variety of them that there are caves appropriate to explore for anyone from the novice to advanced cavers. Some of them can be visited on foot by hikers, some even have chapels inside, but the more challenging ones should only be approached with trained guides.
Mountain biking: Samos is very well suited for mountain biking, with routes ranging from easy to difficult. All of them have the satisfying reward of phenomenal views no matter which part of Samos island you head for exploring. The best time to visit Samos for outdoor sports like hiking, biking, and climbing is spring, winter and fall when the weather is sunny, mild and the flowers blooming on March through May.
Windsurfing: The northern shore provides a great space for windsurfing with its consistent wind stirring the Aegean Sea. Near the village of Kokkari you will find a school and rental center. Summer months (June, July, and August) are ideal for water sports enthusiasts and cavers, who need to escape the often-oppressive heat in the natural coolness of the caves.
Diving: Snorkeling is another option. More serious divers will be excited to learn that not long-ago Greece revoked its scuba diving ban, which had existed to prevent the plundering of antiquities. The new law is in accord with the EU standards regarding recreational diving, and it provides protection for the environment and underwater antiquities.
Weather and climate in Samos
Like the rest of the islands in the North-Eastern Aegean Sea Samos has a warm Mediterranean climate. During the hot summers, only few rainfalls are occurring, and winters are quite mild. All year round strong north and north-west winds are blowing keeping temperatures at a maximum of 29°C during the summer months.