Home Destination Guides Accommodation 27th January 2020




Samos is another of those quintessential Greek Islands, relatively untouched by mass tourism. It is located in the northeastern Aegean, above the Dodecanese islands and within a stone’s throw of the Turkish coastline.  It is a large unspoilt island, approximately 50 miles in length, having rugged mountains cloaked with the green of pine and olive trees, beautiful beaches and crystal clear water.  The northern coastal areas have some great stretches of fine sandy beach, but these tend to be less popular because of the prevailing winds on the north side of the island.  The highest point on Samos is in the mountainous western corner where Mount Kerkis rises to 1,435 metres above sea level.
The island is particularly popular with walking enthusiasts and ramblers, as the rugged hillsides are scored by narrow paths which were used in years gone by as mule tracks, linking the mountain villages.  There are a great variety of different walks available; from casual strolls to more energetic adventures through pine clad hillsides, olive groves, vineyards and farmland, all offering the same unspoilt scenery and beautiful views.  Spring and early summer are usually the best times to visit, when a wonderful variety of wild flowers are in full bloom and rare orchids can be seen.  The fertile valleys are perfect for producing quality grapes and Samos is known for its wine production, particularly the sweet Samos Muscat wine famous throughout Greece.
Whilst Samos is not so well known by tourists, any Greek schoolchild will tell you that it is the birthplace of some of Greece’s most well known sons, notably Aesop, who gave the world his Aesop’s Fables, Pythagoras, the gifted mathematician, Aristarchus the talented astronomer and the intrepid navigator Kolaios, who is reputed to have sailed through the Pillars of Hercules in 650 BC.
The capital and main port of the island is located on a deep inlet on the eastern end of the north coast at Samos Town or Vathi, as it is also known.  This is a traditional town with its roots still firmly centred on the island’s commercial dealings, therefore most of the tourist hotels are situated in the prettier coastal resorts.  The harbour is a bustling hive of activity during the day, with ferries departing to and arriving from other Greek islands and the Turkish mainland.  As the Turkish coastline is but a mere 2 miles from Samos in places, it is a popular destination for excursion boats ferrying sightseers to the Turkish port of Kusadasi and onward to the renowned site of Epheseus.
Samos Town provides a plentiful mix of tavernas, restaurants and shops lining the waterfront promenade and the harbour area. It is also the best place on the island for an evening’s entertainment, with a good selection of bars and up market cafes.  As befits an islands capital, Samos town’s amenities include a bus station, banks, ATM machines, Tourist Information office, car hire, taxis, supermarkets, pharmacy, doctors and a Hospital.  In addition, a visit to the town’s Archaeological Museum should not be missed as there are some fine exhibits on show.  For those who like to get out and about, there is a good local bus service to most of the towns and villages and although Samos town has its own shingle beach, better beaches can be found around the coast.
Approximately 10 kilometres to the west of Samos town is the pretty coastal village of Kokkari, with its backdrop of mountains, lovely seafront and picturesque fishing harbour.  Kokkari offers diners a fantastic choice of cafés, bars, traditional tavernas and restaurants as well as some more upmarket bistros.  Nightlife is usually low-key but can become busy in high season.  There is a good local bus service to Samos town, which takes approximately 20 minutes and taxis are available for a late night return in case you wish to linger.  Kokkari has 3 beaches; a long stretch of pebbly beach and two smaller shingle bays. However, a 20-minute walk further along the coast brings you to the beautiful beach at Lemonakia.  Being on the north coast Kokkari gets its share of the summer winds, but one of the smaller shingle bays is located behind a headland, providing shelter when its windy.  The other beaches are popular with water sports enthusiasts, particularly windsurfers who can take advantage of the windsurfing school to hone their skills.  Whilst Kokkari is ideal for a relaxing holiday there is still plenty to do for those who wish to keep active - mountain bikes can be hired locally and walking is a popular pursuit.
Continuing west along the north coast is the traditional village of Agios Konstantinos, with its small harbour, pebble beach, local shops and authentic Greek tavernas.  This whole area is a real treat for country lovers and has rapidly become a rambler’s paradise.  From the coast, hill paths follow the ancient mule tracks, through lush vegetation and fresh water streams to the mountain villages of Vourliotis, Manolates and Plakia, where hospitality is legendary and the views panoramic.  One of the best walks on the island is to the Valley of the Nightingales, close to Manolates village, where harmonies of musical bird song can be heard floating across the countryside.
Further west is the commercial port of Karlovassi, initially popular with ferries and commercial shipping because it is closer to the Athens port of Pireaus than Samos town, but this has become less important in recent years because of the newer, faster passenger craft that are now available.
Tucked away in the island’s south east corner is the tiny hamlet of Kerveli, mid way between Samos town on the north coast and Pythagorion in the south.  This rural area is one of the closest to Turkey, it is totally unspoilt with a good shingle beach and superb views of the Turkish mainland across the stunning turquoise sea of Kerveli Bay.
The most popular resort for visitors is located on the southern coast, 13 kilometres from Samos town, at the historic harbour town of Pythagorion.  This town was once the island’s capital in the 6th Century BC, under the rule of Polykrates who left a legacy of amazing archaeological monuments including the famous Heraion and the (not so famous) Tunnel of Evpalinos.  From the Middle Ages the town was called Tigani, but in 1953 it was renamed Pythagorion after Samos’s famous mathematician.  Pythagorion lays a short drive from Samos airport and is full of traditional charm.  Although this town has a cosmopolitan feel, it has also managed to retain a laid back atmosphere, perfect for a relaxing holiday.  The thick walled town houses with their attractive red-tiled roofs tumble down the hillside culminating in a beautiful circular harbour, where posh yachts are moored alongside beach boats, fishing caiques and hydrofoils.  The waterfront is lined with trees, their branches spreading shade over a host of authentic tavernas, cafes and bars.  The town has most of the usual facilities including shops, money exchange, mini markets, chemist and car hire.  There is a good sandy beach to the west of the harbour offering a choice of water sports, together with another beach to the east.  In high season, beach boats ferry people from Pythagorion harbour around the coast to Psili Ammos, one of the best sandy beaches in the area.  At Psili Ammos there are a couple of tavernas and a short walk away is yet another great beach, this one with pebbles, at Mykali Beach.  Excursions by boat are plentiful, as Pythagorion harbour is the gateway to the island of Patmos, famous for the fascinating sites of the Monastery of St John and the Cave of the Apocalypse (see Patmos Island for full details).  Boats from Pythagorion also visit the tiny offshore islet of Samiopoula, usually stopping for lunch and swimming.
West of the harbour is the Castle of Logothetis that was built in 1824 and behind the Castle are some remnants of the foundations of Hellenistic buildings.  In the hills beyond, a pathway winds some 2 kilometres up to the ancient remains of a theatre, the ancient City Walls and the Panagia Spiliani Monastery.  A fork in the pathway also leads to the impressive Evpalinos Tunnel, commissioned by Polykrates in the 6th Century BC and named after its architect, Evpalinos.  This Tunnel is a magnificent feat of engineering skill, burrowing over 1,000 metres through the mountainside creating an aqueduct to supply the town with water.  The first section of approximately 70 metres in length is open to visitors, but is not suitable for anyone who is uncomfortable in confined spaces….
The most famous of Polykrates’ monuments is situated approximately 8 kilometres to the west of Pythagorion and is called the Heraion or the Temple of Hera.  The choice of location, amongst the willows by the Imbros Stream, was dictated by legend, as this was said to be the birthplace of the goddess Hera.  This huge archaeological site was built in the 6th Century and whilst most of the notable buildings are barely discernable, being little more than a few foundation stones, archaeological addicts still visit in their droves.  For most people the main attraction of the site is the Temple itself, which, although never fully completed, was still the largest temple ever built during this period.  The temple originally consisted of 3 massive columns at each end and 24 in length, and had the distinction of being known as one of the wonders of the Ancient World.  Sadly only one massive column remains, but this impressive structure has become synonymous with Samos, and graces a multitude of postcards.
The southwestern corner of Samos is truly a hideaway for those looking for peace and relaxation in an unspoilt area.  This is great walking country, perfect for all ages and abilities, with gentle walks along the coast or a 3-4 hour trek up the mountain to the Evangelistria monastery!
If you want to walk on Samos, you need only search for ‘walking Samos’ on the web, to discover many guides and some opportunities to join organised groups of ramblers, or organise a complete rambling package holiday – the choice is yours! 
In the Bay of Ormos, beneath the backdrop of Mount Kerkis, is the small resort of Kambos, also known as Votsalakia (not to be confused with another sleepy village Meso Kambos in the south east).  The beach of Votsalakia is a long swathe of sand and shingle, gracing the coastline for nearly two miles.  Sunbeds are available and there is a choice of water sports in high season.  This resort has a good mix of tavernas, restaurants, café bars and small shops, as well as a local bus service, car hire, bicycle hire, and boat trips to the islet of Samiopoula.   A short drive or taxi ride further west is the lovely sandy beach at Limnionas, with a couple of tavernas and a shop close by.  A short drive to the east of Kambos is the peaceful hamlet of Balos, with authentic tavernas, a couple of café bars, a few shops and another great beach.
Despite being one of the lesser known Greek island destinations, Samos has its own airport just a 10 minute drive (approximately) from Pythagoria.  Package holidays are available from Greek specialist tour companies with charter airlines flying direct to Samos during the summer months, usually from April to October.  Flying time from the U.K. is approximately 3 hours 40 minutes. Olympic Airways offer scheduled flights from the U.K. to Samos via Athens.  Timings vary depending on how long you need to wait for the connecting flight to Samos.  The Olympic Airways domestic flights from Athens to Samos run all year round, although the flight schedule will be less frequent in the winter months and the flight time is approximately 40 mins.
Samos is a useful destination for island hoppers; it has numerous hydrofoil/ferry connections to both the Cycladic and Dodecanese islands, including Paros, Naxos, Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos, Symi and occasionally Chios.  These ferries are usually circuitous calling at several islands on the way before arriving at the Athens port of Piraeus.  There are daily ferries/hydrofoils from Pythagorion to neighbouring Patmos.  The hydrofoil will take approximately 1 hour and the ferry approximately 2 hours, depending on weather conditions.  There are daily ferries from Samos Town and Karlovassi to Piraeus and daily ferries from Samos Town to the Turkish port of Kusadasi.
The existence of ferry services, frequency of sailings and timetables are subject to change depending on ferry operators and weather conditions.  The circuitous routes tend to be more susceptible to delays than direct sailings and information should always be checked both at the planning stage and locally on the island.
The foregoing information was last reviewed in November 2006. Things change, and whilst we are often travelling in Greece we do rely to some extent upon others to provide updates in order to keep the site as current and accurate as possible!  If you have updates or information that you think should be included here, please mail the webmaster@aguide2greece.com - thank you.


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