Church on high
Sitting proudly on top of a 40-metre high rocky outcrop is the Panagia Glykofilousa church, also rather poetically known as Our Lady of the Sweet Kiss. The village is named after this rock that dominates the landscape. If you’re heading on one of the boat trips leaving from Petra be sure to look back at the wonderful setting. You can also climb the 114 steps carved in the rock up to the pretty church and take a look inside at the painted murals. Another popular place to visit is Vareltzidena’s house – an 18th century mansion which has been turned into a museum, giving clues to what life was like in this bygone era. It has carved balconies outside and pretty wall paintings inside.
Petra’s busiest area is down at the sand and shingle beach, which has gained Blue Flag status and has a few watersports to try. You can go diving and snorkelling in the rocks at the edge of the beach or sail across the water.
While you’re out in the Aegean Sea, don’t just float by the three small islands in the bay. They are nature reserves, and Rabbit Island’s observation centre is a particularly good place to spot wildlife and birds.
At the end of Petra beach, you can walk along to quieter Avlaki cove with its small harbour, sandy beach and a handful of restaurants.
Mealtimes revolve around Petra’s lively main square and the tavernas on the seafront. If you go along with the Greek way of life, dinner times are late, so you can relax with a drink beside the beach and watch the sun go down over the horizon before you tuck into some delicious Lesvos food.
You can get European flavours here as well as the Greek bites, but if you’re going for typical Greek fare you can’t get more authentic than the home-cooked food of the Women’s Agricultural Co-operative. With views over the village you can dine on saganaki – fried cheese usually served with bread – and lamb soaked in wine sauce, all cooked by women that live locally.
Beachside bars and hillside clubs
While you can stay at your taverna and be entertained by belly dancing and Greek music, there are options for all sorts of nights out in Petra. Options range from The Reef bar on the beach, serving food with good music and sport on the TV, to the open air club Oxy, which has DJs on the hillside. Oxy is also a luxury daytime spot where you can hang out beside the infinity pool with a drink in hand.
This small village packs in heaps of gift and craft shops selling traditional island products as well as locally produced cheeses, olive oils and wines. Lesvos is often said to have the best olive oil you’ll find on holidays to Greece, and the best ouzo, which you can sample at the ouzo distillery and purchase to take home with you. There are also quirky art galleries where you can buy pieces by resident artists.
Petra is situated between the medieval town of Molyvos and quiet Anaxos, and you can take the mini-train to visit the nearby sights of these charming places if you’re planning package holidays to Lesvos here. If you brought your walking shoes, the journey by foot along the coast to Anaxos takes around 35 minutes. Molyvos is a little further away in the other direction.
At the centre of Molyvos is its ancient church, which you can see perched on a hill as you approach. Cobbled streets full of cafes and interesting shops run down the hillside from it, and lead to the harbour and beach. In contrast, Anaxos is a small village with a relaxing vibe centred around the beach.