For this insider guide article, we chatted with Matt from Greece Travel to discover his expert tips on visiting Lesvos, one of the many islands he has explored and written about in his in-depth guides.
After starting the Greece Travel guides in 1996, Matt went online 10 years later to share his extensive knowledge of the Greek Islands and started the blog. He always aims to tell a good story, share an insight or make readers laugh with his posts, and we can vouch – his catchy writing and good-humoured style keeps you reading page after page. And boy, are there pages to read.
Matt had plenty of handy information to share with us on Lesvos, which you can find below.
Lesvos is actually the third largest island in Greece, yet it doesn’t seem as popular with holidaymakers as islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete. Why would you say travellers should visit Lesvos over other major Greek islands?
First of all, those other islands you mentioned are more expensive than Lesvos, and with the exception of Crete I think they just aren’t as authentic. Sure, everybody knows Santorini and Mykonos are worth going to, but I think Lesvos has a lot more going on even though it’s a little more off-the-beaten-track. Santorini has probably the most dramatic landscape because of the volcano, but it’s a matter of whether you want a busy holiday spot or a quieter place to relax.
In the case of Lesvos, it is nothing like the Cyclades islands. It is a large island where each area is different from the others. The Cyclades are mostly dry islands with beaches, tourist centres and some small villages. Lesvos has villages, towns, cities, rivers, forests, and is much more diverse in its landscape, culture and beauty – personally I think it’s more diverse than all the Cyclades islands put together, but you’ll have to see for yourself!
If a holidaymaker only has a few days on the island, what would you say is one thing he or she absolutely shouldn’t miss the chance to visit/see/do in Lesvos?
I don’t think I can narrow it down to any one thing on Lesvos. The seaside village of Skala Eressos is one of the best beach towns in Greece, with a beach that is about three kilometres long, lots of great fish restaurants, some cafes and bars and some nightlife.
Molyvos is a spectacular town with a castle above it, nice beaches in and nearby and one of the most beautiful shopping streets of any of the Greek islands, not to mention great restaurants and lots of nightlife. Sigri has a half dozen amazing beaches, some where you will be the only person there. Then there’s the hot springs, the Roman Aquaducts, the numerous castles and the food.
Speaking of the food, tourists tend to find themselves eating at all the obvious places, but which lesser-known restaurant gems do the locals love in Lesvos when it comes to dining out?
There are not enough meals in a day to eat at all the wonderful lesser-known restaurants in Lesvos, and every time I go I find more. Plus, the food in Lesvos is amazing and inexpensive. Half the price of what you pay on the popular islands, fresher and all local products.
Obviously places like Athens are packed with Grecian history, but what sites does Lesvos offer that might appeal to holidaymakers?
There are several castles, some Ancient Greek and Roman ruins, lots of old churches, one of the world’s largest petrified forests in the National Park near Sigri, not to mention all the rivers and ponds with flamingos and migrating birds, and lots of other wildlife.
Culturally, are there any places or events – villages, parks, festivals, etc – you’d recommend to really immerse yourself in the local culture?
It seems like every weekend of the summer there is some kind of cultural or religious festival in one of the towns or villages. They have an Ouzo Festival, a Food festival, a Sardine Festival, horse races, and there are many festivals for the name days of the saints. If you’re looking for a souvenir to take home that isn’t a pen or a postcard, get Ouzo – the drink of Lesvos.
What’s the best way to get around when travelling on the island?
Rent a car. It is too big for a small motorbike unless you break up the trip and stay in several different places that you use as a base to explore that part of the island. But there are walking tours and sailboat trips around the island. If you are a hiker you will be very happy in Lesvos. People who ride bicycles like it too.
Do you have any other suggestions for alternatives to the tourist trail or typical tourist activities on the island?
Tourism is mostly located in Molyvos, Petra, Skala Eressos, Vatera and Anaxos but it is very low impact tourism. You won’t see large groups of tourists wandering around. It is couples and families mixing in with the locals. You can rent a car and explore the mountain villages on the island and not run into another tourist.
So actually, there are no typical tourist activities because there are not many typical tourists who go to Lesvos. Most tourists go to other Greek islands – the smart tourists go to Lesvos!
If Matt has convinced you that a trip to Lesvos needs to be your next holiday, you can find more inspiration on our Lesvos travel guide, which includes top restaurants, beaches, things to do and more.