Lemnos Island – secluded beaches, whitewashed chapels, fried octopus

17 Aug

After I returned from Thassos Island, I rested in Batix Multiplex Camping in Kavala for one day. For dinner, I had delicious mussels saganaki with tomato sauce and feta cheese. Besides, I had my own pitch surrounded by a green fence, sun beds, clear and warm water, and my choice of straw umbrellas. I felt good in that campground but I had to move on and go to Lemnos Island, my next destination.

The first day on Lemnos Island

Short description: I took the morning ferry from Kavala Port to Myrina, in Lemnos Island. I went directly to the unofficial camping site near Keros Beach. After that, I explored the area, including the only taverna in Kalliopi.  

Long Description

In Kavala port, I witnessed the endless loading and unloading of cars and trucks on the ferry for Lemnos Island. Eventually, we left the port half an hour later than scheduled. The trip lasted five hours anyway, so it didn’t matter so much that we were in delay. The first stop was in Myrina (Lemnos Island), then Mytilinos (Lesbos Island), and the ferry would reach Piraeus Port (Athens) only the following day.

On the ferry from Kavala to Lemnos Island (Myrina port)

On the ferry from Kavala to Lemnos Island (Myrina port)

When I arrived in Myrina, I headed to Keros Beach right away. I knew that there was an unofficial camp site in a pine forest, near the Keros Beach. On the road from Myrina to Keros, I stopped at a stand with fruit and vegetables and bought two melons. I got lost in several villages, but when I asked “Kalliopi?,” someone always pointed me in the right direction. The unofficial camp site was situated between Kalliopi village and Keros Beach. It was full of tents and cars, despite the fact that across the road, there was a sign with a ‘forbidden tent‘ drawn on it. After that, I went to eat fried sprat at the Aneose Taverna, the only taverna in Kalliopi village. Later, in the afternoon, I went to Keros Beach and watched the surfers.

Lemnos Island: Keros Beach - the ideal place for windsurfing

Lemnos Island: Keros Beach – the ideal place for windsurfing

The second day on Lemnos Island

Short description: I left from Keros toward the northeastern part of the island. I passed through Panagia and Plaka, and when I reached Port Plakas, I came back. I made a detour to the Sanctuary of Kabeiroi, and then to the ancient theater of Hephaistia. From Kontopouli, I headed toward the southeastern part of the island. I passed Romanou and stopped at the Neolithic site of Poliohni. After that, I continued toward Skandali and Fisini. I twisted my ankle at Moni Agios Sozon, so I had to search for a pharmacy in Moudros.     

Long Description

I decided to explore the eastern side of Lemnos Island and headed toward its northeastern part first. From Kalliopi village, I reached the main road and turned right toward Port Plaka. Small white chapels were scattered through the landscape, almost on every hilltop or bay. In Panagia village, Greek men lined up at a taverna facing the street. A peddler drove his car through the village and shouted his melon offer in a megaphone.

Typical whitewashed chapels on Lemnos Island - they are isolated and everywhere (even on the top of a hill)

Typical whitewashed chapels on Lemnos Island – they are isolated and everywhere (even on the top of a hill)

In the next village, in Plaka, other old men lined up at another taverna in the street. In a small square, above the main church, an old woman gently rocked a baby to sleep while she was walking the cart along the sloping streets with stone houses. I quickly reached the end of Lemnos Island in Port Plakas, where the local people kept their boats tied up at a small wharf. There were no houses, only a secluded beach with umbrellas and soft music.

Lemnos Island: Port Plakas - quiet and remote beach

Lemnos Island: Port Plakas – quiet and remote beach

From Port Plakas, I went back and made the first detour toward the Sanctuary of Kabeiroi, situated at Cape Chloe. I drove through hamlets with stone houses and then even through a former tourist village, all of them dilapidated, though.

Lemnos Island: Tigani bay

Lemnos Island: Tigani bay

The archaeological site the Sanctuary of Kabeiroi included: the ruins of a telesterion dating back to the Archaic and Hellenistic era, a smaller one dating back to the late Roman era, and some remnants of the ancient fortifications. The Kabeiroi Gods were worshiped as gods of fertility, wine, and sea. The rituals lasted nine days and during this time frame, all fires on the island were quenched. Meanwhile, a ship brought back the light from Delos, the Island of Light. Filoctetes Cave sat at the lower part of the Kabeiroi archaeological site and could be reached only coming from the sea. A group of children jumped in the water from the rocks and they could enter the cave this way.

Lemnos Island: Sanctuary of Kabeiroi (with Archaic, Hellenistic, and Roman period)

Lemnos Island: Sanctuary of Kabeiroi (with Archaic, Hellenistic, and Roman period)

From the Sanctuary of Kabeiroi, I came back to the main road and drove a while toward the south. Soon, I made a new detour toward the Ancient Theatre of Hephaistia. The road that led to the theater was completely off-road. Here and there, it even had thick layers of sand. At one point, I had to drive across a beach in order to avoid a place where a few people worked on the road. The theater had modest dimensions and preserved elements that belonged to all the stages of its construction, from the Archaic and Hellenistic period to the late Roman one.

Lemnos Island: The ancient theater of Hephaistia (with archaic, Hellenistic, and Roman period)

Lemnos Island: The ancient theater of Hephaistia (with archaic, Hellenistic, and Roman period)

I returned to the main road and stopped in the small town of Kontopouli. The town had a hillside square, animated by terraces disposed around a church. The streets of the town were steep and narrow. For this reason, I often had to squeeze with the car between very close houses. From Kontopouli, I continued toward Romanou, which featured (besides stone houses) former stone windmills on a hilltop.

Lemnos Island: Romanou windmills

Lemnos Island: Romanou windmills

I drove toward the southern part of the island, to the Neolithic site of Poliohni. The site was situated just across from ancient Troy. Poliohni flourished throughout the first and middle Bronze Age, and the archaeologists say that it had 1500 inhabitants. The site included the ruins of the old fortification wall, a well in the main square, rectangular houses made of stone (megarons), and paved streets – all of them well preserved.

Lemnos Island: The Neolithic site of Poliohni

Lemnos Island: The Neolithic site of Poliohni

From Poliohni, I meandered among arid brown hills toward south and at the horizon, I glimpsed the blue sea. I stopped in Fisini village, where most of the houses were deserted, and the white church with an isolated clock tower was locked. Further, Skandali village marked the end of the paved road. Two white chapels seemed to watch the village from a hilltop, and colorful flowers animated the window frames of a few whitewashed houses. I got stuck with my car on an abrupt street until a Greek man showed up when he heard me blowing the horn. He finally moved his car from the middle of the road, and I could pass.

Lemnos Island: Fisini Village - traditional whitewashed houses

Lemnos Island: Fisini Village – traditional whitewashed houses

When I came back from the southern part of the island, I made a quick detour to the Moni Agios Sozon monastery, an incredible white monastery, entirely locked, though. I twisted my ankle while I was searching a spring with a so-called holy water, so I had to come back to the car right away. After that, I went to Moudros, the second town of Lemnos Island, but couldn’t find any pharmacy open. The courtyard of the main church was full of people, and a priest went to the house of a dying man with the Communion cup. I walked very slowly because of my twisted ankle but still stopped at the military cemetery of the 1915 Campaign from Galliopoli.

Lemnos Island: Moudros - empty streets in the afternoon

Lemnos Island: Moudros – empty streets in the afternoon

In the evening, I returned to Keros Beach where I desperately studied my ankle, which was swelling up. When I came back to the camp site in the pine forest, I took out all the medications from the medical kit on my car and noticed that I didn’t have any anti-inflammatory cream.

The third day on Lemnos Island

Short Description: I left Keros and finally found a pharmacy in Kontopouli. I passed Romanou and went toward the eastern side of the island. Further, I passed Portianos and Kontias, and then swam and sunbathed at Nevgatis Beach. I stopped in Thanos, and then in Myrina. After a short break, I continued toward the northwestern part of the island, going through Kaspakes, Dafni, and Atsiki. I stopped at the beach in Kotsinas and returned to the camp site in Keros.  

Long Description

I decided to explore the western side of the island and left toward Myrina. I had a hard time finding an open pharmacy in Kontopouli and after buying anti-inflammatory cream, I desperately massaged my sore ankle. After that, I continued to Myrina, passed the airport, and turned left toward the south. I stopped in Portianos village, where Greeks sipping their coffee at the local taverna already animated the main square. I got stuck with my car on a very narrow street, but managed to turn right eventually, moving the car back and forth several times. At the exit of the village, I went to the Military Cemetery in Portianos, dedicated to the victims of the war between the British Army and the Turks in 1918 (until the Moudros Armistice).

Lemnos Island: Portianos Military Cemetery

Lemnos Island: Portianos Military Cemetery

From Portianos, I drove toward south and stopped in Kontias village, which had countless narrow sloping streets, flanked by stone houses with blue shutters. At the exit of the village, I went up to the former windmills. Two of them were rehabilitated as a museum, and five as a luxurious hotel of a Dutch company. The woman from the front desk showed me an apartment from a restored mill. It had a kitchenette and a small bathroom at the ground floor and a double bed at the first floor.

Lemnos Island: Kontias Village - restored old windmills

Lemnos Island: Kontias Village – restored old windmills

On the road to Myrina, I stopped for a short break at Nevgatis Beach, where I swam and sunbathed for a while. The secluded beach sat between two villages and two small mountains. There were only a few people on the beach and a bar with relaxing music. I felt revitalized by the good swim in the sea and headed to Thanos village, where I walked along the typical steep streets, lined with whitewashed stone houses. The gardens of the houses were full of lush greenery and almost invited me under their shadow.

Lemnos Island: Thanos Village - old stone houses

Lemnos Island: Thanos Village – old stone houses

In Myrina, I had a hard time finding a parking place within the town’s historic center. The pedestrian street with shops and restaurants was the only attraction of the old part of the town. It was covered with pergolas and climbing plants, and in the afternoon, everything was closed. In the evening, the atmosphere changed, though, and all the shops and eateries opened. I hiked up to the ruins of the Genovese fortress, which had countless bastions at each corner of the walls. The ancient fortress was a good lookout toward both the touristic old port with tavernas and the new part of the town along the seafront.

Lemnos Island: Myrina - old Genovese fortress on the hilltop

Lemnos Island: Myrina – old Genovese fortress on the hilltop

From Myrina, I drove toward Keros Beach but I made a detour through the villages from the northeastern part of the island. I quickly passed through Kaspakes village. There, I had to be creative in order to somehow cross the labyrinth of narrow sloping streets. In Kornos village, I got lost again but I inevitably found the main road on the main street covered with vines. Further, I meandered among arid hills, where the road constantly snaked along nameless valleys. From time to time, households with goats appeared here and there.

Lemnos Island: Dafni Village - the church of the village

Lemnos Island: Dafni Village – the church of the village

I passed Sardes village and saw only orchards or fields along the road. The most northern point I reached was Dafni village, where children called me, waved at me, and laughed loudly. The village suddenly ended after passing the solid stone church, and the small center covered with climbing plants created a welcoming shadow. I continued toward Atsiki village, where tavernas with tablecloths with little squares packed-out the main square, with no people at that hour, though.

Lemnos Island: Atsiki Village - the main square with tavernas

Lemnos Island: Atsiki Village – the main square with tavernas

I drove straight toward Keros Beach and hoped to catch the last sun rays. Suddenly, at the horizon, I eyed the colorful umbrellas and blue sea of the Kotsinas Beach. I turned left right away and went to the beach. There, I enjoyed an incredible water, fine sand, and small shells brought by waves to shore. The small bay had a seafront with three tavernas, where a waitress convinced me to sit at her table overlooking the sea. I ordered a big Greek salad, fried octopus, and lots of ice for my sore ankle. After dinner, I came back at the unofficial camp site near Keros Beach.

Lemnos Island: Kotsinas Village - Greek salad with grilled octopus

Lemnos Island: Kotsinas Village – Greek salad with grilled octopus

The fourth day on Lemnos Island

Short description: I went to Myrina to buy a return ticket to Kavala. The ferry had a big delay, so I went to Gomati Beach. Eventually, I stayed there overnight, among the sand dunes.

Long description

In the morning, I chose to go the shortest way between Keros Beach and Myrina. Once I reached Myrina, I walked through the old port with tavernas and shops. Then, I went to the new part of the town, developed along the sea front and lined with colonial houses, terraces, and bars. For a while, I stayed on the beach under a tree where three hippies seemed to have slept. Afterward, I went to the big port to buy a ferry ticket for Kavala.

Lemnos Island: Myrina port - all kind of boats and yachts

Lemnos Island: Myrina port – all kind of boats and yachts

On my way to Myrina’s port, I entered in a travel agency and asked the price for a ferry-ticket. They attracted me with a big discount, but told me that the ferry had a big delay. I double-checked the information in the port and went to another travel agency. Eventually, I found out that the ferry was actually damaged. They were trying to fix it in Mytilinos, and it could reach Lemnos only late in the evening. As I wanted to go to Gomati Beach, the employees of the agency confirmed to me that I had enough time to go there. They even advised me to sleep on the beach overnight.

Lemnos Island: Gomati bay

Lemnos Island: Gomati bay

I drove along the same road I had driven the previous day, from Myrina to the villages of Kornos, Sardes, and Dafni. Further, I passed brown hills and olive orchards until I reached Katalakos village. From there, I descended toward the Gomati Bay, an arid area, with a mixed ecosystem: azure waters, fine sands, and even dunes. I had lunch at the only taverna in the area and then went to the beach.

Lemnos Island: Mussels saganaki at Gomati taverna by the sea

Lemnos Island: Mussels saganaki at Gomati taverna by the sea

In the evening, I called the travel agency in Myrina. I was hoping the ferry for Kavala would stick to its schedule but it still had a delay of eight hours. It was clear I had to stay on Lemnos Island for another night. I investigated the possibilities to sleep in Gomati and found out that the employees of the agency were right. I spotted a few campervans and a few people were even pitching a tent, so I decided to park my car on the beach, sleep there and have a sea view from my bed.

Lemnos Island: Gomati Beach - temporary campground

Lemnos Island: Gomati Beach – temporary campground

The following day, I woke up and, in less than one minute, I swam in the sea. I had breakfast under a canopy, on the deserted beach. I swam and sunbathed again. No matter how far I swam, I could still touch the floor of the sea. By noon, I called the travel agency in Myrina again. They confirmed to me that I could come and buy a ticket for the afternoon ferry to Kavala. I left Gomati Bay with a broken heart. On my way to Myrina, I drove as slowly as I could. I didn’t want to leave Gomati Beach. In Myrina, I bought a discounted ticket for Kavala, and enjoyed tzatziki and an octopus in vinegar at one of the tavernas by the beach.

Lemnos Island: Octopus in vinegar at a taverna in Myrina

Lemnos Island: Octopus in vinegar at a taverna in Myrina

I reached Kavala port late at night but I decided to drive 120 kilometers on the highway to Alexadropoulis. In fact, I wanted to catch the ferry to Samothraki Island the following morning. I went to the city’s municipal campground, where the receptionist charged me as if I had a campervan (because I planned to sleep in the car). I was too tired for negotiations, though, and just wanted to sleep at that late hour.

Lemnos Island – secluded beaches, whitewashed chapels, fried octopus is my second travel diary from a three week trip to the Greek Islands of the northern Aegean Sea (find the version in Romanian at ‘Insulele Grecesti, Lemnos). And here are all my Travel Diaries from the Greek Islands (x3).

Have you been to the Greek Islands or plan to go there? Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you like about the Greek Islands or what you’re interested to see there.

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7 Responses to “Lemnos Island – secluded beaches, whitewashed chapels, fried octopus”

  1. Sarah Kim May 22, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

    The way you talk about the small white chapels interspersed throughout the landscape sounds like a dream! Also, I can imagine the peddler shouting out his melon offers through his megaphone. I would totally get one. What a wonderful account of your trip. I hope it comes in handy for me one day.

    • Iuliana May 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

      Noticing these small details create the real charm of the trip. I hope you’ll get to Lemnos one day. Is such a secluded island.

  2. Reshma Narasing May 22, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

    Trust me, you are making me add beaches & islands to my Greece trip! Because until now, I wanted to visit Greece purely for its history and the age-old monuments with the only exception being Santorini, of course 🙂 I would love to check out Lemnos!

    • Iuliana May 25, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

      Reshma, i am glad that you like these islands. They are real gems, believe me.

  3. LaiAriel Samangka April 5, 2018 at 4:50 pm #

    Wow, I can really agree that this Island is truly secluded, as I have just seen a few tourist ambling around. Traipsing my feet here would make me very happy cause this is the place that I always love myself to be in. I love all the scenery, especially the beach, I can spend my day listening to the sea waves as it kiss the coast and just enjoy the sea breeze. A paradise indeed! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful experience to us/.

  4. Vibeke April 5, 2018 at 9:28 pm #

    Tigani bay looks amazing. Lemnos island seems like a good place to explore the history and enjoy seafood. It doesn’t seem that packed either. Kaspakes seems interesting. So cool that the Kontias Village windmills are restored. I would love to visit Lemnos island, thank you for sharing your experience 😀

    • Iuliana April 6, 2018 at 10:36 am #

      Lemnos island is a remote and secluded beach, indeed. You would love it, I am sure about that.

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