Lemnos Island – secluded beaches, whitewashed chapels, and fried octopus

22 May

After I turned back from Thassos Island, I rested in Batix Multiplex Camping site from Kavala for one day. I ate 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 straw umbrellas at choice. I felt good in that camping site, 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, on Lemnos Island. I went directly to the unofficial camping site near Keros beach. After that, I explored the area, including the only taverna from Kalliopi.  

Long Description

In Kavala port, I witnessed the endless loading and unloading of cars and trucks on and from the ferry for Lemnos Island. We left the port half an hour later than scheduled. The road 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 reached the port of Piraeus (Athens) only the following day.

On the ferry from Kavala to Lemnos (Myrina port)

On the ferry from Kavala to Lemnos (Myrina port)

When I arrived in Myrina, I headed to Keros beach right away. I had known that there was an unofficial camping ground in a pine forest. On the road from Myrina to Keros, I stopped at a stand with fruit and vegetables and bought two melons. I lost among several villages, but when I asked “Kalliopi?,” someone always pointed the right direction to me. The unofficial camping ground 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 from Kalliopi village. In the afternoon, I went to Keros beach and watched the surfers.

Keros Beach - the ideal place for windsurfing

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 turned 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 the northern end of the area. From Kalliopi village I exited in the main road and turned right toward Port Plaka. Small white chapels interspersed the landscape, almost on every hilltop or bay. In Panagia village, the Greeks lined up at the taverna facing the street. A peddler drove his car throughout the village and shouted his melon offer in the 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 in the street, at another taverna. In a small square above the main church, an old woman gently rocked a baby to sleep while 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, but only a secluded beach with umbrellas and soft music.

Port Plakas - quiet and remote beach

Port Plakas – quiet and remote beach

From Port Plakas I turned 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.

Tigani bay (in the background is Samotraki island)

Tigani bay (in the background is Samotraki island)

The archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Kabeiroi comprises: 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 parts of the ancient fortifications. The Kabeiroi Gods were worshiped as gods of fertility, wine, and sea. The rituals lasted nine days and for the duration of this period, all fires on the island were quenched. Meanwhile, a ship brought back the light from Delos, the island of light. Filoctetes Cave lies at the lower part of the Kabeiroi archaeological site and it had an entrance only coming from the sea. A group of children jumped in the water from the rocks and this way they could enter the cave.

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

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 leads to the theater was completely off-road. Here and there, it had even thick layers of sand. At a certain moment, I even had to cross a beach in order to avoid a place where a few people worked on the road. The theater has modest dimensions and still comprises all the stages of its construction, from the Archaic and Hellenistic one to the late Roman one.

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

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 sloping square, animated by terraces disposed around the 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. I continued toward Romanou, which also had, besides stone houses, former stone windmills on a hilltop.

Romanou windmills

Romanou windmills

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

The Neolithic site of Poliohni

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 chained. 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 a few whitewashed houses. I stuck my car on a steep street until a Greek man showed up when he heard me blowing my horns. He finally moved his car from the middle of the road, and I could pass.

Fisini Village - traditional stone with white lavish houses

Fisini Village – traditional stone with white lavish houses

When I turned back from the southern part of the island, I made a quick detour to the Moni Agios Sozon monastery, an incredible white monastery, but completely locked. I twisted my ankle while I was searching a spring with a so-called holy water, so I had to come back at 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 crowded, 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.

Moudros - empty streets in the afternoon Moudros - empty streets in the afternoon

Moudros – empty streets in the afternoon

In the evening, I returned to Keros Beach where I desperately studied my ankle, which was constantly inflaming. When I turned back at the camping ground from the pine forest, I displayed all the medications from the medical kit on my car and found out 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 northern part of the island, going through Kaspakes, Dafni, and Atsiki. I stopped at the beach from Kotsinas and returned at the camping site from Keros.  

Long Description

I decided to explore the western side of the island and left toward Myrina. I finally found an open pharmacy in Kontopouli and massaged my ankle with anti-inflammatory cream. 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 tavernas already animated the main square. I managed to turn right on a very narrow street, moving the car forward and backward for several times. At the exit of the village, I went to the Military Cemetery from Portianos, dedicated to the victims of the war between the British Army and the Turks in 1918 (until the armistice from Moudros).

Portianos Military Cemetery

Portianos Military Cemetery

From Portianos I drove toward south and stopped in Kontias village, which had many 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. An apartment had a kitchenette and a small bathroom at the ground floor and a double bed at the first floor.

Kontias Village - restored old windmills

Kontias Village – restored old windmills

On the road to Myrina, I stopped for a short break at Nevgatis beach, where I swam and sunbathed. The beach was secluded, situated between two villages and two small mountains. It had a few people and a bar with relaxing music. Revitalized by the good swim in the sea, I headed to Thanos village, where I walked along the customary steep streets, flanked by stone houses with white lavish. The gardens of the houses were full of greenery and almost invited me in their shadow.

Thanos Village - old stone houses

Thanos Village – old stone houses

In Myrina, I hardly found a place to park my car in the 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 with 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 at the ruins of the huge Genovese fortress, which had countless bastions at each corner of the fortress. 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.

Myrina - old Genovese fortress on the hilltop

Myrina – old Genovese fortress on the hilltop

From Myrina I drove toward Keros beach but making a detour through the villages from the northern part of the island. I quickly passed through Kaspakes village. There, I had to use all my imagination to cross the labyrinth of narrow sloping streets. In Kornos village I lost again, but in the main street covered with vine, I inevitably found the main road. Further, I meandered among arid hills, where the road constantly snaked along nameless valleys, and households with goats appeared here and there.

Dafni Village - the church of the village

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 and then waved their hands laughing loudly. The village suddenly ended after 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 squares interspersed the main square, empty at that hour though.

Atsiki Village - the main square with tavernas in shadow

Atsiki Village – the main square with tavernas in shadow

I drove straight toward Keros beach and hoped to catch the last sunrays. Suddenly, at the horizon, I eyed the colorful umbrellas and blue sea from the Kotsinas beach. Consequently, I turned to the left right away and went to the beach. I enjoyed the incredible water, the fine sand, and the small shells brought to the 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 big ankle. After dinner, I turned back at the unofficial camping ground near Keros beach.

Kotsinas Village - Greek salad with grilled octopus

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 slept there, among the dunes.

Long description:

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

Myrina port - all kind of boats and yachts

Myrina port – all kind of boats and yachts

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

Gomati bay

Gomati bay

I drove along the road from 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 Gomati bay, an arid area, with a mixed ecosystem: azure water, fine sand, and even dunes. I had lunch at the only taverna from the area and then went to the beach.

Mussels saganaki at Gomati taverna by the sea

Mussels saganaki at Gomati taverna by the sea

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

Gomati Beach - temporary campground

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 wattled sunblind, on the deserted beach. I swam and sunbathed again. No matter how far I swam, I could still touch the bottom of the sea. By noon, I called the travel agency again. They confirmed 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 ticket with discount for Kavala, and enjoyed tzatziki and an octopus in vinegar at one of the tavernas by the beach.

Octopus in vinegar

Octopus in vinegar

I reached Kavala port late at night, but I still decided to drive 120 kilometers on the highway to Alexadropoulis. In addition, I wanted to catch the ferry to Samothraki Island the following morning. I went to the municipal camping site of the town, where the receptionist charged me as I would have a campervan. I was too tired for negotiations though and I just wanted to sleep at that late hour.

Lemnos Island – secluded beaches, whitewashed chapels, and fried octopus is my second travel diary from a three weeks 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 below this post and tell me what you liked about the Greek Islands or what you’re interested to see there.

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4 Responses to “Lemnos Island – secluded beaches, whitewashed chapels, and 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.

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