Lesvos, Greece: A Travel Guide

Every year, my heart brings me back to Lesvos, Greece. I’ve often said that Lesvos is my favorite place in the world. It’s everything – the ocean breeze, the fresh food, the friendly and warm people, feeling like I’ve been dropped into the middle of a painting, it’s the olive trees, all the sun… everything wonderful! No matter what journey you’re on, you will find yourself falling more and more in love with Lesvos each time you visit. What’s more is you will be playing a role in the refugee crisis, just by visiting, with a positive impact on the people who directly helped refugees seeking safety. You most likely won’t see any refugees during your visit, however, the news articles that perpetuate the notion that Lesvos is still being overwhelmed with refugee boats keeps tourists away and the local economy down. I’ll get you started with the basics in this guide!

Your Host, Aphrodite!

Situated on the magical north-western coastline of the majestic island of Lesvos, you will find Aphrodite Hotel. The hotel has been family run since it’s creation in the mid-1980’s and has a private beach, amidst splendid palm trees, olive groves and flower gardens. Upon your arrival, you will meet Aphrodite and her family, including Kleftra the cat. In the morning the friendly staff will greet you, “Kalimera!” which means Good morning! You’ll instantly feel like family! It feels more like a luxurious resort, and you will enjoy many sunsets on the taverna by the ocean. Schedule some time in to relax by the hotel pool while you observe your picturesque surroundings, the ancient castle to your left, the ocean straight ahead, and Turkey to the right. You will actually feel your heart skip a beat. 

The taverna serves excellent and authentic Greek food! Much of their food comes from their organic garden right next to the hotel. The meat comes from their family farm or from other local farmers and the fish, if they have not caught it themselves, know the person who did and know it is fresh!

Tour Lesvos!

Angel created an interactive map to show you around Lesvos! It is complete with our favorite local spots, along with descriptions and photos. Click here to see it full screen!

Read Tara’s blog about her first experience with Lesvos, My Big Fat Greek Adventure, and the blog she wrote about the situation in Lesvos, Something Drastic.

We encourage you to view this short video below by the Lesvos Tourism Board to get a better understanding of the island’s history and culture.

5 Places You Must Visit in Lesvos!

  1. Molivos Castle
    The Molivos Castle is the second biggest and most important fortress on the island. It was erected during the Byzantine period on the ancient remains of the fortification for the defense of the locals against the Turkish and Frankish invasions. Upon our arrival to Molivos, seeing the castle come into view is an enchanting and breathtaking experience that can’t help but make me think of fairy tales and the many artists who took to this land, becoming artists just from the mere inspiration of living there.
  2. Vafios Taverna
    I quickly fell in love with the delicious food, house wine, ocean-side views and the surrounding olive trees. This is a no-go item and a must in your tour of Lesvos. Make sure to catch the sunset. Anything you order will taste delicious, but ask your knowledgeable waiter and he’ll be pleased to offer recommendations. Tell them Tara at Crew Travelers sent you. You’ll thank us later!
  3. Eftalou Spa The Healing Springs of Eftalou is a unique, organic experience of soaking in the hot pool before jumping into the ocean and repeating as you like. There are said to be many benefits, and the experience itself is very relaxing and rejuvenating. There are masseuses available for massage as well, but you must bring cash.
  4. Traditional Molivos Market
    The Molivos Market requires at least an afternoon in your agenda. There are many local shops and restaurants where you can peruse at leisure, stopping to take a coffee as you overlook the pier and the Aegean that seems to extend beyond the horizon. Crepes, gyros, olive oil and olive oil soaps can all be found here, our favorite souvenirs to collect from this area. Beyond the pleasant experience is the joy of supporting locals with the purchases you make here.
  5. Women’s Cooperative of Petra
    There’s a reason why this restaurant is #1 in Lesvos, and we’ve tasted it! The Women’s Cooperative employs many women in the community who share authentic Greek delicacies with their loyal customers. Sharing a family-style meal on the balcony overlooking the ocean will be among your most treasured moments. Make sure to make a reservation as they get busy!

Getting There!

Expedia.com usually tends to bring up the lowest airfare rates. We recommend spending 24 hours in Athens and booking an Airbnb for the night before continuing your journey to Lesvos island.

Athens is a short hop, less than 30 minutes, to Mytilini, Lesvos. There are usually 2-3 flights arriving from Athens per day, but make sure to check in advance. We recommend that you book directly with Aegean Airlines for lower rates. There is a ferry boat that runs between Lesvos and Athens, however, the price is about the same as flying and takes around 10 hours; We don’t recommend it!

Money

The best thing to do with the dollars is to go directly to the bank to exchange the dollars to euros before the tour. Many places accept credit cards on the island now and there is an ATM machine in town should you need it. Whenever you can use a credit card abroad, we recommend the Travel Rewards Visa Bank of America card. We earn cash back rewards on many everyday travel purchases, and we enjoy no international transaction fees.

Tips aren’t expected, but very appreciated!

Getting Around!

Download a free map of Greece and use it, even when you’re not connected! Learn about Maps.Me with our guide, Maps.Me: The Best Free Offline Map for traveling!

You will definitely need to purchase an international converter if you don’t already have one! Make sure you order one of these in time to slip into your luggage before your departure! You will need to recharge your phone in order to use your GPS map.

If you’re visiting independently, I encourage you to rent a car to zip around and explore the island! Beware that most of the cars available for rent on the island are manual stick shift engines! It was a surprise the first time we visited.

Before You Go!

Before your vacation to the Aegean islands, you will want to make sure the following items make it onto your packing/Before You Go list!

  • Bathing Suit, Cover Up, Sunglasses, Sunblock, beachy stuff!
  • Clothes & comfortable walking shoes for sunny island weather.
  • If volunteering with Dirty Girls, bring clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Camera to capture the moments!
  • Read How to Backup Your Travel Photos using Google Photos and download the app and use as instructed!
  • Download the free Cluster app to access and share photos (All Crew Travelers groups will use this).
  • Check out The Crew Shop for our recommended travel necessities!

If you plan to spend some time volunteering with Dirty Girls and would like to collect and transport donations, donations are most welcomed and appreciated! Dirty Girls always need women’s underwear, shoes, amenities, English teaching materials, hotel pens, small games, etc.

We hope you have the most magical time in Greece! Are you stopping in Athens on your way to Lesvos?! Don’t miss out on reading our 24 Hour Guide to Athens for tips and recommendations. Even with 24 hours, you can make the most of it!

Be prepared for anything, and be open to participating in cultural events if the opportunity arises! Last year we were invited to be part of a video that was created to announce the first Lesvos Food Festival. Can you point Tara out?

Lesvos, A Gem in the Aegean.

Lesvos is certainly a gem in the Aegean, the sunniest of all the Aegean islands. The locals will take great care of you, and I’ve never once been ripped off. Actually, the opposite; during our visit this year, some locals opened their shop to serve some of my travelers coffee in the early morning, and refused to even take their money! It’s countless moments like this –the friendly locals, the daily sunsets, the rejuvenating beaches, the incredibly tasty and fresh food– that will take your breath away. Get ready to fall in love! Life is short…Let’s go!

About Author

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Tara Menendez
Tara has always had a passion for discovering new cultures, from convincing her mother to host a French exchange student in High School, to studying abroad twice, coordinating exchange programs at her university Study Abroad Center, to spending a month backpacking through Europe. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French with a minor in Communications. A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who lived in Cameroon, West Africa for two years, she looks forward to guiding you on some exciting adventures that will make the world a bit brighter! She’s also a travel writer/blogger at Eat.Love.Volunteer, business owner, property manager, wifey, dog mom, and humanitarian. Tara lives in Tucson Arizona, where she’s happily married to the tech genius who built and maintains this beautiful website!

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December 18, 2017
[…] long layovers, and happy passengers! Also, If you haven't had a chance to visit Greece, check out this great review of one of our favorite Greek islands written by my wonderful wife […]

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