A trip to Sappho’s island – Lesbos island itinerary

It’s high time we tell you about a magical weekend trip in Greece – a trip to Lesbos island. An island in the northeastern Aegean that has been a part of the Anatolian mainland in Mesolithic times, became an important settlement in Ancient Greece and was the birthplace of the poet Sappho, and nowadays evolved into queer tourism hotspot and home to thousands of refugees. An island whose name means forested (Λέσβος) although it also has two large peaks and 321 kilometers of coastline. So let’s not waste any more time, here’s our Lesbos island itinerary.

Lesbos island drone photos - Sigri
Skala Kallonis, Lesbos island

Our itinerary on Lesbos island

We had just below 48 hours on the island and we knew we’ll stay in Mytilini the first night and in Skala Kallonis the second. Everything, after that, was where the road would take us, with no hard plans or high expectations. We are happy we managed to see and experience many amazing places in Lesbos, and the itinerary looked like that: Mytilene Airport – Mytilini – Paralia Agios Stefanos – Mithymna – Eftalou Hot Springs – Petra – Skala Kallonis – Petrified forest Apolithomeno Dasos Sigriou – Sigri – Skala Eresou – Agiasos – Mytilene Airport.

Now let’s dive into all the stops on our Lesbos island itinerary.

What to do on a trip to Lesbos island


Mytilini (Mytilene)

We reached the capital of Lesbos island just in time to settle in our chic tiny room and walk around the bustling center. It’s easy to forget you’re hungry when you stumble upon cobblestone streets, small squares, and narrow pedestrian streets leading to another shop, restaurant, or neoclassical building. Part of the charms came from the people, enjoying their bites in the open-air on-the-street restaurants, laughter coming behind every corner, vine trellis forming tunnels, and shy street lamps suggesting you take another turn.

We discovered the old town, got lost at least three times, and finally chose a restaurant for our hefty yet healthy Lesvos dinner. Then we had more power to walk around the marina to dream of our future boat and follow P. Kountourioti street to contemplate the night skyline of the city. The perfect end of the evening was finding a cafe to enjoy the breeze with drinks.

The next morning, on our way out of Mytilini, we stopped in Epano Skala, the old Turkish neighborhood. That was a great place to observe the Castle of Mytilene from the outside and also pretty much the most of the city from a beach with a small pier. Some boats were waiting for their turn to be repaired, and a fisherman was getting back from the sea, full of catch and ready to relax until the end of the Saturday.

Paralia Agios Stefanos

Our road trip around Lesbos island officially started as soon as we left Mytilini. We were passing autumn sceneries, we saw the huge refugee camp which was strictly observed and guarded by police. Soon we saw no signs of urbanization, we would be surprised by what will appear after the next curve. We could see the cloudy skies merging with the dark blue seas. When we got to Agios Stefanos beach, it just started to rain. Still, we enjoyed a short walk on the rocky beach, took a few selfies, and decided to come back one day when the weather will be more inspiring for a swim.

Molyvos (Mithymna)

Named after Methymna – the daughter of Macar who married the personification of Lesbos, the town of Mithymna (or Molyvos, as it used to be called and is still referred to) is full of charm and influences from different eras. There’s a Genoese Fortress on top of the hill in the middle of the town, the Castle of Molyvos. We started climbing uphill to the agora, passing historic shops, cafes, and restaurants. Most of the businesses were closed (partly because of winter coming, partly because of covid) so when we kindly got invited to a restaurant on a square, we couldn’t say no. It was a big feast and all our wishes were fulfilled.

When we decided to walk the food a bit more, we managed to take a couple of photos and climb a couple of tens of stairs before the light drizzle turned into a storm with pouring rain. We managed to hide in a bakery and watched how rivers of water ran down the alleys and streets. It’s unbelievable how rain could cause a flood in a matter of minutes. When it wasn’t raining cats and dogs anymore, we ran to the parking lot and started drying ourselves with the AC.

Eftalou hot springs

One bath this day was not enough so we headed to the nearby low-key, known-only-by-locals type of hot springs. As someone mentioned, you might feel like you’re dipping in hot springs like 400 years ago. While the facilities are in need of renovation, the water is very hot and relaxing and you should take turns – hot baths, then dipping in the sea, then to the hot spring again. It feels really authentic and secluded, although there might be other visitors to share the spring with.

Petra

Just 6 kilometers south of Mithymna lies the village of Petra. It welcomes you with a sandy beach, a seafront square with old stone houses, and the giant monolith (which gave the name to the village) with an eighteenth-century church of Panagia Glykofiloussa. You can enjoy these postcard views and climb the 114 rock-hewn steps to get to the top. Not knowing what’s dry and what’s wet anymore, we flip-flopped our way to a nice cafe and enjoyed homemade tea and two of the best waffles in the world.

Skala Kallonis

The Gulf of Kallonis is home to the town Skala Kallonis which was and still is a fishers’ place. Not only can you see boats and ships of different sizes and models, but you can also observe fishermen absorbed in their activities. The true magic of the town doesn’t come from its crossroad location or seafood specialties. It comes from the amazing magical sunsets (and probably sunrises, but we overslept). The dreamy views of still waters kissing the mountains in the distance are those to transport you to a parallel world.

We chose a nice tavern right on the brown beach (the true color of the sand). At some point I was convinced we were not in Greece, the vibe was much more from afar, maybe my mind got confused we’re somewhere in Southeast Asia. After some Lesbos specialties like fava with lemon and oil from Adonis and tsoureki bread, we finally got to our apartment to try to dry our sneakers, clothes, maybe even ourselves.

The Petrified Forest of Lesvos

As we learned the hard way by getting lost a couple of times, Lesbos has several parks of petrified forests. The Petrified Forest of Lesvos is one of the finest and rarest monuments of geological heritage worldwide. It was created 20 million years ago when volcanic materials covered and petrified the forest that was covering the area at that time.

The creation of the Petrified Forest is associated with the intense volcanic activity in the area of Northern Aegean 20 million years ago. A large number of standing petrified tree trunks and their fully developed root systems are proof that the trees were petrified in their original position and they have not been transferred to the location that we find them today. The natural erosion of volcanic rocks reveals impressive standing and laying tree trunks with a length of more than twenty meters and with a diameter of up to three meters.

Even though the Apolithomeno Dasos Sigriou park was closed (since October 1), we managed to throw a glimpse through the fence and to fly the drone for a more detailed view.

Sigri

That day’s weather was quite a delight for traveling, road-tripping, and enjoying the scenery. We could cross the mountain and enjoy all the views from above to the western tip of Lesbos island. Sivri comes from the words “safe” in Greek and Venetian. The harbor is very safe and can accommodate all sizes of vessels, but doesn’t receive a lot of traffic anyway. In Sivri, they cook the specialty horta – a type of spinach, boiled and served with salt and lemon.

We made a decision to take a shortcut to our next destination and it was the most offroad and pretty much following the coastline drive. We put all of our hope in our tiny car and it came through. 20 kilometers and an hour later, we had successfully crossed dirt roads, rocky roads, abysses, and rivers, what an adventure!

Lesbos island drone photos - Sigri

Skala Eresou

Arriving at another skala (landing place for boats), Skala Eresou, we realized summer has not left the island even though it was the middle of October. The sandy beach had quite a few visitors, all the restaurants were full and we took the last shade and the last table in a lush green restaurant on the square. The village is famous for the beach, all sorts of alternative events, and the Women Festival, and is also visited by lesbians who come to explore the birthplace of the poet Sappho.

Agiasos

The town of Agiasos lies on the slopes of Mount Olympus and the fresh green landscape attracts many visitors. We could walk the tiny cobbled streets for hours, enjoying the traditional architecture, tiled-roof houses, and smiling inhabitants. There were many visitors coming to appreciate the churches, engaged in religious activities, celebrating special occasions, or just drinking coffee in the many cafes, bars, and restaurants. Agiasos is the cultural and religious capital of Lesbos and was the perfect finish to our trip to Lesvos and our two-day itinerary!

Flights and ferries

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We used a voucher we had from Aegean Airlines for canceled flights to partially pay for the return flights from Thessaloniki to Lesbos. On the way there we flew with Aegean, and on the way back – Olympic Airlines. It was all just ok, except that there was an airline strike on the day we were supposed to fly back which resulted in a 2-hour delay. On the other hand, more time on Lesbos is not the worst thing that can happen to you.

Although there are quite of few hours of sailing from the main ports to Lesbos, you can check out ferry schedules and book a ticket here.

Lesbos island itinerary - Skala Kallonis

Hotels on Lesbos island

For our first night, we chose a cheek hotel with tiny but full of charms rooms very close to the old town. Each room was named after a different flower, our room Anthurium had french windows and a balcony. You can check out prices and more info about Orfeas Hotel.

Our second night we spent in Skala Kallonis, a beautiful town that lies on the Bay of Kallonis. A fishermen’s village that bloomed into a fresh seafood hub. We chose it because of the beautiful sunrises and sunsets we saw in the photos and made no mistake! We stayed at guesthouse Nancy and we had a one-bedroom studio with a small but well-equipped kitchen.

Renting a car for your Lesbos island itinerary

We found the best car rental deal on rentalcars.com, as usual, and it was with a local company, which was even better. Getting the car at Mytilene airport was easy and quick while returning the car was not so easy. As our flight was delayed, we wanted to drop the car and walk around the neighborhood, go to the beach (there is a beach right across from the airport), and even go to a bar. But there was no employee at the company’s kiosk, unlike at the big companies’ desks. So we sat and waited, and called the company only to realize the employee has decided to show up later because of the delayed flights. It caused a bit of a bad mood but that’s what happens when you decide to support local companies – they are usually understaffed to be able to provide good competitive deals.

Things to do and see on Lesbos island - road trip

This was our charming itinerary on Lesbos island. We leave Plomari town with its ouzo for our next trip. Let us know what else we should visit in Lesvos.

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