What are some of the activities you might try your hand at while on vacation in Lesvos? With beach-hopping being just one of the experiences to be had while on the island, there is a diverse range of activities to choose from:
Famed for its immense natural wealth, biodiversity and greenness, Lesvos is the ideal location if you are a lover of all things nature and have an interest in discovering the fauna and flora of this magnificent north Aegean island.
An excess of 1.400 species and subspecies of plants have been discovered in Lesvos, where an abundance of olive groves, mostly coniferous woodland and flowers growing wild on nearly every inch of unplanted earth are only an introduction to the botanical wealth of the island. The only population of Rhododendron luteum to be discovered in Europe may be observed on the island, while the slopes of Mount Olympus abound in many different species of orchid.
The Bays of Gera and Kalloni, Mounts Lepetymnos and Olympos, the rivers of Tsiknias, Sedoundas and Evergetoulas, its waterfalls and springs make up a rare ecosystem favored by thousands of insects, birds and wild animals. In fact, the entirety of the island has been classed as a Geopark, with the Bay of Kalloni and that of Gera, Mount Olympos and Mount Lepetymnos being protected by the Natura 2000 project.
Thanks to its mild (if damp in the autumn and winter) Mediterranean climate, geology, and unique ecosystem, Lesvos exhibits a huge degree of biodiversity. Poised right in the middle of the bird migration route, it is the habitat for many a species of bird. The island boasting the largest bird population in the Aegean, Lesvos is home to two very rare species, the Krüper's Nuthatch (Sitta krueperi) and the Cinereous Bunting (Emberiza cineracea).
Lesvos island is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts and boasts a number of species commonly discovered in Asia and Eastern Europe. The single European location to spot the rare Krüper's Nuthatch (Sitta krueperi, the species may be encountered on Mount Olympos and the areas of Achladery and Akrasi). An even rarer species, the Cinereous Bunting (Emberiza cineracea), may be observed in Agra, Mount Olympos and Eressos.
Other bird species of Lesvos include the Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) and the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia), the Rüppell's Warbler (Sylvia rueppelli), the Olive-tree Warbler (Hippolais olivetorum), the Olivaceus Warbler (Hippolais pallida), the Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka), the Sombre Tit (Poecile lugubris), the Rufus Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes), the Western Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer), the Cretzschmar’s Bunting (Emberiza caesia), the Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus), the Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes) and the Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar).
Lesvos is traversed by a large number of nature trails that link one end of the island to the other and several walking guides to Lesvos are available to download or purchase online. Alternatively, you might want to join a walking tour of the island - several accommodation providers provide this option so, if your choice of accommodation allows, do make the most of the opportunity to take part. With so many bridges, ancient ruins, streams, old mills tiny chapels and wonderful panoramas scattered across the overgrown countryside, do make sure to explore Lesvos island on foot.
With a history that reaches back 2 million years - and having been occupied by a series of invaders, each of whom have left their indelible mark on the culture, architecture and history of the island - Lesvos boasts some of the most significant historical structures in Europe. While here, do make the time to visit the Roman Aqueduct of Moria, the Castle of Mytilene and Castle of Mytilene, the Ancient Theatre of Mytilene and the Ancient Temple of Klopedi, among a series of other sites of archaeological and historical interest.
Lesvos includes a variety of museums and exhibition spaces and a series of events unravel in the island. The George Iakovidis Digital Museum (in Chydira) is a novel exhibition space that uses technology to reproduce the work of this eminent Lesvian painter and sculptor in digital format. It was the first digital museum to begin operation in Greece and continues to fascinate visitors to this day. To gain an insight into the aura of Theophilos, the famous Neo-Hellenic painter from the Mytilenian suburb of Varia, do make the trip to the Theophilos Museum in the painter’s birth town. Next door to the Theophilos Museum, the Teriade Museum of Modern Art showcases an array of modern art works by such prominent European painters as Chagal, Matisse, Leger and Picasso, together with the publications of Stratis Teriade.
If you are not too keen on the idea of a jeep-safari across the island, why not try your hand at horse-riding, which is offered in different parts of Lesvos island, windsurfing , for which both northern and western Lesvos offer ideal conditions, and flying fox, an activity enjoyed in the region of Man’ Katsa waterfalls.
With religion having such a strong presence on Lesvos, the island includes some of the most visit-worthy monasteries and churches in the country of Greece. A site of pilgrimage since times immemorial, it is home to the Monastery of Taxiarchis in Mandamados and of St. Raphael in Thermi, and Lesvos also boasts and two of the most magnificent churches in Greece: the Virgin Mary of Agiasos and Agios Therapon, the crowning glory of Mytilene. Just opposite Saint Therapon, the Byzantine Ecclesiastical Museum offers visitors with the opportunity to admire an array of religious treasures such as religious items, vestments and portable icons.
Lesvos is known as an island of hot springs and, with so many thermal bathhouses to choose from, is the ideal place in which to become initiated into the ancient practice of thermal water therapy. Immersion into the healing spring water can alleviate arthritis, chronic disease, deforming disorders, gout, gynecological conditions, lumbago, sciatica, indigestion and gastritis among a series of other ailments and is a uniquely relaxing experience.
If the thermal bathhouses of Polichnitos and Lisvori boast the hottest water temperatures on the island, the bathhouse in Eftalou will allow you the chance to relax in a unique seaside environment. Hot springs are of course also in existence in Thermi, which was once the island’s foremost tourist attraction due to its hot springs, and in the Gera location of Skala Loutron. Most establishments offer full-body massage, reiki and other treatments.
If you are partial to a spot of diving and wish to discover more about the underwater landscapes of Lesvos, do have a go at exploring the island’s rich seabed. A variety of hotels organize diving trips around the island, as does Lesvos’s one diving school.
If diving sounds way too adventurous for you, snorkeling might be an alternative. Among others, the underwater meadows of Sigri, Haramida and the seabed of Agios Fokas (in southern Lesvos) are amazing to explore.
Lesvos is a good spot to discover the pleasures and benefits of yoga, gestalt therapy and meditation in one of the ashrams of Skala Eressos or Molyvos. If you are visiting western Lesvos in the summer months, make sure to attend the International Women’s Festival taking place annually in Skala Eressos. A celebration of women irrespective of their race, nationality or sexual preference, it will initiate you into the power of women’s creativity through concerts, performances, seminars, parties and workshops.