Greece stripped bare
Samos operates according to a ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ philosophy. While lots of its Greek Island neighbours have added big hotels and man-made tourist attractions to their offerings over the years, Samos’ landmarks are still its vineyard-coated mountains, traditional villages and inland orchid fields.
The beach scene
Days on Samos tend to revolve around the coast. You could easily spend all your time on the well-serviced beaches in Kokkari and Pythagorion. The stretches of sand here are long, wide and white, and they’re bordered by tavernas and cafés. If you want a bit more room for manoeuvre, it’s worth venturing south to the stretches of sand in Possidonion, Psili Ammos and Kerveli.
Walking is a bread-and-butter activity on Samos. During the summer months, the nature trails are spritzed in a wild jasmine perfume. The most challenging trails wind their way around Mount Ampelos and Mount Kerkis, while the paths between Potami and Megalo Seitani serve up great sea views.
Things to See and Do in Samos
The full range of beaches
Samos’ collection of beaches is far from capsule – a combination of powdery and pebbly beaches can be found at all of the island’s compass points. The ones on the north coast tend to be a little cooler than the ones in the south, because they benefit from a refreshing breeze that sometimes blows in from the north.
The big beach
Psili Ammos wins the title of Samos’ best beach by a nose. Even though it’s 7 miles from the resorts of Samos Town and Pythagorion, it still manages to pull in the crowds. Families have a soft spot for this place, because it comes with all the essential facilities. Just be aware – there’s another Psili Ammos Beach on Samos, an hour’s drive from its namesake, on the island’s southwest coast.
The secret beach
The southwest coast is Samos less trodden. Roughly 45 minutes’ drive from Pythagorion, you’ll find Marathokampos Bay and a little seaside village called Balos. This whitewashed hamlet is fronted by a sand and shingle beach, which mass tourism hasn’t turned its attention to yet.
If you’ve got money to burn, set it alight in one of Samos’ jewellery stores. There are a few boutiques around Apostolos Koumaris in Kokkini that sell one-off hand-made pieces. Look out for designers like Sarina Beza and Efi Poursaitidou. It’s a similar story on Harbour Road in Pythagorian.
You can add a bottle of Samos’ sweet wine to your collection for 10 euros. Buy it from the source during a trip to Karlovassi Winery, which is roughly a half-hour drive from Kokkari, or pick a bottle up from the gift shop in the Wine Museum in Malagari, in Samos Town.
Samos may be small, but it’s one of Greece’s heavyweights when it comes to honey production. You can buy jars of local honey from most supermarkets in Samos, like the one on Kanari Street in Samos Town. If you want a more authentic experience, try buying a jar from a local at a roadside stall. You’ll find a few on the road between Pythagorion and Pyrgos.
Kokkari takes the title of most laid-back village in Samos. The tavernas along the waterfront, near Antipaxou Street, offer up front row seats to the sunset, and they take it in turns to put on Greek nights, with traditional dancing and music. In Pythagorion, meanwhile, some of the best eateries are shared out between the harbour, Aristarxou Street and Pythagoras Street.
Samos Town is the leader of the pack when it comes to nightlife. The bars near Themistoki Sofouli on Samos waterfront do a good line in cocktails, and there are a couple of live music bars as you head out of the town centre towards Kalami. Pythagorian offers after-dinner action, too. You’ll find a few bars around Lykourgou Logotheti on the waterfront.
This filo pastry pie is classic lunchtime fare in Samos. It’s filled with sweet pumpkin, onions, feta cheese and mint. Traditionally, it’s cooked in a coil shape, but to save time, it’s also made by shaping the pastry into triangular parcels.
Samians eat saganaki as an appetiser, but it works just as well as a side dish or main course. The meal consists of pan-fried sheep’s milk feta cheese, drizzled in locally-made honey and topped with crunchy sesame seeds.
Seafood is a speciality on Samos. The tavernas in Kokkari, 10 kilometres from Samos Town, have a particularly good reputation for their catch of the day specials. Grilled garides or shrimps usually top the customers’ wish lists.
This is one of Samos’ flagship dishes. It’s made by hollowing out a tomato or pepper and stuffing it with a moist mixture of rice, pine nuts, onions and olive oil. Some restaurants make the dish for meat-eaters by adding minced beef to the mix.
Wine has been produced on Samos since the BC years, and in time the island has become a master of the art. Sweet wines are produced from the Muscat grape and aged in oak barrels, and bottles tend to be brought out after dinner. If you can’t wait until dessert to pop a cork, try the dry white Samaina instead.
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On Samos’ southeast coast, Pythagorion is the island’s most popular holiday destination – a picturesque town of whitewashed buildings with terracotta roofs. It was named after the great mathematician who was born here some 2,500 years ago, though, in truth, not much has changed since then. The harbour is still dotted with boats, the beaches are the same shade of pale gold, and the fishermen still supply the town with fresh fish. In fact, the only major difference is the healthy nightlife, which may not have appealed to a teetotaller like Pythagoras.
Samos Town sits on the northeast corner of the Aegean island of Samos. Chic boutiques, a bustling market and friendly bars and tavernas lie along its narrow, colourful streets. It comes fused to the capital, Vathy, making it a rather lively place. Samos Town itself has more of a traditional village feel, though – many of the locals still make their living from the olive groves in the surrounding mountains. As for a beach, there’s a great little one set in a bay.
This easy-going fishing village on the northwest coast of Samos is a cluster of pretty, terracotta-roofed Greek villas that stretch out along a triangle-shaped peninsula. At its apex is a tiny harbour with a row of bars and restaurants that are lapped by the Aegean Sea. And behind the village, the tree-capped peaks of Mount Karvouni make an imposing backdrop.
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