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Samos: Like a sweet wine

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Samos: Like a sweet wine

The island where Hera was born in mythology, but also the birthplace of mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, astronomer Aristarchus and philosopher Epicurus. The name "Samos” may come from the ancient “sama” meaning mountainous area, or could be attributed to Samos, the son of Agaios, who had taken part in the Argonautic expedition and was the first to live on the island.

Waterfalls, wild vegetation, lush forests and mountains, vast beaches and small harbours, picturesque mountain and sea-side villages, caves and gorges, olive groves and vineyards producing the sweet Samiotiko wine: Samos is the island that combines green with blue, adventure with relaxation and you will surely love it!

Routes & attractions

Visit Iraion and travel back in time, some few thousand years ago, through the archaeological site where one of the largest temples of Hera was located. Follow “Iera Odos”, the “Sacred Road” that connected the temple with Pythagorion. Today, only one of its 155 huge columns is preserved. Iraion has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Near Pythagorion is the Tunnel of Eupalinos, the underground Aqueduct, a huge technological achievement that Herodotus also referred to as Amfistomo, since the 1,036-meter tunnel was opened in parallel from both sides of mount Kastro and the openings met in the middle. While in the area you should also visit Thermae (Roman baths) with the remnants of pools, changing rooms and saunas of the 2nd century AD.

Following Pythagoras, you continue to the evergreen ancient Theatre of Pythagoras. Walk up the 300 steps to the Cave of Pythagoras at the foot of Mount Kerkis, where, according to tradition, he hid to save himself from tyrant Polycrates. At the entrance of the cave you will find Panagia Sarantaskaliotissa.

If you reach the top of Kerkis, in Vigla, at 1400 meters, you will see the Genoan Castle and the Tower of Sarakini that dates to the 16th century. On the slopes of the mountain, take a walk in beautiful Marathokampos with its stone houses and picturesque alleys.

Stop and relax at Pythagorio, the picturesque harbour, with Pythagoras Square that hosts the philosopher’s statue. Visit the new Archaeological Museum of Pythagorio and the Archaeological Collection of the Town Hall with important archaeological findings and don’t miss the Art Space to admire the contemporary art exhibition.

Just outside the town, you will find the artificial lake Glyfada. Its habitat or nearby Aliki hosts the pink flamingos, herons and Dalmatian pelicans that stop here during their journey.

Do not forget to visit Chora, the old capital of the island and wander through its quiet and picturesque alleys. If you’re looking for a cool spot head to the enchanting waterfalls in Potami, just outside Karlovasi, walking a beautiful route with tropical greenery and streams. One of them is 5 meters high and most fascinating after you walk up its 60 steps. In Karlovasi, visit the Tannery Museum housed in a stone-built tannery. Samos has a long tradition in tanning, as well as in pottery; you will find several workshops in many parts of the island.

Visit the Archaeological Museum of Samos in Vathi, where among others you’ll see the famous Kouros of the 6th century BC, five and a half meters high, and discover more about life in Samos in modern years in one of the Folklore Museums of the island. Samos had also thrived in shipbuilding; don’t miss a visit to the unique shipyard in Agios Isidoros.

Walk around in Manolates, the traditional mountain village with the picturesque architecture and explore the village of Mytilinii and surrounding sites.

Follow the footsteps of the wild animals that once lived in the area through the Geomythological Path, admire the ornate stone bridges, visit the ancient quarries that fed the Iraion and the caves and of course wander around the village itself with its colourful houses. Do not forget to visit the important Museum of Natural History with animal fossils that are millions of years old. One of the exhibits is kaplani, a feline that passed to Samos from the Coast of Asia Minor and inspired Greek writer Alki Zei in "Wildcat Under Glass".  

In general, the villages of Samos are worth exploring: The medieval Vourliotes with the oldest monastery of the island, Panagia Vronta, Drakei, Pyrgos, Agios Konstantinos or Pagonda.  

Beaches & Activities

In Samos you will find many wonderful beaches for all tastes. Among the most sought-after bays are Mikro and Megalo Seitani, which you can reach on foot or by boat. White sand, small pebbles, pine trees and turquoise waters form an enchanting setting that will be unforgettable! Megalo Seitani is included in the Natura 2000 protection network, as it is a sea park for the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus). Between the two beaches is the impressive beach of Potami with its two bays separated by a wisp of land. From Potami you can start hiking to the waterfalls.

Those who love water sports can go to Kokkari, an organized beach stretching below Mount Karvouni, with white pebbles and deep blue waters. Livadaki beach is also developed and has soft sand and clear, shallow waters. At the evergreen Marathokampos you will enjoy Psili or Chrysi Ammos, ideal for playing in the sand, the impressive Limnionas with springs from Mount Kerkis and at the harbour of Kourmeika, beautiful Balos with its pebbled and sandy shore, and a large cave. It is worth exploring the sandy beach of Perri, opposite which is the islet of Samiopoula.

To the west of the island you will enjoy a magical sunset in Plaka, while to the north, you should definitely visit the beaches of Kerveli and Myrtia. Take a rest in Agia Paraskevi, the village with the pebbled beach. To the north you will also find Svala and Tsambou, with large pebbles and crystal-clear waters. To the south, near Pythagorion, combine your visit with a swim in Ιraion, a large, beautiful sandy beach and reach the small, picturesque Pappas beach with its blue waters opposite Κousantasi and Ephesus.

The sea of Samos is ideal for kayaking, but also for diving, in places such as Limnionas, Kerveli, Agios Isidoros, Potami, Tsopela beach, etc. For those who love hiking, there are almost 40 marked routes that make a total of 260 km for all degrees of difficulty. Follow these paths to reach the remote picturesque villages, evergreen forests, mountains and enchanting beaches.

Tastes of Samos

With the know-how of god Dionysus and its fertile miraculous vineyards, Samos will enchant you with its famous, sweet muscat that is exported all over the world and is also used by the church for Holy Communion. Try the famous wines of Samos with your dinner or during wine tasting walks in the local wineries. If you like distillates, Samos also has a tradition in producing ouzo and souma, the fragrant "tsikoudia of Samos". Accompany your drink with local delicious cheeses, such as myzithra and armogalo (traditional goat cheese).

The island is famous for its "Pythagorean diet" which includes fresh, seasonal plant-based foods, such as vegetables, legumes, bulbs, fruits, fresh herbs and fruits. 

Try the kampounia (fresh onion sprouts with eggs), the stuffed zucchini flowers, the giaprakia (stuffed vine leaves with rice), but also various versions of stuffed vegetables, the tahinopita, thw chickpea balls, the sweet-scented bourekia of Samos with yellow pumpkin, cheese, cinnamon and herbs on phyllo, sprinkled with cheese or honey. Crayfish giouvetsi, as well as keskeki or kiskek, the slow-cooked or simmering goat  or pork with ground wheat and onions, which you will find during local festivals and on New Year's Eve are also tasteful.

For dessert, try the kamaria (diples or xerotigana served with grape molasses or cheese), the moustalevria or katades, like stuffed melomakarono. On Ash Monday, try some tachinopita or aleipsopita, while on Good Friday as well as in ceremonies you will find the starozymo, a dessert in liquid form with wheat, tahini, sugar, raisins, cumin, clove, cinnamon and pomegranate.

Traditions & Events

In the summer you can’t miss the ambient music festivals held in Iraion and Pythagorion. in August, Iraia is a festival organized in Pythagorio, representing the ancient feast in honour of the goddess Hera, with music, theatrical plays, and dancing.

The island is full of churches around which feasts and festivals are held. On June 23rd, the custom of Ai Giannis Klidonas is revived, with fires and feasts in the village squares. On July 20th, the locals celebrate Prophet Ilias with a festival in Karlovasi, while on the 26th of July, Kokkari celebrates Saint Panteleimon with a great feast. On August 6th, during the celebration for the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pythagorio, you shall enjoy spectacular fireworks in the port. August 15th is celebrated in churches all over the island. If you find yourself on the island in August don’t miss the wine festivals, that take place in various parts of the island and are accompanied by music, dancing and, of course, plenty of wine!

During the Carnival, the custom of Kadis revives in many villages of Samos, an event that satirizes the Turkish judges from the time of the Turkish occupation, when they forced the locals to pay unbearable taxes. At Easter in Marathokampos, the custom of explosive "Shells or Rifles" is preserved, where shells are fired in the air and form spectacular white wreaths and colourful smoke formations. Also in some villages the custom of the "Swing" is observed, with girls swinging on large swings and singing.

Don't miss...

Visit the Wine Museum of the Greek Mountaineering Club of Samos housed in a 19th century barrel factory in Malagari. It has been operating as a museum since 2005, demonstrating the history of Samos wine production and holding wine tasting sessions!

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