Known for its diverse landscape and fantastic beaches, the Greek island of Samos is a Mediterranean utopia with a rich history.
From the pebbled, crystalline shores of Lemonakia Beach to the sandy expanse of Psili Ammos, Samos remains a quiet (and more affordable!) respite from the crowds of Mykonos and Santorini.
Base yourself in one of the colorful fishing villages, then rent a car and drive around the island to get your fill of archaeological sites, panoramic views, and beaches in every direction.
What’s So Great About Samos?
It’s the simplicity, really.
To start, it’s possible to reach just about anywhere on the island within an hour’s drive from Samos Aristarchos Airport.
Beaches, Hills & Views
And the beaches? Beaches are everywhere around the perimeter of the island and they’re all spectacular. The water of the Aegean Sea morphs from cerulean blue to emerald green and back again depending on how the sunlight hits the surface, and the hills of Samos never seem to leave your periphery—a combination that ensures devastatingly memorable views from any perspective.
(Sidenote: Most of the Samos beaches are more pebbles than sand. While the stones usually aren’t sharp, do bring sandals or water-friendly shoes for the comfort of your feet.)
The villages of Samos are serene; filled with welcoming faces and streets that are perfect for overused adjectives like “quaint,” “charming,” and “idyllic.” Tethered rowboats bob in the taverna-lined harbors, which are picturesque any time of day but come alive most in the evenings.
Local Culinary Delights
As you’d expect from Greece, the food, too, is worth the trip.
Crisp Greek salads topped with a slab of salty Feta and a glug of olive oil pair nicely with a cold Mythos beer for a simple lunch, while dinners call for the luxuries of moussaka (baked aubergines layered with spiced ground beef or lamb and a bechamel topping—the variations are vast but the dish is a Greek staple that is well-executed in Samos) or piles of fresh seafood washed down with ouzo and local wine.
Ah, the wine… With thousands of hectares of Muscat grape vineyards, Samos has a long history of internationally award-winning wine production. You can learn more about local wine from a visit to the Samos Wine Museum in the island’s capital of Vathy; also known as the town of Samos.
Olive oil and honey are other major agricultural products of the island, and there’s no shortage of opportunity to find these high-quality specialties to take home with you.
What Are The Must-See Parts Of Samos?
It sounds like a cop-out to say that you can’t go wrong with any village or beach of Samos, but it’s the truth.
The island is lush and green, with a unique topography that you’d be remiss not to discover. Whether you hire a taxi or a car of your own, do make time to explore the island for at least one day of your visit. Your hotel can also help you with arrangements for excursions or special tours.
Pythagoreio, quite near to the airport, has been a port of popularity since 6th-century BC. The past is still quite visible today though fortifications and ruins, a historic theatre, and the ancient Tunnel of Eupalinos—a 1,036-meter aqueduct running through Mount Kastro.
History buffs can also visit the Archaeological Museum of Pythagoreion and the Temple of Hera. As Samos is the birthplace of famed philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, you’ll surely encounter the Pythagorean Cup. This clever cup can only be filled to a certain volume before it empties itself; an ancient tool to teach the value of moderation and a most excellent Samos souvenir today.
The town of Pythagoreio is one of the island’s larger communes and has numerous shops, restaurants, and hotels to choose from. The waterfront promenade is lovely for a stroll, and Pythagoreio Beach is ideal for relaxing on a sunbed or enjoying watersports. Psili Ammos and Potokaki beaches are also quite accessible from Pythagoreio.
Peek at a map and you’ll notice that Samos is very near to Turkey’s western coastline. With this proximity, ferries run frequently between Pythagoreio and Kusadasi, Turkey, which makes for an exciting day trip no matter where you’re staying on the island.
Kokkari, located on the northern side of the island, is a textbook-beautiful village. Multicolored houses, a plethora of eateries, and gorgeous beaches make Kokkari a popular Samos destination.
Lemonakia Beach is a semi-cove pebbled beach with an excellent restaurant and sunbeds aplenty. Its small size gives Lemonakia a cozy, exclusive feel, and the beach receives occasional visits from resident Mediterranean Monk seals (they’re cute, but please observe from a distance as they’re highly endangered!). Near to Lemonakia is Tsamadou Beach, Samos’ only official nudist beach.
While Kokkari has several excellent hotels, the Kalidon Panorama Hotel is a particular treat. Positioned on a hillside rising above Kokkari village, the views are most certainly panoramic and quite unforgettable.
Vathy, the aforementioned capital of the island, wraps around a large bay. The setting is dramatic and the water quite beautiful.
Roditses and Near Town are two small beaches within walking distance from Vathy, which is less than 20 minutes from Kokkari so its easy to enjoy several beaches from either village base.
For perhaps the most remarkable example of Samos’ topographic variety, leave the beaches behind for a few hours and drive up Mount Ampelos (also known as Karvounis) to visit the tiny village of Manolates.
Accessed by a steep, winding road flanked by thick forests, to walk the narrow streets of Manolates is to marvel at what must have been tiresome, determined construction efforts. The views are remarkable thanks to the elevation, and the village itself feels like a peaceful time capsule of Grecian life.
And if these are just a few places to start, imagine what awaits you throughout the rest of Samos?
If you’re daydreaming of a Greek holiday without the crowds or a nightlife-forward atmosphere, you’d be well-served to consider Samos. The island is perfect for a balance of relaxation, adventure, and enjoying local culture with no need for a five-star budget.
Have you been to Samos? Tell us about your favorite part of the island below!