Chios in Greece

Chios in Greece.

Island group: Aegean | Capital: Chios town | Population: 51 000 | Area: 843 km2 | Highest mountain: 1297 m | Airport: Yes

Chios in Swedish. | Chios in Finnish.

Chios is located north of Samos and is to the surface the fifth largest island in Greece. The island is famous for the medieval villages of Pyrgi, Mesta and Olympi, and also for the monastery Nea Moni from 1042 which is included on the UNESCO's World Heritage List. It is a very Greek island completely free from mass tourism. So if you want to get away from the main tourist tracks and want to meet the real Greece, then you should visit Chios. Unfortunately, not many people choose to spend there holiday on Chios. I do not know why. Maybe it's because so few have been there so there is nobody that can tell about the island; or the reason is that those who have visited Chios do not want to tell other about the island because they want the island to be preserved as it is. Here is everything you could wish for: beautiful beaches, picturesque villages, interesting sights and tempting scenery. One of the best things on Chios is that the tavernas almost always serve extremely good Greek homely fare.

There is international airport on Chios so from some countries it is possible to fly directly. Otherwise it is easiest to go by air to Athens and continue the journey with domestic flights, or travel by air to Samos and go on with ferry to Chios.


Alleys in Mesta.



Since Chios is a large island it is most convenient to rent a car. If you just want to stay close to where you stay, you can rent a moped. Car and moped rental services are available in all major villages. Local bus operates almost the whole island.

The most interesting villages are located on the south of the island. In particular I think of the villages Mesta, Olympi and Pyrgi. Of these, I think that Mesta is the finest. The village is built like a fortress and is completely enclosed by defensive walls. The cobbled alleys are at times so narrow that you can touch the houses on both sides. The village has a nice square with several good tavernas. The village is also completely car-free. Olympi is similar to Mesta but not equally pleasant. The village Pyrgi is, to my knowledge unique in Greece. Just as Mesta and Olympi, Pyrgi is dated from the Middle Ages, and is also built as an impregnable fortress. What makes Pyrgi special is that the facades are coloured in a mosaic of black and white.

The largest town on Chios is also called Chios and is located on the east coast, opposite the Turkish coast. It is a noisy city with about 25.000 inhabitants. As a small Athens, although much quieter, of course, and above all much more pleasant. Nice villages in northern Chios are Kardamilia, Nagos and Volissos. The latter is believed to be Homer's birthplace.

There are plenty of beaches on Chios. If you go around the island, there are great opportunities to find your own beach. The most popular beach is Karfas, located south of Chios. Karfas is not only the island's most popular beach, it is also the best. If you go to Chios on a package holiday you will probably stay in Karfas. Here are most of the island's tourist hotels and there are plenty of tavernas, restaurants, tourist shops and a wide range of water sports.

My favourite beaches are Vroulidhia beach, Mavra beach (see photo on top), Nagos beach and Managros beach. Vroulidhia and Mavra are located in the south of Chios, the other two on the north of the island.

There are many things to see and do on Chios. To hike between the Mastic villages of Mesta, Olympi and Pyrgi is one thing I can heartily recommend. Cave of Olymbi (near the village with the same name), is also worth a visit. The monastery Nea Moni should not be missed. The Turks massacred 23.000 inhabitants in 1822. When the Turks arrived to Nea Moni, there were 600 monks and 3.000 women and children who had fled there. All were murdered by the Turks. In one of the chapels is a macabre monument made of skulls.

The big question is where on the island you should stay. Almost all foreign tourists stay in Karfas or in its vicinity (as in Megas Limnionas). Personally, I prefer to stay in Mesta, mostly because it is a unique village. Compared to other island it is less common to be met by letter of rooms at the port. It is best to book accommodation ahead; or to take a taxi or bus to the village you want to stay in and search for room on spot.

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