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Unearth a Greek island unscathed by mass tourism and relish in the serene experiences only found on Lesvos holidays

Lesvos, also known as Lesbos, is a classic example of traditional Greece. Many of the buildings are a quaint blend of white and different shades of red, set amongst a backdrop of verdant groves. Despite being the third largest of the Greek islands, it has a strongly communal spirit, underpinned by strong family values and a sociable culture.

You’ll soon find that Lesvos holidays comprise an idyllic mixture of historic sites, combined with luxury and utter tranquillity. The island’s capital, Mytilene (or Mytilini), dates way back to 11th century BCE. With its port atmosphere, and vibrant restaurants and bars, it’s a must if you’re after quintessential Mediterranean living.

Meanwhile, the coastline at Eresos and Vatera Beach showcases the best Aegean Sea viewpoints in Lesvos. They’re made for lazy afternoons spent relaxing on a sun lounger and losing yourself deep in the pages of a good book. That, and cultural highlights like the Castle of Molyvos, make holidays to Lesvos just oh-so-enticing.

Top holidays in Lesvos

Culture and history

Lesvos is typically Greek, with the island’s inhabitants celebrating religious festivals with great significance. In everyday life, eating outdoors and in groups is a pivotal part of everyday life here.

The island has a rich and storied history – like much of Greece. It goes back two million years, over the course of which Lesvos has been under numerous different regimes. Persians took control around 456 BC, while the years that followed saw Athenians and Spartans, amongst other factions, battle for command of the territory.

In more recent centuries, Lesvos has seen Ottoman Turkish and international rule, before falling victim to a devastating earthquake in 1867 that left thousands dead and many buildings destroyed. 1912 saw the island liberated by Greek naval hero Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis, although it was later occupied by the Germans during part of the Second World War.

Culturally, Lesvos has had many well-known exports, namely the poet Alcaeus of Mytilene and the Nobel Prize-winning Odysseus Elytis. Looking back further, one of the greatest poets from antiquity hailed from Lesvos as well. Sappho wrote poems that expressed romantic longing for women, making her one of the earliest recorded LGBT writers. The word ‘lesbian’ is derived from the island’s name as a result, and Lesvos is a popular holiday destination for LGBT travellers across the world.

Things to do

Alongside their collective allures, each individual Greek island caters for different tastes. Lesvos is definitely one for art and cultural aficionados, largely due to its past. That said, there’s plenty to tempt all comers on a Lesvos holiday, as you’re about to discover.

Molyvos

The harbour in Molyvos is one of its most picturesque points. It’s home to plenty of local fishermen and a distinct variety of other boaters. Park up on a bench and let the sedate pace of life here wash right over you, or head to a restaurant and taste the latest fishermen’s catch for yourself. The hot springs of Eftalou – a short drive east from Molyvos – are also worth a visit if you want to pamper yourself, while the nearby Golden Beach is perfect for an afternoon spent lapping up the sunshine. And lastly, a trip to Molyvos Castle lets you soak up the area’s heritage.

Mytilene

On the east of the island, one of the first things that will strike you about Mytilene is the church of St Therapon and its overarching dome. Marvel over the historic Byzantine, Gothic and Baroque influences on the building’s architecture. Then make your way to the Castle of Mytilene. Its fanciful interiors pack in Ottoman baths, towers and ancient crypts. Other cultural highlights include the New Archaeological Museum, spread across two buildings where visitors can enjoy mosaic floors and Roman artefacts.

Skala Eresou

This sleepy seaside village is around an hour’s drive from Molyvos. Situated in a bay that’s sheltered from the wider Aegean Sea, it’s well suited to holidaymakers content to indulge in a few cocktails or a delicious platter of meze. Explore the various beaches dotted with outdoor wooden bars and prepare to dip into a wholly relaxed state – that’s what holidays to Lesvos are about, after all.

Flight time

Flights from London to Mytilene take just short of four hours, but direct flights are rare. Getting to Lesvos via connecting flights can take around seven or eight hours, so make sure to have a good book for your travels.

Currency

Euro

Passports and visas

If you’re a British citizen taking a holiday to Lesvos, then you don’t need to worry about applying for a visa. Simply bring your passport and ensure that it’s valid for the duration of your stay.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Here’s a few Greek words and phrases to help you get by on your Lesvos holiday…

Please - Parakalo

Yes - Nai

No - Ochi

Thank you - Efcharisto

Good morning - Kalimera

Good evening - Kalispera

Good night - Kalinikta

Goodbye - Adio

Timezone

Lesvos is on Eastern European Time (EET) zone, which makes it two hours ahead of Britain.

Electricity

Mains voltage in Greece is 220 volts AC (50 cycles). All sockets take small, round two-pin plugs. Pick up an adaptor in the airport before your flight, so you can use your electrical appliances while on holiday.

Language

Greek, Modern

Tipping

Leaving a tip is similar to many European countries if you feel the service was good. In restaurants, just add at least 10 of the bill to the total. Porters, and other hotel staff typically receive one euro per bag, or per night of stay. Taxi fares tend to be rounded up for convenience or supplemented with a couple of euros.

Climate

Lesvos has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, sunny summers. In January, the temperature averages around 10 degrees Celsius, whereas in July it tends to be about 26 degrees Celsius.

Health

Flying insects and mosquitoes are common in lots of areas. To avoid getting bitten, wear long-sleeved tops and trousers, using mosquito repellent on any exposed areas of skin. Treatments which use DEET as an active ingredient are thought to provide extra protection, but always read labels before applying any foreign substances to your skin and clothes.

Tap water in Lesvos is generally considered safe to drink, but it can be heavily chlorinated. In this event, you should buy bottled mineral water. As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure. Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, while The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Lesvos is 1,633 square kilometres in size, which is just a little larger than London. However, the population of Lesvos is 1% the size of England’s capital, at just over 85,000. Around a third of the islanders live in the capital, Mytilene.

Smoking

In Lesvos, smoking is banned on public transport and in public places like bars, restaurants and hotels. Disregarding the ban could land you a fine, but if you adhere to Greek laws, then you’ll be able to enjoy your holiday in Lesvos without any trouble.



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