Lemnos is a Greek island located in the Northern Aegean sea. It is an undiscoverd island with many things to offer to its visitors. From archaeological sites, pristine, sandy beaches, picturesque villages to traditional food and places with great natural beauty, Lemnos has it all. How do I know? My grandparents come from the island and I have spent most of my summers there. Still I haven’t seen it all.
According to mythology Lemnos is the island of Hephaestus. He fell on the island when his father Zeus, after a fight, threw him out of Olympus. As he was wooded he was cared by the locals and in return he taught them his art, metallurgy. The inhabitants made a sacred temple in his honour called Kavirio.
I present you a list of the things one can do on his holidays to Lemnos.
Visit Myrina the capital of the island
The beautiful capital of Lemnos, Myrina is stretched between two bays; Romeikos Gailos and Tourkikos Gialos. The Romeikos Gialos district had been declared a conservation area. Along the coastal road you will admire many neoclassical buildings. Some of them are now hotels and restaurants. On this road you will also see a lot of bars with the most popular one being Karagiozis. The perfect place for a coffee during the day and a drink by the sea at night. This bar has been open ever since I remember myself.
In Tourkikos Gialos the other bay of the town you will find a small port with cute little boats and a lot of taverns serving fresh fish along with some cafe. In between stands the impressive medieval castle of Myrina built by emperor Komninos on the site of an earlier fortification. The construction was later assumed by the Venetians that occupied the island and it took its final form in around 1207.
The castle can be visited on foot, it’s a 20 minute walk but the views will compensate you. On the castle you will see the remains of a Turkish mosque left by the Ottoman occupation, some cisterns and the remains of houses. The castle is now home to some deers. If you are lucky you will see some. Under the castle there is a very cute cafe called Nefeli that you should visit. From this cafe I have many times spotted deers. In Myrina there is also a very nice market where you can have a stroll and buy souvenirs and local products. Finally in Myrina you will find a very beautiful sandy beach called Riha Nera.
Tip: Just outside Myrina there is a place called Therma famous for its hot springs. The area is surrounded by beautiful nature and many plane trees. The water of the springs is potable and it heals skin diseases and rheumatism. There you can enjoy a spa bath.
Visit one of the many archaeological sites
Lemnos is an island with rich history and there are numerous archaeological sites worth of visiting. One of them is Ancient Poliochni which is considered the oldest city in Europe. The first settlement that constructed in the area dates back to 4.000 B.C. The city of Poliochni was destroyed around 1.600 B.C by natural causes. The excavations revealed many metallic objects that were constructed on the island. Another great site worth visiting is Ancient Ifestia. The archaeological site of Ifestia used to be an important religious centre in ancient times. Onside you will see a big theatre, the remains of a palace, a cemetery and some baths. Lastly there is the Temple of Kavirio that dates back to the 8th century B. C. It is a sanctuary were they worshiped the two gods of Kaviri, sons of Hephaestus. The Kaviria mysteries were celebrated here every year,
Tip: Near the archaeological site of Kavirion is the Cave of Philoctetes. It is an underwater cave that took its name by Homer’s hero Filoktitis. According to the myth, the Greeks on their way to the Trojan war stopped to rest in Lemnos. While hunting, Philoctetes was bitten by a serpent, because of the smell from his wound the other soldiers abandoned him there for ten years and he was cured from the priests from Kavirio. According to the oracle, if the Greeks wanted to win the Trojan war they had to use some weapons that only Philoctetes possessed. When they asked him for the weapons he refused because he was angry for abandoning him there but after the intervention of the Gods he gave the weapons and the Greeks won the war. The cave can be visited by a small path.
Eat delicious food and buy local products
Greece is generally a country with great food and Lemnos makes no exception. There are some lovely local foods made in Lemnos that you should try to and take home with you. One of my favorites is a cheese made only in Lemnos called Kalthaki Limnou which is made of sheep and goat milk and melipasto cheese that makes a great saganaki (grilled cheese). Other local products include rusks made from local barley and thyme honey. When you visit the countryside of the island the smell of thyme is everywhere. Another favorite that my grandmother also makes is flomaria which is pasta cut into very fine pieces made from local flour, eggs and sheep. milk. Lemnos is also famous for its wines. Some of my favorites include Aroma Limnou, Limnia Gi and Moshato Limnou which is a dessert wine.
Good food can be found everywhere in Lemnos and in friendly prices. You should definitely try fresh fish, flomaria with rooster, all kinds of pies and especially a pie made of pumpkin and cheese.
Some of the restaurants that you shouldn’t miss are Mandellas in the mountain village of Sardes where they make all the traditional dishes of the island and for the best meat you should go to the central square of the village called Tsimandria in a tavern called Kotsinadelis.
Visit some of the many picturesque villages of the island
Lemnos has many beautiful villages worth visiting. Here are some:
Moudros: It’s the second largest settlement in Lemnos after Myrina. It has picturesque alleys, a beautiful natural harbour where you can enjoy one of the best sunsets on the island, beautiful churches and a variety of restaurants and cafe.
Kotsinas: A seafront village that is inhabited only in he summer months has many beautiful tavern in front of a small bay serving seafood and ouzo. There used to be a castle in the area where you can now see the statue of a local heroine Maroula. She was the daughter of one of the castle defenders and when her father died she took his sword and led her fellow warriors to the victory.
Kontias is one of the best preserved villages of the island. Here you will see traditional houses and the a lot of windmills some of them have been renovated. Here you will also see the art gallery of modern Balkan arts and the distillery of Kontias where the homonym ouzo is made.
Plaka is another beautiful village with many taverns, shops and rooms to let. It has a very nice lighthouse. Outside the village it’s the church of Agios Charalampos, near the church there is a spring with potable water that is considered to be miraculous.
Explore the wonderful beaches
The island has many beaches for every taste. I will just mention a few. Riha Nera in Myrina is a nice sandy organized beach. Next to Myrina is Agios Ioannis that has 3 consecutive beaches. The middle one is the best. From there you can enjoy a spectacular sunset. Another lovely sandy beach, organized with beach bars and water sports is Nevgatis or Zematas. Some lovely beaches near Moudros that I often visit is Mikro Fanaraki, Megalo Fanaraki with some great sand dunes and Havouli. The beach of Kotsinas is a great beach very popular with families. Keros is a great beach for the lovers of windsurfing and kite – surfing. Some less crowded beaches include Kokina near Diapori village and the beaches Parthenomitos and Skidi at the southeast side of the island.
Explore the natural wonders of the island
Lemnos has a great variety of ecosystems. There is a big area with sand dunes in the middle of the island that looks like a dessert, You will find it near Katalako village. I recommend that you visit it in the afternoon when then sun is down so that you don’t burn your feet.
There are also a few wetlands on the island. The Aliki lake which is filled with salty water in the winter and in the summer the water evaporates and leaves a great quality salt behind. The Hortarolimni and the Asprolimni, two lakes that are completely dry in the summer but in winter are home to many birds including pink flamingoes.
Lemnos is an incredible island with many things to do and see. It is actually an off the beaten path destination not yet discovered by the crowds. It is also an island worth visiting all year round. It is totally recommended that you should hire a car in order to fully appreciate the beauty of the island.
That is a general post about the island so that I can give you an idea of what to expect. More detailed posts will follow in the future.
Have you ever been to Lemnos? Did you like it?