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Chios, also known as Chio, is the fifth biggest Greek island. It has been inhabited for most of human history despite being one of the most remote islands in the whole of Greece and being located between two countries like Turkey and Greece that were at war for so long. The island is very famous for its mastic, that still nowadays is the most important income of the island. Chios’ mastic is famous worldwide and every year many tons of it are shipped to foreign countries.
There are many islands that can be reached by ferry from Chios. Taking a “Hellenic Seaways” ferry you will be able to reach the islands of Mykonos and Syros in the Cyclades.
You can reach the Turkish coasts by taking a daily ferry called “Chios Cesme” that is managed by two companies: “Erturk” and “Turyol”. Last but not least you can reach the port of Piraeus in Athens but the journey lasts about 9 hours!
Why choose Chios?
The small beaches and medieval villages are just some of the reasons why you should spend at least a week on this wonderful island. Chios is considered a rather unique island. In fact tourism isn’t the island’s main income and for this reason when visiting it, you will have the chance to enjoy the true classic Greek atmosphere that is now lost in many other islands and areas.
If you are looking for a hidden part of Greece far away from the mass of tourists that often invade the other islands during the summer then Chios is the perfect place for you. If you love long walks in the hills Chios is the perfect place for you.
There are also many places that rent bicycles and climbing centers to choose from besides some of the best diving spots in the whole of Greece. This is also a worldwide famous place for surfers and kite surfers as the strong wind makes it an ideal destination for people that love practicing these types of sports. There is also a famous thermal center located in Agiasmata in the northern coast of the island.
Given the size of the island, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out that Chios has more than 50 beaches. Most of these are located in the western coast and luckily they aren’t usually very busy or crowded. Most of the beaches are covered in pebbles except for a few that have sand.
This beach is covered in pebbles and gets its name from the nearby chapel of St. Marcella. The water is crystal clear and being quite isolated it is also incredibly clean. Nearby there are also a few taverns and places where you can rent a beach umbrella!
In the southern part of the island, near Mestà, you will find this sandy beach. The water is pretty deep and has a wonderful turquoise colour. Avlonia beach receives a lot of wind from the north that creates big waves that make it the ideal destination for someone that loves surfing or kyte-surfing.
This locality is famous for being the place where Omerus, according to Greek tradition, used to keep his lesson. The water is crystal clear and next to the beach you will find many hotels, apartments and studios. It is covered in pebbles and there are structures that rent beach umbrellas and sunbeds.
In Chios’ southern coast, towards the western part of the island, you will find Elinda beach. This is located in a protected bay that give this beach a natural and lush appearance. Nearby you will also find the remains of an old Roman ship. In fact its name comes from the Greek word: “Alios” which means ”marine”.
The two beaches in Kambia are located in the northern part of the island. Both of them receive strong winds that produce big waves perfect for those who love water sports like surfing or kite-surfing. Being so isolated they are also some of the cleanest beaches of the island.
Karfas village is located at a few km from the city of Chora. The beach is covered in sand and there are many structures that rent beach umbrellas, sunbeds and all the equipment for surfing or kite-surfing. There are also a few hotels and taverns nearby.
Komi beach is located in the southernmost part of the island, near a village from where the beach gets its name. It is covered in fine sand and it is perfect for relaxing or practicing water sports like surfing or kite-surfing.
This is one of the most famous and popular beaches in Chios. It is located between Limnios and Limna and thanks to its crystal clear waters it is the perfect place for sunbathing, swimming and relaxing. Nearby there are also quite an accommodations to choose from.
This beach is covered in fine sand and it is located next to a village from where the beach gets its name from. It is perfect if you are looking for somewhere to spend a relaxing afternoon or if you love practicing water sports. All around there are hotels, apartments, taverns and restaurants that serve fresh fish.
Managros is one of Chios’ longest beaches. It is located near Volissos, the water is crystal clear and the sand is very fine. It is also a famous location for nudists.
Mavra Volia beach
The black pebbles on this beach where deposited here during a volcanic explosion in the prehistoric era. Nearby there are also two smaller beaches with crystal clear water and even a village where you will find taverns and hotels where to spend the night.
This beach is covered by a mix of pebbles and sand. It is located near the village of Chio. Here you will find taverns and places that offer different services for tourists.
The village of Nagos is located in the eastern part of the northern coast, in Marmaro bay. The beach is surrounded by plane trees and water springs that make this part of the island green and lush. Near Nagos beach you will also find some small taverns and restaurants that serve typical greek food. The beach is covered in pebbles.
Nature, art and excursions…. These are just some of the things you can do when visiting Chios. A valid alternative to visiting the island’s beaches is to explore the medieval towns. Let’s see what are some of the activities that you can choose from in Chios.
Trip to Sykia cave
If you go in the southern part of the island you will find Sykia Olymbi cave. This cave is more than 150 million years old but was casually discovered only 30 years ago. It is full of stalactites and rounded rocks. If you want to visit it you will need a guide but it is worth it as they will explain you the caves history and wonders.
Daskalopetra Homerus’ stones
In Vrontados, at about 4 km from the Chora, you will find Daskalopetra (that in Greek means: the teacher’s stone). According to the legend this was the rock where Homerus was said to used to sit on when he was teaching. This island is also famous for being Homerus’ birthplace.
Vrontados is also famous for its traditional yet unique Easter celebration. In fact during Rouketopolemos festivity the churches of Agios markos and Panagia Erithiani compete with each other for the best fireworks display. According to the legend this tradition was invented by the locals during the turkish occupation when celebrating easter was forbidden.
Tour of the medieval villages
Chios is also famous for its medieval villages located in the central part of the island. The best ones to visit certainly are:
- Pirgy has houses decorated in a style called “Xysta” that was first invented in Genoa besides many other beautiful architectural structures.
- Mesta with it’s maze of rock houses and medieval towers is certainly one of the best places where to take pictures on the whole of the island.
-Olympi, also known as Olimbi, has many roads covered in stones and beautifukl antique arches.
Steam baths in Chios
In a well preserved historical building you will find Chios’ steam baths. The entrance is free and the guides are very kind and interesting while explaining the buildings history.
Chios’ windmills are one of the island’s main attractions, especially if you go there during sunset when the windmills are surrounded by a magical atmosphere. Visit them and enjoy the wonderful view while sipping a drink and eating some Greek delicacies.
Boat trip around Chios
There are many organized trips and tours of Chios and many of them leave form the island’s different ports. The destinations are the nearby Turkish coasts besides Inousses and Chios’ coasts. If you want to visit all these places by yourself the best option is to rent a boat and discover the many wonderful beautiful beaches, hidden creeks, tall cliffs and beautiful landscapes.
Snorkeling and diving centers
Chios’ diving centers will give you the chance to go diving or snorkeling if you are both a professional or an amateur. The guides won’t just guide you around the island’s coast but they will also teach you how to practice this sport if it’s your first time.
Moving around Chios is fairly easy as the roads are in good conditions and there is an efficient local bus line. There are many busses that leave from the Chora and Chios’ city to the island’s most important areas on a daily basis. There are some busses that have a typical green color and run from June to September carrying tourists on a tour around the island. The other busses are blue and will take you around the island’s villages and beaches.
Renting a motorbike in Chios
On the island there are also quite a few car, motorbike or bicycle rentals where you will be able to rent your own vehicle. If you are planning to keep the car for a few days you will probably receive a discount. Most car rentals don’t require a credit card, just a cash deposit.
Chios is a Greek island with an airport and the quickest way to reach it is certainly by plane. Unfortunately most of the year there aren’t any international flights for getting there so you will have to first land in Athens before taking a second flight for Chios. Only during the summer there are some flights that fly to Chios directly from Europeans capitals such as Amsterdam, Brussels and Vienna.
Reaching Chios by ferry
If you can’t find a direct flight from Athens to Chios you can always decide to take a ferry from one of Athens ports. Once landed, you will have to go to Piraeus port where you will find some “hellenic seaway” ferries that run 8 times a week and take about 8 hours to reach Chios.
Otherwise you can choose to travel with “blue star ferries” that run 5 times a week and take about 6 and a half hours to reach Chios. Another way to reach chios is to take a ferry from Kavala, the journey lasts about 10 hours and 20 minutes. In Kavala you will find “hellenic seaway” ferries and the journey lasts about 10 hours and 20 minutes.
Finding an accommodation in Chios certainly isn’t a problem. Here you can choose between staying in a marvellous residence located just by the sea or in an apartment located in the heart of a marine village surrounded by natural noises and typical greek smells.
Where to stay in Chios
In Chios you can choose between spending the night in a hotel or a hostel located in the island’s main city with a nice view on the Turkish border. The hotels are one of the most common options to choose from and if you aren’t staying in one of the island’s main villages you should consider renting a car or a scooter as the bus line will probably be quite far away.
Apartments and studios in Chios
You can also choose to spend the night in one of the structures located in some of the small villages that face the eastern coasts like Karfas or Vrontados. If you go south we suggest you stay in one of the many small medieval villages like Mestà, Pyrgi or Olymbi that are still only a few minutes from the sea.
Here you will also find luxurious hotels, apartments that have fairly low prices and even some pensions that are ideal for someone that isn’t planning to spend a lot of time at home. There are also many studios to choose from when deciding where to spend your vacation. The apartments can be found throughout the island and are usually fairly cheaper.