Updated: Aug 26, 2022
My husband and I first visited Lesbos when we traveled there with my mother in 2008. We were impressed by the beauty of the island and in 5 days were only able to visit a few key places. A trip back was warranted. It was not until October of 2021 that we were able to schedule a return to this enormous lush island and this time with my mother’s namesake, my daughter.
I started birding about 5 years ago and during that time there were certain birds that I was really eager to see in the wild, the Eagle ( my first glimpse was at Conowingo Dam, Maryland, November 2017), the Hummingbird ( first glimpsed in Maplewood, NJ in May 2020), the Puffin (June 2021) and what brought me to Greece in October, the Flamingo. I actually was able to see Flamingo twice before Lesbos while in the Thessaloniki area but I was able to get a much closer view in Lesvos.
In addition to birding, like all of the Greek islands that I have visited to date, Lesbos has many beautiful beaches. The water is crystal clear. The air is so clean. There are flowers, beautiful vistas, mountains, cliffs that cascade into the sea, and picturesque villages…and, in case you were wondering, the island’s name can be spelled with either a “b” or a “v”. This has a bit to do with a British misunderstanding of the letter “b” in Greek. It is also why Greeks cringe at the English pronunciation of “beta” which should actually sound like veeta. Of course that’s a story for another day and don’t get me started on “delta”...and just for fun, many of the ferry companies refer to the island by the name of its capital, Mytilene (or sometimes Mitilini)…but I digress.
We landed in Lesvos on October 25 and spent our first day/night in Mytilene.
While out for an evening walk we saw this mural which was painted by Staffordshire, England born graffiti artist, Jules Muck, also known as Muck Rock. As you walk through the city center you will see several of her murals.
The next day we headed to Kalloni Bay and, retracing our 2008 vacation, stopped in Molyvos for lunch. We had hoped to go back to “Once Upon a Time in Molyvos” where we had a memorable meal but it was no longer there. So, we ate at one of the other taverns on the harbor, which was good, but fell short of Once Upon a Time.
Hovering high upon a pine-tree covered mountain is the Castle of Molyvos. Dominating the area, this fortress can be seen from almost every vantage point within the city-limits. This castle was built during the Byzantine era, possibly in the 13th century, and reconstructed by the Genovese Frangisk I Guateluzo in 1373. As a defensive fort, It is still very much intact and can be visited via a rocky footpath or by car.
View of Molyvos Castle
Again one of the reasons why we decided to go to Lesvos in the fall was because I really really wanted to see Flamingos in their natural habitat. We were not disappointed as there were hundreds, if not thousands of them. Unlike the Flamingos of the Caribbean which are more or less salmon in color, these have a whitish body with bright coral markings and black wingtips. They are quite elegant and a joy to watch.
My daughter by one of the fossilized trees
There are only Five Petrified forests in the World and Lesvos is home to one of them. These fossilized remains of giant sequoia trees can be found throughout the island with the largest concentration in Sigri. If you have the time I recommend visiting the museum which has both indoor and outdoor exhibits as well as the forest. Located in the western part of the island, it is less than 5 minutes by car from the town of Sigri.
In the southwestern part of the island you will come upon a town called Skala Eresou. This is a beach town with cafes, tavernas and dark volcanic sand beaches.
As you may have noticed from my earlier blogs, Greece has amazing Street Art and Lesvos, while it doesn't have a lot of murals, has some nice ones. The one below was painted on a building by street artist, Alex Martinez, near the beach in Skala Eresou .
The small streams in Skala Eresou that flow into the sea are especially pretty shortly before sunset - during the golden hour.
A block from the beach you will come upon colorful buildings.
The white mountains in the photo below are not snow covered. These mountains are made up of salt that has been extracted from the sea. Not only is Kalloni Salt Pans a place where you can see these beautiful pyramid shaped mountains but is it a place that many species of birds call home and many others use as a migratory path.
The entire gulf of Kalloni is a hot zone for birds, with hundreds of species that call this area home for at least a few weeks out of the year. One of the places that we visited, and revisited was the Alykes wetlands. Below are some photos from that part of the Kalloni region.
Did I mention that there are a lot of Flamingos in Lesvos in October?
The southern Aegean and the Cycladic Islands are known for their white washed buildings with blue trim, but not all Aegean islands have that look. Lesvos has many stone buildings as well as many colorfully painted buildings like the one below.
Sometimes boats are parked ashore following the tides like the fishing boats below.
While you can’t always be on a hill or on a balcony, you can still catch a lovely sunset from the beach.
Generally speaking the weather in Greece is moderate in the winter and snow is rare. But that doesn’t mean that it never snows. Even though some of the islands are not far from Africa, their elevation is high enough for the white stuff. I would imagine that these roads could get very slippery in the winter.
While in Lesvos we did a lot of driving, so much to see on this very large island. And because something looks close on Google Maps, don’t be surprised if a 2 mile trek takes 30 minutes by car. The island is mountainous, many of the roads are not paved, and switchbacks are the norm. Your ride will always be scenic, breathtaking in fact, so plan adequate time for your journey Oh and did I mention the reflective guard-rails… LOL - no guard-rails, no lights, just the occasional small mailbox sized church on the side of the road as a memorial to the less fortunate drivers. We tried to drive to 2 or three beaches from Eresos because they seemed close, not far from Sigri, off a dirt road.
We did find Faneromeni beach. There was a church in a cave called Panagia Faneromeni and a very quiet sandy beach with crystal clear water.
While in Sigri we took a walk over to the castle and got to walk around the grounds but could not enter because it was closed for renovations.
We tried to visit a beach in Paralia Tsichliodas driving about an hour or so on a very treacherous road, but never quite made it to the beach. The sun was getting lower in the horizon and with the car sliding sideways on the hairpin turns over the precipitous drops, even in first gear with a foot on the brakes, discretion prevailed. I wish I had carefully read all of the reviews on Google maps. It is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches, if you can get there. Maybe next trip to Lesvos we will give it another go.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip to Lesvos, Greece as much as I enjoyed visiting this lovely island.
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In case you missed my previous blog segment - Thessaloniki - Many Stories - One Heart