Vathy or Samos City
Vathy, as the locals say, is the capital of Samos and by far the biggest town on the island with its 10.000 inhabitants; on the same time this does it make the less authentic Greek town.
The town is built around its natural harbour, with houses against the surrounding hills. Around the harbour, the most lively part of the city, are old Venetian and modern buildings. The coastal road along the waterfront offers a lot of hotels, cafés and bars.
The Pythagoras Square has its sidewalk cafés and it is most pleasant to have a drink. Walking through the main shopping street (a pedestrian area) we reached another nice spot: the Municipal Garden with a lovely café with a terrace in a small city park with huge yellow and blue flowering trees. Nearby are the Byzantine and Archaeological Museums.
Much nicer (and more authentic) is the old part of Vathy, or ‘Upper Vathy’, with narrow winding uphill roads, whitewashed houses and red tiled roofs. Walking through this part of town we had sometimes wonderful views of the harbour.
I wouldn’t recommend staying in Vathy, for me it is more a destination for a (short) visit or to do some shopping or visiting a museum on a cloudy/rainy day.
Samos, a remarkable green and flowery island
The island of Samos is part of the North Eastern Aegean Islands and is located close to Turkey (separated by the narrow Mykale Straits) and just north of the islands of the Dodecanese, like Patmos.
Samos has an area of 468 km2, is 43 km's long and 13 km's wide and has a population of 42.000 people.
Samos can be reached from Europe (and Athens) by plane through the airport of Pythagorio and is connected with other Greek islands and Piraeus by ferries to the harbours of Karlovassi or Vathy (Samos City). In summer season there are ‘flying dolphins’ sailing to Kusadasi (Turkey) and Patmos.
When possible try to visit Samos in the month of May. During this time the island is full of flowers. Bougainvilleas in the towns and villages, red poppies and other wild flowers on the slopes of the green mountains on the north side and yellow broom bushes in the western part of the island.
Beside it was nowhere overcrowded (or even quiet) and the temperatures were still very pleasant.
For more pictures of Samos see flickr photopage.
"Towns and villages"
Vathy is the capital of the island and the biggest town. It is built on the hills surrounding the bay with its harbour, with ferries and cruise ships (dis)embarking. Most authentic is the old part of Vathy with narrow streets winding uphill between old houses.
Pythagorio- named after the famous philosopher Pythagoras - is the main tourist resort, close to Samos Airport and with a picturesque harbour. It has some beaches nearby and lots of bars and restaurants are scattered along the harbour.
Kokkari, on the north side of the island, is also an important tourist destination with its long beach and is located nearby the green mountains. It does attract beach lovers as well as hikers.
Karlovasi once was the commercial capital of the island, but nowadays the tanneries stand still. It is the second large town of Samos, but rather authentic without the crowds of tourists. Nowadays it has a university.
"Green and red landscape"
Samos is quite mountainous: the highest peak in the western part is the Kerkis Mountain, (1434 m) and in the center of the island lies the Ambelos peak (1150 m).
Samos is a very fertile island and parts are covered with fruit and olive trees and vineyards (for the famous Samian wine). Samos has still - despite of the fires of years ago - a lot of forests. But most spectacular are the wild flowers - especially the dark red poppies - on the slopes of the mountains; all together a totally unexpected, but very interesting and beautiful landscape.
Small villages - Vourliotes, Platanos, Manolates, Pnaka, Tsourlei - are scattered in the mountains and mostly built around one of the many springs. They are connected to each other by walkways with great views of the landscape and the deep blue sea around Samos.