After visiting Ayia Zoni Monastery we passed the settlement of Kamara (with a taverna) and turned to the left. This is a real mountain road with some hairpins and on a couple of places cut out of the rocks. During the drive we had some stunning views of the Vlamari valley and the beach of Mourtia. If you are lucky you can see rock climbers on the sheer rock cliffs along the road.
Almost on the top of the Rabaidoni mountain stands the Byzantine Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi on a height of approximately 300 metres. The massive and austere buildings, built in 1756, are surrounded by nice smelling pine trees. The monastery used to accommodate monks, but from 2002 it is inhabited by four nuns whose main occupation is hagiography.
Unfortunately we were too late (or too early) to visit this monastery. According to a sign next to the ‘gate’ decent clothing is obligatory inside the monastery.
In front of the monastery stands a monument on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the coastline of this part of Samos with amazing views of the Mykale Straits and Minor Asia (Turkey).
Photo from: Alex @ Faraway.
Kokkari is located on the north coast of Samos, about 10 km’s west of Vathy.
It lies on a peninsula with the houses, shops, hotels and apartment buildings of the village, which has about 1000 inhabitants (in the summer most probably many times larger with guests). It once was a fishermen village, but has developed into an important tourist resort.
Just opposite the beautiful church it has a small pedestrian area with some shops and towards the two picturesque harbours a lot of bars, cafés and restaurants. During our visit in May they were waiting for guests, but it already had its charm.
On one side of the peninsula is the so called Long Beach, a pebble beach lined with bars and cafés; nice for some swimming, windsurfing, sunbathing or just having a drink in the Greek sun.
Kokkari is also a very good starting point for walks into the green hills of Samos. There are many paths and trails leading to one of the mountain villages or monasteries on the slopes of the Ambelos Mountain.
Kokkari is ‘well known’ for its cats, which are walking and sleeping almost everywhere in town. Cute to see when they are playing together, but rather annoying when they are begging for food when we were having dinner.
The combination of beaches, mountains and its more or less authentic charm makes Kokkari a pleasant town for a stay on Samos.
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.
Nowadays the town of Pythagorio is named after Pythagoras (about 580 – 495 BC), the famous philosopher, mathematician and musician from Samos. He died however in Italy.
On the pier of the harbour of Pythagorio stands a statue to honour this great son of Samos. The monument shows one of the mathematical principles Pythagoras is known for: ‘the sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles’. On the bottom of the statue is a text with a preferred translation of ‘Pythagoras of Samos’.
On the pier are two other monuments; one seemed to be a war memorial (Greek language is so difficult to understand) and a modern ‘European’ monument with a text referring to a ‘woman of Europe award’.
We intended to stay a full day in Pythagorio, before heading to Patmos, but due to a strike in Greece our flight was postponed. We just had some hours for a first glance of the town.
Pythagorio is located close to the airport of Samos and nowadays a popular tourist resort with lots of hotels, guesthouses and apartments. Before 1955 it was named Tigani, which means ‘frying pan’; although it wasn’t that hot during our stay, I can imagine why.
It is just fun walking along the steep cobble stoned narrow roads with lots of flowers and whitewashed houses or the main road, leading from the airport to the harbour with lots of shops; among them an amazing number of nice jewelleries.
Along the waterfront of the harbour are many restaurants, bars and Greek ‘tavernas’, all furnished with comfortable chairs. It is a really excellent place for a drink, lunch or dinner and watching other tourists and locals. In the harbour fishermen boats and luxury yachts are tied up, which creates a colourful scenery.
We missed other highlights, like the Hera Temple, Tunnel of Efpalinus, Monastery of Spillani and the Castle of Likourgos. Enough reasons to come back again.
Pythagoras Cave is at the foot of Mount Kerkis. It is where the mathametician sought refuge from prosecution when he was accused of corrupting the island's youth. It is a steep walk up to the cave as you can see by the pictures. It is advisable to wear rubber soul shoes for the walk plus take a bottle of drinking water. The views looking out at the sea as you get to the top is incredible
Samiopoula is a very small island very near the south coast of Samos. It has 2 sandy beaches & a hotel, a few restaurants & some rooms to rent. It can be visited by boat from Pythagorion daily.
After chatting to a holidaying neighbour at our villa, we decided against a visit ourselves. He had spent the previous day on Samiopoula & warned us that unless you don't mind being bitten & harrassed constantly by large flies, DON'T go! Maybe this was a temporary thing due to the result of the spell of particularly hot weather, but it put us off!
We saw the whole island from above when we travelled through Samos by car. The elevated position made for a spectacular sight - it's the nearest I fancied getting to the 'fly' island!
Fresh oranges are squeezed daily & sold bottled in most supermarkets - also in some smaller shops too! Just 1.5 Euro for 500ml or 3 Euro for 1litre, it is sealed immediately after bottling & kept on ice until purchased.
Truly refreshing & such a bargain - it's a great way to enjoy your daily Vitamin C intake!
Samos seemed to me to have many sites of archaeological interest.
Some were mereley left open for anybody to wander in & look around. I found it strange that they were not protected by fencing in any form & that entry to the sites was not supervised. All were signposted in English as well as Greek.
Everyone has heard of this guy & here he is in Samos - well he was born & brought up right here around 580BC! He later died in Italy. He is known for being one of the most famous mathematicians ever! So great that they named a whole resort on Samos after him; 'Pythagorion'.
This monument depicts the mathematical theory discovered by Pythagoras & which he is ultimately famous for sharing with us all! I won't even begin to try & explain it - read all about it here!
When choosing the right resort in which to base yourself for 2 weeks which suits your families personal requirements, it is always difficult to decide just by reading the guide books & travel brochures (& VT of course!) We had no idea where to plump for when booking a Samos trip - we just knew we wanted to go there! Luckily we came home knowing without a doubt that Pythagorion had definitely been the right choice!
If you like fairly lively evenings eating & drinking around a pretty harbour, quiet walks in the daytime, easy access by car to the rest of the island, long pebble/shingle beaches, various watersports, quite a few tourist & local shops, an abundence of diverse restaurants, some archaeological interest........then don't hesitate to choose Pythagorion!
Pithagorio is close to the airport, close to the Hera temple and some other important sights. Also a wonderful town, but I'd say it's a bit more touristic then Samos town.
Beside of this it could be if you are having a hotel room in Pithagorio, esp. in the west of Pithagorio, that you hear a lot from the airplans landing and departing from Samos.
I'd still say it's a must see, if you are on Samos.
Samos town has a lot to offer, nightlife, shopping, museums, markets, small romantic streets..., one time was not enough to see enough from this town. And so we came during our stay on the island again and again to Samos town.
A few years ago there was a great fire on Samos, which destroyed a lot of the forrest on Samos. In the area around the waterfalls you can still wander in the shade of old trees along a little river.
It is a magnificent area where you can find beautiful nature, of course also again close to historical ruins...
It is surprising how exact and sophisticated they worked to build such a tunnel 2600 years ago. It is 1026 meters long, you can visit only a few hundred meters of that, but still this is a great experience. Especially during summer time it is very nice to be in a cooler area for a while. Take a jacket or a pullover with you.
A little copy pase explanation:
>An engineer from Megara called Efpalinus, during the 6th century b.c, designed it. At that time the tyrant Polycrates was in control of Samos and the island was flourishing economically. Its length is 1026 meters and it penetrates the mountain at a height of 246 meters. The purpose of this tunnel was to ensure the water supply of the ancient city by providing water from a water source that was located at the other end of the mountain near the village of Mytilinioi.
A major significance of this project is that the workers began digging on both sides of the mountain (from the Mytilinioi and Pythagoreio sides) and met in the middle with only a marginal deviation. Even in nowadays, the engineers consider this project to be a great achievement for it’s era that boosted science (especially geometry) as we know it.