The easternmost Greek islands of the Aegean Sea are not widely known, but they are as beautiful and exciting as any other. These islands, each with unique style, have developed very little in tourism, retaining their traditional character and original family hospitality. The landscape is mostly mountainous with villages scattered around the hills, offering splendid views over the shimmering sea. There you will experience a truly carefree lifestyle and swim in gorgeous beaches.
Although they are found north of the Dodecanese group of islands, much closer to Turkey than to the Greek mainland, visitors can easily access them by boarding a ferry to Eastern Aegean islands from Piraeus port in Athens with daily schedules. This way you can ideally combine holidays with two neighbouring Eastern Aegean islands.
Here are three of the best combinations for a great summer holiday on the north eastern side of the Aegean Sea:
Ferry to Eastern Aegean islands: Chios and Lesvos
Chios and Lesvos are among the largest Greek islands and are characterized by a laid-back, family-oriented lifestyle. Blending mountainous landscapes, fertile woodlands and stunning beaches, these islands are ideal to unwind from stress and noise. There is usually one same ferry to the Eastern Aegean islands from Athens that covers both islands, arriving first in Chios and then continuing the trip to Lesvos.
Chios has rich history and great tradition in mastic production. Do not miss the chance to visit its impressive Medieval Castle and the Monastery of Nea Moni, as well as the wonderful black pebbled beach of Mavros Gialos. Also explore the traditional villages of Pyrgos, including Pyrgi and Olympi with the Medieval architecture and the delicious taverns. The ferry to Chios from Athens takes about 8 hours and departs 5 times per week.
Chios has good ferry connection with Lesvos, another stress-free island renowned for its local ouzo production. Mytilini Town, the main port and capital of Lesvos, where the ferry to Lesvos arrives, has vibrant nightlife, interesting museums and a nice market street. Lesvos is mainly a family destination and perfect for hiking, cycling and bird-watching.
Samos and Ikaria
Great for relaxing and quite off-the-beaten-track, Samos is one of the most beautiful islands in the Eastern Aegean. Its charming scenery of forested mountains and sandy secluded beaches provide an ideal summer retreat. In Samos, there are major or smaller tourist resorts, many archaeological sites and museums, as well as interesting walking trails. The island has two ports where the ferry to Samos arrives, Vathy and Karlovassi, while in summer the smaller port of Pythagorion also operates.
Vacations in Samos can easily be combined with Ikaria, as the two islands are close to each other and share many characteristics. Their best common features are the sweet local red wine, traditionally made since the ancient times, and the gorgeous beaches. Boat trips between Samos and Ikaria have itineraries 6 times per week in summer. A ferry to Eastern Aegean islands from Athens also departs three times per week and takes you to both islands. The ferry to Ikaria from Athens takes about 8 hours.
Ikaria and Fourni
As the ferry to Fourni from Athens takes long (about 9 hours), many visitors fly to Ikaria and then take the ferry to Fourni from there. This way they combine holidays to both islands, which are offered as alternative holiday destinations and are popular among nudists and free-campers.
Fourni is the perfect place for nature-orientated travelers. Only the villages Thimena and Fourni are inhabited, allowing the rest of the island to remain unspoiled. Its landscape is composed of cliffs that turn into spectacular bays, leading to the sea. Although Fourni island is quiet and peaceful in general, the main harbor bursts with life.