Molyvos

Molyvos, also known as is the second most important town of the island, it is located north west of Mytilene.

This fortress-topped beauty takes some beating. Perched on the north coast, it is a patchwork of stone houses, shady streets and ornate street fountains dropping steeply down to the gleaming Aegean.

The municipal unit stretches eastward from the town along the northern part of the island; it is the island’s smallest municipal unit in land area at 50.166 km².

Its population was 2,433 at the 2001 census. The next largest towns in the municipal unit are Árgennos and Sykaminéa.

The town is on the northern part of the island, just some 6 km north of the popular beach town of Petra. There are several cultural events held in the town such as exhibitions and folk festivals.

Restaurants along Molyvos harbour serve fresh fish from local fishing boats.

 

Sigri petrified forest

For weirdness alone, this sci-fi-like spot demands a closer look. An ancent pine and redwood forest, it was fossilised 20 million years ago when an erupting volcano covered the trees in hot ash, turning them to solid stone.

Take a tour around the park, which is speckled with the bizarre petrified stumps that once flourished here.

Today, two thirds of Lesvos is covered by volcanic rock.

And if you want to know more afterwards, explore the Petrified Forest Museum in neraby Sigri to find out how all it happened.

Agiasos

Double check the calendar. Because you’ll need reminding you’re still in the 21st century in cobbled Agiasos. Nestled into the wooded folds of Mount Olympos, its pan-tiled cottages, paved alleyways and cute craft shops come straight from Medieval times. It’s also Lesbos’ main religious centre, with a 12th-century church housing its holiest relic – a golden icon said to have been painted by St Luke. Once you’ve tiptoed round the church, ferret around the bazzar for the village’s famous ceramics and woodcarvings.

Petra

Combined sightseeng with a workout at this bustling beach resort. Its piece de resistance is the 18th-century Panagia Glyfofilousa, an impressive stone church teetering high on a rocky bluff in the town centre. Trek the 114 steps curling up to the monolith. While you’re resting your legs, you’ll be rewarded with eye-popping panoramas over the Turkish mainland. And don’t miss the tiny 16th-century church at the base, either. Every inch of its walls is covered with luminous frescos still as bright as the day they were painted in the 1500s.

Mytilini

Museums, taverns and an Ottoman castle clasped around a hill. Lesbos’ bustling capital is a mixed bag that will delight history buffs and explorers. Check out the Roman antiquities at the Archeological Museum and priceless works by Picasso and Chagall at the avant-garde Teriade Museum. Poke around the old Turkish quarter with its ornate houses. And whatever you do, leave time to sit and drink in the old-time atmosphere. Sip espresso in a kafenion as old men click their worry beads. Nibble on salted sardines at the sidestreet taverna. Or sip ouzo by the harbour, watching the fishermen land their catches. It’s undistilled Greece at its best.

Walking

Lesbos is made for walking so it’d be a crime not to loose yourself in its beautiful interior. Lace up those boots and stride out on the many ancient trails and marked footpaths honeycombing the island. Within minutes, you’ll enter a secret world of birdsong-filled forests, scented fig groves and poppy-dusted hills. Add to that timeless mountain villages, bubbling hot springs, crumbled temples and deserted Byzantine chapels and you’re in for a hike and  a half. Finish up with a beer at a lonely fishing village or an isolated pebble beach.

Bird Watching

Lesbos will have twitchers itching with excitement. One of the Med’s birdwatching hotspots, it’s frequented by a roll call of fascinating species, including barn owls, herons, bee-eaters, storks and many others. Skala Kaloni is the birdwatching capital. Here, miles of saltmarshes attact nesting storks, pink flamingos and kingfishers. Other madnets include the Potamia VAlley and the hills around Agiasos. Grab your binoculars – you’re going to be glued to them.

Beaches

Forget the guidebooks that play down Lesbos’ beaches – it’s got a swathe of lovely sand-and-stone numbers. One of the most popular is Skala Eressou. Here, you’ll be met with a knockout strech of soft sand streching to infinity. Unroll your towel and slip into the crystal-clear waters. Right along the beach, you’ll find tavernas with bamboo-shaded decks stationed right over the sands. Not to mention plenty in the ways of watersports, Another popular choice is Vatera, over on the south coast. Touted as the island’s best beach, it serves up seven kilometres of pristine sands. Over in Molyvos, meanwhile, the town’s beach won’t win many beauty contests, but its pebbles tumble into shallow, Blue Flag waters and command great views over the castle. Alternatively head for the beaches along the north coast. There is Eftalou, a streched-out curl of shingle lapped by sapphire seas. Or bussier Petra. Backed by wooded hills and carpeted in golden sands, it’s dotted with sunloungers and tavernas so you can bronze and bliss-out from morn ’til dusk. But don’t think that’s the end of Lesbos beaches. The island is gilded with big sandy sweeps and lonely stony coves that can only be reached down twisting country tracks.

Shopping

The main shopping magnet on Lesbos is undoubtedly Mytilini, the capital. At every step, there’s a gift shop, craft stall or jewellers beckoning with the lure of a bright beach towel, bottle of ouzo or hand-made plate bearing cameos of the Greek Gods. And don’t forget the market. Just off Ermou Street, this pot-pourri of stalls will have you reaching for your purse. Dive into the throng and you’ll emerge with bags of olives, feta and sardines. For more culinary souvenirs, you’ll find co-operatives all over the island where locals make and sell Lesbos’ time-honoured goods. Check them out in Petra, Agiasos and Molyvos. Like Aladdin’s Caves, these deli-emporims brim with treats like herb-infused olive oils and marzipan sweets.

Next on the Lesbos shopping list is Molyvos. Spend a morning browsing the galleries and boutiques. Or saunter along the harbour to hunt out a painting, ornament or bouzouki CD from the handicrafts shops squeezed between the taverns. In Skala Eressou, the theme is fun and funky with trendy studios and jewellers hawking hip trinkets. And if you’re out for authentic gifts, head to Mantamados. The village is known for its olive oil jugs and water pitchers, which are still fired in old stone kilns.

Food & Drink

The Ottomans called Lesbos ‘the orchard of the Empire’ and the name still holds true. While many Greek islands import their food, Lesbos produces lots of its own. Think fish and seafood scooped from the Aegean, homegrown olive oil and centuries-old recipes. But, lets rewind to fish and seafood. From red mullet to tuna, mussels to praws, the menus here read like a list of aquarium attractions. Topping everything are the sardines. The best come from the Gulf of Kalloni and are served a 101 ways. A favourite is ‘sardeles pastes’, where they’re salted, skinned and seasoned with oil and lemon. If you are not hooked on fish, get your theet into Greek classics like moussaka and souvlaki. Or try Lesbos specials like ‘sougania’ – onions stuffed with veal, tomato and rice and oven-cooked till they are indescribably soft. The desserts are good, too. Dig into sticky ‘baklava’ – layers of almond-filled filo soaked in honey. Or ‘halva’ – gooey bricks of sesame seeds dollope with cream. And don’t miss out on the ouzo. The aniseedy spirit has been produced here for centuries. It’s a hangover-in-waiting unless you add water and snack on ‘meze’ – tasty bits of sardines, octopus and other goodies – at the same time.

Nightlife

Greek nights shimmying to bouzouki. Disco nights out on the tiles. Or lazy dinner in a bougainvillea-splashed taverna. It may sound cliched, but Lesbos has something for all types of night owl. For the liveliest after-dark scene, hotfoot it to Mytilini. The island’s capital rocks on summer weekends. Start by slurping ouzos at the harbour, move on to a cocktail bar and then make tracks for the quayside, where the clubs pound out pop ’till way past everyone’s bedtime. Fancy something more refined? Come summer, Mytilini’s castle morphs into an outdoor theatre, hosting everything from classical concerts to Greek dance troupes. You’ll find similar events at Molyvos castle too.And talking of Molyvos, the mood here treads the line between laid-back and loud. Choose a harbour taverna to dine inches from the waves or disappear up to the village to dine on the views of the Aegean. If you are in party mood later, head for the clubs just out of town. In Skala Eressou, meanwhile, it’s up to you. In the square, there’s everything from quiet tavernas to hip gay bars. The antics continue into the wee hours too. Find out for yourself by going to the beach. As the lights snap out in town, impromptu bonfire parties burst into life.