In a short distance from the coast of Asia Minor (Anatolia) in the northeastern Aegean Sea, you’ll find captivating green landscapes, crystal clear waters, gorgeous sandy and pebble-rich beaches and traditional villages in these historically rich islands.
You can choose from large islands to several small islands. Some of these islands are far from mainland Greece, but they have become popular tourist destinations thanks to frequent ferry and plane connections.
Read below a quick guide to the top islands of the North Aegean Sea.
Chios is one of the most beautiful Aegean islands. The port city offers many cafes, restaurants and shops and is worth visiting at least a night or two if you like cities and large towns. Other than the town, there are many exciting things to see, including the fortress villages known as Mastichochoria for their historic manufacturing of Mastika, a gummy sap that had significant value in cosmetics and medicine. Today they still use Mastika for various purposes, such as chewing gum and liquor.
Ikaria has become a popular destination thanks to the longevity of its residents. Many speculate as to why that is and some of the more popular beliefs are their diet, lifestyle, or the fact that they have no actual city on the island. Perhaps it is just a statistical anomaly. Nevertheless, Ikaria has gotten a lot of attention for the people’s longevity and its tasty apricots, as well as the lack of tourists. Lastly, Armenistis is the island’s main resort town because of its lush green forests and fine beaches.
Limnos is the perfect destination to avoid the mass tourism which has infected other islands. Limnos has some of the best beaches in the Aegean and maybe the best wine after Santorini. The town of Myrina is famous for its excellent fish restaurants and massive volcanic rocks.
Also known as Mytilini, the name of the main city is more than just another Greek island. Mytilini is the port where most people will arrive and offers a great market in the center of town. You will find grand, beautiful houses in Mytilini and many traditional villages across the island. The island has the best food in Greece, especially seafood but especially ouzo and sardines. Lesvos is also the birthplace of Sappho hence it has become a hub for alternative travelers such as lgbtq+ people, spiritually-minded people, and poets.
Psara is relatively remote, but as soon you step off the boat, you will see evidence of an earlier time when Psara had the greatest fleet and was dominant in the Aegean. Cannons, fortresses, windmills, and old houses built in the traditional architecture sit next to the not-so-traditional new houses of the village.
Samos is a large, lush, and beautiful island with beautiful beaches and pine forests. Vathi’s main harbor is almost as busy as a town, but it’s a lot of fun. The former industrial city of Karlovassi, with its abandoned warehouses and factories, is a popular destination with bars, cafes, and restaurants. Pythagorio is the most popular seaside resort, while Kokari is an iconic beach town, thanks to the peninsula protecting a small fishing harbor.
Samothraki is one of the most beautiful islands and boasts the highest mountain of all the Aegean islands. It is an island of forests and olive groves, springs, and waterfalls and has some of the most abundant wildlife in Greece. Though virtually unknown to tourists, many Greeks visit the island during July, especially in August.