Soaring mountains decorated with vineyards loom above beaches where crystal clear water gently tosses smooth stones against one another, playing a tinkling meditative song. Samos is the home of Hera and Pythagoras, but it’s also a great island for hiking.
The villages in the north ooze charm and character, with neoclassical and Venetian-era buildings. And if you’re looking for something to do away from the beach, head to one of the two amazing archaeological museums on the island.
Samos offers a bounty of things to do. From stunning beaches and ancient ruins to pristine mountain villages and famous sweet wine, the Island of Hera and Pythagoras has something for everyone.
Located in the northeastern edge of the Aegean, this luxuriantly green Island is home to pine forests, citrus and olive groves and vineyards. It was also the birthplace of the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus; of Aristarchos, the astrophysicist who first expounded the theory of Earth’s rotation and of the mathematician Pythagoras.
As you approach the Island by ferry, the landscape becomes wild and mysterious with hills plunging to the sea and jagged peaks cloaked in cypresses. With a total of 45 signposted hiking trails and many caves, the rocky interior is a natural wonderland.
A great option for hikers and nature lovers is Mount Kerkis, an extinct volcano that looms over the western part of the Island. At 1,433 metres, it is the second-highest peak in the Eastern Aegean. The hike up to the top is a spectacular one, with views that will take your breath away. Along the way you will pass small chapels and monasteries, like the Megali Panagia Spiliani or the Moni Evangelistrias Marathokambos.
A good alternative to hiking is a tour of the Eupalinos Tunnels, which have a length of more than 1 km and were originally built as an aqueduct in the 6th century BC. Currently, they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and different guided tours are offered at varying lengths and difficulty.
The Monastery of Panagia Spiliani
Whether you prefer beautiful beaches, interesting museums or lively nightlife, there is something for everyone on Samos. It’s easy to see why this Greek island is a popular holiday destination.
Located near the village of Pythagoreio, the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani offers visitors stunning views and tranquility. The monastery was built in honor of a miraculous icon that was said to have appeared in a cave in the 1600s. The monastery is often crowded in summer, but it’s worth a visit.
Another must-see site on Samos is the Eupalinos Tunnels, which are a great way to add some variety to your beach vacation. These impressive ancient tunnels run more than a kilometer through Mount Kastro and are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can explore the tunnels on your own or with a guided tour.
If you want to learn more about Samos’ rich history, be sure to visit the Samos Archaeological Museum. This museum is housed in a beautiful restored Venetian palace and features an impressive collection of artifacts from Samos’s ancient past. Highlights include the Kouros statue, a 6th century BC marble sculpture of a nude youth.
Another must-see site is the Metamorphosis Church, which was erected in the 11th century. This is one of the best-conserved examples of Byzantine architecture in all of Greece. Located on the east coast of Samos, this church is just a few meters away from Potami Beach.
The Eupalinos Tunnels
While Samos might not be as well-known as other Greek islands, it offers just as much for tourists. The mountainous island has a number of great hiking trails to choose from, as well as plenty of pretty beaches. It’s also home to several archaeological sites that show the island’s rich history. For example, Mount Kerkis is a stunning peak that’s best reached via a hiking trail and offers spectacular views of the island. The Monastery of Panagia Spiliani is a beautiful Byzantine-era monastery that’s worth visiting for its interesting stories and legends. And the Temple of Hera is an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Hera, and one of the most important sights on the island.
Another fun thing to do on Samos is to visit the Eupalinos Tunnels, which are a series of caves where the famed mathematician Pythagorean lived for a while. The caves were carved out of the rock and are considered to be among the most valuable archaeological excavations in the world. The tunnels are believed to have been built in the 6th Century BCE and were excavated using hammers, pickaxes and chisels.
The island also has a couple of good museums that shouldn’t be missed. The Archaeological Museum of Vathy and the Archaeological Museum of Pythagorion are both excellent places to get a more rounded understanding of Samos’s past, with displays of archaic pottery, clay figures, and wooden items.
Those looking for something more relaxing can head to Lemonakia Beach, which is a beautiful pebble beach on the island’s north side. It’s a nice place to sunbathe, and it’s also protected from the wind that can make other beaches on the island a little uncomfortable.
Samos may be a little less well-known than other Greek islands like Crete and Rhodes but it still has plenty to offer. The island has everything you need for a great summer break including beautiful beaches, quaint villages, monasteries and lush forested mountains.
Head to Kokkari for a day on the beach and explore the small traditional seaside village with its shady backstreets. There are some nice restaurants, coffee shops and tavernas here. The beach at Kokkari is pretty big and has a sheltered part that makes it great for families with young kids. You can hire sun beds for a few euros for the day. The water is clear and irresistible here.
The Eupalinos Tunnels are a unique attraction that are a great way to add some adventure to your holiday. The tunnels are a kilometre long and have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are a number of guided tours that range in length and difficulty.
A day trip to the beautiful village of Vathi is also a must if you’re staying on the north coast. The village is set on a tiny peninsula on the northern shore of Samos and oozes charm. There are lovely beaches here and some really cool little shops that sell all kinds of trinkets and souvenirs.
If you’re staying in the north of Samos then make sure to take a day to explore the pretty town of Pythagorion. It’s a pretty horseshoe shaped harbour with plenty of restaurants, ice cream shops and cute places to explore. The town is also home to the Archeological Museum and the statue of Pythagoras. It’s a great place to just relax, take it all in and have a good time.
The town of Pythagorion is a great place to get a more rounded idea of Samos and its ancient history. The newly constructed museum has finds from the Neolithic settlement atop Kastro Mountain and the Geometric necropolis, which give visitors a much better understanding of Samos’ early inhabitants.
The Remataki beach in Pythagorion is the perfect spot to spend a day at the seaside. Located just east of Kasonisi, it has ivory-colored pebbles and sapphire blue waters. Despite being a popular destination, it has a lot of privacy due to its remote location on the eastern coast of the island. There are a number of sun loungers available on the beach, and even in July and August there’s a good chance that you won’t see any other people on the beach.
Another attraction near the beach is the Dimitriou Folklore Museum. The exhibits here show how Samos’ villages used to be before the Second World War. The museum has a wide variety of items that were used in day-to-day life, including agricultural tools like ploughs, sieves, sickles and reap hooks, troughs, rolling pins, boards, clay bowls and other household items.
Besides the many cafes, restaurants, and terraces that line the streets of Pythagorion, there’s also the lovely horseshoe-shaped harbour. This is where a lot of the boat trips leave from and is overlooked by charming tavernas and fresh seafood restaurants. You’ll also find the statue of mathematician Pythagoras standing by the breakwater.
Another great thing to do in Pythagorion is to visit the Eupalinos Tunnels. This amazing underground aqueduct was built in the 6th century BC to supply the city of Pythagoreio with water. The tunnel is over a kilometer long and is incredibly finely-crafted. It’s a fascinating sightseeing experience that will leave you in awe of human engineering.