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Overview

Introduction

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Chios is outstanding. Although the fifth largest island in Greece, it has never overly encouraged tourism and remains blissfully off the regular tourist trail. Those who do come will find an island with a rich history, a strong identity, a varied mountainous landscape and unique charms which inevitably draws people back. On Chios there is always something new to discover. 

The capital, Chios Town, halfway down the east coast, faces Turkey just a few miles across the narrow straight. The location of this large, bustling modern island capital makes it the best place to stay if you want to explore the whole island. The expansive harbour has the perennial plethora of restaurants, cafes and bars around its length and is always lively. Little of the town survived the earthquake of 1881 but the old quarter within the fortified Kastro is worth a wander and home to several Ottoman monuments. Off the large main square there is a bustling market cum bazaar, there are various museums - the island has a long and often bloody history - and the town boasts some excellent tavernas.

Although there is a small shingle town beach a short walk from our hotel, for more than a quick dip most people hop onto one of the frequent buses that run south to sandy Karfas (see below) in just 15 minutes or north to the pebble coves of Vrontados. A daily boat takes 45 minutes to reach Cesme in Turkey, making a day trip to Asia Minor easy (a side trip to Izmir can be made from Cesme).

Karfas, 7 kms to the south of town, is the closest Chios has to a 'resort', thanks to its fine beach and ease of access from airport and town (there is a good bus service). Compared to almost any other island it is small beer, but has a number of hotels, apartments, tavernas and cafe-bars spread out behind the wide expanse of (mainly) sand. The vibe is laid back - although it can be busy at weekends and during Greek holidays - and the swimming excellent.

The south has rolling countryside and is known for its mastic production. Mastic trees can be found in many parts of the Aegean but only here, for reasons still not fully understood, do they produce the resin, valued for its healthy properties, which has been exported for centuries and was the base of the island's wealth in times of yore. The twenty 'mastichohoria' (mastic villages) here are one of Chios's unique attractions - medieval 14th century stone enclaves built in defensive fortified fashion, each one with its own character. The most impressive are Mesta, Olymbi and Pyrgi, the latter known for its unique external house decorations - geometric black and white patterns called 'xysta'.

The south is also home to a number of Chios' best beaches, including the volcanic black-pebble strands at Emporios. This small village has five decent tavernas and is a great base from which to explore the whole of the south, including the mastichohoria (Pyrgi is only 6 kms distant) and the impressive cave of Sykias Olymbon. Emporios has its own small archaeological site on the hilltop above the valley, and some good walking can be had in the area (keep an eye out for the Chios orchid in springtime).

North Chios is mountainous - peaks rise to 1297m - and craggy. Kardamyla on the north eastern tip is the largest settlement outside the capital. In fact Kardamyla is two villages - Ano Kardamyla above and Kato Kardamyla (now more commonly called Marmaro) on the coast below which has a functional port and some good fish tavernas. The shingle-pebble beach faces north so can be exposed when the meltemi blows - other more sheltered beaches, such as Nagos, can be found a little further along the coast. 

On the north west coast a string of coves and beaches makes Limnos an appealing place to stay. This is a remote, quiet area over 40 kms from town, so largely avoids any weekend rush. Limnos has a couple of tavernas behind its sandy crescent of beach, and more can be found at the harbour of Limnia a 15 minute walk away. Between the two is the beach of Lefkathia. Limnia is the harbour for the attractive medieval hill village of Volissos 2 kms inland, topped by a crumbling Genoese fortress, which has tavernas of its own for a change of scene. There are some walking paths in the area.

Elsewhere on Chios there are monasteries (including UNESCO-listed Nea Moni with its wonderful mosaics ranked amongst the finest in Greece); many villages (64 in total); the beautifully fertile plain of Kampos, full of citrus trees and mansions; and much else to explore. However, as there are no organised tours, and the bus service (other than the beach runs from town) can be limited, we stress that car hire is the best way to make the most of this characterful, unique and beautiful island.

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Getting to Chios

Getting to Chios

Daily flights via Athens with an onward domestic flight to Chios (45 mins) - there are limited connections also via Thessaloniki. Our recommended flights are with Aegean Airlines from London Heathrow at midday which has a good through-connection arriving to Chios at c 20.00. Taxi transfers are provided - Chios Town and Karfas 10 mins.; Emborio and Kardamyla 45 mins.; Volissos/Limnos 75 mins.

Multi-Centre and Island Hopping

Multi-Centre and Island Hopping

Chios is large so splitting your stay between various centres is a good way to discover more of the island - please ask for a costing. Please note that guests staying at our Hotels Kyma or Kardamyla have the chance to flexibly split their holiday between the two, or include a short fly drive during their stay (see hotel descriptions). For linking with other islands Chios has ferry connections with Samos, Fourni, Ikaria and Lemnos and domestic flights link directly to Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Samos and Lemnos in c 45 mins.

Car Hire

Car Hire

Car hire can be pre-booked from £26 per day. Concessionary prices apply for guests staying at the Emporios Bay Hotel (from £23 per day). Prices include CDW insurance and tax.

Representative

Representative

We are represented on Chios by Theodore Spordilis of the Hotel Kyma who arranges our transfers and programme and can always be contacted for assistance no matter where on the island you stay.

Useful information

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020 8568 4499

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Courtney
Courtney Spieler
Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
Time Difference

GMT + 2 hours

Currency

Euros

Language

Greek

Average flight times

3 hours 40 minutes to Athens plus a 45 minute domestic flight to Chios

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Note: Map is for guidance purposes only.

Talk to our Greece expert

Claire Kalatzis
Claire Kalatzis

Claire joined us in 2005 after having spent 6 years in Lesbos running her own business teaching English, where she married a Greek. The economic crisis in Greece forced them to return to the UK. Alongside day to day reservations, Claire is also mother goose to our 30 or so overseas representatives in Greece and works very closely with Graeme, our overseas manager in Greece, to arrange for their interviewing and training. Understandably she loves Alonissos.

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Windmills, near Chios Town

Chios

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774
  • Marketing: 020 8758 4731

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Thank you for your enquiry. A member of our specialist reservation teams will be in touch shortly.

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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