Lemnos lies halfway between the shores of Asia Minor and the slopes of Mount Athos. Indeed you can see Athos on a clear day, and they say that the holy mountain casts its shadow on Lemnos twice a year.
The island resembles a huge butterfly, its many bays giving a coastline of some 260 kms. It is the eighth largest Greek island, which means plenty of scope for exploration. Beaches are superb, even within Myrina, being sandy and safe, and there are many to choose from, including lovely Plati just outside which has a coveted Blue Flag. The interior is rural and gently hilly. Lemnos is a very traditional Greek island, where priorities remain agriculture and fishing rather than tourism.
That said, excursions do run (notably boat trips and a round island coach trip); bicycles, cars and small boats can be rented; horse riding is available at Plati; and there is a range of water sports, including a PADI dive school.
Myrina, the capital, bisected by a dominant Venetian Castro, really is most a most attractive little town. The harbour is archetypal with an array of cafés and restaurants, and plenty of small shops in the narrow lanes behind. Elegantly crumbling neoclassical buildings and good sandy beaches lie to either side, the most popular of which is Riha Nera - busy in season it offers plenty of sun beds (free of charge if you buy a coffee, drink or snack), a traditional taverna restaurant and a handful of beach bars serving food (music here).Romeikos in the next bay has no facilities but is lesser populated.
At Poliochni the remnants of four cities have been found – the most ancient predates Troy and is a site of world significance, being possibly the oldest known town settlement in Europe.More recently, Lemnos has witnessed the familiar Mediterranean roll-call, Romans, Venetians, Genoese and Turks all having left their mark. Legend has it that Aphrodite, having been upset by the local women, gave them all such halitosis that their husbands imported new wives from Thrace! The Lemniot ladies promptly drugged them all and threw their bodies over the cliffs. As one local guide book put it, ‘After this event a society of Amazons was created, till the Argonauts reached the island… The island was successfully repopulated.’
They do say these old tales often have a factual basis. Could that old man sitting in the coffee shop be a direct descendant of Jason himself?