Transfer time 40 minutes
Kokkari is the prettiest seaside village on Samos. With its three good beaches, long colourful waterfront and picturesque fishing harbour, all overlooked by the characterful old village above, Kokkari is an ever-popular choice amongst all ages and nationalities.
Although Kokkari has largely retained its ‘village’ character it also enjoys quite a cosmopolitan atmosphere – especially in the evenings when people come to stroll, sit at a waterside café, and later dine. There is a wealth of eating places to choose from, ranging from traditional taverna to upmarket bistro, and some nightlife. Kokkari also has a couple of internet cafés.
The main pebble beach stretches for half a mile. Around the corner are two pretty shingle bays; the further sheltered from the frequent prevailing wind by an attractive rocky headland. A string of Samos’ most famous beaches begins only a 20 minute walk to the west with Lemonakia.
A good bus service links Kokkari with Samos Town 10 kms away. All excursions pick-up from the village, mountain bikes can be rented, there is a windsurf school and the mountains behind offer fine walking opportunities.
Aghios Konstantinos, a 20 minute drive beyond Kokkari, is typically Greek. Its stone buildings stretch for nearly a kilometre along the seafront, which has some half-dozen very traditional tavernas, a few local shops, a handsome central church and a small harbour to one end. Although there is a small pebble beach it is not very swimmable - much better ones can be found a short drive to the east, starting with Kambos a 40 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride away.
But the greatest appeal of this area is for walkers and country-lovers. The village is at the foot of lush Nightingale Valley (‘Aidonia’), one of the most beautiful areas of Samos. A walk up the steep, thickly-forested valley to the pretty village of Manolates, with its welcoming tavernas and panoramic views, is a must, and serious walkers can go on from here.
10 kms to the east of Kokkari, Samos Town (aka Vathy) is the island’s capital, climbing the hill amphitheatrically above a deep bay. Its red-tiled houses, cool squares and graceful neo-classical buildings lend an air of elegance. It is the main ferry port and commercial hub of the island, and home to a wide choice of shops, cafes and restaurants of all hues. There is a buzz to the town, especially in the evenings when people come out to stroll along the new improved seafront promenade before choosing a café for a pre-dinner ouzo and then one of the many restaurants.
For a change of scene explore the old town of Ano Vathy up the hill – a very picture-postcard Greek scene with its narrow lanes, whitewashed houses, sleeping cats and bright splashes of bougainvillea. Ano Vathy has some good traditional tavernas of its own. The nearest beach is popular Gangou, one kilometre (a 15 minute walk) north of the harbour. The 200m stretch of shingle is sheltered, shelves gently into a very clear sea, has sun beds for rent and is backed by several cafes and tavernas.
The town is also home to an excellent archaeological museum and an interesting wine museum (tours available), and is the best base for inexpensive exploration of the island using its good bus service, as all lines start from here. One evening visit we highly recommend is to Cine Rex, an outdoor cinema in a hill village about a 15 minute car or taxi ride from town. Films are current releases and in English. It is the atmospheric garden/village setting that makes this so special, and you can order pizza or souvlaki for the interval. Fans of ‘Cinema Paradiso’ will love it!
Painting With P