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North Aegean - Legendary Islands with Native Character

A trip to the North Aegean is like a journey into a different time and world. Each of the islands is unique in its own way and is waiting to be explored.

The island of Lemnos in the North Aegean

Geography - Greece's least populous region

The North Aegean is a Greek region in the Aegean Sea and comprises numerous greater and smaller islands. These extend on an area of about 300 kilometres along the Turkish west coast from north to south. The islands do not constitute a clearly defined island group but can be divided into three groups: the North and East Aegean Islands as well as the Southern Sporades. With a total area of 3,836 km² and almost 200,000 inhabitants, the North Aegean is the least populous region in Greece. The seven best-known islands in the North Aegean are Lesbos, Samos, Lemnos, Chios, Thasos (a political part of Macedonia), Icaria and Samothrace (a political part of Thrace). Mytilini on Lesbos is the region's capital. The climate on the islands is oceanic with humid, mild winters and warm, dry summers.

The island of Samos in the North Aegean

Nature - Of forests, mountains and a rich avian fauna

The landscape of the islands in the North Aegean is characterised by forested (mainly stone pines) mountains in the heartland, endless olive groves, harsh coastlines with volcanic rocks and vast sandy and pebble beaches. Lesbos impresses with its vast olive groves and Chios is vegetated by the world-famous mastic, which produces resin. Lemnos is less forested than its neighbouring islands and almost completely flat. Wheat, vine and barley are the most commonly grown plants. In addition, there are two significant wetland areas and saltwater lagoons, Alyki Lake and Chortarolimni. These two regions are home to a rich avian fauna (herons, flamingos, duck species). Samos is very mountainous with peaks which are up to 1,433 metres high and displays a very native nature. Besides large forests and wide rivers, you also find vast vineyards on the island. Icaria has wonderful beaches and several thermal springs in Therma Lefkadas.

Wood sandpipers in the North Aegean

Culture - History and architecture take travellers back into a different era

The islands in the North Aegean bear witness to a rich mythology and history. The island of Chios is the home of the famous poet Homer. Lesbos is known for the works of the poetess Sappho, who already wrote about same-sex relationships between women in the 6th century BC. Samos is the place where the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras taught. According to legend, Icarus fell into the sea between the islands of Fourni and Icaria when his waxen wings melted because he flew to close to the sun. Cultural highlights on Lesbos are Mithymna fortress (Molyvos), Panagia Glykofilousa Church on Petra's rock as well as the Roman Aqueduct of Moria. Natural sights are the springs of Polichnitos and the petrified forest between Antissa and Sigri. Chios attracts with its well-preserved residential houses with the traditional grilled windows and balconies, the beautiful streets which are decorated with mosaics, the Byzantine baths and St. George's Church. The most popular destination, however, is without doubt the south, which accommodates the famous mastic villages. Lemnos impresses with its many old mansions and the architecture on Samos has also fascinated many a traveller. Interesting museums are the archaeological museums on Lesbos, Chios and Limnos as well as the Nea Moni Museum and the Koraes Public Library on Chios.

Buildings with mosaics on Chios

Experience - Greek friendliness and island character

In the North Aegean, you can still see the typical traditional island life on Greece. Although the islands are very well known and popular, they have been spared from mass tourism - unlike the Cyclades or the Dodecanese. The islands are characterised by lively towns and deserted villages, which are in accordance with the unique flora fauna. Travellers spend relaxing holidays here and experience the characteristic friendliness and traditional cuisine of the Greeks. Some of the most popular foods are lamb, freshly caught fish, seafood and the locally grown vegetables. In the evening, holidaymakers gather in the taverns and talk to the locals while enjoying wine and ouzo. The islands are not only the perfect travel destination for lovers of nature but also for culture enthusiasts. There are countless temple complexes, town walls, harbours, monasteries, churches and castles as well as relics and icons which bear testimony to the region's eventful and chequered history.

Octopus tentacles drying in the sun

Activities - Active holidays in an impressive nature

The islands in the North Aegean offer a lot to active travellers. While Lemnos is particularly popular with ornithologists, Thasos is full of hikers and lovers of nature in spring and summer. The seven main islands are generally excellently suited for going diving, snorkelling, swimming, wind surfing and sailing. They also offer great conditions for going canoeing, kayaking and cycling. Travellers who prefer to be less active can explore the many beautiful towns and villages, visit the museums or relax at the beach.

Hiking paradise on the island of Thasos

Information

Travellers who want to visit the North Aegean best take the ferry because there are only two airports in this region, on Samos and Lesbos. However, the ferries go to most islands at least once a day.

The North Aegean is the perfect travel destination for holidaymakers who want to get to know the typical island character and the friendliness of the Greeks. You can relax at wonderful beaches here or be active in the breathtaking nature in different ways.

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