Lemnos is an island of great natural beauty and with a rich history that attracts more and more visitors every year. The very special atmosphere of Lemnos, as well as the unique landscape, impressive architecture and ancient cultural monuments, combined with the influences of refugees from Asia Minor who settled on the island, create a unique combination.
Day one – Mirina
Our journey starts from Mirina, the ancient capital of the island. Kastro (castle) dominates the picturesque island town and it is a pleasure to take a stroll in the two neighborhoods of Mirina, the Romaikos Gialos, with its old buildings of the wealthy Limnians of Egypt and Tourkikos (or Limani). Any time of the day that you choose to walk around Mirina, you are bound to enjoy it. Apart from the castle, you can visit the Metropolis Lemnou Agia Triada, the archaelogical and religious museum, the Russian fort Chas, also known as Dapia and Agia Paraskevi Vontela.
We head towards the beach of Agios Ioannis Kaspakas, one of the best beaches of Lemnos, located very close to Mirina. The coast is sandy, fully organized and faces towards Mount Athos and Halkidiki. From the edge of the beach and through a short path, you will find one of the paradoxes of nature on Lemnos – on this generally arid island, there is a waterfall with rushing water falling from a height of 15 meters! These are the waterfalls Kaspakas (or “Kremasta Nera”) and they create a dreamlike scenery.
In Kaspaka of Lemnos, one of the largest and oldest villages of the island, we will try exquisite almonds and figs, and then we will depart to the south, to visit before dark the chapel of Panagia Kakkaviotissa, a chapel without a roof, built inside the rocks of Lemnos. The hike to the top of the rock is about three kilometers from the main road that starts just outside the village of Thanos.
Day two – Plaka
We explore the island, focusing today on its northeastern part and our first stop is one of the largest and most important villages of Lemnos, Kontopouli, where the poet Yannis Ritsos spent the years of his exile. Two huge palm trees at the entrance of the village welcome us and lead us to the old stone-built drinking fountain with the ornate designs, to the village square and the building of Dimitriadeiou School that dates back to 1925. The traditionally built stone houses, beautifully tended gardens and vegetable plots, will surprise us with their architectural details. The impressive central church in Kontopouli is dedicated to Agios Demetrius.
Our next stop is one of the most important archaeological sites of Lemnos – Hephaistia. We take a tour around the impressive ancient sanctuary of the Great Goddess and the even more impressive ancient theater of the Hellenistic period, surrounded by the wild natural beauty of Lemnos, with the sea in the background.
On the opposite hill stands another important archaeological site of the island, Caveirio, a place of worship, where the apocryphal Cabeiri cult was celebrated during Greek antiquity. The high wall surrounding the shrine shows that only insiders had access there, while today in Caveirio three ancient temples have been demarcated.
In the surrounding area we can visit the Cave of Philoctetes, the Homeric hero that the Achaeans stranded on Lemnos on their way to Troy, as he was bitten by a poisonous snake. According to the legend, the hero healed with the help of Terra Sigillata (“The earth of Lemnos”). The Cave of Philoctetes is situated beneath Caveirio and to approach it we have to follow a short but narrow and steep path over the steep coast.
Time to go to the beach and the best option at this time is none other than the beach of Neftina, which many consider as the best beach of Lemnos. The vast beach with the white sand and the emerald sea, a chapel with a bright red roof and a stream that crosses the beach in the middle – all create an idyllic setting by the sea.
After we enjoy the sun and the sea, we leave for Plaka, the village on the edge of the peninsula in northeastern Limnos. It owes its name (“plaka” means “slab”) to the homonymous cape that produces the unique, probably volcanic dark plates in the shades of gray and black. The view from Plaka and especially from Faros towards the island of Imvros is unobstructed, which is why the displaced people from Imvros designated Plaka as their annual meeting point. From 2003 onwards, the annual meeting is held in the chapel of Agia Anna, founded by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos. Just outside Plaka is the church of Agios Charalambos, where a festival is held on 22nd August. Near the chapel at “Roussounia”, opposite the Athos peninsula, is Agiasma, a source of fresh water, which flows in abundance and is considered miraculous. We take a relaxed walk among the traditional stone houses and stone streets and taste the delicacies of Lemnos in the traditional taverns of the village.
Day three – Amothines
On our third day on the island we will visit the most impressive geological phenomenon of Lemnos, Amothines (dunes). Starting from Mirina and heading eight kilometers northeast we find Kornos, one of the old traditional mountainous villages. On the small village square we visit the traditional cafes for our morning coffee and then take a tour around the two old churches of Agios Andreas, built in 1862 and the Assumption of Virgin mary, from 1892.
Very near Kornos is Therma, the therapeutic hot sources of Lemnos that have been used from ancient times to the present day for their healing properties, attracting many visitors. If we have time available, we make a stop to enjoy the therapeutic properties of water, otherwise we continue our trip towards Katalakko. The village is built in a deep ravine, surrounded by the verdant nature. There we will visit the church Agios Modestos, built in 1856 and continue on towards Amothines which we will reach in about 10 minutes.
Following the signs, we reach the point where we leave our vehicle and continue on foot, taking a short path. Suddenly we come upon a sandy area, a “miniature” desert, such as those encountered in the Sahara and North Africa! Amothines of Lemnos cover an area of approximately 70 acres in Gomati district and according to geologists the dunes were created by the wind moving the sand, a phenomenon that is considered extremely rare in island regions. The signs direct us towards the canteens where we will find shade, a refreshing drink and enjoy the amazing scenery.
After Amothines we head to Gomati beach, one of the best on the island! The wide golden beach with the fine, soft sand and clear sea, the bizarre rock formations, and the small island on its northern side, compose a unique landscape. At one end of the beach you will find a tavern and on the other a beach bar.
Leaving Gomati, we head towards Atsiki, one of the largest villages of Lemnos, in the center of the island. The big village has everything, while the restaurants and taverns on the main square will offer us the local delicacies. The parish church of Agios Georgios Atsiki was built in 1868 and its belfry is the largest of Lemnos!
Day four – Fakos
Time to meet the beautiful villages of southwestern Lemnos, starting from Portianou, the village where Churchill stayed during his stay in Lemnos in the First World War. Today one can still see the old chair where he used to sit (one of the exhibits of the Museum of Folk Art), the mansion of G. Konstantinou where he stayed, as well as the Allied cemetery that is located in the village.
From Portianou we head towards the peninsula of Fakos and Diapori, the narrow point of land that connects Fakos with the rest of Lemnos. Here we find the typical of the landscape of the island unspoiled nature with dozens of hiking trails to choose from in order to admire the quiet and tranquility of the scenery. From this point we have two options. Either we continue on foot to the deserted beach Kokkina or drive back and go for a swim in one of the organized beaches on this side of Lemnos. The beach of Plati, the beach of Thanos, the Diapori beach and Evgatis are situated very close and they are all worth visiting!
We make sure to leave the beach on time, so that we can visit in the light of the day the other villages of the region. We drive to Tsimantria through a road bordered by trees right and left – a striking and characteristic scenery in the generally treeless landscape, while on the main square of the village, a drinking fountain built in 1935 welcomes us and traditional tavernas offer their delicious local dishes. The Paleo Pedino is built near the sea, even though it was almost completely abandoned after the earthquake of 1968, maintains until today an atmosphere of old times. Around the old stone square, with the tall plane tree and the drinking fountain, operate taverns which are usually crowded, especially on summer evenings. The village of Nea Koutali is built on top of a picturesque bay, by Asia Minor refugees from the Koutali island of Marmara, the hometown of the famous Koutalianos! The picturesque harbor is full of fishing boats, while from the beach taverns one can enjoy a beautiful view of the bay of Moudros.
We continue our trip to Kontias, one of the largest villages of Lemnos where we will find almost intact the charming atmosphere of the past. The old stone houses of the ship owners of the 19th and 20th centuries, cobbled streets, old neighborhoods, as well as the strong spirit of its long history, make the village one of the most popular destinations of Lemnos. We visit the ruins of the old windmills, while there are two fully renovated windmills that are definitely worth a visit. The old church of St. John the Baptist was built as a fortress during the 16th century, while the village also has a Gallery of Contemporary Balkan Art.
Day five – Moudros-Poliochni
Moudros, the second largest city of Lemnos after Mirina, is the next station of our trip. The small, picturesque island town, with the impressive Church of Evaggelistria, and the beautiful church Taksiarchon, the old stone elementary school, the small Koukonisi island that is accessible by land via a narrow isthmus, and the unique view over the bay of Moudros compose a truly unique place, so we definitely want to come back!
We head to the neighboring Romanou, which greets us with gurgling water gushing from the rock … The village is considered one of the most beautiful of Lemnos, and the stone houses and old mansions are crafted with skill and passion. The Papaioanneios School (1906), the beautiful square, the carved stone hero monument, the Church of the Genesis of Christ built in 1830, the traditional windmills on the surrounding hills – make for an impressive and interesting landscape!
We then visit Repanidi with the traditional houses, the old church of Agios Georgios, the old grain storage spaces carved in the rocks, as well as the potholes or troughs, also carved in the rock that served as storing jars. Roussopouli village is built on the slope of the hill Korakas, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding area, while just outside the village the impressive geological formations known as “colored rocks” enchant the visitors.
An important archaeological site, not only of Lemnos, but also of the Aegean region, is Poliochni, located in the southeastern part of the island and we should definitely take the time to visit it. It is estimated that at its prime Poliochni had approximately 1,500 inhabitants that lived in rectangular stone houses. The city was surrounded by a wall and had sewers, squares and streets, which suggest that the inhabitants of that time collaborated and lived under specific rules. One of the most impressive features of the ancient town is the “voulevtirio” (‘parliament’), a hall with stone seats along the walls and a seat in the middle for the speaker.
After our visit to the archaeological site we head to the sea and we have plenty of options. The most “famous” beaches on this side of the island are two: Keros beach, that faces the Aegean and Parthenomytos beach that faces towards the entrance of the bay of Moudros.
To visit Keros will head further north. There we will find beach bars, sun beds with umbrellas, municipal canteens, and a small pine forest … Keros is popular with surfers who love riding the waves, while close by are the three lakes of Lemnos that compose the Natura protected area of the island.
To the south is the Parthenomytos beach, one of the largest and most isolated beaches of Lemnos, mainly because it can only be accessed via a dirt road. The turquoise waters and sandy beach, however, compensate us for the difficulties of the route, while when leaving the beach we can head towards Agios Sozon, the most important monastery of Lemnos.