As Greece’s third largest island, Lesvos has almost 400 kilometers of paved road with minimal traffic outside Mytilini, the capital. It is the home of ouzo, that Greek spirit with a licorice flavor. You could easily spend the entire tour cycling here. But then you absolutely do not want to miss Chios, an island that has a retro-1950s feels to it from the moment you get off the boat and face the old Rex Theatre. Unique in the world to Chios is mastic, cultivated since medieval days and now enjoying an eco-cachet as an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory resin.
Day 1: Mytilini
Take a slow loop ride along Mytilini’s southern coast. En route the Thilophilos Museum exhibiting this local folk artist’s work. There are inviting beaches along this route. Enjoy your time in the elegant port city of Mytilini ogling opulent 19th century mansions. Take time to visit the Roman era theatre which once seated 10,000 people.
Day 2: Molyvos
Heading north the road hugs the eastern seacoast with views of Turkey always in the distance. En route there are several important churches and monasteries that attract Greeks from all over. Don’t tarry because you will want to maximize your time in lovely Molyvos, visiting the seaside hammam Eftolou and exploring the Genovese castle.
Day 3: Molyvos
Five kilometers south is Petra alluring with its expansive sandy beach. Today you make a look that takes you to little mountain villages and eventually back to the sea at Skala Sikaminia, a charming fishing hamlet whose Gorgona Church is called such because the Virgin Mary is portrayed as a mermaid (“gorgona” in Greek”).
Day 4: Skala Eressos
Riding westward, the terrain dramatically changes from lively green to desert-y dry. One stretch looks like a moonscape. Low key and hip, Skala Eresso is one of the most alternative places in Greece: vegan restaurants, reflexologists and white kids with dreadlocks. In September there is a women’s music festival.
Day 5: Skala Eressos
You can hang out in Skala Eressos for the day or cycle west to Sigri. The town feels like the end of the world with its unobstructed western horizon. Sigri has a Turkish era fortress that’s intriguing to roam around. The ride’s big highlight is the fascinating Petrified Forest, with “trees’ millennia years old.
Day 6: Skala Kalloni
Bike through quiet villages stopping for frappés and spinach pies hot from the fournos (bakery). The Kalloni Gulf is known for water sports, birdwatching – migrations from Africa – and sardines (“sardelles”) with high mineral content. The town has sandy beaches and water sports like windsurfing.
Day 7: Plomari
Cycle up to Agiassos, a mountain town boasting traditional arts and crafts. Next stop at n route stop at refreshing Karini Springs where artist Theophilos lived inside a tree. Yes, you can enter the tree and see where he slept! If Lesvos is home to ouzo, Plomari is its headquarters and you can visit various distilleries for tastings.
Day 8: Chios
Take time in the early morning to bike to Melinda a sea town with about six houses and an amazingly romantic beach. Heading back to Mytilini, you will take a boat at Perama to cross the bay and then cycle into the city. Now you have several options: 1) catch the afternoon boat to Chios and continue the tour, 2) catch an evening boat or flight to Athens for home, 3) stay all night in Mytilini to catch a day-boat to Turkey.
Day 9: Mesta
Chios town is noisy, chaotic, run down and funky and that’s why, ultimately, you’ll enjoy it. Depart for the countryside when you’ve had your fill of city life. You are now headed to the intriguing mastica villages (mastikachoria) whose mastica was once as valuable as silver. Pirate raids forced villagers to convert their medieval homes into fortifications
Day 10: Mesta
Spend the day cycling or hiking from one mastic village to the next. Olympi has a cave to explore. The most curious town is Pyrgi with homes, churches and buildings painted a black and white design so dazzling you will get dizzy walking through the town. Pygri is the reputed homeland of Christopher Columbus who islanders claim was from Chios!
Day 11: Kambos
Kambos is a neighborhood of 18th and 19th century Genoese mansions, pastel pink and red horizontal stripes with arched portals, Arabesque doors and grand courtyards filled with orchards and water-spouting cisterns. Despite destruction of many mansions during the 1821 massacre and 1881 earthquake, enough survive to enchant you.
Day 12: Departure.
Mileage (12 Day Tour Total Miles 280 miles, 450 km 12 Day Average Daily 25 miles, 40 km):
- Day 1: 15 miles, 25 km, 3 climbs, highest is 524 feet
- Day 2: 38 miles, 61 km, rolling hills, highest climb is 1013 ft
- Day 3: 29 miles (5.5 miles on gravel), 46 km, biggest climb is 1394 feet within 12 km
- Day 4: 55 km 35 miles. Rolling climbs, highest climb is 1250 feet within 22 km
- Day 5: 45 miles 72 km gradual climb 1395 feet in 18km and then reverse on way back.
- Day 6: 28 miles, 45 km 1312 ft within 17 km, downhill to the sea
- Day 7: 44 miles, 72km starts out flat, eventually two big climbs of 1312 feet, 754 feet
- Day 8: 23 miles, 37 km, 2 main ascents, 754 foot climb, and 525 feet
- Day 9: 22 miles, 35 km, starts off flat ,then short multiple hills, highest is 902 feet
- Day 10: bike or hike around Masticachoria
- Day 11: 18 miles, 30 km multiple short hills 902 feet.
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