Unexpectedly charming and unpretentious, Lemnos has for centuries been a welcoming – although relatively undiscovered – destination at the heart of the Northern Aegean.
The island of Hephaestus, with its mysterious ancient settlements, endless golden beaches, and great winemaking tradition, is one of Greece’s most enigmatic islands.
Its mysterious energy comes from the natural landscape: an eccentric marriage of bare volcanic rock, endless plains with vineyards and wheat fields, desert sands, and wetlands visited by rare birds.
From the cosmopolitan capital of Myrina to its peaceful, picturesque villages, Lemnos is an ideal destination for lovers of nature getaways and unhurried exploration. It can be reached with the ferry to Lemnos.
10 reasons to visit Lemnos
To climb up to the impressive Myrina Castle. Built on a rocky peninsula in the 12th century by the Byzantine emperor Andronicus I Comnenus, it offers a unique view of the Aegean and the town of Myrina. One of the most beautiful sights up at the castle is the hundred or so small fallow deer that live here. They are friendly towards strangers.
To visit the prehistoric settlement of Poliochne (4th-3rd millennium BC), one of the oldest urban societies in the world, which was also remarkably developed in cultural terms. The important archaeological site reveals that seven cities stood here between 4000 and 1500 BC. The bouleuterion, or assembly house, the oldest ever discovered, shows that democracy also existed outside Athens.
To walk around the extraordinary Pachies Ammoudies, the “Sahara” of Lemnos and the only desert in Europe. Its seven hectares of striking sand dunes and white lilies in the north of the island (near the village of Katalakos and Gomati beach) creates an exotic setting reminiscent of North Africa.
To climb up to the Virgin Mary Kakaviotissa, built inside a remote cave on the summit of Mount Kakavos. It is the only church in the world with no roof and its location offers a magical view of Thanos Beach.
To visit the ancient city of Hephaestia, second only to Myrina in terms of importance. Admire impressive buildings such as the Temple of the Great Goddess Lemnos, necropolises, baths, and the beautifully restored theatre of the Hellenistic and Roman period, which since 2010 has been used for performances.
To take a dip in the clear blue waters of Philoctetes’ Cave, where according to legend, the Homeric hero was abandoned by the Greeks on their way to Troy when he was bitten by a snake. He lived in the cave for 10-12 years and was cured by the volcanic soil of the island, known as Lemnian Earth.
To visit the lovely village of Kontias, a jewel of stone architecture with magnificent traditional mansions and impressive half-ruined windmills. Make a stop at the Gallery of Contemporary Balkan Art to see one of the temporary exhibitions there.
To discover a kitesurfing and windsurfing paradise on Keros beach.
To immerse yourself in the mysterious atmosphere of the Sanctuary of the Cabeiri in Kontopouli. The archaeological site, where rituals related to the rebirth of nature and fertility took place, retains a strange energy to this day.
To go bird watching at the Alyki wetland (part of the Natura 2000 network), a landscape of unique beauty formed by the salt lakes of Alyki, Hortarolimni and Asprolimni. More than 250 species of birds have been observed here, including the ruddy shelduck, the lesser kestrel, and the beautiful pink flamingo.
The top beaches of Lemnos
Evgatis: Also called Nevgates and Zematas, this long, gently shelving sandy beach with crystal-clear waters between Kontias and Thanos has a relaxed atmosphere. It offers sun loungers, umbrellas and beach bars, and is ideal for activities like beach volleyball. You can also rent a pedalo or go windsurfing. In the evening, the beach is transformed by parties that continue until dawn. It is one of the beaches worth visiting if you have a ticket to Lemnos.
Keros: A long, cosmopolitan beach with scenery reminiscent of the Caribbean. The shallow turquoise waters and small dunes with sea lilies give the landscape a wild beauty. It is a favourite of surfers, both experienced and beginners, and by more adventurous swimmers, who enjoy the waves whipped up by the strong winds here.
Thanos: One of the most popular and lively beaches on the island, in an enchanting setting of white sand and clear turquoise waters with interesting volcanic rocks at one end. It is ideal for lovers of water sports and beach bars, while one part of it is popular with nudists.
Parthenomytos: An exotic paradise for would-be castaways and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Untouched and tranquil, with turquoise waters, coarse sand and colourful shells scattered along the shoreline, its natural landscape enhances the sense of privacy and adventure. To enjoy it, you will have to take a difficult dirt road from the village of Skandali, but it is worth the effort.
Platy: The most popular and cosmopolitan beach on the island, near Myrina, with fine sand and shallow sea that gets gradually deeper. It has every amenity and lively beach bars that keep the crowds of people there partying day and night.
Don’t leave Lemnos without…
Visiting the fascinating Museum of Maritime Tradition and Sponge Fishing in Nea Koutali. The collection, dedicated to the history of sponge fishing on the island, includes special equipment and underwater archaeological finds.
Going for a walk along the Romeikos Yialos esplanade in Myrina and admiring the beautiful mansions of the wealthy Egyptians who brought the cultivation of cotton to the island.
Visiting the extraordinary Faraklo Geological Park, an open-air museum of strange geological sculptures in unique shapes and colours, created as volcanic lava turned to rock on its way to the sea.
Taking a day trip to the island of Agios Efstratios with its stunning untouched beaches and magnificent wetlands.
Enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs at Therma, a high-quality natural spa surrounded by plane trees and water.
Following one of the island’s hiking trails. The route from Diapori to Fakos and Agia Efthimia, around Diapori Bay and Moudros Bay, passes through some stunning natural landscapes where you can see some 20-million-year-old fossilised trees.
Exploring the countryside of Lemnos for folk architecture, such as the stone “mandres” (animal enclosures) that can be seen throughout the island and are notable for the skill with which they were built.
Try some of Lemnos’ famous cheeses, including the local feta and kalathaki, which both have protected designation of origin (PDO) status, as well as melichloro (also known as melipasto) or kaskavali.
The island’s thyme honey is considered one of the finest in Greece. Try it with the local wheat paximadia (rusks of twice-baked bread).
Taste the local trachanas (fermented grain and yoghurt) and afko (split-pea mash, known elsewhere in Greece as fava).
Take the ferry to Lemnos and enjoy braised rooster with flomaria (local handmade noodles), aftoudia (fresh pasta) with grape syrup, and kaspakino (roast lamb with rice, kalathaki cheese, spring onions, raisins, fennel, and tomato).
Don’t miss the delicious klikia (a local kind of coiled cheese pie made with maize flour, feta cheese, sesame seeds and olive oil) and courgette bake (made with eggs, courgettes, kalathaki cheese and onion).
Satisfy your sweet tooth with Venizelika (small chocolates made with almonds and vanilla icing), samsades (filo parcels filled with walnuts and sesame seeds, flavoured with cinnamon and lemon, and drenched in syrup), feloudia (slices of baked pumpkin with sugar, cinnamon, raisins and olive oil) and the well-known katimeria (pancakes with cheese or honey).
At the fish tavernas of Lemnos you can enjoy the day’s catch and shellfish such as scallops, clams, limpets, crabs and lobster – the local lobster is considered the best in the Aegean. They are worth trying if you choose the ferry to Lemnos.
Unique varieties of grapes have been cultivated for centuries now in the volcanic soil of the island, producing some stunning wines. Don’t leave Lemnos without trying those made from the red Limnio, also known as Kalambaki (PDO) and the white Muscat of Alexandria.
Cool off with local lemonade and orangeade produced in the village of Atsiki.
During World War I, the port of Moudros was the main Allied base for the historic Gallipoli campaign (1915). Hundreds of soldiers who lost their lives in the expedition, from Australia, New Zealand, France, England, Canada, Egypt and India, are buried in the military cemeteries of Moudros and Portianos, which receive thousands of visitors every year. Sir Winston Churchill, the originator of the campaign, had his headquarters in Portianos. His armchair is on display at the Folklore Museum.