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Welcome to Chios, a captivating island in the Aegean Sea that beckons with its rich history, picturesque landscapes, and authentic Greek charm. Are you wondering what to do in Chios? Whether it was more of a spur-of-the-moment choice, and you haven’t planned anything, or you’ve been planning your trip to Chios for a while, we have the best reasons why to visit Chios!
From its medieval villages frozen in time to its pristine beaches and mouthwatering culinary delights, Chios offers a remarkable experience for first-time visitors. In this comprehensive guide, we invite you to immerse yourself in the essence of Chios as we unveil its unique features, drawing inspiration from seasoned travelers and locals who have fallen in love with this hidden gem of Greece.
Discover the island’s enchanting allure as you wander through the labyrinthine streets of Mesta, a medieval village that transports you back in time with its stone houses and fortified walls. Marvel at the intricate black-and-white geometric patterns adorning the facades of Pyrgi, a village renowned for its unique architecture. Explore the vibrant citrus-scented landscapes of the Kambos area, dotted with elegant mansions and orchards, offering a glimpse into Chios’ fascinating history and agricultural heritage.
But Chios is not only a testament to the past; it also embraces the present with its charming coastal towns and beautiful beaches. Bask in the sun and feel the gentle caress of the Aegean Sea at Karfas, Komi, or Mavra Volia, where the black pebbles create a striking contrast against the turquoise waters. Indulge in the island’s culinary delights, from fresh seafood delicacies to traditional dishes infused with the unique flavors of mastic, a natural resin that has been cultivated here for centuries.
>> Read our Chios Travel Guide for 2023
As you embark on your Chios adventure, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Nea Moni Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site showcasing Byzantine art at its finest. Wander through fragrant citrus groves, hike along scenic trails, and breathe in the refreshing sea breeze that carries the spirit of this remarkable island.
Join us on this journey of discovery as we unveil the best things to do, see, and experience in Chios. Let this first-timer’s guide be your trusted companion as you create cherished memories, immerse yourself in local traditions, and uncover the hidden treasures that make Chios a true gem in the Aegean Sea.
Every first-time visitor requires this handbook. So, if this is your first time in Chios, follow these locals’ recommendations and discover the best things to do in Chios!
Chios Island Greece
Chios, the fifth-largest island in Greece, is situated in the northern Aegean Sea. The island exports mastic, also known as “The Mastic island,” of course.
The main pleasures of visiting this island are learning about its Neolithic history, the Turks’ occupation during the Greek Revolution, and the exploits of Saracen pirates. Homer, the author of The Odyssey and the books Iliad, is also thought to have been born in Chios.
The Nea Moni Mowhich is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage e and is thought to be the most likely location of the famous poet Homer’s birth is located on the island of Chios, which is now renowned among the Aegean islands for producing mastic. Chios Mastic isn’t the only local product that might be seen here but it is the most famous one.
What to do in Chios: Medieval Villages Frozen in Time
Step into a fairytale as you wander through the medieval villages of Chios. Lose yourself in the narrow streets of Mesta, a labyrinthine village enclosed by fortified walls where time seems to stand still. Admire the unique architecture of Pyrgi, adorned with intricate black-and-white geometric patterns on its facades. Don’t miss the well-preserved village of Olympi, home to the impressive Church of Agios Georgios and traditional stone houses that transport you to another era.
About 26 kilometers from Chios Town, in the island’s southern region, is the medieval village of Pyrgi. Pyrgi is a must addition to your What to do in Chios list!
One of the Chios island’s historic settlements, Pyrgi, escaped the quake of 1881 with just minor damage. It still has its distinctive architecture and urban layout from the Middle Ages. Your trip through the village’s narrow alleys (aka sokakia) will transport you to a long-forgotten historical period.
Ask the locals about the upcoming festivities and give yourself up to the friendly hands of the Pyrgi residents if you want to make the most of your visit. Undoubtedly, the village is among the best things to do in Chios.
Mesta gives a voy in time to the height of the mastic villages’ village. Visit the church of Aghios Taxiarhis (the Arc is known for its exquisite wooden iconostasis and is regarded as one of the finest examples of Chian woodcarving.
Olympoi is a mastic village with a charming square, lovely doors and windows that are occasionally painted and intriguing alleys. Beautiful, with components from the other two villages (Mesta and Pyrgi), it has all the elements of the village-castle mole, still keeping the sense of the open, uninhabited space.
Olympi was likewise designed to resemble a castle settlement and is defended with the main gate and a watchtower. All the village residences are connected by arched walkways, providing attractive and interesting promenades. Don’t forget to add the Olympi Trapeza, a two-story, early-medieval in superb condition to your What To Do in Chios list.
Places to visit on Chios Island
From UNESCO monuments to medieval castles and then to mesmerizing waters, Chios has it all!
Chios Island has gorgeous beaches that are worth your time. However, Chios is a big island, and if it is your first time there, it is pretty hard to visit them all. We prepared a list of the must-visit beaches to add to your What To Do In Chios list!
- Mavra Volia: Mavra Volia, which means ‘Black Pebble,’ is a truly stunning beach! A volcanic formation created a natural beach with a lovely sea and black stones. The small cliff inside makes you jump into the sea! The natural beach is a few hundred meters to the right of the pier if you are coming from the fishermen’s village. There are no facilities on the beach because it is protected. However, you are welcome to bring your umbrella. It is advised to wear slippers or sandals because it is challenging to navigate the stones barefoot.
- Elinda Beach: One of Chios’ most stunning beaches. The fact that it is so remote enhances its value. How great is it that it is indeed situated in a cove? Additionally, the water is quite cold and transparent. Only enter if you enjoy that. Your next option can be Lithi Beach with ease! It is also stunning. There are watchtowers all along the beach’s western edge. Do you know why they were so helpful throughout the Middle Ages?
Are you wondering about what to do in Chios for sightseeing? No worries, we list below the must-see attractions!
Nea Moni Monastery
Nea Moni Monastery is a must! The magnificent monastery of Nea Moni, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is 12 kilometers from Chios Town. Established in 1042, the monastery is well known for its delicate, exquisite mosaics. According to some, these mosaics represent the pinnacle of Byzantine “Macedonian Renaissance Art.”
Explore the serene courtyard, where the centuries-old olive trees whisper stories of the past. Immerse yourself in the spiritual aura of this sacred place and witness the timeless beauty of Chios’ cultural heritage.
It is a beautiful monastery with breathtaking hagiographies and mosaics that stand out among Byzantine art. In a designated place, the skulls of the Turks killed during the massacre in Chios are maintained.
>> Read the best museums to visit in Chios
And since you’re there, you must also pass through Anavatos. A highly well-preserved abandoned medieval town with stone homes tightly packed together. It is worthwhile to travel there to experience what Chios’s medieval villages were like. Take the path to Anavatos if you’re a traveler looking for distinctive experiences throughout your stay in Chios. Visit this abandoned dead castle city on the western fringe of Central Chios that was cruelly and unjustly abandoned during the mass killings of the 19th century.
Kampos: A Journey Through History and Agriculture
Embark on a journey through time in the picturesque Kambos area. Admire the elegant neoclassical mansions that once belonged to the island’s wealthy citrus growers. Walk along the fragrant citrus groves, savoring the intoxicating aroma of the fruits. Learn about the island’s rich agricultural heritage and the centuries-old tradition of cultivating citrus fruits, which has shaped the landscape and livelihoods of the locals.
If you’re visiting Chios for the first time, you must visit the Kampos area. The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive in the area are the many lovely mansions. You won’t be disappointed if you eat lunch or dinner in Kambos! No matter what you are in the mood for, there are numerous taverns and eateries.
Kampos is a distinctive, stunning hamlet well known for its lavish houses. Many were constructed as fortifications during the Genoese era. Then they transformed into opulent palaces in the 17th and 18th centuries—an absolute not-miss from your What to Do in Chios list.
Indulge in Chios’ Culinary Delights
No visit to Chios is complete without savoring its delectable culinary offerings. Immerse yourself in the island’s gastronomic treasures and discover what to do in Chios through these memorable food and drink experiences:
- Traditional Chios Dishes: Delight your taste buds with traditional Chios dishes that showcase the island’s unique flavors and culinary heritage. Experience one of the top things to do in Chios by trying “mastello,” a slow-cooked lamb dish infused with aromatic herbs and spices, tenderizing the meat to perfection. Sample “herisia,” a handmade local pasta, or “sarmades,” vine leaves stuffed with a fragrant rice and herb filling. These dishes will transport you to the heart of Chios’ culinary traditions.
- Local Tavernas: Discover the true essence of Chios by dining at local tavernas, where you can experience authentic Greek hospitality and flavors. Explore the things to do in Chios by visiting tavernas in the villages of Avgonima, Volissos, or Armolia, where you’ll be treated to mouthwatering dishes prepared with love and using locally sourced ingredients. Indulge in fresh seafood caught from the Aegean Sea or feast on “kouneli stifado,” a traditional rabbit stew slow-cooked in a rich tomato sauce.
- Must-Try Mastic Products: Chios is renowned for its mastic, a unique resin cultivated here for centuries. Sample the island’s famous mastic products, such as “mastiha liqueur,” a sweet and aromatic drink that captures the essence of Chios and offers an exciting thing to do in Chios. Savor “submarines,” small mastic-flavored cookies pair perfectly with a cup of Greek coffee. Don’t forget to try “mastiha chewing gum,” a refreshing treat that provides a unique and delightful chewing experience. These mastic products are among the top things to do in Chios for any food enthusiast.
- Citrus Fruits and Delights: Chios is also known for its abundant citrus fruits, which thrive in the island’s fertile soil. Discover what to do in Chios through its citrus-infused treats. Taste the sweetness of Chios’ oranges and lemons, either freshly squeezed or incorporated into various desserts and pastries. Indulge in “portokalopita,” a traditional orange pie, or “galaktoboureko,” a creamy semolina custard wrapped in crispy filo pastry.
Practical Tips for Exploring Chios
Planning your first visit to Chios? Here are some practical tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience on the island and make the most of what to do in Chios:
To reach Chios, you can take a direct flight from Athens or Thessaloniki to Chios Island National Airport or a ferry journey from various ports in Greece. Once on the island, renting a car is recommended for flexibility in exploring its diverse attractions and to access what to do in Chios easily. Alternatively, public transportation, such as buses and taxis, allows convenient travel between towns and villages.
Best Times to Visit:
Consider the best times to visit Chios based on your preferences and interests. The island comes alive during the summer months with bustling beach bars and vibrant seaside tavernas, offering a plethora of what to do in Chios. If you enjoy lively atmospheres and water activities, plan your visit between May and October to experience the full range of what to do in Chios. However, if you prefer a quieter experience, the winter months offer a tranquil ambiance, cozy mountain villages, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in what to do in Chios beyond the typical summer attractions.
Exploring the Island and What to Do:
When exploring Chios, allocate time to visit the island’s top attractions and experience what to do in Chios. Discover the charming medieval villages, such as Mesta, Pyrgi, and Olympi, where time seems to stand still. Explore the picturesque Kambos area with its neoclassical mansions and citrus groves. Immerse yourself in the unique charm of the Mastichochoria villages and learn about the island’s mastic cultivation. And don’t miss the opportunity to visit the UNESCO-listed Nea Moni Monastery, a true gem of Byzantine architecture showcasing what to do in Chios.
Rent a car in Chios to explore the beauty of the island
Local Customs and Considerations:
Respect the local customs and traditions while visiting Chios. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and be mindful of local sensitivities. Chios is known for its warm and welcoming locals, so embrace the opportunity to engage with them and learn about the island’s rich history and cultural heritage. Also, remember to sample the island’s famous mastic products, which are integral to Chios’ identity and offer a unique experience of what to do in Chios.
So… What to do in Chios?
Now that you have discovered the enchanting island of Chios and all the beautiful things to do in Chios, it’s time to start planning your unforgettable journey. Immerse yourself in the island’s rich history, explore its picturesque villages, indulge in the tantalizing local cuisine, and embrace the warmth of the Chian hospitality. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie seeking culinary delights, Chios has something to offer everyone.
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Remember, Chios is waiting to captivate you with its unique charm and endless possibilities. Start planning your trip, immerse yourself in the island’s wonders, and create unforgettable memories. What are you waiting for? Discover the beauty, history, and vibrant culture of Chios today!
Don’t be overwhelmed! Chios will win your heart, and you will be coming back for sure 🙂