Widely known as the Island of Mastiha and the “fragrant” island of the Aegean, Chios Island Greece, mostly because of the aroma of the unique Natural Chios Mastiha (a product of Protected Destination of Origin) and the lovely citrus fruits that are produced in the area of Kampos, Chios has a lot to offer to the restless and curious traveler.
Chios lies in the East Aegean, very close to the Asia Minor coast (only 3.5 nautical miles from the Erithrea peninsula in Cesme). It is the fifth largest Greek island with a coastline of 213 km and a population of about 52.000. Together with the islets of Oinousses and Psara, it forms the Regional Unit of Chios, part of the North Aegean Region.
The variety of remote and secluded beaches, the dramatic changes of the landscape in the north, and the well preserved (and protected) architectural sites of Kampos and the Mastiha villages in the south render Chios a hidden treasure of the Aegean Sea, waiting to be discovered.
Out and about in the Villages of Mastiha
Over the years, Chios’s rulers developed an impressive defense network of castles, protected settlements and watchtowers. The villages of Mastiha (called mastihohόria by the locals) in the south of the island are part of it. A visit to Olympoi, Mesta, Pyrgi, Kalamoti or really any of the other mastiha villages will not only let you get a sense of the culture of mastiha as it has been carried to our days, but it will also transport you to times past.
Walking or cycling in the area will help you to get to know the villages and the locals and enjoy the unique landscape of mastiha cultivations and medieval villages. Among the variety of hiking paths in the area, do not miss the signed paths of Olympoi – Mesta and Armolia – Apolichna Castle. Ecotourism activities organized by special agencies offer visitors the chance to experience not only various stages of the mastiha cultivation, but also the mastiha culture as a way of life.
Kampos is a region south of the town of Chios, where the exquisite natural landscape of citrus orchards is in total harmony with the grand mansions of the old Chios aristocracy. A heritage from the island’s Genoese period and a designated protected site by the Greek Ministry of Culture, it is characterized by red-stone villas, farmsteads and orchards.
The estates are hidden behind high stone walls that protect them from prying eyes. However, walking or cycling around the narrow streets of Kampos will enable you get a good glimpse of the old grandeur still visible. Some estates have been turned into luxury hotels or high quality B&Bs. “Citrus memories” is an old Kampos estate turned into a museum of the history of the area and the citrus fruits production and trade. An annual event that takes place in Kampos in August is the International Chios Half Marathon organized by the Chios Running Society.
Experience the sea of Chios Island Greece
It would not be an understatement to say that Chios’s beaches can satisfy even the most demanding sea lovers. From organized beaches closed to the town, to remote, not easily accessible sea sides in the north part of the island and the rough but so seductive west coast, you will be amazed to discover a different beach everyday. Dark blue, green and turquoise waters that are so inviting, especially from mid- spring, throughout the summer until the end of October. Since Chios is not a mainstream tourist destination, you will find that even during high season you can relax in a peaceful beach.
As for the adventurous visitor, Chios has to offer lovely diving spots, since the crystal clear Aegean waters and the lovely summer light, combined with the underwater beauties of the island make it a wonderful diving destination. Other activities such as sea-kayak, snorkeling and wind surfing are also offered, mostly in Apothika beach near Mesta and in Kontari. For most part of the summer, the cool northern winds make beaches such as Bella Vista, Velonas, Kontari, Karfas and Agia Dynami a favourite destination of windsurfers.
Sailing in Chios Island Greece
Sailing is a popular activity in Chios, and not only due to the seafarer’s past of the island. Either by yourself (if you have a skipper license) or by renting a sailing boat under a licensed skipper, you can sail around Chios, visiting beaches that cannot be reached by land, or you can sail to the neighboring islets of Oinousses and Psara. A couple of yachting companies in Chios offer boat rentals or organized sailing excursions.
Hiking in Chios
Chios walking trails are becoming more popular over the years, not only to visitors, but also to locals. Apart from the eight signed paths organized by the Regional Unit of Chios, Chios’s landscape offers a large variety of natural and/or historic paths for the fans of hiking. Maps and information of the trails are offered here: www.chioswalking.gr .
Chios, even though it is a large island, remains a destination off the beaten track. Distant and mysterious Chios is waiting to unfold its secrets. The truth is that once you get under its spell, you have no choice but to return.
Photo Captions & Credits
- Chios tangerine (Product of Geographic Indication (PGI). Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Citrus Memories, Kampos, Chios. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Pyrgi, the painted village of the Mastiha villages. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Mansion in Kampo. Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Entrance of Kampos Estate. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Apothika Beach near Mesta. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Sailing near Pateroniso islet at the Oinousses complex, in the north east of Chios. Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Oinousses, the only inhabited island of the Oinousses complex. Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Managros beach, in the northwest of Chios. Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Pantoukios, a fishing village in the northeast of Chios. Nicolas Argenti, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- The Kampia Ravine, one of the eight signed hiking trails in Chios. Nicolas Argenti, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Mastiha trees cultivation. Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Mesta village. George Kostantas, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Mesta village. Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Olympoi village. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Patrika village. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Pyrgi village. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Komi, one of the most popular beaches in the south. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Mavra Volia is the trademark beach of Chios… Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- … a volcanic beach with black pebbles. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Working at the mastiha trees. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Trachili beach. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Windmills near Chios town. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Chios port. Michalis Tetteris, Chios Tourism Department Archive
- Psara. Municipality of Psara archive
- Walking on the path of the Castle of Gria. Chios Vertical Life archive/ Chios Tourism Department Archive