Chios: Greece’s gangplank island to Turkey

For our final Greek island, my friends and I decided to visit Chios. We chose this island because it is the closest one to Turkey, which is where we were headed next, and because none of us had been there before. Below are some of the things we did and saw during our short stay here:

What to Do:

Beaches. Like the other islands, this one has some nice beaches. The one we went to was Karfas beach. This one has clean, white sand and calm waters with the shallow part extending out quite a ways. Visitors can rent a chair and umbrella for free as long as they order a drink from the associated restaurant or café. This is a great way to spend an afternoon. When we went here, we rented a bike for the day in the city center and stopped here for a few hours as part of our bike ride. Plan to spend a few hours here.

Chios beer. We happened to stumble on this microbrewery on our bike ride through that part of town. It is not really open for tours, but they do let visitors in and show them around. They also offer a free taste of one of their beers. Visitors can buy bottled beers here and take them to the beach. The only problem is they may not be cold. We bought several varieties and threw them on the back of our bikes but did not drink them until later after we could refrigerate them. This microbrewery had some unique flavors. Their smoked beers were especially interesting. This makes for a great stop on a bike ride. Plan to spend 30 minutes here.

Pyrgi. This cute town is known for its unique geometric design patterns that can be found on most of the buildings, making this place very photogenic. This is the perfect stop to for your instragram account. We spent a fun afternoon here walking around and looking at all the buildings. Bring a good camera and plan to spend a couple of hours here.

Mastic museum. Located about 3 km away from Pyrgi, this museum provides visitors with background information on one of the island’s main exports, mastic, which is used in gum and alcohol. It is an interesting museum and definitely worth a stop for those who are already in the area to see Pyrgi. We walked to get here from Pyrgi but later found out there is a bus stop at the bottom of the hill and that a bus goes between the two. Visitors could also hire a car to go between the two if they do not have the time to wait for a bus. Plan to spend 90 minutes here.

Shopping:

This island is known for its production of mastic so buy some mastic products. While mastic has many uses, including gum and medicine, I recommend buying mastic candies or liqueurs. These make great gifts that are unique to the island. There are a couple of shops in the downtown area dedicated to mastic products, and the mastic museum also has a great gift shop.

What to Eat:

As this was our last stop in Greece and our last island, we wanted to get our fill of Greek and seafood. We ate a lot of Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, octopus, and souvlaki and drank our fill of traditional raki. There are lots of taverns in the downtown area. Grab a table at one by the water and sit outdoors. A lot of the waterfront taverns had similar food and prices so just look for one whose menu and atmosphere seems most appealing.

Where to Stay:

We stayed at an Airbnb about 2.5 km away from the ferry port in an area close to the downtown of the largest town. It was easy to get a ride here from the port. And the house was within walking distance to restaurants and shops. I would definitely recommend visitors to stay in an area close to the largest town if they do not plan to rent a car.

Getting Around:

We arrived to Chios by ferry from Mykonos.  The ferry is about 7-9 hours, and these ferries run less often so plan ahead. Once we arrived at the port, we took a taxi to our Airbnb. The ferry drop off is right down town so it is easy to grab a taxi off the street. For travelers wanting to explore the whole island or staying farther away from the downtown area, renting a car might be best. We did not rent one, and were still able to get to the places we wanted to see. We rented a bike for the day to get to the beaches. And we made our way to Pyrgi by bus. The bus station is close to the port and schedules are posted for buses to Pyrgi. Since we were staying within walking distance of downtown the buses were convenient for us. When we departed Chios, we again left by ferry and were able to take a bus from our Airbnb (there was a bus stop right down the road) to get back to the port area.

Overall:

Chios is very different than the more well known Cyclades Islands (e.g., Santorini and Mykonos). Being so close to Turkey (travelers can see Turkey from the port) there is a lot more Turkish influence than on the other islands. As we were headed to Turkey next, it kind of served as a gateway island for our trip. And since the island is less popular, there are a lot less tourists. The island has a much more relaxed vibe, and the prices are cheaper. We only stayed two full days here but enjoyed our time. I would recommend staying at least three days to explore other parts of the island, such as Mesta. We came here in September and the weather was great. This island is best for travelers looking to go a little more off the beaten path.

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