Alternative tourism

Nature on the island The island’s plants, animals and birds More than 1,400 naturally occurring species and subspecies of higher plants have been discovered on Lesvos, and the Bay of Kalloni is one of Greece’s unique wetlands containing more than 130 species of birds. This natural richness is owed in part to the variety of habitats, the quality of rock formations, the millennia of human impact, its abuttal with Asia Minor (Turkey), and its geologically recent separation from the eastern Aegean. Theophrastus (372-287 BC), the father of botany, was born and excelled in Lesvos. Apparently, the island’s flora was of particular interest as far back as antiquity. Noteworthy plants include the yellow rhododendron that grows on the western side of the island (between Anemotia and Parakoila) near a conifer forest, pagona, sea lily, tsikoudia, iris, aplofyllo, alyssum, and numerous species of orchid found on Mt. Olympos. Also, many parts of the island have extensive olive orchards and dense forests of trachea pine, oak, fir, plane trees, beech and chestnut. Many amphibians, reptiles, birds and especially mammals fill the island’s forests, olive groves and mixed wood- and shrub-lands. Unique among these is the galia (squirrel), a beautiful little mammal found only on Lesvos. Also of interest are the island partridge or tsoukar and the black pelican. The Kalloni Bay Wetland A magnet for alternative tourism, the Bay of Kalloni is well-known abroad as a favorite birdwatching destination. The entire marine area encompassed by the bay together with the wetlands around its perimeter comprises an ecosystem that is particularly important for the impressively large variety of bird species that are observed here.

Birdwatching now! Unquestionably, the major spot for birdwatching throughout the year is Alyki in Agia Paraskevi, where the Municipality has erected an observation post. The importance of the place is evidenced by large numbers of birdwatchers who regularly gather here. These visitors come to Lesvos, mostly in the spring (from mid April to late May), to observe the summer migration of birds from Africa, where they have spent the winter, to Europe, where they will arrive to reproduce in the spring and summer. Species Every year, the area is inundated with wild geese, wild ducks, wild swans, herons, kingfishers, glossy ibises, little bitterns, pelicans, gulls, terns, sandpipers, moorhens, northern bald ibises, and even pink flamingos, which are considered the most beautiful and impressive visitors in the wetland. Alternative Tourism Reigns Lesvos offers a variety of alternative forms of tourism. From jeep-safaris through the island’s vast olive groves and forests and trekking on a network of trails that enables you to walk from one end of the island to the other, to birdwatching, which attracts scientists and bird lovers from all over the world. You can also choose among horseback riding, fishing, windsurfing at the northern-most beaches, spear-fishing, and just about anything else you can think of. Sailors will love circumnavigating the island, and those looking for escape can discover the ashrams in Molyvos and Eressos. Religious tourism thrives in Lesvos thanks to its many important monasteries. And don’t forget the island’s famous therapeutic spas, which are a steady draw for visitors throughout the year. If you’re a lesbian, Eressos attracts women who love women from all over the planet. Trendy lesbian bars, hotels and shops – all on the altar of Sappho!

Water sports, romantic seashores, tranquil coves, lounging in cult cafes and trendy eateries, frenzied clubbing, and lots of ouzo and mezes. If you’re a summer person, you’ll find all sorts of activities. The most developed beaches on the island – Tsamakia Beach in Mytilene, Molyvos, Petra, Anaxos, Sigri, Skala Eressos, Skala Kalloni, Vatera, and Agios Isidoros – await you with exciting water sports.

There are breathtaking trails scattered throughout the island, some of which are still unexplored. Others are marked but equally unique.

Lesvos and its long history have produced a number of important monastic centers and churches. The development of monastic life reached its peak after the 13th century, during the Ottoman occupation.

The Convent of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene (Agioi Rafail, Nikolaos kai Irini)
Founded in 1963, the convent was built on the site of a Byzantine monastery that was destroyed by Ottoman soldiers in 1463. It is especially renowned and receives thousands of pilgrims who come to the island solely to visit it and seek the blessing of the Saints. The abbess Eugenia Kleidara, the author of many religious books, and the 40 nuns who comprise the convent’s population are responsible for the convent’s communication and fine reputation.

Taxiarchis in Mantamados

The monastery’s original church was built prior to the 18th century, but was completely reconstructed in 1879. According to legend, the relief icon of the Archangel Michael was moulded from clay and blood. The church contains the prelatic vestment of the martyred Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V, a national and ecclesiastical relic.

Moni Leimonos
Tall and imposing, the Leimonos Monastery has the most extensive grounds of all the monasteries in Lesvos. It was from its founding year (1526) an important place of asceticism and worship, as well as a dynamic institution of systematized education. Remarkable frescos dating from the 16th and 17th centuries decorate the monastery’s interior. The prominent 16th scholar monk Pachomios Rousanos taught at the renowned Leimoniada School. Its collection of priceless relics and art objects, including Byzantine and Late Byzantine manuscripts and icons, documents, sacred vestments, liturgical vessels, holy relics, and folklore artifacts make this one of the wealthiest monasteries in the Aegean. Its library contains some 5,000 volumes. Today, Moni Leimonos continues its rich spiritual, social and philanthropic traditions. Its grounds contain a museum of folklore and geology, a traditional Lesbian home (living museum) and old-age home.

The therapeutic spas of Lesvos is particularly popular. Relax in the "zen" atmosphere and enjoy the warmth. Therapeutic spas can do at Therma Geras Gulf, in Thermi, in Eftalou and Polichnitos.
If you love cycling, why not upgrade your holidays by taking part in our organised mountain bike excursions conducted by experienced cyclists-guides and get to know the beauty of Lesvos or if you want something more intense you can always choose the off road paths choosing an excursion which is of medium difficulty taking you to places where access by car is impossible. Even for those where intense exercise and adrenaline is part of their lives, excursions of great difficulty will lead you through mountains and trails, which will 'literally' take your breath away. Read More