Location: Greece Type: 1 week trip; island vacation; Greece Suitable for children: yes
Days have passed since we`ve come back home from Samothraki and I still can`t shake the blissful calmness that caught me there. Everything on this island – the nature, the places, and the people makes you feel relaxed and enjoy the moment.
The small Greek island is located in the northern Aegean Sea. To reach it one has to take the ferry from Alexandroupoli. You`ll see no crowds on the beach or big hotels, there are no clubs or nightlife either. Just an endless coast line, the bluest water, pink and purple flowers, olive trees and many, many goats. I`ll get back to the goats later. Above all is mount Saos, the highest mountain on an island in the Aegean Sea. Legend says that Poseidon watched the Trojan War from its highest peak.
Nowadays Samothraki is popular not so much with the Greek goods, but with the young people who stay at the camp sites. They come here for the same reason that attracts all tourists to the island – Samothraki will offer you not only the option to relax on pristine beaches, but also hiking in the mountain, enjoying some beautiful waterfalls and the healing waters of the hot springs. Not to forget that the infamous winged statue of the goddess Nike, displayed in the Louvre, was found here. A replica of the sculpture is shown in the local History museum. And you can visit the Sanctuary of the great gods where the statue was originally placed. Now, let`s take a walk around Samothraki…
We stayed in the village famous with its hot springs, located on the north side of the island. Unfortunately, the thermal baths were closed during our stay. But that`s just another reason for us to come back. The village is small, but has various places to eat or enjoy some drinks. There are also two supermarkets where you can buy everything you may need. You can reach the beach within a 10-minutes walk, nearby is the beginning of the path to mount Saos and the waterfalls are also not far away.
Samothraki will offer you different kind of scenery to sunbath and enjoy the crystal clear waters. The most famous beaches are:
This is the only sandy beach on the island, located on the south side. You can have lunch in the restaurant next to the beach (the fish was very delicious) and relax on a sunbed on the sand – it`s free if you order a drink.
Grab something to eat and drink if you plan to visit this wild pebbly beach, located on the east side of the island. There are no restaurants or bars there but the view is really worth it and the water very calm and clean.
This was the nearest beach during our stay and most of the days we chose to sunbath there. The beach consists of small pebbles, there are two bars where you can grab a drink and lie down on a sunbed.
Fonias gorge and waterfalls are located on the north side of the island. The river flows down from the mountain and forms small and large waterfalls and pounds. Have in mind that the water is chillier that the one in the sea. But it`s also very refreshing.
You`ll have to park your car on a small parking lot and hike up the mountain. The path to the first waterfall is easy, we`ve reached it with our baby daughter. You have to be prepared with good shoes and stamina to reach the next two waterfalls. Keep in mind that it could be dangerous – during our hike some other tourists got in an incident (we didn`t found out what happened) and an ambulance was called.
The mountain covers the whole island and it`s the first thing you will see from it in the distance, approaching with the ferry. Its highest peak Fengari rises to 1,611 m. we didn’t have an opportunity to climb it as we were on a vacation with our baby daughter. Some other tourists told us that the path uphill is hard so be sure to be prepared.
The small and picturesque capital of Samothraki will enchant you with its traditional houses, tiny streets, cozy taverns and a majestic view to the sea. There are also many shops where you can buy interesting souvenirs – like soap made from goat milk.
Sanctuary of the great gods
The site dates back to 7th century B.C. and is the place where the winged statue of Nike was found in 1863. It`s also the place where the parents of Alexander the Great – Macedonian king Phillip II and the Epirote princess Olympias, first met. According to Plutarch this happened during an initiation into the mysteries of Samothraki. Today, there are a few columns and a lot of rocks left from the sanctuary where once the ancient people worshiped their gods and took part in mysterious rituals. More about the history of the site you can learn here.
There are approximately 100 000 goats on the island and 3000 people. So goats are a common sight. In fact, they are everywhere – near the beach, in the mountain, on the roads. That`s the reason that most of the restaurants offer various dishes with goat meat. And the local cheese and milk are very delicious.
Rania Studious and cafe
And now some words for our hosts from the Rania Studious – Panos and Maria, who are the nicest people. Their place is located in the center of Therma. They`ve welcomed us with some delicious sweet treats from their cafeteria (where they also make great espresso and the best pizza on the island) and offered us many helpful tips during our stay. We`d love to come back to Rania Studios not only for the perfect location, the spotless rooms or the hospitality of Panos and Maria, but also because they are genuinely good people.
We had some adventures on the island and they didn`t hesitate to help us. Long story short – our car got stuck on a dirt road because the GPS got us lost and then our friends lost one of their three dogs while we were hiking to the waterfalls. Panos helped us more than once – he pulled our car out with his jeep, and also printed some lost dog ads for our friends. Fortunately, we found the dog and had enough time to enjoy the rest of our vacation. So if you plan to visit Samothraki, be sure to at least stop by their cafeteria and treat yourself with some tasty donuts with honey or with traditional baklava.