Χίος – North-East Aegean

Chios is big and beautiful. Unfortunately it is a bit too large to be able to gain that special island charm that I am looking for. But if you want to escape the tourist crowds and find a more genuine Greek place, somewhere that does not depend on mass tourism for its wealth, then this might be an island for you. Well, there are tourists here, but they are mostly Greek, and that does not count does it?

Traditionally Chios has made a living from the Mastic bush. This still has some importance today. The well preserved medieval Mastic villages are still in business, but are now also great attractions for visitors. Built like fortresses and unlike anything I have ever seen. This is in itself reason enough to visit the island. In more recent times shipping and trading in general has been of more importance.

In addition there are extremely small get-away-from-it-all type of cosy port villages where you can spend a very quiet vacation, with access to quiet beaches. A few minor resorts also exist, but I have not investigated those.

For walking the situation is not so good. The bus system is limited and the surviving paths are few and scattered. Hours for the long-distance green buses are very inconvenient, to say the least. For a real walking holiday you will have to take the first bus out at 5-6 in the morning, every day. Not what I would call a vacation… And with just some very few exceptions little has been done do preserve a bigger path system that must have existed once even on this island. Forest fires has also obliterated much I have heard. What is described below are the fairly short excuses for walks that I could eke out of this island in a weeks time.

The eating was surprisingly boring on this presumably “unspoilt” island. Yes, some of the best could resemble genuine Greek home cooking, but you will have to make your own discoveries here, I do not really want to recommend any place in particular.

Staying in a noisy town I always select a good hotel and Hotel Diana did just the trick.

Selected walks: For walks on Chios take a look at the Chios Topo 1:60000 map by Anavasi (referred to below as “/Anavasi/”). On the web take a look at (referred to below as “/”, and note that this is taken from a printed guide, see picture above, available for free at their offices) and (referred to below as “/”). The out-of-print Trekking in Greece by Marc Dubin also describes some other paths, but I doubt much has survived into the new millennium.

•1 MESTA – OLIMBI – MESTA (my total time 2h17, includes short stops for photography, drinking and general sightseeing; +-241m, 2 laps): This is walk 7 in /Anavasi/ and the “MESTA – OLYMPI” walk on /, but returning the same way.

A short and easy walk, almost just a stroll, but beautiful. Also clearly marked. And whatever you do on this island, the village of Mesta must not be missed! Icon paintings from Mesta and Olimbi can be seen at the Giustiani Palace Museum (walk 5 below).

The walk can easily be expanded at least with a small side trip up to the windmills on the hill. The /Anavasi/ map also depicts a surviving path on the other side of Olimbi.

•2 EMBORIOS – KEFALIA – EMBORIOS (my total time 3h20, includes short stops for photography and drinking and even a couple of small dips in the ocean; +-427m, 1 lap): This is (part of) walk 10 on /, up to the “295m” point, and returning the same way. Do leave enough time also to appreciate the silence and beauty of Emborios. Well, that was not difficult in my visit as the four o’clock bus never arrived… Important archaeological finds from Emborios can be seen at the Archaeological Museum (walk 5 below).

The access up from the beach has become awkward. A new track has obliterated most of the path, and this bulldozed track has in turn opened up for new erosion of the landscape. Hence the upper parts of the track has slid out towards the sea, leaving little to actually walk on. Take care!

After this point any continuing paths are seriously overgrown. I would suggest taking the dirt track (right) instead, going slightly down towards Dotia at first. It is easier to hunt out any surviving paths on your way back. I did just that, and it is not particularly difficult to find an all-right route, but use your own discretion.

The dirt tracks will after a while take you meandering up the hill side. When the track ends continuing animal traces can be followed to the “295m” point.

•3 THE KRIKELIS RAVINE (my total time 2h43, includes short stops for photography and drinking; +-292m, 2 laps): This is (part of) walk 4 on /, but in reverse. Starting in Lagadha and returning the same way.

Lagadha is a nice little seaside village and sampling some delicious octopus here is maybe the most interesting part of the walk.

To find the river bed from the bus stop in the village the easiest way was to just round the village on the continuing road, then walk back towards Aghrelopos on the main road. There is little traffic. This is however a serious detour (as can be seen on the statistics above), and it is much smarter to take the time to find the road(s) through the upper parts of the village, those parts that sits on the plain below Aghrelopos. The ravine access is just below Aghrelopos, from the main road.

Then just continue as far as you want… I turned back at about 115m height, where an area enclosed by a stone wall are backed by some animal caves.

•4 THE RINAS RAVINE (my total time 2h23, includes short stops for photography and drinking, and one very short picnic; +-136m, 1 lap): This is (part of) walk 3 on /, but in reverse. Similar to the above, Starting in Kardhamila and returning the same way.

Compared to Lagadha above the small village of Kardhamila looks rather scruffy and uninteresting. The most rewarding thing you can do here is to walk up to the (sign-posted) ruin village of Spilia. It is well worth taking the time to add Spilia to your itinerary, this should not add more than 30 minutes to the time quoted above. 

The ravine is initially good to walk. After a short time of some semi-scrambling you will (in about one hours time from the start) again be on fairer ground. The ravine makes a very wide turn to the left and some small good paths goes up the hillside on your left to giant terraces above. These make a good picnic spot. I turned back here. The view back the way you came can be seen in the picture above.

•5 CHIOS TOWN ARCHAEOLOGICAL CITY WALK (3h is an absolute minimum, visiting only a couple of museums and skipping most of the old town): There is a few sites of interest in the town, as well as at least one essential museum, the archaeological museum. The museums usually opens around 8 am. The walk is a nice Sunday morning stroll, but then many museums will be closed. A logical walk through town can be constructed like this (refer to the city map at the back of /Anavasi/):

  1. Start at the Archaeological Museum and spend at least 1½ hours (Mihalon 10, closed Monday)
  2. Stroll down to Venizelou avenue and take this left
  3. Another left up Koraïs street
  4. Here you will stroll past the Koraïs Library/Philip Argienti Museum (Koraïs 10, closed Sunday)
  5. Next up this street is the cathedral (now closed and under refurbishment)
  6. Continue up the street until it ends, go left, then first right up Stephano Tsouri street
  7. A hundred meters or so up you will find the Marine Museum (closed Sunday)
  8. Stroll back down Stephano Tsouri and go back left when it ends
  9. Continue to stroll this pedestrian(?) street in the direction of the Public Garden
  10. Just before the Public Garden you will have a mosque to your right, this is the Byzantine Museum (Plateia Vounakiou, now closed and under refurbishment)
  11. Cross Dimokratias and continue north towards the Kastro Main Gate
  12. Just inside the gate you will have the tiny Giustiani Palace Museum (closed Monday)
  13. Use the map of the fortress you got at the last museum to explore the old town, especially note the old Turkish baths (picture above)
  14. If you want you can even walk some distance on top of the city walls (optional, but recommended)
  15. Stroll back and relax at the Public Garden 🙂

• Good starting points: • Chios Town, the best of a bad lot when it comes to walking?

• How to get there: • By air • By ferry from the mainland • By ferry from other North-East Aegean islands

• More info: • CHIOS TRANSPORTATION has transport information for the island, but beware that the picture they paint of the bus system is just a fairy tale… • Complete Chios Guide • Welcome to the island of Chios • Chios Island Travel Guide • Wandelingen op Chios (beautiful pictures from various walks on the island)

This page was last modified at July 6, 2010.