The small island is off the beaten track, with some beautiful beaches and authentic Greek village life. It is a destination for individual travellers who want a quiet holiday away from the crowds.
The small, sparsely populated island (43 km², about 300 inhabitants), which is 1.5 hours (30 km) by ferry boat from Lemnos and 80 km from Lesbos, is untouched by progress and mass tourism. The few inhabitants live in the only settlement on the island, also called Ag. Efstratios. The island sits pretty much exactly on the 25th meridian east of Greenwich.
The island had been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC, until the Byzantine period. Because of pirate raids it was abandoned during the 15th century. A new settlement began in the middle of the 16th century at today's harbour bay. Between 1928 and 1963 numerous political prisoners were exiled to the remote island.
The island is of volcanic origin, most of the steep coastal sections are interspersed with cliffs and grottoes. The hills reach a height of 300 m. In the immediate vicinity of Agios Efstratios there are numerous rocky islets, which are liked by fishermen and sailors, of which Daskalio, Velia and Agii Apostoli are the largest.
Agios Efstratios is more than 60% covered with the typical representatives of the Phrygana and Macchia. Only in the northeast is a scattered stock of Valonea oak. The cliffs and grottoes are the habitat of the rare Mediterranean Monk seal. The entire island and the surrounding marine area are designated as a European bird sanctuary because of the many migrating birds that use it as stopover.
Although most of the houses were destroyed in 1968 by an earthquake, and new buildings have replaced the earlier structures, it retains its old Mediterranean charm. The island lives on fishery, agriculture, sheep farming, cheese-making, bee-keeping and very sparse tourism in summer.
During high season in summer there are almost daily ferries from Lemnos or Lesbos. In low season and especially in winter with high seas it can take more than a week until the next ferry comes and people do get stuck on the island.
If you're on Limnos and want to get to Agios Efstratios, there is a small ferry which you won't find listed online. The boat departs from the new port in Myrina and you pay aboard. There is a ferry on Monday at 14:30 departure. The trip takes roughly two hours. Enquire about other departures. Tickets are €8. (May 2022)
Agios Efstratios doesn't have an airport. The nearest airports are Kavala or Lemnos airport and you can reach the island by boat from there.
By sailing boat: most approaches to the island are without dangers and straight forward. The only port is Agios Efstratos village but there are several nice bays to anchor.
There is no taxi or bus on the island. As it is small, you can either go on foot, by bicycle or bring a rental motorbike from Lemnos. To bring a car isn't really worth the costs. Most roads are dirt roads and need either a 4WD or, at least, a car with high ground clearance.
Visit the ruins of the old village, and the view point of "Nikos Sialmas" Monument at the very south of the island
- The Museum of Democracy, ☏ . M W-Sa 09:00 - 13:00 & 17:00 - 20:00, Su 09:00 - 13:00. A public museum dealing with a period of recent Greek history of crucial political and social importance. The site chosen for it was the island of Ai-Stratis or Ayios Efstratios, because for many years – from the early 1930s to 1943 and again from 1948 to 1963 – it was a place of internment for political exiles.
There are two main things to do on the island, first relax at the harbour at one of the cafeterias with a cold drink or second relax at one of the many beautiful beaches, especially at the west and south side, e.g. Ag. Antonios, Ag. Dimitrios, Alonitsi, Avlaki, Frangou, Gournia, Lemonies, Lidario,,Tripiti, Trigari. If you can hire a boat its worth to go around the island and discover its inaccessible beaches often hidden behind cliffs. At most beaches nudism is possible.
- Boat tours. Excursion boats start from the harbour for a circumnavigation tour including several beaches and sea caves
- Walking or mountain biking. Walking or mountain biking along the island is nice too but shade might be hard to find. As the locals say: Only donkeys and tourists walk in the bright sun.
- Listen to the goat melody. Walk a few kilometers inland up the valley folllowing the path that the large drain that runs through the town, you'll eventully be met by the sound of dingling bells. The small bells of local goats, attached to their necks via leather collar. It's a beautiful scene, especially in the early morning, Many goats and thus many bells makes for an interesting auditory backdrop.
Worth buying are the local agricultural products, like feta cheese, dried cheese, honey and goat and sheep meat.
There are only 2 taverns: the Taverna Artemonas (also mini market) and Taverna Veranta.
There is no night life on the island only few café-bars or Kafeneios at the harbour are the places to sit at the evening.
If in doubt, ask at the local cafe.
Check airbnb, but at the end of May 2022 no listings were to be found.
- Julia's Hillside Accommodation (Near the Museum of Democracy), ☏ , email@example.com. Comfortable twin or double rooms managed by a lovely lady who lives onsite, Julia. Five minutes walk from the port, clever handmade decorations in the rooms and a great view over the town from the balcony of the upper rooms. €40 per night for a twin room.
WiFi is available at the local cafe. If your number is from another EUC country it should work here too without any roaming costs. For non-EU phones you can buy a Greek prepaid card for internet, e.g. from Cosmote, at the town where you enter the ferry to Ag. Efstratios.