Samothrace

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Kamariotissa, the main port of Samothrace

Samothraki (Population: 2,859 [2011]) is a small island that is basically the conical tip of a mountain rising out of the sea. There are two main towns; Kamariotissa and Chora; between them they provide most of the facilities one small town would normally have. There are two campsites. The island is surprisingly lush and green for an Agean Island, due to the rainfall caused by the central mount 'fengari'. The goat population (estimated at approx 100,000) outnumbers the inhabitants by 33 goats to every person.

Because the land rises steeply out of the sea, there are not many large beaches with the possible exception of the beach known as 'Fat Sand' which is located at the far end of the island from the main centers.

Samothraki is an ideal place for a rural retreat, it is very unsophisticated and lacks almost all tourist infrastructure (there is no nightlife, except during the annual music festival). The inhabitants are extremely warm, friendly people who will go out of their way to make you feel welcome.

It is the location of the annual (Greek) music festival [1] [dead link].

Get in[edit]

By ferry from Alexandroupolis. The service is run by Saos Ferries [2]. There is currently no ferry connection with Kavala or nearby islands.

Get around[edit]

There are buses connecting the different locations but it is advisable to rent a Car/Motorbike in Kamariotissa because its very time consuming to reach most places by public transport.

See[edit]

Chora/Samothraki
Sanctury of the Great Gods
South-East Coast & Kipos Beach
Fonias waterfall
Pahia Amos Beach
Paleopolis
River Fonias
  • 1 Sanctuary of the Great Gods (Ιερό των Μεγάλων Θεών, Ieró ton Megalón Theón). Major archeological site of the centre of a mystery cult that rivaled Delphi, dating back to the pre-Greek period (Bronze Age). Numerous famous ancient people were initiates, including the historian Herodotus – one of very few authors to have left behind a few clues to the nature of the mysteries -, the Spartan leader Lysander, and numerous Athenians. The original Sanctuary had suffered from earthquakes and pirate attacks. It was rebuilt several times and only abandoned after the Romans introduced Christianity as the official religion. In modern times, one can see remains from all eras, including the Hellenistic and Roman. There is also a small, excellent museum, with a plaster cast of the famous 'Winged Victory of Samothrace' statue, a consolation that the original was looted from the site on 1863 and is now at the Louvre in Paris. Much of the "Sanctuary of the Great Gods", at Paleopoli is forfeited, but the location in a wooded gorge is spectacular. There are also remains of a Byzantine fortress, which was built with the old stones of the sanctuary. The round building that once stood here, the Arsinoeion, was built 285 on behalf of Queen Arsinoe of Thrace. It was the biggest round building that was ever built in ancient Greece and was a place held at the victims. The so-called Hieron is the most striking ruin on the site, because of the columns that were built back in 1956.
  • 2 Kamariotissa. Kamariotissa, where the ferries arrive, is located on the west side of the island and is surrounded by hills with grass and some trees and with the high barren mountain Fengari (1660 m) as background . Kamariotissa is pretty green and there are several restaurants, coffee shops, banks, post office, supermarket, bakery, greengrocer, pharmacy, a ticket booth for the ferries. In the small waterfront park is the bus station. Its also the center of “nightlife”.
  • 3 Chora (Samotraki). The capital of the island is Chora (Samothrace), about 5 km east of Kamariotissa. Worth seeing are the small and tightly packed houses. Chora is located at the foot of a hill, almost invisible from the sea. It was built hidden to be protected from pirate attacks from the sea in the Middle Ages. The village with its narrow, winding streets and its Genoese fortress (the original was Byzantine) is the most beautiful village of the island. From the large, central square, where you will find a few taverns, there is a beautiful view over the sea. Somewhat further down the village is Palaiopoli with its characteristic three towers from the 15th century.
  • 4 Therma. Therma is also one of the attractions of Samothrace. The village is situated in the north of the island 13 km from Kamariotissa in a forest of trees (a bus twice a day). There are healing hot springs with different temperatures. It is a small village with few inhabitants, but there are some shops, restaurants and accommodation. East of the village there are also two campsites. The village is situated on a pebble beach with clear water and a small port, from where in high season one can make highly recommended boat trips. Therma is the best place from where you can take walks and is one of the starting points for the ascent of the mountain Fengari, composed mainly of granite. The path to the summit and back takes about six hours. A longer but easier route to the summit leads up from the village of Profitis Ilias in the south of the island.
  • 5 Krya Vathra. East of Therma, are the cold pools and waterfalls of Krya Vathra. From there, you can start a walk of about 45 minutes (5 km) into the Fonias gorge where you will see more beautiful pools and waterfalls. Partially some passages have a high degree of difficulty. Caution and good shoes are recommended. For a reason the stream carries the name “Killer” . As a reward for the climbing, you will be in an almost untouched natural landscape and you can refresh yourself from the strenuous hike with a bath in natural water basins at waterfalls. Most visitors are bathing naked! Bathing here is an ice cold and somewhat eerie pleasure. Near the mouth of Fonia flux there is the Fonias tower which stands on the seafront and is well worth a visit.

Beaches[edit]

  • 6 Pachia Amos Beach. The best beach on the island of Samothrace is the "Pachia Ammos Beach". This beach is located in the south of the island, about 15 km from Kamariotissa and is accessible by bus too. Pachia Ammos is located between two rocks, and is about 800 m long. It's a sandy beach, or rather fine gravel beach. During high season there is a tavern and a beach bar and there are rental chairs and umbrellas. Above the beach is the chapel "Panagia Krimniotisa" that should be visited for its magnificent views. Eastwards of Pachia Ammos there are three more beautiful secluded bays, used primarily as nudist beaches, but are difficult to reach.
  • 7 Kipos Beach. Another "popular" beach on the east side of Samothrace, about 18 km from Therma. This pebble beach is about a kilometer long and a destination for naturists (inofficial nudist beach). Kipos Beach is also accessible by bus. Along the South coast there are a number of other smaller beaches (as Vatos beach), but which are difficult to reach. All other beaches along the coast are often coarse gravel beaches. Many of them are quite lonely outside high season and suitable for nudism.

There are many more beautiful beaches to explore. Since most of them are coarse gravel beaches, one should either hit them with umbrellas and beach loungers, or take camping chairs. Lying down on a pebble beach with only a towel is uncomfortable.

Do[edit]

  • Swim in the waterfalls and pools of the river Fonias, affectionately called 'the murderer' "Phonias" (Greek: Φονιάς) (avoid it when it might rain for obvious reasons). There are more pools upstream if someone is willing to do some climbing.
  • Visit the hot spring/baths at Loutra.
  • Swim at the sea. There are 2 excellent beaches, in the west and east end of the island. The road running across the island is ending on both of them.
  • Visit the Sanctuary of the Great Gods and the Ancient City

Buy[edit]

Some goat bells.

It can be difficult getting the bank to part with any cash on the island, make sure you have enough for a while as few places take cards or travellers cheques.

Eat[edit]

Almost anywhere, the food is delicious with a hint of the hot peppers used in northeastern Greece.

Drink[edit]

Retsina - seriously it is one of those drinks that tastes fantastic in its native environment but doesn't travel at all.

Sleep[edit]

Outside of hotels, you have three options.

  • 1 Camp. There are 2 campings, both run by the municipality. Rough camping near the river was common (illegal).
  • 2 Rent an apartment or house (best done beforehand but possible by asking in a bar or cafe.
  • 3 Stay in a domatia, best done by asking someone when you get there. For those unfamiliar with Greek accommodation, domatia are rented rooms, sometimes adjoining locals' houses, sometimes in separate buildings. A word of warning, the accommodation in the delightful old town or chora is fairly limited and one woman called Chrisoula seems to have appointed herself unofficial co-ordinator of accommodation. She has two rooms that are small but cosy and are worth the cost, if you want more than two, beware offers of a third or fourth they will be on her sofas in her small living room. You will know her if she comes to greet you as you enter the town.

Go next[edit]

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