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Top ten things to see and do in Mytilene

Top ten things to see and do in Mytilene

Mytilene is the capital of Lesvos, the third largest island in Greece. Known for its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and vibrant nightlife, this is one of most vibrant and cosmopolitan towns in the Aegean and offers a wide range of activities for both tourists and locals alike. From the student crowds of the University of the North Aegean to families and retirees – from culture trips to luxury beaches to adventures in nature – Mytilene is the place to be! It's a great place to visit and often gets missed by many tourists who head straight for the beach resorts, but it's well worth spending a few days here.

Here is a list of the top ten things to see and do in Mytilene that you won't want to miss!

1. Mytilene Castle

Mytilene Castle is a stunning fortress that was built in the 16th century to protect the city from pirate attacks. With its impressive walls and towers, it offers a unique view of the city and the Aegean Sea. Visitors can explore the castle's interior and admire its medieval architecture, including the chapel, the cistern, and the dungeons.

2. Explore the Mytilene Archaeological Museum

The two buildings of the Mytilene Archaeological Museum are a must-visit for history buffs and anyone interested in ancient Greece. It houses a vast collection of artifacts from the island's rich past, including ceramics, mosaics, sculptures, and coins from various historical periods. Visitors can learn about the island's ancient history and see how the culture evolved over time.

3. Walk along the Harbour and Promenade

The Promenade is a beautiful and bustling area in the heart of Mytilene. It's lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops, and is a great place to relax and enjoy the view of the Aegean Sea. Take a stroll along the promenade and enjoy the Mediterranean breeze, or stop for a bite to eat at one of the many tavernas. You can walk around to the Statue of Liberty - a bronze sculpture, erected in 1930, influenced by New York and meant to welcome visitors to the port.

4. Visit the Monastery of Saint Raphael

The Monastery of Saint Raphael is one of the most important religious sites in Mytilene. Located on a hill overlooking the city, it was built in the 17th century and is dedicated to the patron saint of sailors and travellers. Visitors can explore the monastery's beautiful grounds, admire the stunning views, and learn about its rich history.

5. Visit the Churches and Mosque

The Church of the Assumption of Mary is a beautiful Greek Orthodox church located in the heart of Mytilene. It was built in the 19th century and is dedicated to the mother of Jesus. Visitors can admire the church's beautiful frescoes, intricate wood carvings, and stained glass windows. It’s just off the shopping street of Ermou and is the only Catholic church on the island. The central Yeni Mosque and its medrese (monastery) is also well-worth a visit, dating back to 1825, and is a beautiful reminder of Mytilene’s multi-cultural heritage.

6. Take a scenic drive to Thermi

Thermi is a charming seaside village located just a short drive from Mytilene. It's known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque fishing boats. Take a scenic drive through the countryside, enjoy a delicious meal of fresh seafood, and relax on the beach.

7. Visit the art galleries and museums

See the work of one of Greece’s best loved painters here on the island in the Theophilos Museum. The museum opened in 1965 has five rooms showcasing over 85 famous paintings and is worth a visit for art lovers. The Mytilene Municipal Gallery is a beautiful art museum located in the heart of the city. It features a wide variety of contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs.

8. Explore the Ancient Theatre of Mytilene

The ancient theatre of Mytilene is regarded to be one of the most significant architectural monuments of ancient times. It is believed that Pompey copied this theatre for the theatre he was building in Rome and that this theatre subsequently paved the way for the Roman style of building theatres! The theatre is confirmed to have been built during the Early Hellenistic times. Unfortunately, this huge 107-metre horseshoe structure has not been able to withstand the test of time. Where it once seated over 10,000 people, it's now crumbling to a ruin in a pretty, shaded pine forest.

9. Visit a winery

Oinoforos Winery is on the outskirts of Mytilene in a beautiful location with sublime views! It’s a wedding venue and a wonderful place to admire the views. There’s a tasting room above an actual winery. Here you can see the state of the art winery, equipped with the latest equipment and an extensive cellar, where you can learn about the production process and of course taste and buy some of the locally produced wine!

10. Go shopping for local delicacies

Lesvos is known for its locally grown and produced food and drink and it's definitely worth stocking up during a visit to the island’s capital. As well as dining out on fresh fish, local meat and locally grown salads and vegetables for very reasonable prices, it's also worth taking a taste of Lesvos home with you. Here you can buy local honey, herbs, wine and the world famous Ouzo. There are more than 15 producers of Ouzo here on the island! The island also produces its own cheese, wine, olives and olive oil. It's also worth sampling the local ice cream.

Mark Walker

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