Guide To The Incredible Volcanic Island Of Lesbos, Greece

Post author Gabi

Written by our local expert Gabi

Gabi is an award-winning writer who lives on the Island of Crete in Greece. She is an expert in Greek travel and writes guides for the everyday traveler.

Lesbos, often also spelled Lesvos, is a gorgeous Greek island with picturesque fishing villages, lovely beaches, and endless historical sites to discover. It is one of those places in Greece that has managed to keep an authentic vibe and has much to offer visitors. 

When in Lesbos, you can explore several towns and villages or enjoy the interesting variety of activities you can experience in Mytilene, the capital of the island. It also is one of Greece’s more budget-friendly island destinations!

If Lesbos is your next destination, then keep this Lesvos Island guide handy to plan your adventure.


Greece Travel Blog_Guide To The Incredible Volcanic Island Of Lesbos Greece


Lesvos Vs. Lesbos

You will see this island is spelled both Lesbos Island and Lesvos Island. And we will write it both ways through this post. So why has this remarkable destination acquired two names? It is to the Island’s name and is spelled with the Greek letter B, aka Beta.

In Greek, Beta is pronounced as we English speakers say, V. So it sounds like ‘Les-Vos.’ Ancient Greeks may have pronounced Beta like an English B, but modern Greeks tend to pronounce it as a V. Most English speakers pronounce it Lesbos – but both are correct.

Where Is Lesbos Island 

The island of Lesbos is located on the North Eastern Aegean Sea, quite close to the coast of Turkey. There are several towns to spend time on the island, including the capital, Mytilene, Molyvos, Agiassos, Plomari, and Skala Erasou.

How To Get To Lesvos Island

Eressos, Lesvos, Greece at sunset
Eressos Beach Bay at sunset

The most popular way to reach Lesbos is to travel by ferry from Athens. There are several weekly departures from the port of Piraeus. You can also travel by ferry departing from the port of Kavala. This port, located on the northern part of the Greek mainland, is also the place of departure for the ferries going to Syros, Chios, and Ikaria.

The island also has an international airport in Mytilene, receiving flights from Athens and Thessaloniki all year round. Mytilene is also connected with other Aegean islands during the summer, with flights arriving from Crete, Samos, Rhodes, and a few European countries.

When To Visit Lesvos Island

Things to do in Lesbos - Rocky alleyway with green plants in the historic village of Molyvos
Village of Molyvos, Lesbos, Greece

Boasting the typical Mediterranean weather you will find in most of the Greek islands, Lesbos has plenty of sunny days and warm temperatures throughout the year. 

The hottest months of the year are July and August, while temperatures get more pleasant at the end of the season (September). Spring is also an excellent time to visit if you want to enjoy a cooler climate with fewer crowds on the beach.

Best Things To Do In Lesbos 

Home to myth, culture, and incredible landscapes, this hospitable island is a favorite destination in Greece.  This stunning volcanic island is also home to unexpected hot springs and the largest petrified forest in the world.

Offering dozens of unique experiences, this is our selection of the best things to see and do in Lesbos.

Castle Of Molyvos

Lesbos Island Greece

One of the most interesting sites on the island is in the town of Molyvos, in the northern area of the island. Here, you will find a unique Byzantine castle towering over the city and offering spectacular panoramic views.

Dating back to the eleventh century, the Castle of Molyvos was actually built over a former and much older fortress that probably dated back to the Archaic era. Its primary function was to contrast attacks coming from the Turkish city of Smyrna not many years before the final invasion and conquest of the island by the Ottoman Empire.

After defending the region from several attacks, the fortress finally fell in 1458, giving way to a long siege over the city.

To access the castle, it is necessary to pass through three different protection gates, the last made from metal-plated wood.

From the top of the castle, it is possible to understand how close the Turkish coast is to the island.

Castle Of Mytelene

Things to do in Lesbos - Castle of Mytelene

Another unmissable fortress on the island, the Castle of Mytilene, is one of the largest strongholds in the Mediterranean. The fort stands on the ruins of an ancient Greek acropolis.

The castle was first built back in the sixth century under the orders of Emperor Justinian. However, in the fourteenth century, the island was ruled by the Genoans, and the castle became the home and seat of the governor.

Since Lesbos, like many other Greek islands, underwent various invasions at the hand of several cultures in the Mediterranean, the castle is a living example of those conquests and rules. It features a Byzantine cistern, a tekke or Islamic monastery, and an Ottoman Hammam.

Temple Of Aphrodite – Mesa Archaeological Site

Considered among the oldest archaeological sites in Lesbos, this site is located between Molyvos and Mytilene.

Although there are just a few ruins available, consider a guided visit with a local archaeologist to learn everything about the goddess of beauty and love, Aphrodite, and this place devoted to meditating and worshiping the deity.

The place has become a pilgrimage place on the island, often visited by people interested in yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices.

Petrified Forest Of Lesbos

Petrified Forest Of Lesbos

Near the island’s western coast, hundreds of fossilized tree trunks were once part of a lush forest that is about 20 million years old.

Although there are a few petrified trees scattered in different spots under the water off the coast of Lesbos, the majority of the forest is located inside a National Forest Park standing near the village of Sigri.

Archaeologists and other researchers believe that the phenomenon of petrifaction occurred due to the lava and ashes coming from eruptions in the Neogene Period. This forest, larger than the famous petrified forest in Arizona, is the only one of this kind in Europe.

Natural History Museum Of The Lesbos Petrified Forest

Pair the visit to the Petrified Forest of Lesbos with a tour of the natural history museum, also near the forest in the village of Sigri. On the premises, you can see the remarkable exhibition of the petrified forest and over forty diverse species of trees in the forest.

In a different hall, it is possible to learn about the interesting volcanic history of the Aegean. The exhibition includes rocks, minerals, and also anthropological exhibits from the Neolithic, including tools and remains of extinct primates that once lived in the Aegean. 

New Archaeological Museum

Located in Mytilene, this is the right place to visit to learn everything about the island’s past. It features a permanent exhibition that depicts life on Lesbos from the Hellenistic Period to the end of the Roman period.

During the visit, you can check out an impressive collection of figurines, vases, ceramics, but also funerary objects, and an incredible marble funerary relief.

Kalloni Salt Pans

Perfect spot for birdwatchers, especially in the fall and spring, the impressive bay south of Kalloni features a unique salt pan that gives refuge to various wildlife, including flamingos and even sheep.

However, the place is a haven for migratory birds, including storks, redshanks, sandpipers, stilts, and many more.

Roman Aqueduct

Known as the Roman Aqueduct of Moria, the ruins of this once impressive engineering marvel are located in the heart of a valley outside the town of Mytilene.

The construction dates back to the third century AD, and the largest remaining part of the structure is about 160 meters long, with two and up to three levels of arches made of local grey marble.

The aqueduct was used to channel water from the springs on the Mountain Olympos to the ancient city of Mytilene, covering a distance of 26 kilometers.

Plomari Ouzo Distillery

If there is one thing that Lesbos is known for, it’s Ouzo. In fact, on the island, you can find the most famous ouzo brand in the world in Plomari. The factory was founded in 1894 by Isidoros Arvanitis, a native of the village of Plomari. 

This distillery has been producing Greece’s most beloved spirit ever since, following a secret formula that has pretty much remained the same throughout the years.

The factory is open to the public, and visits and tours are available for those interested in learning the production process and those who want to know about ouzo and taste different varieties of this popular drink!

Ouzo Museum Barbayannis

Greece Travel Blog_Complete Guide To Lesbos_Ouzo Barbayannis
Photo Credit: Ouzo Barbayannis

As we have already mentioned, the island’s staple product is the popular spirit you will easily spot in every Greek tavern, Ouzo.

You can learn more about this solid anise-flavored spirit by visiting the Barbayannis Distillery and the village of Plomari. The company dates back to 1860, and it was founded by a Russian immigrant who took advantage of the area’s water and herbs to develop his recipe.

Next to the modern premises of the distillery, it is possible to visit the Ouzo Museum to learn about ouzo production and the history of the family. 

During the visit, you can also explore the distillery, sample different types of ouzo, and purchase your ouzo souvenir at the factory’s shop.

Top 5 Beaches In Lesbos

If we consider the size of the island, one of the biggest in this area of the Aegean, it’s not hard to guess that there are not just a few but many beaches worth seeing on the island. 

Some of them are organized, while others are secluded, intimate, and solitary. In any case, these are the beaches I suggest checking out when visiting Lesbos. For that reason, we suggest you rent a car and explore the coastline to find the right shore for you and your travel party according to your needs.

Petra Beach

The beach at the resort of Petra, Lesvos, Greece

This is a sandy shore perfect for families located a bit less than 60 km from Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos. It has amenities such as umbrellas, sun beds, and showers, while restaurants and Greek taverns are nearby.


Another great beach, about 50 km south of Mytilene, is this eight-kilometer-long stretch of golden sand with organized facilities catering to all visitors, especially families, as the place is well sheltered from the winds that hit Lesbos in summer.

Skala Eresou 

A popular settlement on the island, the beach of this picturesque village is another must when visiting Lesbos. Skala Eresou features a long sandy beach with umbrellas to rent. There are several hotels and studios to rent in the village, which makes it a perfect destination for a tranquil holiday by the sea in Lesbos. By the beach, you will also find restaurants, beach, bars, and taverns, so you won’t need to carry your lunch to spend the day.

Agios Isidoros

About 40 kilometers from Mytilene, this beach is next to the Agios Isidoros village, another quiet place for a holiday on the island. Agios Isidoros is a pebbled beach with crystal waters. The long and wide shore is ideal for enjoying swimming and snorkeling due to the rich marine life in the area and the bizarre rock formations under the sea.  

Mytilene Beach

This is a very popular shore that is easy to reach from anywhere on the island. The beach is near the port and offers easy access to the sea for those who prefer to stay in the capital instead of moving around the island. The beach features shallow crystal clear water and both small pebbles and sand. You can reach this beach on foot from the center of Mytilene. The place has umbrellas and sun beds for rent, and many accommodation options are nearby.

Where To Eat In Lesbos

Food in Greece - greek gyros with tzatziki sauce and fries on parchment

No matter where in Lesbos you go, you will always find a cozy café or a traditional tavern where you can enjoy good comfort food, not to mention it’s also an island known for its nightlife scene.

These are the spots we suggest checking out for a bite to eat or a drink while in Lesbos.


Located in Mytilene, Istoriko is a popular restaurant in the capital of Lesbos. Specializing in the Mediterranean diet, head here to enjoy lunch and dinner but also for brunch or late-night drinks. 


Meltemi is a restaurant and pizza house in Molyvos, a few meters from the harbor. Here you can have typical Greek dishes and freshly-baked pizzas.

Parasol Beach Bar 

Parasol Beach Bar is picturesque with sea views, ideal for romantic dinners, cocktails, and fresh seafood. It’s located in Skala Eresou.

Where To Stay In Lesbos, Greece

These are some resorts and hotels we recommend checking out when you’re ready to book accommodation in Lesbos. Since the island is quite big and there are a lot of areas where to stay, we have included places in the capital from where you can have easy access to any point in Lesbos.

Affordable Accommodation In Lesbos: Loriet Hotel

Greece Travel Blog_Complete Guide To Lesbos_Loriet Hotel
Photo Credit: Loriet Hotel

Located in Mytilene, this hotel is set in a renovated mansion from the eighteenth century, right across from Varia Beach. This splendid complex offers self-catered rooms with balconies overlooking the Aegean Sea or the gardens. There is also a seawater pool, and Greek breakfast is served every morning.

Click here for more information and the latest prices..

Mid-Range Accommodation In Lesbos: Heliotrope Hotel

Greece Travel Blog_Complete Guide To Lesbos_Heliotrope Hotel
Photo Credit: Heliotrope Hotel

Right on the beachfront of Vareia, Heliotrope Hotel features air-conditioned rooms with private balconies and sea views. The property has an outdoor pool, while a certified Greek breakfast, including locally sourced products, is served daily. Many restaurants, bars, and a mini-market are within a short walk from the property.


Luxury Accommodation In Lesbos: Aeolian Village Beach Resort

Greece Travel Blog_Complete Guide To Lesbos_Aeolian Village Beach Resort
Photo Credit: Aeolian Village Beach Resort

Although not so close to the capital, this is an unmissable resort in the gorgeous Skala Eresou. The place offers accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a fitness center, and a garden. A buffet breakfast is available every morning at the accommodation, and a restaurant serves American, British, and Greek cuisine.


Now that you have all of the Lesvos Island travel advice that you need. How many of these items will go on your list of things to do in Lesbos Island?

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