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Samos is one of the larger Greek islands – large enough to have its own micro-climate sitting on the top of Mount Kerkis (1,400m) on its western coast as well as three ports: the capital, Vathi, lying at the eastern end of the north coast, with Karlovasi at the western end and Pythagorion near the SE corner. The airport takes charters, so there are areas of the island which become busy in high season – mostly round the eastern quarter facing Turkey, but also for a few miles along the south coast west of Marathokambos. The two most developed resorts are Kokkari, a few miles west of Vathi, and Pythagorion.
Do not let the island’s relative popularity put you off, because (as happens everywhere) the hordes stick to the coast and leave the extensive and exceptionally beautiful interior to the cognoscenti. Unsurprisingly, the fertile, mountainous terrain has made the island famous for walking, with several companies grazing their flocks of walkers here. Walking maps are available and the signage is, by Greek standards, relatively accurate and useful. One of the nicest areas for hiking is in the north where the famous Samos Sec wines are produced on steep, green hillsides on whose slopes enchanting villages such as Vourliotes hide, keeping their glorious sea-views to themselves.
But wherever you are you will find dozens of lovely villages tucked away amongst trees, many with stunning views down to the coast and across the sea to Fourni, Ikaria, Chios and of course the nearby Turkish coast. Often the trails skirt the coast and you will find plenty of near-deserted sandy bays where you can stop for a swim; perhaps the loveliest sandy stretches are at Psili Ammos and Limnionas in the south west; at Mikro Seitano and Megalo Seitano a little west of Karlovasi and along the rather flat stretch of coast between Pythagorion and Heraion; and at several beaches along the south coast to the east of Pythagorion.
There are churches and monasteries all over the island; and at Pythagorion there is the remarkable Tunnel of Eupalinos which brought fresh water through the mountain to the coast – the 6th century BC tunnellers started at opposite ends and met in the middle as if they were completing the channel. Not far west are the extensive ruins of Heraion. Lastly, the keen archaeologist will not miss the chance to take a day trip across to Kusadasi in Turkey to see the huge classical site of Ephesus; tours (from Vathi) are organised daily and the formalities are not daunting.
Samos airport receives some charters from the UK. A stay on Samos can be combined with Fourni or Ikaria.