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Laid-back, traditional and unspoilt, Lesbos is the quintessential Greek island experience. With a mountainous interior, rolling olive groves and long sandy beaches, this slow-paced North Aegean jewel is as beautiful as it is cultured.
From ancient castles to iconic churches and monasteries, Lesbos – also spelled Lesvos – has a wealth of history to explore. The capital, Mytilene, is packed with sights, although visitors often head straight to Molyvos, where a striking Byzantine castle watches over the village’s winding cobbled alleyways. Elsewhere, there’s the Church of the Panagia Glykofilousa and the 17th-century Ipsilou Monastery (near Andissa) – both important national pilgrimage sites.
The must-see attractions don’t end there, though. Lesbos has long been associated with artists and literati, most notably the poet Sappho and the painter Theophilos. You can see the works of the latter at the Theophilos Museum, or visit the nearby Teriade Museum for another art collection that includes pieces by Picasso and Matisse.
Unlike other Greek islands, tourism isn’t at the centre of Lesbos’ economy – and it shows in the island’s enduringly traditional vibe and in its quieter resorts. With a landscape that’s ripe for olive farming, the cuisine here is even tastier for the locally made olive oil. Many also consider Lesbos-produced ouzo to be the best in Greece, and the Barbayanni Ouzo Museum is an essential stop for those who’d like to try it.
Culture aside, most people holiday in Lesbos to spend some quality downtime on the island’s peaceful beaches. The coastline has endless quiet spots where you can while away the hours on a sunbed – cocktail in hand. Vatera and Agios Isidoros are well worth a visit, as are the popular villages of Petra and Skala Eresou.
Going Greek this summer? From choosing the right island to picking a hotel that suits the whole family, we reveal how to get the best out of Greece on your next holiday.Read moreabout How to do the Greek islands with kids
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