Lemnos (Limnos), the island where the god Hephaistus lived, will thrill any visitor seeking a quiet vacation spot, as well as those who wish to combine entertainment with tranquility. The hidden treasures of Lemnos are not apparent at first glance, but rather grow on you over time. Those who wish to combine vacation with the discovery of unique places and a tour of archaeological sites will enjoy Lemnos.
Lemnos’ rich history stretches back thousands of years, and the island has many unique places of natural beauty, such as the sand dunes and marine environments at Hortarolimni and Aliki, areas of exceptional ecological significance which play host to hundreds of flamingos, ducks, and herons. Furthermore, the rocky coasts of Lemnos, as well as the multiple reefs around the island, make it an ideal location for subaquatic fishing. The crystal-clear waters of the sea and the remote beaches of the island are a magnet for visitors who make the sea a priority in their vacation plans.
The best way to enjoy the well-hidden beauty of Lemnos is to allow about a week’s time to wander into every corner of the island, by car. The use of a 4×4 is advised.
Pros – hundreds of beaches with crystal-clear water, very good signage around the island, good road network – adequate central roads.
Cons – very little green space, long travel-time from Athens. Bus transportation for the island’s villages is sparse and taxis are expensive.
The island of Limnos , though not as hectic as other well-known islands of the region, it offers good restaurants, beaches and small villages set in a rolling countryside. The island has had a turbulent past, many foreign powers have laid claim to the island. Limnos was according to legend the home of the Hepaistos, the god of fire and metalworking. His father Zeus threw him off Mt. Olympus after an argument, though Hepaistos was rumoured to be very ugly, pictures show him with beautiful women. (The gods have all the luck).
The picturesque capital is the main port of the island. Overlooking the town is the Genoese castle from here you get stunning views over the area. The town is a mixture of old and modern buildings, old mansions, 19 th century wattle and daub houses. The streets are have a myriad of shops and tavernas, on either side of the town are two excellent beaches. At the Archaeological Museum has finds from the area.
To the north of the island, the landscape varies from rugged hills, to villages and resorts some of which have decent beaches. The centre of Limnos is mainly agricultural .Here is the strategic military base, which mars the peacefulness of the island, due to the activities of the jet fighters flying overhead.
The islands next largest town, this is a quiet place with some hotels and is not on the main tourist track.
There are two war cemeteries on Limnos . The East Moudros Military Cemetery and 1km. from Moudros, and the Portianos War Cemetery near Livadohori, these cemeteries are the final resting place of soldiers of the Commonwealth, who fought in the futile Gallipoli campaign during the First World War.
The archaeological sites on Limnos are still under excavation, and have little to offer the normal tourist, unless you are a historian or archaeologist.
History of Lemnos
According to evidence revealed by archaeological excavation, the first settlers on Lemnos appear to have come during the Middle Neolithic period (5th millenium BC). A notable culture developed at Poliochne (Polióhni) (believed to be the first city in Europe, with the oldest city council in the world) and reached its peak during the Bronze Age. Poliochne was suddenly destroyed ca. 1600 BC, most probably by an earthquake.
After the destruction of Poliochne, Myrina (Mírina) became the capital and nerve center of the island. Pre-Greek tribes, including the Minoans and the Pelasgians, occupied Lemnos as well. In the past, it was known as Dipolis, a name which originates from the coexistence of two large cities: Myrina and Hephaisteia (Iféstia). Lemnos was occupied by the Romans, and in time passed to Byzantine rule – a rule that was from time to time interrupted by the Saracen Arabs, the Venetians, and the Genoese. Eventually Lemnos was conceded by the Venetians to the Ottomans (1456 AD), and liberated in 1912 by the Greek fleet, three days after the declaration of the First Balkan War.
The Archaeological Museum of Lemnos is located in a three-storey neoclassical building in Romeiko Gialo in Myrina.
It houses collections and excavated finds from Poliochne (Prehistoric), Kaveirio (Archaic to Roman), and Hephaisteia (Geometric to Hellenistic), as well as prehistoric finds from the systematic excavations at Koukonisi.
The exhibition follows the chronological evolution of Lemnian history. On the ground floor, finds from Prehistoric Lemnos are displayed, from the “Black” to the “Later Violet” periods; the exhibition continues with finds from the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, as well as examples of Mycenaean ceramics found at Koukonisi.
On the second floor, the visitor explores Lemnos of the 8th to the 6th centuries BC, followed by galleries displaying finds from the Hellenistic period (323 – 30 BC).
- Where: The Museum is located in Myrina, in Romeiko Gialo.
- Ticket: 2,00 € general admission; 1,00 € for students in the EU; no charge for visitors under 18.
- Hours: Daily 08:30-15:00, closed Monday.
- Contact: +30-22540-22990, Fax: +30-22540-22637
- Accessibility: There is no elevator, and the Museum is inaccessible to those with mobility limitations.
- Must see: Copy of Eros, a work of the sculptor Lyssipos; double-handled krater (Hephaisteia, Sanctuary of the Great Goddess, 8th – 7th centuries BC), terra-cotta figurines of sirens (Hephaisteia, Sanctuary of the Great Goddess, 7th – 6th centuries BC).
- Should see: In Romeiko Gialo, shortly beyond the Museum, approximately at the height of Riha Nera, there is an excavation of a prehistoric settlement. It is accessible to those with mobility limitations and functions as a museum.
Places to go
Myrina: One of the overriding characteristics of Myrina is the imposing castle which sits on the summit of the hill above the port.
Especially at night, when it is lit up, it creates a romantic atmosphere which enchants every visitor. About fifty deer live in its pine forest, and if you are lucky, you can see and photograph them.
Myrina is a city of human scale built with traditional tile-roofed houses, which spread out pleasantly around the port. The ‘backbone’ of Myrina is its cobbled alleys, humming with life all day, harmoniously knitting together the center of the city and the two shores.
Visitors and residents amble through Romeiko Gialo, passing the dignified neoclassical houses which face the shore on one side and the castle on the other.
The port of Myrina is on the other side of the city where most of the fish restaurants are located, for those who enjoy fresh fish. Myrina can be a good starting-point for daytrips around the island.
Kontias: One of the few verdant places in Lemnos, Kontias was built around the pine-clad hill of St. Athanasios, over which loom the dilapidated windmills of the village.
The spot, in combination with the stone houses, gives a unique and entrancing local color.
Kontias ouzo is made here, which is worth a try. Cheers!
Where to swim
With 102 beaches scattered over Lemnos, even the most demanding visitor will find more than one beach that’s perfect for him. Most of the beaches of Lemnos are sandy with relatively shallow water, which are perfect for children to swim in. The large number of beaches covers everything the visiting bather could ask for. Many of the beaches are easily accessible, while others are located in hard-to-reach spots accessed by a dirt road.
Some of the dozens of beaches on the island are presented in this article. Apart from those beaches presented here, other good beaches are: Havouli, Italika – Poliohni, Makrys Gialos, Platy, Ormos Papia, Agios Giannis, Kokkina, Agia Varvara, Thanos, Skidi, Zematas, Neftina
Riha Nera, Myrina
Riha Nera (“shallow waters”) is one of the best organized beaches of Lemnos (located beyond Romeiko Gialo). The beach is sandy; facilities include bars, restaurants, and watersports.
The private beach of the Hotel Akti Myrina is located next to Riha Nera. Riha Nera is awarded a Blue Flag from the EU.
Useful Info: A chaise costs 2,50 €.
The most organized beach on Lemnos, and one of the most often visited. It is divided into two organized sections, offering a café-bar, restaurant, and free parking. Evgatis (or Nevgatis) is a relatively shallow, sandy beach, appropriate for children. Bathers can enjoy many watersports for free, such as basketball and volleyball in the sea, beach volleyball, platform diving, waterskiing, and sea-bicycling.
Worth seeing: After bathing in the sea, enjoy the verdant village of Kontias with its beautiful stone houses.
Useful Info: chaise costs 2,50 and a coffee costs 2,00 .
How To Get There: From Myrina it is approximately 8 km in the direction of Thanos and Plati. Continue on the ring road towards Kontias. From Livadohori it is about 12 km, and is located a few minutes beyond Kontias.
Fanaraki is located on the Bay of Moudros and is made up of Greater and Lesser Fanaraki (Megalo Fanaraki and Mikro Fanaraki). Both beaches are organized with facilities for beach soccer and beach volleyball. There are small bays with sandy beaches, good for diving off the overhanging rocks. Visitors can sunbathe in the secluded spots among the rocks, where nature has created individual baylets with sand. In winter, seals appear in the caves of Fanaraki.
Useful Info: A chaise costs 2,50 ; coffee costs 2,00 .
How To Get There: From the bay of Moudros, before you get to the Town Hall, you will see the sign for Fanaraki/Hagouli. The street is paved up to the beach.
Gomati is a beach with universal appeal. It has every combination: sandy beach and sandy sea, sandy beach and pebbly sea, pebbly beach and pebbly sea, and even leveled rocks ideal for diving and sunbathing, reminiscent of Kolymbithres (Paros). The beach is not organized, but it is so beautiful that it is worth a visit.
Worth seeing: Pahies Ammoi, known locally as Mikri Sahara (the Little Sahara), is 3 km from Gomati. We suggest that you walk along the sand hills and have your picture taken in this place of incredible beauty. For adventure-seekers, the region is a perfect place for free kayaking in one of the cool oases under the trees. Note that it is not a beach, but rather a place of unique beauty with hills of sand that will make you feel as if you are in Africa!
How To Get There: From Myrina follow the ring road toward the airport, and turn towards Korno. Follow the road towards Sarades, Dafni, and Katalako. Take the dirt road toward Gomati, following the appropriate signs. The region is considered an important ecosystem, and for this reason only mild interference has taken place here. From Moudros follow the ring road toward the airport and turn toward Astiki. Continue and take the road to Daphni and Katalako.
A beautiful, sandy, shallow beach next to a pine forest. In Keros, under the shadow of the pines, you may come upon the many tents of campers in the area. Keros is preferred by windsurfers and kitesurfers, since the wind is usually strong, as is the case in all of the eastern beaches on the island. It’s no coincidence that Homer called Lemnos “windy.” Three bars serve the bathers at the beach. When the wind isn’t blowing, Keros is considered of of the most beautiful beaches on the island with crystal clear, green water.
How To Get There: Keros is located a few minutes outside the village of Kalliopi with a short section of dirt road (good condition). From Myrina follow the ring road toward the airport, turn at Kotsina/Repanidi, and continue toward Kalliopi.
The green waters of Parthenomytos, along with the sandy beach, richly compensate the visitor for his trouble in taking the dirt road that leads here. The vistor can chose either Parthenomyto or Skidi beach, where he can enjoy the sea in the shade of trees planted by the residents of the village.
The beaches are not organized, but there is a bar at Parthenomytos where the bathers can enjoy a coffee.
How To Get There: It is in the SE section of the island. After Kaminia, continue on the ring road and at the intersection for the village of Agia Sofia, follow this road, entering the village. Then follow the sign for Skidi/Parthenomytos. Turn right and continue straight ahead, passing the village square and a bridge. Beyond the village, the road is unpaved.
Five Must-Do’s in Lemnos
- Visit as many beaches as possible
- Wander and enjoy the uniquely important archaeological and historical sites of the island
- Definitely visit the Sand Dunes at Gomati
- Live it up at the village festivals and enjoy the island music with local tsipouro and tapas.
- Try the famous wines of Lemnos, the spiral pitas, the local mash pitas (flomaria), and the local cheese, which is made in a traditional manner, and only on Lemnos.
Places to eat
Lemnos offers an impressive array of restaurants and tavernes (mainly in and around Myrina).
We recommend that you try lobster pasta from Glaropoula (Koutali), fresh fish from Glaro, at the traditional port of Tourkiko Gialo (Myrina Port), and fresh mussels from Kosmos (Romeikos Gialos, Myrina).
Try traditional Greek foods like giouvetsi and pastitsio from Platanos, on the Myrina boardwalk, in the Agora region, which is especially inexpensive. For one person, the price varies from 5,00 € to 15,00 €.
Where to stay
Lemnos has improved her tourism infrastructure greatly in the past several years. The visitor has many choices for accomodation, from five-star luxury hotels to simple, economical rented rooms.
Most are located in central Myrina and the surrounding areas. For luxury hotels with full facilities, we recommend Porto Myrina Palace (tel. 22540-24805, 23806) and Akti Myrina (tel. 22540-23681, 22310). Prices from 55,00 € to 180,00 €.
Nefeli is a very special welcoming small hotel located just below the castle. It is only five minutes away from the harbour and twenty steps away from the closest beach. It has a spectacular view of the Romeikos Gialos, the most picturesque area of the capital of Lemnos and is shadowed by the Castle of Myrina. It has six rooms available with their own kitchen, bathroom, living room and a balcony.
Nefeli Suites tel: (+30) 22540-23551 fax: (+30) 22540-24041 email: [email protected]
Other recommenations: Hephaistos (Category C; tel. 22540- 24960, 24962). Prices from 30,00 € per person.
Lemnos provides memorable nightlife to keep you up all night. In the afternoon, choose Karnagio in Moudros or Alexandros at the port for a relaxing atmosphere. The starting point for your evening excursion may be the well-known Karagiozis in Romeiko Gialo in Myrina, located at the little bridge that is usually full of people until late at night. A drink costs 5,00 €. Alternatively, you could being at Skala bar in Kallithea, right beside the sea. If you are up for nightclubbing until morning, we recommend Privilege (dance and mainstream music) just before Livadohori (8,00 € entrance and first drink) and then Bio-Bio (live Greek music), where you must of course pelt the neighboring tables with flowers (entrance and first drink, 10,00 €). If you make it ‘til morning, go to Kyma (also known as “Tzitzivagos”) and enjoy a hot spiral pastry with coffee or juice.
What you need to know
High season on Lemnos is primarily Orthodox Easter and August 5-25. Whoever wishes to travel to Lemnos during these periods ought to have tickets and accomodation arranged at least one month in advance. In Myrina and Moudros there are plenty of banks and ATMs. In the other villages it will be hard to find a bank.
Visitors arriving with their own yacht may tie up at the ports of Myrina and Moudros for replenishing water, electric, oil, gasoline, and food supplies.
Before leaving the island, don’t forget to try the famous Lemnian wine, which has often been applauded at major international exhibitions. Try the wines “Lemnia Ge” (“Lemnian earth”) and “Glyko Mosxato” (“sweet muscat”) from the Hatzigeorgiou vineyard, and “Lemnos” from the Lemnian Agricultural Co-op. “Kalampaki” is another well-known variety.
Athletics: The island is good for windsurfing, kitesurfing, diving, and subaquatic fishing. It is also a very well known destination for hunting during September.
During low season, Lemnian life is centered around Myrina. Most hotels are open from April to the end of September, but there are some hotels open year-round, such as Nefeli in Myrina (Category B; tel.: 22540-22825) and Kyma Hotel in Moudros (Category C; tel.: 22540-71333). The island slows down dramatically and you will only find rudimentary entertainment in the island’s capital city, entertainment which is perceptible only on the weekends. Lemnos has considerable tourism during Orthodox Easter.
Accessibility for people with special needs
Lemnos (and especially Myrina) can provide an easy vacation for those with special needs. The majority of the city is closed to vehicular traffic, while the port and Romeiko Gialo are pedestrian-only from 20:00 until 01:30. Furthermore, there are hotels with appropriate accessibility ramps and specially designed rooms for those with limited mobility.
Lemnos has good connections to other destinations. By air, it is connected to Athens, Thessaloniki, Mytilene, Rhodes, Chios, and Samos. For more information, contact Olympic Airlines at tel.: 22540 – 22214 and 22540 – 22215. By water, it is connected to Peiraias, Lavrio, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupoli, Kavala, Moudania, and Kymi, as well as with the following islands: Samothrace, Kalymnos, Kos, Agios Eustratios, Mytilene, Chios, Samos, and Rhodes.
For more information and to make reservations:
NEL Ferries tel.: 210 4115015
SAOS Ferries tel.: 210 4124900
G.A. Ferries tel.: 210 4511720 http://www.ferries.gr/gaferries
Lemnos Official Website: www.lemnos.gr
Police: 22540 22200
Myrina Port Authority: 22540 22225
Myrina City Hall: tel.: 22540 22884 fax: 22540 24110
Hospital/Health Center of Lemnos: 22540 22222
Bus schedules: 22540 22464
Myrina Taxi stand: 22540 23820
Lemnos Airport: 22540 22078, 22540, 92701
How To Get There How To Get There
At Peiraias, the Lemnos ferries leave from Gate E2. If you come in on the metro, get off at the terminus, and cross the street at Gate E4. From there, take the local shuttle-bus that will take you to Gate E2 free of charge.