Information about the island of Chios Greece

chios Chios is the fifth largest island of Greece. Located just a few nautical miles from Turkey. Cape Pounda on the Erythraia Peninsula is only 3.5 nautical miles away. Its population is about 50,000 inhabitants, most of them concentrated in the capital where there are also large hotels and in Karfas not far on the east coast where the best equipped beaches are located, a few hundred and sometimes a few dozen inhabitants in the remaining areas. other 64 villages.

Chios capital is an excellent starting point for excursions, well connected to Karfas there are quieter beaches even further south, such as Megas Limnionas, Agia Fotini, Komi, and Mavra Volia (black sand) which is located in southern corner of the island between the cones of two inactive volcanoes.

Chios is a diverse island in the north-east of the Aegean, the fifth largest in size in Greece, and only a short distance from the coast of Asia Minor. Chios is said to have given birth to Homer and inspired Columbus to discover America,

Perhaps you will be disappointed at the first image of the port with its unkempt apartment buildings, but a walk in Chora and the rest of the island will compensate you: Kampos with its mansions and citrus groves, medieval villages and beaches with their wild beauty. Estimate that you need at least a week to get around the island and a car is essential.

Masticochoria, Anavatos, Volissos, Kampos are the main stations of the trip to Chios. The latter, in fact, with the guesthouses in the old mansions (the country houses of the Genoese aristocrats and the rich Turks and Greeks who succeeded them), is a good accommodation base for those who want to be close to the city, while in recent years the number of guesthouses has increased and in the other villages.

Pyrgi, Mesta, Olympoi, Armolia, Vessa can also be used as an alternative base. Walking through their narrow streets, you will feel that time has stopped. But beware, we are not talking about village-museums – everything is buzzing with life.

A third option is to choose a village in the north as your base. Based in Volissos, you can visit the castle town of Anavatos (the Mystras of the Aegean) and the beautiful stone village of Avgonima. Lately Chios is developing into a destination for alternative activities, with agencies organizing nature trips – from spring walks in orchid gorges to participating in the cultivation of mastic!

About Chios

Chios, according the legend was the birth island of Homer who taught in Daskalopetra, the Stone of the Master, a locality near Chòra where there is the huge stone that the poet used as a chair during his teaching.
During the past Chios was called the queen of the oceans and the sea with her countless ships and fearless sailors. In fact, historians said that the one who will have Chios as an ally at sea will win the war.

Chios is the island of mastic. When the Romans took Agios Isidoros to accompany him to the place of execution, the exhausted Saint began to cry, and his tears, falling on the pavement, became the aromatic mastic.
Thus they explain why the same tree, the mastic tree, which exists in many other places in the Mediterranean, produces mastic only in Chios; to grab the trade, Chios underwent the invasions of the Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Genoese and from the middle of the 16th century until 1912 a long Ottoman domination.


homer-bitrth-island-chios Many myths have been woven about the name of Chios. According to Homer, the oldest name of the island was pre-Hellenic, Kios or Keos, names similar to today’s.

The oldest myths state that the name “Chios” comes from Chioni who was a nymph, daughter of the first King of Chios, Oenopion. Apart from Chioni, the paternity of Chios is also claimed by another mythical figure, Chios, son of Oceanus or Poseidon, who was named so because a lot of snow fell during his birth.

The traveler Dapper says that Chia means serpent in the Syriac language. Hence the other name of Chios Ofiusa, which was given because of the many snakes it had. Another name of Chios was Pityousa probably because of the many pine trees that were especially in the northern part of it.

Another name for her was Ariousha from the “aryon” tree, which is a type of oak – holly. The arias (oaks) covered a large part of northwestern Chios. Other names were Aethalis (reported by the prefect Pliny) and Arethusa, reported by the Italian Ruberto Valentino and Hieronymus.

The prehistoric tradition mentions two people who first inhabited the island, Oinopion and Makara. Oinopionas was the first mythical king of Chios, he was of Cretan origin and he was the one who brought to Chios the cultivation of the vine and the production of the best wine of the time, Ariusian Wine.

The praises for this wine were many, such as nectar, sweetness, healing, aromatic and easy to digest. Oenopion’s father was the God Dionysus and his mother was Ariadne, daughter of the King of Crete, Minos.
He inherited his love for wine from his father and passed it on to the people of Chios. The myth of Orion, the most famous mythical hero of Chios, is also connected with Oinopion, son of the God Poseidon and Euryale.


history-of-chios Due to its temperate climate and key geographical location, the island develop trade and shipping, while the famous “Ariusian Wine” travels throughout the then known world. Chiot amphorae have been found in areas of the Mediterranean, in Egypt, even in the Black Sea. Chios follows the fate of the Ionian cities of Asia Minor and submits to the Persians in 493 BC, after destruction and looting. In 479 BC the Chiots rebel and regain their independence, after the naval battle of Mykali. With the powerful fleet they have, they become a member of the Athenian Alliance.

The ancient city of Chios, built on approximately the same site as the modern one, acquires wealth and prosperity. The phrases “Chios Gelos” and “His life” are typical, indicating the comforts and bliss that prevailed in the place.

The Peloponnesian War upsets the balance in the Aegean as well, with significant effects on the economy and trade. Chios, as a member of the Athenian Alliance, fights on the side of the Athenians, until the defeat of the latter in Sicily, at which time it defected from the Alliance.

The Athenians lay siege to the island, but the Spartans prevail, establishing an oligarchic polity. In 386 BC, Chios joined the Second Athenian Alliance. During the years of Alexander the Great and his successors, Chios maintained a flourishing economy, based on trade, as evidenced by relevant archaeological findings (Macedonian Tomb in the Archaeological Museum of Chios).

Alexander the Great, with his letter to the Municipality of Chios, which is exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of the island, appears as a regulator of the political situation, indicating the restoration of the democratic state.

During the years of the Roman Empire, Chios was subordinated to the Romans. The island suffered terrible destruction during the Mithridatic wars, because of its pro-Roman political stance. Unfortunately, the successive disasters, as well as major earthquakes that occurred in the area are responsible for the fact that few traces of the wealth and prosperity of ancient Chios survive today.

In 1912 the Greek army liberates Macedonia and Epirus and then the General Staff of the Army decides the liberation of the Aegean islands. There had been previous actions by various Chiots, who had contacted Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, to ask him for help to free themselves.

The Greek fleet led by the brave Hydraian Pavlos Kourouniotis undertakes the liberation of the islands. First he liberated Lemnos, then Thassos, Imbroσ, Samothraki, Psara and Lesvos. On November 11, 1912, the Greek fleet ςιτη 3 cruisers, two destroyers and 3 transports σηιπσ with 2500 soldiers, arrives outside the port of Chios. The people of Chios welcome the army happily and confident that this time they will succeed in shaking off the Turkish yoke. In that year Chios unified with its motherland Greece.

What to see

Chios is famous for its medieval architecture, built during the domination of the Genoese from the 13th to 1566 which give it a particular charm, with the narrow streets of medieval villages, the walls of the alleys are embellished with a very rare decorative technique, consisting of gray drawings scraped on the white background. Throughout the island there are traces of patrician residences and fortified towers.

The capital and main port is Chios city, a small but lively city on the east coast of the island, facing the coast of Turkey. In its structures there is a symbiosis between the traditional and the modern aspect. The castle walls, overlooking the harbor, surround the old quarter. Aplotarià is the town’s traditional shopping street that leads to the main Vounakiou square.

Important is the Archaeological Museum, with finds from the area, the “Orrido” Cultural Center, where theatrical and musical events are organized, and the Byzantine Museum. Furthermore, in the Library of A. Korais, one of the most important in all of Greece, among the 130,000 volumes it contains, there is a very valuable collection of books by A. Korais.

Famous above all for its medieval villages, in Chios you cannot miss the villages of Pyrgi, 24 kilometers from the capital of the island, and Olympia, 30 kilometers from Chios city, with an architecture characterized by geometric designs in black and white on the external walls and paved paths.

To the south is Emborios, a village with a beautiful beach covered with black pebbles, Mavra Volia.

Monastery of Nea Moni

The monastery of Nea Moni is one of the oldest monasteries in Greece: dating back to the 11th century, it was built by the Byzantine emperor Constantine Monomachos IX and his wife, the empress Zoe, in the place where three monks found a holy icon.

Construction of the monastery began in 1042 and was completed by the year 1055. Today the monastery covers an area of ​​about 17,000 square kilometers and is run by only three monks. It is located west of the capital, in the hinterland of the island, and is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in all of Greece.  Both the Byzantine building and its collection of well-preserved mosaics rank among the finest of their kind in Greece.


Anavatos is an abandoned village located 19 kilometers west of Chios city, on the top of a hill, at an altitude of 450 meters above the sea level.

The ancient village retains its medieval structure with the Rocca, the Church of Taxiarhis, the old school and the church of the Virgin Mary. And for an excursion do not miss the small islands of Psara and Oinousses, ideal for a day trip.

Byzantine Museum

In Vounaki Square is the old mosque, which was converted in 1980 into a Byzantine Museum. The exhibits come from excavations on the island and date from the 5th to the 18th century.
The most important are a post-Byzantine fresco depicting a miracle of Saint Nicholas, work of 1734, by Anagnostos Michael Chomatzas, from the penultimate phase of illustration of the church of Panagia Krina in Vavylos, as well as two marble lintels from the Genoese era with the theme of Saint George which fighting the dragon.

Justinian’s Palace

Entering the Old Town through the monumental Porta Maggiore, you will see the medieval palace of Justinian. Now it is an exhibition space with mosaics, frescoes and wood carvings, but in the past it was a prison where the 70 prominent men of Xi were imprisoned in 1822, before being hanged.

Stone of Homer

Or Daskalopetra, is located in the so-called Homeroupoli inland. According to tradition, Homer taught his epics there. Archaeologists estimate that the flattened rock with the autolithic temple of the goddess Cybele in the middle, combined with the waters of the neighboring spring, must have been dedicated to the goddess.

Marine Museum

A remarkable record of the history of the local sailors, who plowed the seas and made the island an important commercial center.

The most important part of the life of the island is illustrated in the best possible way with the collection of objects, the recording of historical data as well as the developments of shipping and merchant ships.

His collection also includes several portraits of sailing and steam-powered ships of Chiot sailors, works of the Chiot shipwright Aristides Glykas, objects used in navigation, models of ships from various periods as well as rare photographs.

Archaeological Museum

A building of typical architecture from the 60s, it presents representative samples of both art and everyday life on the island from the Final Neolithic period to the Late Roman period. The third floor hosts the exhibition “Fish in Antiquity”, which includes Mycenaean cemetery tombs from the island.

Folklore Museum Argentis

In the impressive Korai library building, behind Aplotaria, with an interesting collection of paintings – some of which date back to the 17th century. For a fascinating insight into traditional island life, visit the Philip Argenti Museum on Korais next to the cathedral.

The museum takes its name from a local historian and aristocrat who devoted his life to recording the culture, traditions and history of Chios, The collection includes local costumes, wooden utensils, portraits of the Argenti family and a copy of the famous “Massacre at Chios” painting by Delacroix.

More than 25,000 Chiots were slaughtered by the Turks and nearly twice that number were enslaved during the Greek War of Independence (1821-1822). The original painting hangs in the Louvre in Paris.

Mastic Museum of Chios

A member of the pioneer Network of Thematic Museums of the Piraeus Group Cultural Foundation, it opened in the spring of 2016 near the village of Pyrgi.
It is housed in an architectural masterpiece with the signature of the office Kizi A.A. and through the exhibits and the outdoor space it unfolds the history, the economy and the cultural heritage of the place in a very nice way.


Green area with citrus trees in the south of Chora, one of the most beautiful on the island, with red brick walls and old mansions, whose architecture is believed to have been greatly influenced by the Genoese, but in fact created a local style with references to the 17th and 18th centuries . Some mansions have now been converted into guesthouses.

The mastic villages

A visit to the mastic villages in southern Chios is top of most tourists’ agenda. The medieval architecture and elaborate artwork adorning the walls of the local houses make these some of the most unusual and attractive settlements in the Greek islands.

The fortified villages were built in the 14th and 15th centuries and prospered from production of gum from the mastic bushes which flourish in the area. For centuries the local mastic resin was used in paints, cosmetics, medicines and an addictive chewing gum enjoyed by the Ottoman sultans and their harems.

These delightful medieval villages were built in the 14th and 15th century as centres of production of the local mastic gum which was the island’s most important export for centuries.

The gum is made from the resin of the mastic bushes which are unique to the island. Until the introduction of petroleum-based products mastic gum was widely used as a base for cosmetics, paints, perfumes and medicines. The mastic villages were constructed to a unique design with the aim of deterring pirates and other predators keen to cash in on the lucrative gum trade. The outer ring of houses served as thick defence walls, fortified towers guarded each corner of the village and a confusing maze of narrow streets arched by buttresses led inward to a central tower which was the last stronghold in times of attack.

A special feature of these villages is the elaboration decoration on the external walls of many of the buildings. Pyrgi, 26 kilometres south west of Chios Town, is the biggest and most impressive of the surviving mastic villages.

North Chios

It offers the visitor a completely different image than the rest of the island. Small villages on high mountains and abandoned settlements often give the feeling of a place forgotten in time. With a population of around 500 inhabitants, the amphitheater built Volissos is the main village of Northwest Chios.

In Volisos at the top of the hill dominates its medieval castle with its six towers that have been preserved in fairly good condition. Opposite, at the north-eastern end of Chios, are Kardamyla: the Ano stretches among the plane trees, while the Kato, with the mansions literally on the sea, is a surprise for the visitor.

What to do

When it comes to filling your days on Chios you’ll find there’s a wealth of fascinating day trips and excursions to choose from. The island has some of the most enchanting medieval villages in Greece, important Byzantine monuments, several interesting museums and many disturbing reminders of the islanders’ disastrous 19th century rebellion against the Ottoman occupiers.

Discover Pyrgi and Mesta

pyrgi As diverse as the nature of Chios is, so is its architecture. The village of Pyrgi is the so-called “painted village” and one of the largest mastic villages.

In its narrow streets you will admire and photograph houses whose facades are characterized by black and white engraved designs.
One of the most beautiful villages of the island, Mesta, is medieval, classified as a preserved monument.

Built like a castle, its elaborate architecture stems from the Byzantine period, its houses are small and stone, built next to each other, and form a strong protective wall on the outer perimeter of the settlement.

Of all the Mastic villages, the most famous are Pyrgi and Mesta. The first is also known as the “painted village” and stands out for the exterior decoration of the houses with special geometric shapes.

The second is the well-preserved Mastichohori and one of the most beautiful medieval castle villages on the island.

Its special architecture stems from the Byzantine period and it is really worth walking around and getting lost in its labyrinthine streets.

Walks and hikes

For those who prefer to get to know a place by walking its organized paths, they can get in touch with the natural landscape of Northern Chios starting from the settlements of Volissos and Kardamylos.

But apart from the morning walkers, there are many who visit the capital village of northwestern Chios just before the sun sets. Built amphitheatrically on the hillside, Volissos is a destination for those who collect snapshots of the best sunsets – the nearby beach of Agia Markella is famous for this.

Eat fresh fish in Lagada

lagatha-chios Because in the summer the sea and good fish, you can’t help but take a walk from Lagada, a picturesque fishing village, northwest of the city of Chios.

Amphitheatrically built on a hill, which gives it its name, it is particularly rich in olives, eucalyptus, fruit trees and water.

The beach is full of restaurants and taverns, which fill up at lunchtime. There you will also find the restaurant “O Passas”, one of the best on the island, which is famous for its fresh seafood.

If the road leads you there, look for him and Giorgos Passas, who has taken over its management. It is a given that he will make sure that nothing is missing from your table.

Have dinner in Volissos

volissos-fabrica The evenings in Volissos, the largest village in northwestern Chios, are different.

The specific village is built amphitheatrically on the slope of the hill, while a Byzantine castle survives on its top.

As the sun goes down, the setting is perfect for photos. After it is “lost”, it is time for food.

Perhaps the best place to dine there is “Fabrica”, the best known traditional tavern of Northern Chios.

Try the local delicacies

masouraki-sweet What ultimately remains from every trip are its images and tastes. Masouraki and souma, two of the most traditional local products of the island and certainly less well known than the famous mastic.

Marouraki is a traditional sweet of Chios, which is made with phyllo crust and almond chips, while souma is a fig spirit, which is made exclusively on the island.

Before you leave you can also buy some mastic treats to eat when you get home. So that you don’t miss the mastic from your trip to Chios.

Take a dip in Mavra Volia

mavra-volla-chios It is impossible to write a guide with things about Chios and leave out its best and most famous beach.

The reason for “Mavra Volia”, a small cove that impresses every visitor with its black volcanic pebbles, as well as its deep dark, but crystal clear waters.

This beach is located approximately 30 kilometers south of the island town and 5 kilometers south of Emporio and you can combine your stay there with wandering around the south side of Chios.

Explore the Mastic villages of South Chios

mastic-villages-of-chios The truth is that South Chios is fascinating and different from any image you have in your mind. There are the famous Mastichohoria, which preserve their medieval architecture.

Their centuries-long history begins around the middle of the 14th century, when the Genoese conquerors built these villages to house the lords who would control the production of mastic.

Today, 24 Mastichohoria are preserved, with most of them preserving intact the characteristics of a medieval fortified settlement.

Enjoy the view from Agios Georgios Sikousi

church-chios Most people may not even know of its existence before arriving in Chios. And it makes perfect sense. It is a small beautiful medieval village, which is “hanging” on the central mountain range of the island with a magnificent view towards Kampos, the vastness of the Aegean and the coasts of Asia Minor.

The photos from this place are stunning. Do not miss the opportunity to walk through the traditional settlement, until you reach the church of Agios Georgios.

The original core of this church was founded as a Catholic monastery in the Middle Byzantine era, probably in the 12th century. Although it was destroyed during the Massacre of Chios in 1822, it was repaired with the help of all the inhabitants of the village and today it is an important monument of the island.

Admire the mansions in Kampos

chios-mansion The Kampos of Chios, a short distance from the city, is a must for every visitor, as it offers countless options for wandering through the narrow streets, among the citrus groves and the mansions.

Here you will take your afternoon walk, admire the well-preserved buildings and end up at the Citrus multipurpose hall.
It is a visitable orchard, which includes a small museum dedicated to Campo and its citrus fruits.

At the same time, it also has a small café in its courtyard, where you can try spoon sweets made there. Immediately afterwards, if you are hungry, a good choice for your dinner is the old mansion “Riziko”.

Chios Town

chios town Start by exploring Chios Town with its atmospheric old quarter enclosed within the walls of a 9th century Byzantine kastro and flanked by a deep dry moat. Ottoman-era houses line the narrow lanes of the ancient castle where you’ll find decaying Turkish baths, a disused mosque, fountains and the gravestone of Turks, Armenians and Jews.

The Giustiniani Museum, housed in a 15th century mansion in the kastro, contains some restored 15th century Byzantine wall paintings, a 5th century floor mosaic and other religious art.

The tiny dungeon next to the museum was used to imprison 75 islanders before they were hanged by the Turks during the bloody 1822 uprising.

chios-greece For a fascinating insight into traditional island life, visit the Philip Argenti Museum on Korais next to the cathedral. The museum takes its name from a local historian and aristocrat who devoted his life to recording the culture, traditions and history of Chios, The collection includes local costumes, wooden utensils, portraits of the Argenti family and a copy of the famous “Massacre at Chios” painting by Delacroix.  

The monastery of Nea Moni  occupies a beautiful mountain setting, 14 kilometres west of Chios Town, and is well worth a visit because this is one of finest Byzantine buildings in the whole of Greece. The interior is adorned with many beautiful mosaics, their colours of red, gold, green and blue still vivid after 10 centuries.  

Day trips

The island of Psara is located just 12 miles northwest of Chios. You can arrive by boat from Chios town or by smaller boat from Limia.
Today they have less than 500 inhabitants, who live in the only settlement on the island, and rudimentary tourist infrastructure.

On the north-eastern coast of Chios there are also five small islands, the largest of which is Oinousses: in ancient times they were famous for their good wine and it is believed that their name comes from the word oinos (wine in greek).

They have a small hotel, some rooms for rent, cafes, taverns and many nice beaches, while here is also one of the largest commercial shipping schools in Greece.

Their connection with the city of Chios is regular and during the summer months many travel agencies organize excursions here.

Nightlife in Chios

Chios is a destination that offers visitors entertainment for all tastes. Cafes and taverns, as well as many bars, offer many options for relaxing and carefree moments.

The center of the entertainment is the waterfront of the island, where the largest number of cafes, bars and ouzo are concentrated, overlooking the port of Chios.

Of course, there are also many options in all the touristic parts of the island, such as in Karfas, and the wider area (M. Limnionas and Agia Erimioni), in Komi, Agia Fotia, Volissos, Lagada and Kardamyla, where you can one can enjoy the entertainment with a view of the starry sky and the endless blue of the Aegean, which embraces the island from end to end. Read more

Getting around Chios

You might want to hire a car or motorbike for at least part of your stay on Chios as the bus service is fairly limited. Buses run frequently to the mastic villages in the southern half of the island and to the most popular east coast beaches. But if you want to explore the sparsely populated, mountainous north of the island and uncover quiet, secluded coves you’ll need your own transport.

There are numerous car rental firms in Chios Town including a cluster in Evyenias Handhri at the southern end of the harbour. You’d be well advised to make an advance reservation if you want to hire a vehicle for the weekend in high season when rental cars are in big demand.

With your own set of wheels you’ll be able to visit the famous medieval mastic villages at your leisure, rather than relying on an organised excursion. A tour of these unique and fascinating fortified towns in the southern half of the island is an absolute must for all first-time visitors to Chios.

The villages were built by the Genoese in the 14th and 15th centuries as fortified centres of production of a special gum made from the resin of the mastic bushes which flourish in the area. With pirates and other predators keen to cash in on the lucrative gum trade, the Genoese devised a unique town plan designed to deter invaders. The mastic villages were constructed with the outer ring of houses forming a defence wall guarded at each corner by a watch tower. A maze of narrow streets, vaulted by arched buttresses, led inwards to the central tower which served as the villagers’ final refuge in times of attack.

One of the most interesting features of these villages is the intricate artwork on the outer walls of many of the buildings, created by medieval graphic designers using a combination of black volcanic sand and whitewash. The largest and most awe-inspiring of the villages is Pyrgi, 26 kilometres south west of Chios Town. The road leading north west from Pyrgi takes you to two more villages built in the same style – Olympi and Mesta.

The winding road west of Chios Town into the mountainous centre of the island leads to the spectacularly located Nea Moni monastery which is one of the finest Byzantine buildings in the whole of Greece. Continue five kilometres north west of the monastery and you’ll come to the haunting hill top village of Anavatos where 400 women and children hurled themselves from a cliff rather than surrender to the Turks during the atrocities of 1822.

One of the most beautiful hilltop villages on the island is Volissos, 42 kilometres from Chios Town. The village was the reputed birthplace of the blind poet Homer, one of the greatest writers of Ancient Greece, and is a delightful concoction of old stone houses and steep streets leading up to the ruins of a Byzantine fortress.

You’ll need steady nerves to tackle the tortuous roads at the northern end of the island which is dominated by the three peaks of Mount Pelineo, Mount Oros and Mount Amani.

Getting to Chios

By Air

Chios has an international airport (Omiron), albeit a bit small, but close to the city. Many charters arrive mainly from Germany, Holland, and the Nordic countries. You can arrive by plane from Athens with the two Greek companies: Aegean Airways and Sky Express, there are no direct flights from Italy. In summer there are 4 flights a day and two in winter from Athens airport.

By Ferry

By ship you travel from the ports of Piraeus (147 nautical miles, approximately 10 hours of travel), Rafina and from the ports of Thessaloniki and Kavala in Macedonia. It should be borne in mind that ships from Piraeus arrive mostly in the middle of the night as they make very long itineraries, even if a minimum of tourist reception is always present on the island even if it is not booked in time.

From Piraeus, connections are regular and operate all year round. In winter there are 2 weekly departures and in summer the frequency increases. The duration of the trip is between 7 and 11 hours depending on the intermediate stopovers and the port of arrival.

The route from Kavala, which connects northern Greece with the Aegean islands, is also active all year round. The crossing lasts from 10 to 15 hours depending on the chosen itinerary. Chios is connected daily in summer with Samos, Limnos, the Dodecanese and Lesvos.