Chios is a name that can be hard to pronounce at the beginning but once you figure it out, it will be impossible to forget the name or the place.

One of the largest islands in Greece, Chios has been known as a place of sailors and luxury items. Mastic, the precious product of the lentisk (Pistacia Lentiscus) tree, is only one of such opulent products.

The visitors that find themselves on Chios island are rewarded with a vast array of activities and places to explore and discover. The capital of the island which is also fittingly called Chios has a picturesque busy port, a bustling waterfront with many tavernas and cafes and an imposing medieval castle, where the visitor can get a taste of how life was on the island at the time of the Byzantine rulers, the Genoesian rulers and much later the Ottoman rulers.

The castle incorporates elements from different eras with its Byzantine architecture and Saint George’s chapel as well as the Turkish baths that have been extensively restored since their construction in the 18th century

Beach in Chios island

One of the more than 91 beaches on the island

When you are looking to take a step back from the culture, history and traditions of the island the beaches will be sure to provide you with exactly what you are after.

As the locals like to say, even on the busiest of the summer months it is still possible to find a beach to yourself.

If lounging on a sunbed, however, is not your cup of tea, you can enjoy luxurious sailing trips to nearby islands, scuba diving excursions, kayaking trips to explore secret pirate hideouts, and hiking adventures on the countless mountain paths that take you through medieval villages and old Byzantine churches.

Chios has been nicknamed the "Fragrant Island" which every visitor can attest to whatever season they happen to be visiting.

During springtime, fields of red tulips (or lalades as the locals call them) spread their sweet fragrance, together with the lemon blossoms, the orange and tangerine trees as well as the many spectacular and rare orchid plants that can be found around the island. The mountain slopes abound with wild aromatic plants such as thyme, oregano, jasmine and lavender and the mastic trees that dominate the south side of the island spread their sweet cedar smell. Pine trees, plentiful in the Chian landscape, contribute to the pandemonium of aromas.

The many villages that make up the island of Chios are all different and unique.

In the south, the villages of Mastic (Mastihohoria) that were built to guard and protect, feel and look like fortresses with their many towers and high walls. In the central part of the island, you can peak into the mansions of where used to live the aristocracy of Chios, with their vast citrus fields and tall verandas. In the north, are some of the highest peaks in the island with villages untouched by mass tourism, offering stunning views of the west coast beaches and the mountain paths that are waiting to be explored.

Another tradition that survives from the time of the pirates, is the festival of Mostra that takes place in the village of Thymiana.

Legend has it that during the Carnival celebrations, pirates attacked the island and were defeated by the islanders before being brought to the centre of the square to boast their victory. The name of the festival, “Mostra” is quite fitting since it comes from the Italian “to show off”. From Friday to Sunday, in commemoration of their winning battle the people of the village dressed in scary costumes and face masks, perform a representation of the battle together with much dancing and singing.

Like most places in Greece, Chios has a rich history with its own customs and traditions.

If you are visiting during the Easter time period you will not want to miss the rocket wars that take place in the area of Vrontados. Groups from the two adjoining villages prepare all year round to create enough firework rockets to launch to each other after the church bells signal the resurrection of Jesus on Good Saturday, the night before Easter.

Similar destinations we recommend: Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Karpathos, Rhodes

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