Samothraki Island – pebbled beaches, goat dishes, bouzouki music, Greece
When I returned from Lemnos Island, I reached the port of Kavala late at night. As I wanted to take the morning ferry to Samothraki Island, I decided to drive 120 kilometers on the highway to reach my intermediary destination, the town of Alexandroupolis. I went to the municipal campground in Alexandroupolis where they charged me the price of a campervan because I planned to sleep in the car. The following day, I paid a bigger price for almost the same reason (having a big car) when I boarded with my car on the ferry for Samothraki Island.
The first day on Samothraki Island
Short Description: I took the ferry from Alexandroupolis Port to Kamariotissa, in Samothraki Island. I made a detour to Hora, the capital of the island, and then I descended to the campgrounds near Varades Beach. In the afternoon, I explored the Fonias Valley with its waterfalls and vathres and then continued toward Kipos Beach.
In the morning, I took the ferry boat from the port of Alexandroupolis to Samothraki Island. We docked in the small port of Kamariotissa -full of guesthouses and tavernas along the seafront. The white umbrellas of the tavernas shined in the sun but the terraces were empty despite their welcoming shade. In the small port, a traffic officer continuously guided the flow of cars to and from the ferry.
I drove up the winding road from Kamariotissa to the mountains, to Hora – the capital of the island. The small town sat at the foot of the Saos Mountains and had a few streets, all of them very steep. The ruin of a former Genovese castle dominated the historic capital of the island, but it was never open to visitors. Hora’s town center had stylish stone houses but also many abandoned houses on the outskirts of the town. The main street passed through the portico of the main church, went up to the castle, and then meandered among countless tavernas. At a local taverna, I ate the special dish of the island, baked stuffed young goat (called katsikaki).
From Hora, I drove down toward the sea and socialized with some goats calmly grazing along the road. I stopped in the first campground near Varades Beach, which was freely organized in a small forest. I found a good place to sleep during the night and then headed toward the Fonias Valley. When I reached the starting point of the trail going up the valley, I parked the car and started to hike. After almost one hour of hiking, I found a big waterfall and a vathres at the end of the valley.
The term vathres is specific to Samothraki Island. It means a small lake created at the foot of a waterfall, formed after the water has run through a canyon. I swam in the chill water of the vathres of Fonias and this way, I could better see the waterfall hidden behind some rocks. After that, I climbed a steep footpath to a lookout point where I had a better view of the waterfall. The steep footpath continued up the mountain, but I had a twisted ankle since I had been in Lemnos, so I turned back to the waterfall.
I came back along the valley to my car and then continued to drive along the coastline until I reached one of the most secluded and remote beaches of the island, Kipos Beach. The pebbled beach sat hidden in a small bay at the foot of a rocky mountain. Unfortunately, it was facing the east, so the mountain shadowed it early in the afternoon. A valley with shrubs and herds of goats grazing around started from the beach and went up into the mountain. In the evening, I came back to the campground in Varades and parked my car in the forest.
The second day on Samothraki Island
Short Description: I explored the Sanctuary of the Great Gods in ancient Paleopolis. I drove up to Alonia and Lakoma and then went to Profitis Ilias and Xiropotamos. In the afternoon, I went to Pahia Ammos Beach.
In the morning, I went to Paleopolis, at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods where religious rituals were practiced by the ancient Greeks. The famous statue of Victory of Samothrace, exposed in the Louvre Museum today, was found in this place. The archaeological site stood nearby the fortifications of Samothraki’s ancient town. The ancient site included: temples, a sacristy, a sacred way going toward the ionic portico, a circular space for representations, the propylaeum of Ptolemaeus II, the southern necropolis, and a theater (not entirely excavated, though). At the stoa, a team of archaeologists worked with small brooms and hoes and thus cleaned the ancient stones from plants and earth. It was a very hot day and the cicadas sang in the shade of the trees.
From Paleopolis, I drove uphill and passed Hora, then continued toward the mountain village of Alonia (almost nonexistent, though). The road meandered among the hills. Here and there, I saw a crossroads heading toward a small house lost among olive orchards. When I didn’t see houses or orchards any more, I concluded the village had ended.
From Alonia, I drove down toward the sea and went almost parallel with the coastline until I reached Lakoma village. A woman dressed in black waved at me. Four old Greeks enjoyed the shade of a taverna and watched whoever passed by. A peddler drove his car through the village to sell fruits and vegetables. The village featured steep streets, traditional whitewashed houses built of stone, and gardens with lush greenery creating shade.
From Lakoma, I headed toward the mountain village of Profitis Ilias, where houses were scattered among vines and olive orchards. The small central square was animated by a few tavernas overlooking the panoramic view of the sea. At Taverna Paradeisos, I ordered young goat liver (called kokoretsi), and the owner offered me semolina pudding with honey and orange peel jelly on the house. When I left, I drove downhill along some roads at random toward the sea. I had a hard time crossing the labyrinth of off-roads but eventually, I reached the main road of the island.
I turned back a few kilometers and went to Xiropotamos village – rather a few scattered houses among olive orchards than a real village. I parked the car at the end of a dirt road and started to hike toward Xiropotamos Canyon. A local man had just come out from his orchard and offered me some peaches. I took one but he insisted on me taking all of them. I headed toward the canyon on a road marked with red paint. Later, the marks disappeared, and I walked along a water canal and a pipe. There were many footpaths but I was sure the water canal should lead to the canyon. After an hour of hiking on an arid and steep trail, I reached a small vathres where two nudists sunbathed on the rocks nearby a waterfall. I couldn’t help but swim in the clear and cold water.
I returned to the main road and headed toward Pahia Ammos Beach. Small tavernas sold fresh fish along the road. The only sign I could see on the way to the beach was some big letters written directly on the road: “Ammos … km.” Pahia Ammos Beach was literally at the end of a road. Only off-roads full of sharp stones continued farther toward another beach hidden among rocks or a chapel perched up in the mountains. Pahia Ammos had a taverna and a bar overlooking the beach, lots of sun loungers, strong winds, and pebbles.
In the evening, I returned to the campground in Varades and parked the car close to the beach. Nearby, there was a horse grazing in a meadow. I pet it and fed it with bread until it ran away.
The third day on Samothraki Island
Short Description: I went to Therma and after that to Kamariotissa, where I wanted to find a travel company and negotiate my return ferry ticket. In the evening, I slept in the same campground in Varades.
In the morning, I sunbathed on the nudist pebbled beach of the campground. I explored the nudists’ ingenious huts made of stones and branches to create shade during the day. Later, I went to Therma to see the thermal springs, which were inside a building and more suited for cold weather. I tried to find a waterfall but got lost on the road and turned back. I twisted my ankle again, so I had to give up the waterfall explorations for good.
In Kamariotissa, I managed to buy a ferry ticket at a reasonable price, without paying the extra-option for my nonexistent campervan. On my way back to the campground, I stopped to eat fish soup and fried cheese with tomatoes at a taverna by the sea. In the evening, I slept in the same campground in Varades, under a tree where an owl sang all night long.
The fourth day on Samothraki Island (and the last one)
Short Description: I went to stay in another campground, visited Hora again, and then came back to the new campground at Varades Beach. In the evening, I went to Therma with Kostas, to a Greek music concert performed by his friends.
On the last day on Samothraki, I moved to another campground in Varades. In the new campground, all my new neighbors offered to help me with anything I needed. The Greek neighbor brought me a beer. The German one said that I could work at their table. Another Greek showed me where to refill with drinkable water.
I went again to Hora but the fortress had a big locker on the front gate. I walked through the small town center and bought cinnamon sticks, quince and apricot skin (a hard thin jelly). When I returned from Hora, I had bacaliaros fish at Paralia Taverna and found free sunbeds on a private beach where I enjoyed the gentle afternoon sun.
In the evening, my Greek neighbor Kostas invited me for a drink at his caravan. He didn’t speak English well, but a woman with her little girl who were there translated for me a bit. Kostas even had a fridge and a sink outside the caravan and had been coming to this campground every summer for the past forty years. We dined together at a local taverna in Therma, katsikaki with potatoes and beans with a big Greek salad. After that, we went to the bouzouki and baklamas concert performed by Kostas’s friends. Dimitrios played bouzouki, Maria baklamas, and Alexis kitara. All Kostas’s friends loved Samothraki. Each of them told me how much they had been enjoying the island. People drank, smoked, and the concert lasted until late at night.
The following day, I spent some time with Kostas and some of his friends. They invited me to go on the boat but I had already bought tickets for the ferry. When I arrived in Alexandroupolis, I went to the same municipal campground where I had stayed before coming to Samothraki. I ate kefalos fish at the campground’s taverna and met with the German neighbor I had known from the second Varades campground. He was on his way back home and stopped with his little girl at the same campground as I did. We talked for a while and then I sunbathed until the last rays of the sun. In the evening, I searched a pitch for my ‘mobile house’ – the car, and planned to cross Bulgaria on my way to Romania the following day.
You can find the version of this post in Romanian at ‘Insulele Grecesti, Samothraki‘. If you want to read more about the road trip through the Greek Islands, here are all the Travelogues from the Greek Islands (x3).
Have you been to the Greek Islands or plan to go there? Leave a comment below this post and tell me what you liked about Greece or what you want to see there.
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Wow–the Geek islands have so much to offer! I can’t wait to visit next month 🙂 I love how the story about the peaches. It looks like you had a blast!
Well, the peaches were a gift that I accepted and they were really good, considering that I was going for a short hike.
Greek and the greek islands have so much to offer! the goat dishes looks great although! I am a pure vegan now! it would be so hard for me to go there and not taste the goat dish!
I totally agree with you – it is hard (but not impossible) to go there even though you are vegan.
My friends go to Samothraki every year but life happened and I never got to visit it. But now that I found out they have THERMAL SPRINGS and wanterfalls I fell in love. ( I could spend a full day soaking in thermal water). Hopefuly this summer things will go back to normal and I can finally go visit it.
You can easily go there in autumn as well. It is warm enough and it is less expensive. Have I told you that the ferry in summer is 80 euros/car?
This looks like a lovely place! I have been dreaming of going to Greece for decades now. We need to make it happen! I like your post format, where you put the shorter summary and then the longer description.
Thank you. It was easier for me to keep track of my own adventures having short summaries.
ohh woow this Greek island looks so beautiful.I am intrigued to heard about Nude huts! I would like to just stay relaxed on the Pahia amos beach its so beautiful. The Goat dishes looks good, but I am vegetarian. Do veg food available there??
Yes, you have lots of salads and fruits if you wish so.
Samothraki Island looks so beautiful. Love the waterfalls.
The stonehouses in Hora looks so unique. So funny you went to a nudist beach with nudist huts. That must have been interesting. Great post 🙂
The nudists’ huts looked very interesting. I figured out they belonged to nudists only after seeing the nudists.
I hope that they would allow everyone inside the huts if it gets too hot? Or would they only allow nudists?:)
The huts are very small so it is not like you have plenty of space there. And they are only for shade, so it is not really a hut with door and windows.
I love island, even more drives with ferry. I could spend my whole day around. The island are something special, even they are crowded sometimes they have so much more than a coast. More beauty and more to explore. Thanks for sharing this.
Islands usually have mountain in the center so that’s even more intriguing.
Nudist huts? I thought nudists go to the beaches to make everyone see them 🙂 Why do they need huts? 🙂
Well, maybe because the sun doesn’t make the difference between nudists and not-nudists and the skin gets burned. The huts are very god for shade at noon or when the sun is too strong.
Nudist huts, huh? I have always been curious about going to a topless beach, just to try it just once but never nudist for my buns! Aside from blinding everyone with my super-white naught bits, there are some things I just don’t want others to see or to see of others! haha It sounds like a perfect little Greek Island, though. I love the old ruins! Thank you for sharing.
Actually, I stayed there because it was less crowded. After one-two days I discovered that everybody walked naked (in that area of the camping and on the beach in front of it). Moreover, a naked lady came to me and told me that my car is parked on the path that nudists use to go to the beach. It seemed that I landed in the world of nudists. Anyway, I stayed there because the rest of the camping and of the beach was too crowded for me.
Samothraki Island looks like an amazing experience! I really enjoyed seeing where you explored, especially the waterfalls and Paleopolis – the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. I accidentally stumbled on a nudist beach in San Francisco once. it was a bit funny, but ultimately they were very accepting of me and my blundering across their beach.
I made good friends in Samothraki and we still keep on touch on Facebook.
I love those stone houses with red rooftops. The hike to the waterfall has to be something I’d want to do as well. The Paleopolis is so typically Greek, much like the ruins I saw in Athens. And the Kipos beach is so cool.
Everything was so cool in Samothraki, indeed – from remote beaches to hidden stone villages and archaeological sites.
The place looks very beautiful and a great place to eat! I wonder how katsikaki tastes!! Loved reading your experiences.
Katsikaki is great and hearty. if you eat that, you’re done for that day !
I’ve been to a few Greek Islands but have yet to visit Samothraki, Would love to visit because it seems more off the beaten path.
Yes, it is not a very popular island for tourism. It is very popular for Greeks, though.
I’ve travelled so much, but never made it to Greece – whereby I know that I’m missing out on a wonderful country; the cradle of our civilization. Your post is really the epitome of Greek culture: the food, the bouzouki, the villages and the lush landscape – that’s what I call vacation!
You will have to go to Greece one day !
I love the authenticity of your travels. No glitz and glamour and you explore places as they are and for what they represent. When I was in college I worked in a Greek restaurant and it had one of Australia’s best bouzouki players playing a few nights a week. The Greek community would come out in big groups on the weekend for lots of music, dancing and ouzo!
Yes, meeting those locals (who were very kind) was one of the highlights of my trip. However, at midnight I was very tired, they were just starting to party.
I never thought that there would be hot springs in Greece. One more reason to put it on the bucket list! (The other one are the nudist huts, hihi 😀 ).
Ok, so we will find you at the nudist beach, I understand that.:)
Such a great experience that you have on Samothraki Island. The traditional houses at the capital look lovely, as well as the beaches and landscape. It’s interesting to know about nudist huts! I’ve never been to a nudist beach but I imagined things would be different haha.
Well, i found out it was a nudist beach after I saw I was the only one wearing a bathing suite.
Baked stuffed young goat? I just googled to see pics of it! I was kinda having a mental picture of a huuuuge community dish with the whole goat like Ramadan Biriyani in middle east. Hahaha….
Those camping under a tree with an owl singing all night? I need experience that!!! Sounds just so nice!!!
Pahia Ammos beach with its lounge chairs, its just so relaxing
Yes, the camping was nice but you know that because of that owl I couldn’t sleep at night …..
I am curious how katsikaki tastes, you make it sound so good. Not very curious about nudist huts though. But an unusual concept. I wonder how people come up with such ideas.
I don’t resonate with nudists either but it seems that they say they are authentic. I have a friend who goes to nudist beaches and that’s what she told me.
Hi, Iuliana. I’m going on a road trip to Turkey, Greece and Croatia next year and unfortunatelly I don’t have time enough to do all bucket list 🙁
Anyway, if I have to choose between visiting Thassos or Samothraki, which one do you recomend me?
Thanks a lot!
Erika, in my opinion Samothraki is smaller and less crowded and touristy than Thassos. If you want a true Greek vibe on your way to Turkey, Samothraki has it all. Wish you all the best