Myrina: elegant, low-key charms in the capital of one of Greece’s less-touristy islands

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With its reputation as one of the less touristy of the Greek islands, and its pink flamingo inhabitants, Limnos has long been on our list of places to visit. We booked flights for late August but the more our journey was approaching, the more unsure we were growing whether we’d enjoy our stay there.

The previous few weeks of our trip which we’d spent in my native Bulgaria turned out to be a little more dynamic than we’d envisaged, with a long list of family and friends we wanted to spend time with, and we were looking forward to catching up on work in Limnos, which we hoped to relax from at nice beaches, good restaurants and inviting bars.

The current edition of our guidebook provided very little information about the island and made it sound rather dull, sleepy and uninteresting – in contrast to an earlier edition which had fuelled our enthusiasm in the first place. We decided that the capital, Myrina, would be our best shot at discovering what, according to our guidebook, would be the little remaining civilisation on the island. Evidently, we were in for a surprise – and it turned out to be a delightful one!

Having landed shortly after 6am, our first acquaintance with Myrina was in the very early hours of a Friday morning, the town slowly waking up in front of our eyes. We hadn’t booked accommodation as there were only a couple of availabilities on booking.com, both of them, according to the ratings, with atrocious conditions which came for €75 a night. So we decided, as is often the case in Greece, that ‘rooms’ would be the way to go.

And so after our taxi driver sped through the narrow winding streets of the island at 120km/h, there we were, nerve-wrecked, in still deeply sleeping Myrina, looking for some signs of life on the streets and more urgently, after a sleepless night, for coffee.

It was too early for us to approach any rooms, so we strolled on the streets for about 10 minutes and found a little bakery, where we greeted and were warmly greeted by the first person we had seen in Myrina, an old gentlemen, seated on one of the two tables outside. We took off our bags, while answering where we were from, how we’d gotten to the island and whether we were looking for rooms, and then settled on the table next to him.

He referred us to the owner of the bakery, who may have a free room. He did, it turned out, but not in town. We ordered a couple of coffees and started lazily browsing through the few suggestions of our guidebooks.

Meanwhile, the old gentlemen was enthusiastically greeting some of the first people starting to pop on the streets. We don’t speak Greek, but somehow it takes little knowledge of any language to understand that someone is talking about you. The name of Bulgaria, after all, doesn’t come in camouflage in the Greek language – and for a reason that remained unknown to me, but I suspected to be neighbourly friendliness, he seemed to be very fascinated by my origin. And so once my genetic make-up was introduced to the passers-by, the conversation would quickly turn to the fact that we were looking for rooms and did his friends have anything available. After five enquiries, in less than 15 minutes, we understood that he’d really taken the task of finding us a room to heart. It was sometime in those last 30 minutes, between the moment we strolled the empty streets of Myrina and the moment our accommodation on the island turned to be the hottest topic of the morning that I knew we’d love Myrina.

Myrina is a little cosy town, with about 5000 inhabitants, an old castle, a harbour, and a lot of Mediterranean charm. It has a couple of nice sandy beaches, a little lively shopping street, a dozen restaurants along the seafront, another dozen around the harbour and a few bars. It has a chilled-out but lively vibe, and for us, it felt like a place where we’d happily live for about a month, focusing on our work during the day and enjoying the evenings in the town. Here are some of our favourite places:

Kosmos – our favourite restaurant in town, situated on the main strip along the waterfront, which is dotted with restaurants. It does delicious seafood and a fantastic burger with cheese (the best we’ve ever had!), and offers romantic views to the sea and castle. There are a few Cretan choices on the menu too including dakos and small cheese and spinach pies.

Coffeebreak – this lovely bakery was our favourite breakfast place. It is situated on the quiet end of the main shopping street, and does terrific spinach pies and great coffee.

Karagiozis Bar – a stylish cocktail bar which seems to be the local meeting place in the evenings. It’s at the beginning of the main restaurants strip, right on the edge of the sea. It’s a perfect spot for watching the sun set behind the sea, while sipping one of their delicious cocktails. Occasionally, they also have live music performances.

Taverna Tzitzifies – this beach taverna is an extremely popular place for lunch, and you need to be armed with quite a bit of patience for the waiters who (literally) run across the tables, but the food is totally worth it! Make sure you try the home-cooked dishes. And if you take a few steps into Seferi street, on whose corner the restaurant is situated, you will see a garden on your right, where the restaurant grows its vegetables.

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