Top things to do in Lemnos, one of Greece’s most laid-back islands

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Greece, for us, is the perfect summer holiday destination in Europe. It has stunning beaches washed by crystal-clear turquoise waters, excellent food, breath-taking landscapes and friendly locals. Better still, all of that comes at half the price you’ll expect to pay in other European beach destinations.

As one of the most popular holiday choices on the continent, it’s not easy to find a place in Greece where you can enjoy all the benefits while remaining away from the crowds – and that’s one of the reasons we love Lemnos so much!

Part of the Northeastern Aegean Islands, Lemnos is Greece’s eighth largest island. It is situated only 70km away from Turkey, which its east coast reveals views to, and due to its great strategic location and proximity to the Straits of the Dardanelles, it is the command post of the Hellenic Air Force.

We weren’t sure what to expect of our visit to the island, as the information about it was far from abundant, both in our travel guides and on the internet. So, if you’ve planned a holiday there, here are our favourite things to do in Lemnos:

Learn to kite surf in Keros 

Situated on the east coast of the island, Keros is popular with kite surfers and wind surfers due to its suitable conditions. The remote location and rich landscape, which includes salt lakes, wetlands, and sand dunes, have made the area a favourite camping destination, too. There are two windsurfing sport-schools on the beach, a Greek one and a Bulgarian one, and the wide expanse of the beach makes it the perfect place to learn and surf in freedom.

If you’re not a camper van owner, the closest accommodation options are the mini tents (€35/night in high season) or luxury tents (€105/night) at Keros Surf Club, located about 200m away from the beach. Alternatively, you can stay in their luxury self-catering studios (€35/night for a double room in high season) in Kalliopi, which is the closest village, located 3km away. Besides the small beach bars, which are more suitable for a quick snack rather than an elaborate meal, there are a couple of tavernas in Kalliopi.

Visit the abandoned Kaviria Palace Resort  

Referred to as ‘ghost town’ by locals, Kaviria Palace Resort is a massive complex, which is now completely abandoned. It lies between the bay of Saravari and an ancient volcano, and its name comes from the site of the sanctuary of Kaviria, located a few kilometres away. You’ll feel the first chills it’ll give you, when you drive towards it and notice some of the bullet-pierced signs signposting its location. Situated on a vast, remote ground equating the size of a small village and built to what must have been a very high specifications, it is spooky at best times: it has a massive hotel, 50 villas, swimming pools, tennis courts, shops, and a nightclub – all of which are dilapidated and abandoned. 242 rooms with 550 beds – according to an advertisement from the time when it was still operational.

The destiny of the place is a matter of speculation by locals. Some say that the hotel was open for less than six months in 2000, before it ran into financial problems, following which it was looted with everything from sanitary ware, through pipes, to cable stolen. Others say that it was a money laundering operation from the very beginning, and it was open for only one day before it was looted. We haven’t heard two versions that overlap, but the fact remains – it’s a fascinating, yet terrifying place, whose legacy includes the chills it’ll give you, and the ground which locals occasionally use for paintball.

Have a dinner at Ennia Po’chs

Located in the little, unremarkable village of Lychna, 5km away from Limnos Airport, Ennia Po’chs is an elegant, low-key and stylish restaurant, which offers one of Limnos’ best dining experiences. We stopped there for lunch on our way back to Myrina from Keros beach, and fell in love with the place! It’s situated on the small village square, which is peppered with white-washed houses, the front of some of which lined with pots of plants and flowers, in true Greek fashion. A dozen tables are cosily nestled under a tree between the village’s church and one of the corners of the square, with another dozen located on the other end of the building, in a small yard. We ordered the grilled aubergine, a puree of split peas, and a home-made pasta (a local specialty), all of which were cooked to perfection!

Swim in the underwater cave of Philoctetes

Hidden below the Kaviria temple is the Cave of Philoctetes, where he lived for 12 years, after the Achaeans abandoned him there. You can enter the cave either on foot from the rocks, or by swimming in the blue waters into it, where you can marvel at the picturesque, serene environment inside. According to the legend, the  Achaeans, who were on their way to participate in the Trojan War, stopped in Limnos where Philoctetes was bitten by a serpent while hunting. The wound was releasing a terrible smell, which his fellow warriors couldn’t stand, and therefore decided to leave Philoctetes on the island. Hercules left him his weapons to help him hunt more easily. Twelve years later, the Achaeans came back to look for him, as an oracle had predicted that they would only win the war with Hercules weapons. Initially angry at them for leaving him behind, he refused to surrender the weapons, but eventually after intervention from the Gods, he cooperated and even followed them to Troy, where he was the person to kill Paris.

Enjoy the calm waters and fantastic views on Thanos Beach 

Thanos is a small, sweeping, sandy beach with calm blue waters, and breath-taking views to the surrounding volcanic rocks. The waters is critical clear, and perfect for swimming. To enhance your enjoyment even further, the parasols and chairs on the beach are free of charge and serviced by the beach bar. A margarita while watching the gentle waters caressing the sandy shores? Yes, please!

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