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The northeast Aegean faces Turkey more than Greece, and the influence is often seen, if denied by the local Greeks. If you've dined in Turkey you've basically dined here. The local ouzo tastes like Turkish raki, or vice versa. But never tell a Greek these things, especially a Chiot, unless you like fist fights. The largest, and most famous, island is Lesvos (Lezbos), former stomping ground of the poet Sappho. A small but steady contingent of gay women come here to pay homage to her, but most of the tourists are lovers of sun, sand and romance of all stripes. The chief town, Mytilini, often seems devoid of tourists to attend its excellent ...

The northeast Aegean faces Turkey more than Greece, and the influence is often seen, if denied by the local Greeks. If you've dined in Turkey you've basically dined here. The local ouzo tastes like Turkish raki, or vice versa. But never tell a Greek these things, especially a Chiot, unless you like fist fights. The largest, and most famous, island is Lesvos (Lezbos), former stomping ground of the poet Sappho. A small but steady contingent of gay women come here to pay homage to her, but most of the tourists are lovers of sun, sand and romance of all stripes. The chief town, Mytilini, often seems devoid of tourists to attend its excellent tavernas, artistic bars and graceful nightlife. Most foreigners are at the beach resorts.

On Chios (Hios) every other merchant wants to sell you "mastika," or gum mastic. It's a tree gum that grows nowhere else on Earth and is used in cooking, perfume and incense. Chios town is charming, but don't stay near the harbor. Young Greek men like to remove the mufflers from their motorcycles and roar up and down the main drag late into the night. You won't sleep. Limnos has the most beautiful harbor, sitting beneath a brooding Venetian castle. And Thassos is a fine getaway from the crowd, but with all the creature comforts.

Richard Sterling
About the Expert

Richard Sterling is the author of Lonely Planet's World Food: Greece, Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam, and many other books.

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Richard Sterling for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer for crowds and parties; late fall or early spring if you want elbow room