• Lakki, Dodecanese, Greece
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Category Leros

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About Leros

Leros or the Island of Artemis as they called it in the past it is not just tourist visit but rather a tourists time travel in the past, an island that is far from being a crowded tourist destination.

Leros Island is located between the islands of Patmos and Kalymnos in the South Aegean Sea and belongs to a group of islands called Dodecanese. The island has multiple coves and bays and it seems untouched by the modern tourism practices.
The islands proximity to Turkey (just 7 nautical miles) along with the connection network of ships and planes (and sea planes from 2016) with the surrounding islands and nearby Turkey’s coast, makes it very attractive among the tourists who are seeking an authentic and original “Greek vacation”.

A small Paradise of the Aegean, as most visitors call it, along with the hospitable nature of its residents make it a prime destination for the travellers who seek culture, adventure, fine dining and clear blue waters.

A well kept castle from the days when the island was under the Venetian Knights dominates the hill of Agia Marina (the quaint old Roman north port of the island) day and night. Agia Marina is also home of the archaeological museum of Leros that houses artefacts dating back 3000 years b.c

At the south side the island is home to Lakki the largest natural port of the Mediterranean and the existence of a unique city build under the architectural style of rationalismo, one of the modernist movements that was born during the WW1. Rationalismo can best defined as a style somewhere between Art Deco and Bauhaus or the precursor of the “International style ”.The “razzionalismo style” is so rare that can be found only in two other cities in the world Sabauda in Italy and Asmara in what is now Erithrea. At Lakki one can also discover “Agios Theologos” the oldest Byzantine church of the island dating 1000 years ago and the war museum or “The Tunnel” an eye opener to the 20th century history of Leros .

The landscape of Leros has rather soft texture, low flat areas and fertile valleys are formed among its hills. Because of the mild climate, the cultivation of a variety of fruit including citrus fruit and olive trees is extremely favourable. With the exception of Lakki the architecture of Leros includes the neo classical homes build in the second part of the 1800 as well as the Aegean style of homes that can be seen in most of the islands in Greece.
The Municipal Library and the Leros’s Historical Archives are housed in the center of the island right bellow the castle. The local shops cover the annual as well as the seasonal demands for both produce fresh fish and Lerian honey, an excellent grade honey that is collected from the pristine hills of the island with a taste of thyme and other herbs found in Leros.

leros travel

A trip to Leros island

A Trip to Leros Island

‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference”
From The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

If your concept of a Greek island holiday is doing a circuit of the top five most visited islands along with 12 million other travellers each summer, think again. Leave the maddening throngs of tourists to their own devices and make your way to the tranquility and unspoiled beauty of a little known island named Leros.

Idyllic Leros is a tiny member of the Dodecanese island group, closer in proximity to Turkey than to the Greek mainland. It is this strategic location that has made it hot property for centuries – taking turns in the hands of the Byzantine empire, Ottomans, Italians, and the British.
Looking out from the medieval castle of Leros at the very peak of Apitiki Hill, it’s easy to see why this island was at the centre of so much attention. At this vantage point, Leros below looks like a mythical storybook creation; its rugged hills dotted with lolly-hued neoclassical buildings clinging on for dear life. The islet has curves with its undulating coastline – a cartographer’s worst nightmare – giving way to an endless selection of private coves. The Aegean seems impossibly blue and the bobbing white sailboats are the only giveaway that this is not a painting.
Leros’ gently curving roads can only appropriately be seen by Vespa, so I take off to explore what else the island has to offer.
It’s easy to navigate the cobblestone streets of the main town of Agia Marina because – with only 8000 residents and so few tourists – there is no road congestion. It’s a joy to explore the laneways lined with lovingly restored pastel buildings with iron fretwork. Stop at the small waterfront cafés and seafood taverns or duck into the backstreets to discover the charming bakery, art gallery and bookstore.

The Italians left the greatest mark of all the invaders; a legacy of Italian rationalist architecture, especially in Lakki. The town is a time capsule of their former glory – government buildings, a cinema, and even Mussolini’s summer mansion are being returned to their heyday. Amplifying the feeling of being frozen in time is the town’s clock tower, eerily stuck at the exact time that Germany dropped the first bomb on Leros during WWII.
What strikes me most about Leros is that the mosaic stone paths, elegant buildings, crystal clear bays, omnipresent castle – they are all yours. It is a secret haven for discerning holiday makers, many of whom ‘discovered’ the island years ago. They have since picked up derelict neoclassical properties and restored them as their fabulous summer homes. Leros is on par with Positano, well before John Steinbeck made it famous with his writing.
Life in Leros is uncomplicated. With its intimate population, everyone went to school together, are neighbours, or are related. This means they are very aware of who is a visitor to the island, and if you engage them in conversation, they’re all ears. Rules are very lax, time is not adhered to, and it’s a place where anything can happen.
Case in point: It’s been a day of beach-hopping from private little unmarked coves to sign-posted beaches like Vromolithos and Blefouti, which have all the amenities, plus cafés and bars to boot The done thing is to have mezze (small tapas-style dishes), dive in for a swim and come back for more sustenance.
In the stunning aqua cove, we meet a baby octopus in the shallows.Though you’re never far from a traditional tavern, there are a few gems that sparkle in their brilliance. In the picturesque fishing village of Panteli, dine on the day’s fresh seafood catch from your table nestled in the sand and overlook an intermingling of fishing boats and yachts.
In Agia Marina the chefs putting a modern twist on classic Greek dishes like the incredible paper-thin octopus carpaccio, or baked cheese wrapped in crisp kataifi (shredded filo pastry) drizzled with caramelised balsamic. The outdoor space is incredibly atmospheric, with an illuminated traditional windmill at its side, tables strategically placed with a view of the port and the castle above.
The chic fit-out at cliffside bar Café Del Mar make it the ideal place to sip on a cocktail with views of Vromolithos Beach below. White leather couches, dim lighting, and effective use of candles make for a cool island vibe, while the hottest European summer tracks liven things up.

The sun is setting on our last day in Leros and we find ourselves at Alinta Beach, directly opposite our quaint villa, taking in the last rays of sunshine. Locals have started their evening promenade, and familiar faces stop to banter with us about the day’s happenings.
The full moon rises out of the still sea like an enormous crimson disc and we gasp at the stunning sight. The group spontaneously decides to have dinner on the beach. This sets off a chain of events: a set of tables are relocated from our villa’s courtyard to the waterfront, pizzas are delivered to us on a motorbike, a bottle of ouzo is conjured up by our neighbours. Over the course of the night, passers-by stop to join us, and someone has a flash of brilliance deciding to go for a midnight swim.

I take a quiet pause to reflect on the night. On the bay, the lights twinkle in Agia Marina and the medieval castle appears to watch over us. Yes – rules are very lax, time is not adhered to, and it’s a place where anything can happen.