Mytilini (or Mytilene) is the capital of Lesvos, Greece’s third largest island and a spectacular destination with a diverse landscape of olive groves, thick forests, sandy beaches and deserted plains.
Tourists enjoy visiting for the mild Mediterranean climate, and an entrancing combination of ancient Greek history mixed with a modern administrative city that is the base for the Aegean Marine Ministry, the Lesvos Prefecture and the Aegean University.
Not far from Mytilini is the Teriade Museum with splendid artworks displayed across two floors and sixteen rooms. The Museum was initiated by a local who moved to Paris to become an art critic, and houses a marvellous collection of paintings by world renowned artists including Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Matisse and Le Corbusier. The museum is at the same site as the Theophilos Museum which exhibits works from a famous Greek folk painter.
The Mytilini Fortress sits atop a pine-encrusted hill overlooking the port, and has been partially restored to repair damage from wars over the centuries and the taking of materials to build refugee housing. Tourists can visit to see ruins of Turkish baths, underground galleries and an Islamic school built during Ottoman rule and in summer months it is a venue for cultural events.
Admire the dome of the 19th century Church of Agios Therapon which is centrally located in Mytilini behind the harbour road in the market. The church is dedicated to Saint John the Healer and is a striking example of Neoclassical and Renaissance architecture with an interior decorated with a beautiful chandelier, wood carvings and frescoes.
Lesvos Island is a bird watchers paradise due to a varied landscape that is prime for different bird habitats, particularly wetlands. Grab your binoculars and a bird watching guidebook and head out from Mytilini on the search for Cinerous Buntings, Olive tree Warblers or Western Rock Nuthatches.
The island has a number of natural hot springs in scenic settings, so rest your weary body after sightseeing by soaking in spring waters that are said to be beneficial for muscle ailments and skin conditions. The closest ones to Mytilini town are at Gera Bay, but if you fancy venturing further you can pop into mineral baths at Eftalou or Polichnitos.
Lesvos is famous for its award winning ouzo – make sure you buy a bottle from Matis Ouzo factory which is right in the agora (market) or stop into other small ouzo factories right in Mytilini town.
Having a private car is a great way to see the changing scenery of Lesvos Island from coastal cliffs to hillsides dotted with wildflowers and olive groves.
Rent a car and head 45 kilometers from Mytilini to Plomari, a port side town famous for its ouzo distilleries. On the way, visit the Vrana Olive-Press Museum with vintage machinery and displays about the history of olive harvesting in the village of Papados. Stop into a tavern to sample the local ouzo and eat brizoles (beef and pork steaks), and loukaniko (sausage).
Drive one hour north from Mytilini to a site of significance to islanders – the Taxiarchis Byzantine Monastery. Visitors can see the icon of Taxiarchis (Archangel Michael, the patron saint of Lesvos) who is celebrated with annual festivals and gifts that pilgrims bring to line cabinets inside the church.