Greece - Lesbos or Lesvos? It's still a driver's dream

By Jon Ryan, a Travel Professional

Read more on Lesbos.

Overall rating:4.0 out of 5 (based on 1 vote)
Recommended for:
Food and Drink, Road Trip, Romance, Budget, Expensive, Mid-range

Quiet roads, beautiful countryside, fabulous beaches, friendly people - whether you're gay or straight, Lesbos has to be high on any must visit list!

Certain cars fit certain roads.

Winding Alpine roads demand the adrenaline-fuelled buzz of a snarling Ferrari. The Scottish Highlands are for open-top tourers, circa 1936. American highway? Something iconic, natch. Ford Mustang maybe, perhaps a Harley.

There is only one choice for the island of Lesbos and that’s ...well, it turns out to be a Chevrolet Matiz, which for 2010 will cost around €180 per week.

Unpromising? I thought so, seeing the little beast for the first time as we went through an easy collection process with hire company Sixt ( at Mytilini Airport.

But when we hit the road, the car proved a better choice than an Aston.

Lesbos should be seen slowly. Approximately 55 miles long by 30 miles wide, you can reach any point in a few hours. And you should appreciate all of it.

About one third of the 90-odd thousand inhabitants live in the capital Mytilini. If you like towns, try the Pyrgos  ( where a superior double with balcony and sea view will cost around €150 per night in May. But Mytilini is just the start of this lovely island.

Although Lesbos roads are fairly narrow there is usually room for cars to pass without drama. But it’s their emptiness that is the attraction, that and the almost total lack of boy racers. Driving is polite, there is adequate signposting and abundant petrol stations. Parking is usually free. Crime on Lesbos is low, so you are safe to leave your car.

So, where to go? As with many Greek islands, the best way is simply to explore. Lesbos has no dangerous downtowns, no dangerous wildlife apart from the odd snake. The greatest hazard is probably hitting a road-crossing tortoise at speed – another advantage of the Matiz: the tortoise will have plenty of time to escape...

Apart from a good number of decent hotels, Lesbos offers plenty of self-catering and privately owned accommodation for travellers putting their own package together. Lesvos Houses and Lesvos Accommodation have a wide selection, prices starting under €300 for a double studio for a week up to a luxury villa fabulous views at €1,300.

We explored in a mildly random way. No particular plans, no list of place to be ticked off. Just hop into the car and see where it led. I recommend this. Turn on the engine, tune in to Love Radio (, drop the stress.

Skala Kalloni on the edge of the Kolpos Kallonis, the spectacular inland sea, is an amazing area of wetland and salt marsh, one of the best spots in Europe for birds and wild flowers, and the source of the best sardines in the world.

Molyvos is truly lovely. Look down from the dominating castle and you can pick out the neat houses and shops that lead down to the gorgeous harbour. This is, not unusually, surrounded by eateries and drinkeries. You will find a commendable range of prices and menus, along with a refreshing lack of waiters trying to all but physically drag you to a table the moment you stop to inspect the menu, as is the horrible habit in Rhodes and the other tourist hot-spots. The Captain’s Table ( is one of the best and most popular on Lesbos. Welcoming locals, visitors and ex-pats will vie to suggest places to visit long into the night. Good menu as well. Arhontiko ( is set high above the harbour and is best choice for a daytime meal, with simply amazing views if you can grab a balcony table. Tropicana ( is an outdoor place, shaded by a fine old maple tree, and has plenty of space for energetic children.

To stay, try the Panselinos Hotel, which offers a range of rooms, restaurants, self catering apartments (including disabled facilities), pools and play areas for children, all in pleasant gardens. There is a regular free bus to the town, an alternative to the pleasant stroll of about 20 minutes. A studio for two in May 2010 will be around €250, including breakfast.

Four miles along the coast from Molyvos is Petra, a lively town with a great beach. If you feel energetic, the 114 steps that take you to the wonderfully named Our Lady of the Sweet Kiss church are well worth the effort. Much of the accommodation here is provided by the Women’s Cooperative of Petra (, one of a number of similar organisations which also supply local agricultural produce in various spots on the island.

Skala Eressos rivals Molyvos as the top spot for visitors. It has a wonderfully bohemian feel, a mixture of locals and incomers, gay and straight, and no-one worrying which you may be. The beach here is one of the best in all of the Med, the bars among the friendliest and cheapest, and backpackers seem able to camp among the grass and the turtles without anyone minding much. The town is home to Sappho Travel ( who provide a range of places to stay (and not just on Lesbos), including some for women only.

Sigri is as far West as you can travel on the island, a neat, quiet spot with an end-of-the-line feel to it, more excellent beaches, the usual too-many-to-mention good places to eat and...

...and now you must strike out on your own as I have run out of space here.

Lesbos or Lesvos, whichever name you prefer, should be high on your must visit list. And the roads really are that quiet. The Greek Embassy in London tell me that Lesbos received just 59,839 visitors between April and September. Not many for an island of this size and with so many attractions. If you have in the past hesitated to drive abroad, Lesbos is the ideal place to try!

(My thanks to Dimitra and Dina of the Greek Embassy press office for their help with this article -  σας ευχαριστώ!)

...and if you like the look of Lesbos, you will probably enjoy the beautiful island of SYMI:


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More information on Greece - Lesbos or Lesvos? It's still a driver's dream:

Jon Ryan
Traveller type:
Travel Professional
Guide rating:
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Total views:
First uploaded:
26 November 2009
Last updated:
5 years 16 weeks 2 days 3 hours 22 min 38 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Food and Drink, Road Trip, Romance
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
beaches, sunshine, gay, bird watching, peace and quiet, explore, driving holiday, authentic food

Jon recommends


Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Pyrgos of Mytilene
2. Panselinos Hotel

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Community comments (18)

1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

Fantastic photographs and a humorous, informative guide to the Greek island - thanks Jon! To improve the presentation of your guide I'd suggest using subheadings and bold type on some key words or places. On a technical note, please make sure the hotels you recommend in the body of your guide exactly match the names of those in the hotel recommendation tool. This enables accurate hyperlinking by editors, which improves your money making potential!
Regarding your note to us on the accommodation options, I've had to remove Lesbos accommodation from the make it happen box as the link didn't work - this would be because the URL entered using the hotel recommendation tool was incorrect. While we don't currently link with the sort of providers you have included here (lesbos houses), we hope to in the future. Thanks for your efforts Jon, your contribution to Simonseeks is appreciated.

Was this comment useful?

Well, thanks for the kind words, Jeanette! I've emboldened some key words. It's worth mentioning that I did do this with the original, but when I pasted it from my draft the bolds reverted. Something to do with incompatable fonts? If links to agents specialising self-catering accommodation can be formed by Simonseeks, I think that this will greatly improve the attraction of the site - a growing proportion of people seem to be travelling in this way now.

I'm trying to get hold of a suitable video and will add it when I do.

Sorry about spelling errors, but if there were none, what on Earth would editors do to justify their massive wages???

Apologies, you mentioned bold type. As you'll know a pop up box appears when you wish to paste into an article. This is done to strip out any formatting that comes from programmes like word. Guides submitted before this step was introduced - and written in some notepad programmes - did not appear correctly on Simonseeks. What I do is write in draft on word, and then use bold type once I've pasted into my Simonseeks guide creation page. Hope this helps.

The link to the Pyrgos wasn't working, and is still wrong on the `recommends` button, though I've changed the link in the text. (There does seem to be a bit of a problem here. Quite a few reviews have no photo showing for links. Rather spoils the appearence).

Thanks for trying to help Jon but please do not remove hyperlinks that have been added and checked by the team. I've now replaced this.
We are aware of the hotels that do not show photographs and an immense amount of work is going on behind the scenes to match all hotels recommended to the hotels in our database of providers. As a new website, there will occasionally appear to be holes or things that don't look quite right, rest assured, these are all being addressed here at Simonseeks HQ. But if you do find something that doesn't look right, please do let us know; if we're not already rectifying it, we will certainly turn our attentions to it. Thanks Jon.

Fair enough, but the button for Pyrgos - who have a very nice website of their own - now links to Opodo and visitors wishing to know about Pyrgos will have to make another search. How many of them will? I notice that the same has happened on Robin Gauldie's Lesbos review and has been like this since April. Confusing, no?

Without getting into commercial detail - both boring and time-consuming - these things are done for a reason. The recommendations where one can only visit the site are there because, as yet, they are not matched in our database. Again, this is all happening behind the scenes. Hope that explains things a little.

I guessed it was something like that.

Jeanette, I like this site and what it's doing, and have a few more articles in mind. But if I have one general criticism it's that I HATE this patronising `mummy knows best` attitude that seems to pervade in places. Now I know you are having to juggle with some who are new to journalism and some of us who like to start the week by shouting at editors (who then shout back, after which we go out for a damnned good lunch and blame a junior sub for whatever it was - happy days!), but that way at least everyone knows what's going on. If there are good reasons why a button linking to a site, which you've asked contributors to add to their copy, isn't going to work, please say so.

Rant over. (But stay tuned...)

Link to Opodo = get paid. Link to Pyrgos = don't get paid.

Simples ;o)

I know that, you know that, Rick. But how about the person thinking: "Hmmm, trip to Lesbos, that's what I need. I know, I'll log onto that brilliant, award-winning Simonseeks site, that's what I'll do!"

And ten minutes later they've logged off again because the bloody buttons don't work.

Jon, when you refer to a button not working, what exactly do you mean? I've checked all links and all appear fine.

I don't want to get into a serious row about any of this - I love the site very much and do appreciate that it's still new and fully intend to send some more stuff &c &c.

But, when you, or I, or a potential visitor to Lesbos using Simonseeks, wants to looks at what the Pyrgos Hotel has to offer, they push a button that should, and could, link. What they get is a link to Opodo. They will then need to fill in a number of search fields which, and I've just tried this between trying these words, now tells me:

"Sorry, there is no availability for the dates you selected. Please select different dates in order to proceed with your booking." This, were I that customer, would vex me greatly. Perhaps if I had the patience I could keep trying, but chances are I would go elsewhere. Looking at nice places is almost as much a part of holidaying as visiting them - and should be an equally smooth, easy journey if a customer is to be temped back. To Simonseeks in this case.

Pyrgos has a good website - - and if the site says press here to see what this hotel is like, then pressing here should do just this.

(Did I say rant over earlier? Philippic over this time, then. Seems appropriately Greek)

Ah right, now this starts to make sense! it's the URL link to Opodo that isn't working. So, now we know what you're referring to we can ask Opodo for an updated link. Phew! if we were to go on any longer we'd run out of room on the page!

I want to reiterate though... whilst a hotel website undoubtably offers a good source of info for users, linking to a partner site such as Opodo will, more than likely, benefit both the customer (better deals) and the writer (commission).

Glad we're getting there...

Would it be worth suggesting that authors of new guides test all the links?

(I've just tried this - all the links in the body work, but the Captains View in 'recommends' goes to a 404.)

Still have only two out of four buttons working - any news on this?

We're working on the Opodo error Jon.
The other "broken button" looks like it's down to user error and an incorrectly entered url. Did you fill in the recommendation or was it an existing hotel profile? Thanks

Not sure what's wrong with the `recommend` button, Jeanette - that goes to a 404 error. But as I mentioned, if you click the link I put into the body of the article (this one: it goes to the right place. Can the `recommend` be made the same? I don't think I can change it from this end.

NB: Would a LinkdIn group for Simonseeks people work? May be a bit less messy and visible than this?