Lesbos, Greece: Beautiful And Misunderstood (Or How Sensationalized Media Warps Reality)


Our primary reason for visiting Lesbos was to attend this handsome couples wedding. The cat was unimpressed. Photo:CK






Lesbos – In the News

We have all heard about fake news and have all, at one time or another, been duped by it. But there’s another type of news reporting that is all the rage with most news outlets, it’s called sensationalism. In order to attract your attention, and thereby the attention of potential advertisers, news outlets tend to exaggerate the actual situation to mimic the superhype of a reality TV show. Who hasn’t witnessed a street news reporter appearing to be in a life-death situation, only to find out that a fire department crew is removing a cat stuck in a tree?

Paradise? Yes, I think so, if you’re looking for beautiful beaches without having to fight the crowds.

Well, that is exactly what has occurred on the Greek island of Lesbos. During the height of the

And if you love seafood, it just doesn’t get any better than Lesbos. It is an island after all. Photo:CK

Syrian refugee crisis the situation on Lesbos was made to appear as if the island was being overrun and that the authorities were unable to control the situation. It certainly made for an ‘exciting’ assignment for some lucky reporter; face plastered all over the TV, while getting to enjoy a slice of paradise. She probably got a promotion. Now, I don’t mean to trivialize the refugee situation. Seeing so many people displaced from their homes due to a war that has shattered their existence is heartbreaking. But, from what we heard and saw,

Strolling around quaint villages your thing? Check!

Lesbos handled the situation admirably. Not only did the Greek government control the situation, but the locals stepped in, giving whatever food and clothing they could spare.

We saw not one refugee during our entire time on Lesbos. At no time did we feel unsafe or even uncomfortable – and we were out and about at all hours of the day and night – even when hiking on some remote roads/trails. The unintended consequence of this type of reporting was that it destroyed the tourist industry on the island, and thereby, the local economy. The moral is this; don’t believe everything you read. Do some real research to find out the real scoop. Your reward; enjoying a wonderful and unique place with minimal crowds. Now that the rant is complete, let’s get on to why you should consider this beautiful and unspoiled island for your next vacation (Also see our last post: A Lesbos Wedding).

Our ferry from Athens to Mytilini. Photo:CK

Our cozy little cabin. Photo:CK

Lesbos – The Real Scoop

There are multiple, and painless, ways of getting to Lesbos. There are direct flights from a few cities in the UK, as well as from Greece and Turkey. There are also a number of ferries that run from multiple places in Greece and Turkey. No matter what method you choose, you’ll end up in Mytilene, Lesbos’s largest city and its main port. Since we were in Athens (Athens and Cats) and we abhor flying, we chose a ferry. It was a ten hour sail, so we chose the overnight passage. We also treated ourselves to a lovely

And to our surprise and delight, a private bathroom. Photo:CK

interior cabin with private bathroom. Our neighbors were quiet and the seas were calm, so when we arrived, at 08:30, we were well rested and ready for action.

Our final destination was the small village of Anaxos, which is about an hour drive from Mytilini. Again there are multiple choices for getting there. We chose a taxi. The cost was reasonable and it allowed us to

But the bus stations are a bit on the small size.

enjoy the scenery during the drive. Our driver was from Anaxos, so we were provided with the lay of the land during the drive. Another reason to choose a local taxi driver.

George the owner/manager of our guesthouse, Studios Vassilis (click on the booking.com link in the sidebar for additional info), greeted us upon arrival with a few freshly picked cucumbers from his garden that surrounded our little guesthouse. It was just the cutest damn place. Booking.com worked well in making our reservation.

Vino Sfuso: Filling up a 1 liter plastic water bottle with wine. Cheap and tasty.

The location was perfect as well. We had a small market and a bakery next door and we were only a 10 minute walk to the beach. It was easy to imagine, from the comfort of our patio, Aristotle walking the hillsides gathering bugs for dissection and plant leaves for cataloging. But there’s plenty to do other than contemplate Greek science and philosophy. Fine restaurants and bars are abundant along the beach where you can enjoy the magnificent sunsets while chowing down some local Greek cuisine or a nice cocktail (give Metaxa a go: delicious). Ouzo with a splash of water is also a must.

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Our favorite restaurant, Sarandos,  was located a few blocks from the beach, on the main road, and featured local dishes as well as a long family history in Anaxos.

The port of Petra. You can almost taste the seafood, eh?

A restaurant in Petra advertising a Greek night. Huh? What else could it be? Maybe TexMex night?

But there’s more! An easy 30 minute hike lands you in the lovely village of Petra. A sleepy fishing village and tourist destination, it’s postcard perfect. An ideal spot for a cold beer and lunch. Heading off in the opposite direction of Petra is the ‘truly’ Greek village of Skoutaros. Devoid of anything touristy, this is where the locals live. It’s located high up on the hillside about 4km from Anaxos, so if you prefer you can take a taxi or rent a scooter or a car. The village has a great little pub, which was one the locations for a pre-wedding party. There are also a few expats that have made Skoutaros their home; Catherine and

Which way? Up a steep hill to Skoutaros or down to the beach?

Simon, a French and a Brit respectively, showed us around the village before inviting us to enjoy an aperitif at Catherine’s home. If you want a taste of real Greek everyday life, then a visit to Skoutaros is a must.

I hope this whets your appetite for this gorgeous island and I hope you’ll take to heart my rant on overblown news stories. You’ll be rewarded with the vacation of a lifetime and it’ll seem as if the island is all yours.

Hike Drink Live Laugh (Apero Time) More pictures below.

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Hanging out at the pub in Skoutaros. The happy owners are on the left with one of their happy patrons.


Our favorite market. The place for vino Sfuso.


Hanging out in Skoutaros with Simon, an expat Brit, and Roy over a beer solving world problems.


Simon and Catherine, a French expat, in deep thoughts.


Apero time at Catherine’s home. And what a beautiful home it is, overlooking Skoutaros and the Mytilini Strait. Thanks Catherine!


I would be remiss if I didn’t include a photo of the fabulous sunsets that we were privy to every night.

12 thoughts on “Lesbos, Greece: Beautiful And Misunderstood (Or How Sensationalized Media Warps Reality)

  1. Thank you for sharing your holiday. We stay in Anaxos for three months each year! Absolute paradise. Cruel what the media have done to this island. The island with the biggest heart. The island that has helped refugees for years, not just in this crisis! We met refugees on the beach in 2015, and they were overjoyed to be safe in Europe. Poor greece helped but the rest closed their doors. Now the island is suffering, who is going to help? Europe? Maybe all the tourists that want an unique holiday should try a traditional island. COME TO LESVOS, ANAXOS! You will love it! Youill return again and again!

    • Beautifully said, Maggie. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Hopefully, people will get the message and experience Lesvos.

  2. Thank you so much for this, since more than a year I am fighting the Dutch media for what I call “armchair jounalism”. At least I feel I am not alone anymore!!!

  3. Thank you so much for this wonderfull heartwarming report about Lesbos.
    What you tells is so true <3
    My husband and I are living here in Petra .And we are from Holland. We enjoy live here so much.
    People are wonderfull.
    And we have seen it all happen with the refugees ! And now the problems the locals have .
    We hope the Island recover soon and coming more Tourist to Lesbos.
    Thank you XXXXX

    • Thank you so much for telling us your story. Lesbos deserves better. We hope the tourists return soon as well. The people of Lesbos deserve it.

  4. Yes this is very true Maggie,
    We were fortunate enough to spend our July 2015 holiday in Petra at the height of the refugee crisis and we had a wonderful holiday.
    The Island is beautiful the people are lovely and yes there were refugees and we did see them.
    We were eating at a beautiful restaurant in Molyvos harbour when the harbour master’s boat pulled in bringing in about 2 dozen refugees who had been picked up probably out of the water.
    They carried all their worldly possessions in carrier bags and sat waiting quietly to be processed and taken off the boat.
    They posed no threat to us or anyone and it made us realise just how lucky we were to have a home to return to without war and discrimination.
    There are fantastic places to eat and the happy train alllows you to pay once and hop on and off all day to visit Molyvos, Anaxos and Petra.
    Please do not let the media put you off visiting this beautiful Island you will have the best time there.
    We are definately going back.

  5. We have been coming to Lesvos for 30 years and adore the island. It is simply the most amazing and tranquil place to spend one’s holiday. We stay in the beautiful village of Molyvos and it’s people are the best and most friendly on earth. Ignore the “fake news” about migrants on the island (you are extremely unlikely to see even one!) and visit this wonderful place – once you have been, you will want to return again and again!

    • Thanks, Richard. That was our experience as well. Hopefully people will realize the true situation and get the island’s tourism industry back on track.

  6. Thanks guys. We’ve been going to Lesvos every year since 2003 – usually twice. We stay in Petra because it suits us and we know so many people there now. Anaxos is only just down the coast and an easy walk. Molyvos in the other direction is amazing too.

    Life has been rough for the hotel and taberna / taverna owners for a while now. First a lot of Greeks could no longer afford to holiday there. Then came all the press hysteria about the refugees. Some tour companies even stopped coming to Lesvos! At the height of the refugee arrivals a few years back, two refugees who had taken a wrong turning wondered into Petra during the fortnight we were there. I imagine about the same number may have walked into Anaxos by mistake. Thanks for telling people the truth.

    PS if anyone is wondering why I put Lesvos insread of Lesbos, the answer is you’ll see both. A ‘b’ is pronounced ‘v’ in Greek so a lot of people – me included – write it as Lesvos.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Peter. The way the media, worldwide, reports the news is ludicrous. They appear not to have any idea how they can affect people’s lives. Something needs to be done so that we get accurate news. We’ll keep plugging away on this end.

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