Chios is the first choice for both expats and Turks in the Izmir area when considering which Greek island to visit first. A quick 20-minute catamaran ferry ride in the morning and returning in the evening makes Chios the most popular choice from the beach town of Çeşme.
Located in the Aegean Sea, the island went through many names such as Pitioussa for its pines, Makris for its long shape, Aethalea for its volcano and Ofioussa for the many snakes. However, the name of Chios comes from the daughter of Inopion, Chiona rooted from the word hioni meaning too much snow fell on the island.
Chios’s Turkish name, Sakiz or Mastic, hails from the local island tree that produces a sappy, natural gum. Mastic is the leading local product. Gums, liqueurs, varieties of sweets, natural soaps and candles are just a few mastic products solely on the island.
While most people make Chios a day trip, a 3-day getaway was the perfect amount of time to explore most of the island while having time to relax. In the morning and evening, we enjoyed the beach near our apartment rental. During the day, we travel via rental car to see other parts of the island.
Enjoy our 3 Day Itinerary for Chios, Greece:
Arriving by the AM ferry, the 10-minute walk from the ferry to the car rental is easy and quick. Our pre-made reservation at Hatzelenis Tours (ran by our Airbnb owner’s son) ensured us easy and seamless pick-up and we were on our way!
By making one big loop by car, you can see most of what South Chios has to offer.
From the Chios city center, head west to the 11th century Nea Moni Monastery and explore the renovated church and the now overgrown former quarter of monks. The 1881 earthquake had devastating effects on Chios, and almost every village has some remnants. The monastery closes at 1 PM for the day, so make sure to visit it first.
From the Monastery, head another 20 minutes west to explore the deserted hilltop of Avantas. There is not much there besides a couple of cafes, an art studio and lots of old homes. After working up an appetite from exploring, we enjoyed a late lunch, ordering the traditional Mosak, at the restaurant and guesthouse which boast panoramic views of the opposite side of the island.
Because Chios’s Turkish name, Sakiz (Mastic), you cannot go to Chios without making it to the Mastic Museum, a 30-minute drive south of the Nea Moni Monastery located in Mastichochoria region (literally meaning mastic villages).
The Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation (PIOP) created the Mastic Museum as part of 9 cultural heritage museums throughout Greece, affordable to all for only 3 euros a person. The museum is an architectural beauty with its tall glass walls mixed with natural wood and concrete features. The story of traditional mastic cultivations and the economic value throughout history is creatively explained through multimedia applications, excellent video documentaries, models, and original machinery in functioning order.
Spend a day at the beach. Our favorite beach was the Volcanic Rock Beach, Emporio. The secluded little cove is famous for its black round lava stones and is perfect for enjoying the water and sun without the hassle of sand. Pack a lunch or enjoy lunch at Porto Emporios in the little town nearby.
If time, the medieval sister cities of Mesta, Olympi, and Pyrgi all have their claim to fame. Go inside Mesta’s castle walls to the center to explore the small streets. The main square has cafes, coffee or ice cream. Olympi has nothing too spectacular except in season (April 1 to October 1) when the caves tours provide an escape from the summer heat. Prygri’s homes are all engraved with the black and white motifs. The cities of Mesta and Olympi have a 1-hour long, well-marked walking trail, 1 of 8 on the island.
Spend this day in Chios town before departing back to Ceşme, Turkey. Our return was on Sunday AND Greek Independence day and quite a few places were closed (Check out our 8 Tips for Traveling to Greek Islands from Turkey for this information). However, you can always walk through the unimpressive Chios Castle and all the museums: the Chios Archeological Museum, Maritime Museum, and Byzantine Museum.
If you are like us, we prefer to eat our way through a city. Below I referenced some places we enjoyed eating at in Chios City!
How to get there:
Check out our 8 Tips for Traveling to Greek Islands from Turkey where I explain more about the ferry system from Turkey to the Greek Islands.
Where to eat:
For pork lovers, the 3 Little Pigs in Chios city makes your favorite Turkish ‘et döner’ but replaced with pork meat. At 2 Euros a sandwich, the price is just as favorable. For an afternoon coffee or cocktail, you must check out No. 44 where a crowd enjoys iced coffees. Make sure to ask for the complimentary chocolate covered donut that comes with your drink order. For ice-cream lovers, Kronos is sure to please with it’s white, diner-like appeal and creamy, gelato flavors.
Where to stay:
Kafas is a smaller beach town that is just a 15-minute drive south of Chios city center. Our Airbnb rental was right on the beach (sign up via our referral code for $20 credit!). If we wanted, we could have skipped the rental car and stayed in this self-sufficient little town which is complete with a market and a few restaurants and cafes.
What to buy:
Mastic products! Whatever you desire, you can most likely find a product made with mastic. The natural, mastic gum is a tourist favorite choice. The natural gum has an irregular shape because it is unprocessed! Lotions, soaps, food flavorings, and even liquors are all available as well. The Mastihashop is a favorite shop to purchase quality mastic items.
I hope you found my 3 Day Itinerary for Chios, Greece helpful! We will definitely return for another weekend! There is so much more to see!
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