Samos

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Getting to Samos

Aegean map

Where is Samos? The island lies in the north Aegean Sea off the north-west coast of Turkey. Holidays in Samos are usually not much trouble to organise.

The airport at Pythagorion, on the island's south coast, takes both charter traffic and domestic flights while the main ferry port of Samos Town lies to the north, although some ferries dock at Pythagorion too.

Regular ferries link Samos with the Dodecanese and Cyclades islands as well as other islands in the north-eastern Aegean. Ferries also run from Samos to the port of Kousadasi in Turkey.

Visitors will find a large and mountainous island with public transport regular and efficient but only serving the most popular resorts. A car or bike is a must for those looking to explore the whole island.

Samos has a wide range of accommodation. The bigger holiday hotels are found on the south coast around Pythagorion but there are plenty of rooms and self-catering studios in all the main resorts.

Updated for 2016

Samos flights: travel by air

Samos International Airport (SMI), officially titled Aristarchos Airport, is located three kilometres outside the southern port of Pythagorion and about 10 kilometres from the capital port of Samos Town.

The international airport was opened in 1970s and it was upgraded and expanded in 2003 so services are generally good, although delays can be expected in the high summer.

Taxis and buses are available, although the bus service is not a dedicated airport shuttle bus so visitors may have to wait for scheduled services to arrive.

There are three domestic flights daily (five in summer) from the Greek capital of Athens with a flight time of about 45 minutes as well as Friday flights to Thessaloniki with Sky Express and a journey time of about one hour.

Samos also has domestic flights to many Greek islands including Corfu, Crete, Ikaria, Kalymnos, Kefalonia, Kos, Leros, Lesvos and Rhodes.

A regular daily Samos bus service #61 and #62 is operated by KTEL that calls at the airport: Samos Town – Pythagorio – Airport – Ireon and back five times a day and a service direct to Samos Town three times daily. A taxi to Pythagorion opens up bus connections to many more towns and villages

Taxis are available to various resorts and drivers display current fares on placards. In the high season it's best to book an airport in advance as they can be in short supply at flight times.

The airport has short-term and long-term car parking and several car hire companies have offices so car hire on arrival should not be a problem.

Samos ferries: travel by sea

Samos has two major ferry ports at Vathi (Samos Town) and at Karlosvassi with a minor port at Pythogorion in the south.

There are ferries from mainland ports at Piraeus and Thessaloniki to the ports of Vathi (Samos Town) and Karlovassi on Samos.

There are also several ferry routes across the north Aegean to the island Chios, Fourni and Limnos from Vathy and Karlovassi as well as to island in the Cyclades such as Mykonos and Syros.

NEL Lines runs several ferry services jointly with Hellenic Seaways so there is pretty much a daily service to many islands from the Samos ports.

The journey time from Piraeus of just over 10 hours and its 23 hours from Thessaloniki; it's roughly a three hour crossing to Chios and to Fourni while the journey time to Limnos is up to 14 hours depending on the ferries used.

Hellenic Seaways run fast ferries to Ikaria from Karlovassi five times weekly, crossing in just over an hour while NEL ferries run three times weekly taking nearly three hours.

Hellenic and NEL both sail to Syros in the Cyclades, an eight hour sailing for NEL's once weekly service and just five hours for Hellenic which runs six times a week.

Hellenic also runs ferries to Mykonos six times a week and to Kavala on the mainland twice a week while NEL offers ferries to Lesvos twice a week with a journey time of up to seven hours.

Several travel firms offer daily excursions to Kusadisi in Turkey between April and October. the crossing takes about 90 minutes on services operated by Alaturka Ferries

In summer, a few local ferries operate out of Pythagorion. The Nissos Kalymnos used to sail from Pythagorio to Agathonissi, Arki, Patmos, Leros and also from Lipsi to Kalymnos but this service no longer appears to operate.

Samos map: getting around

Samos is the eighth biggest Greek island and it's located in the north Aegean just over a kilometre from the coast of Turkey. The prefecture of Samos also includes the islands of Ikaria and Fourni and it has a population of around 35,000.

Samos is noted for its wine and olive oil. Fertile valleys also abound with farms growing vegetables and fruit with tourism playing a relative minor role in the island economy.

Samos has an area of about 475 sq km and a coastline of 160 kilometres. Three ferry ports are at Samos Town, Karlovassi and Pythagorio. Samos has the highest mountains in the Aegean with the highest peaks at Vigla rising to 1,450 metres. Many vineyards cover on the hill slopes and the island wines are famous.

Samos is located in the Aegean Sea and enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate. Temperatures rise in April and reach a pleasant 20°C in May, considered by some to be the best to visit Samos, when the flowers are in bloom and there are fewer crowds.

In July and August temperatures rise sharply to the upper 30s and rainfall is very rare, with the sun shining for 11 hours daily, tempered only by the northern 'meltemi' winds.

Samos also has plenty of winter rainfall, starting in October, that helps to keep much of the island green throughout the year. December and January bring the most rainfall

Samos transport: travel on land

Car rental

The main roads of Samos are generally in good repair, but this is a big island and cross-island driving jaunts across the mountains can be tiring. urban development is confined to a few coastal settlements and the interior has vast areas of virgin hillsides dotted here and there with small villages. A network of island paths and trails take walkers all over the island from unspoilt hill villages up into the mountains above.

Samos buses

Bus services are also fairly good given the difficulties of a large island with scattered resorts. KTEL runs a busy services on the Pythagorion to Samos Town routes and from Samos to Kokkari and the port of Karlovassi. Services to smaller resorts can be infrequent and not geared for tourists.

Samos Town is the main hub for bus routes with services also to Agios Konstantinos and Agios Dimitrios, Ireon, Mytilini and even to the far west at Ormos Marathokampou, Avlakia and Votsalakia.

From Karlovassi daily buses leave for Agioi Theodori, Pirgos, Koumandarei, Vathy, Pythagorio, Hora, Ormos Marathokampou, Votsalakia, Agia Kyriaki and Drakei.

There is a Samos KTEL bus website but it is pretty useless. A useful Samos bus table are usually posted on the Hotel Stella website.

Samos taxis

The major resorts of Samos Town (Vathi) and Pythagorion are well served by taxis. The main taxi station in Samos Town is on the main waterfront and there are always at least half a dozen taxis waiting there. It is the same in Pythagorio where the taxi centre is on the main street just at the junction with the harbour waterfront.

Samos rooms: places to stay

Rooms

Samos is a popular island and offers a wide range of accommodation for both tour groups and island-hoppers. Luxury hotel complexes are found on the south coast around Pythagorio along with plenty of basic rooms and self-catering studios.

The big hotels are usually block booked in advance by package tour operators so visitors need to book ahead in the high summer months. It's also a struggle in the capital Samos Town in August when rooms are most heavily booked. The cheapest rooms are in the hillside area of Katsouni, above the ferry port as the waterfront hotels tend to be booked well in advance.

The popular port of Kokkari on the north coast has pretty well surrendered to the package holiday industry and visitors will be lucky to find rooms to rent in the main season. Pythagorion, in the south, has plenty of hotels but little for independent travellers.

Room owners do meet the ferries at Vathi and Karlovassi as they pull in but the numbers are usually small. Visitors should try the tourist information booth on the main street of Vathi for any vacant rooms.

Hotels and self-catering studios are plentiful along the south coast beach resorts beyond Pythagorio, including Ballos, Ormos Marathokambos and Votsalakia. The main north coast port of Karlovassi may not be the most attractive town but there are usually plenty of budget hotels and cheap rooms available.