General Information on Samothraki
Samothraki, an island of the north Aegean, is located in the southwestern part of the province of East Macedonia and Thrace. The name of the island means Thracian Samos. Samothraki is 178km² in size and is inhabited by approximately 3,000 people.
The island is mostly mountainous and remains one of the last truly virgin islands of Greece. Small picturesque villages, physical beauty, forests coupled with Mediterranean vegetation and running water, and virgin shores, compose an especially impressive landscape and an ideal destination for nature lovers.
History of Samothraki
In ancient Greece, the island of Samothraki didn't has political significance, since it has no natural harbor and most of the island is mountainous for cultivation. It was, however, the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, site of important Hellenic and pre-Hellenic religious ceremonies. Unlike the Olympian gods, the Great gods were of the earth and the Underworld, and the cult mysteries and religious rituals were closely guarded secrets.
The island was first inhabited by Pelasgians and Carians, and later Thracians. Samothraki was taken by the Persians in 508 B.C. and later passed under Athenian control and became a member of the Delian League in the 5th century B.C. Later, it became part of the Macedonian Kingdom and with the battle of Pydna, the island became independent until 70 A.D. when it passed to Romans. When the Byzantines took over Samothraki, temple festivals were forbidden, migration to the mountains in the interior led to an abandonment of the old city, and the island entered into a steep period of decline. From 1430 and until 1457, the island was ruled by the Venetians and was afterwards conquered by the Ottomans, until the War of Independence in 1821. The island returned to Greek rule in 1913 following the Balkan War.
Towns & Villages in Samothraki
Kamariotissa: It is the main port of Samothraki island. This small settlement consists mostly of a long narrow main street that runs along the harbor edge. Many cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs are located here along with many souvenir shops. There are hotels and apartments in the village –most next to the main street– but unless you’re really attached to nightlife, you should seek lodgings elsewhere, along the north shore where its beauty lies.
Hora: The island capital, Hora, is concealed in a natural amphitheater in the mountain 6km above Kamariotissa. It was built there to be hidden from pirates during the medieval period. It is a small but very charming town with narrow alleys that twist their ways up and down along the hillside, and the central section offers a number of popular restaurants, cafes and many beautiful views over the sea.
Therma: This seaside village is located about 14km from the port. Despite being a small cluster of hotels, rental apartments and tourist shops, Therma is actually quite pretty due to the lush foliage that surrounds it. Within walking distance to several campgrounds, it is also the alternative nightlife spot on the island.
Beaches in Samothraki
Pahia Ammos: This beach is located on the south shore about 15km from Kamariotissa and it is one of the most popular beaches on the island. It is a superb 800m stretch of coarse sand nestled between two arms of rock that extend into the sea, with dramatic cliffs rising above it. The beach is organized and accessible by bus from Kamariotissa.
Kipos: This beach is a kilometer-long pebble beach that curves around the eastern tip of the island. Kipos consists of black volcanic pebbles, lapped by deep, crystal clear water and backed by open pasture land. There are some tourist facilities here and at one end of the beach there is an overhanging rock that provides shade. You can reach Kipos via the road skirting the north coast by bus.
Vatos: This stunning sandy beach is reachable only by tour boat or several hours of hiking from Pahia Ammos. However, nearly the entire north shore of Samotrhaki functions as a beach. The road follows the sea closely, and there are innumerable quiet spots where visitors can find solitude.
Loutra (Therma): This is the island’s premier resort since Roman times due to its therapeutic, mineral-rich thermal springs. Here, you have three options: the main modern bath house where you pay for a dip in the 39ºC waters (usually used by younger people), some free open-air pools beneath wooden sunshades (water temperature is around 34ºC) (used by older people), and a hot tub houses in a locked hut. You’ll have to ask for the key from the warden of the main baths if you want to immerse yourself in the 48ºC waters of the hot tub.
Top Things to Do in Samothraki
1. Mountain Fengari (Saos in antiquity): To climb to the top of the 1,624 meters tall mountain of Fengari is definitely a challenge. The path starts at Hora and it will take you about 6 hours to reach the top. Of course the view is outstanding. According to Homer, Poseidon once sat on its peak to observe the events of the Trojan War that took place 200km away.
2. The Sanctuary of the Great Gods: This is the most important attraction of the island and the top on your “to do” list. The earliest discoveries date before the Olympian deities to the earliest fertility goddesses of Mediterranean, and the Sanctuary was the site of a mystery cult that continued well into Christian times. Everyone from Odysseus to Philip of Macedonia was said to be an initiate. You will need several hours to explore the site. Among the extensive ruins the most interesting ones are: the Anaktoron Sanctuary where the first stage of initiation took place and the Hieron with its five reconstructed columns, where pilgrims went for the second initiation stage involving confession, absolution and baptism in the blood of a sacrificed bull. Also here you will find an excellent museum, which holds many artifacts recovered from the site including terracotta figurines, vases, jewellery and votive offerings. There’s also a plaster cast of the famous Winged Nike (Victory) of Samothraki statue which was unearthed here by the French in 1863 and is now one of the well known exhibits in the Louvre in Paris.
3. Fonias River: The name means “killer" because of the massive floods that sweep down it every spring. This is an interesting walk along the river which is located about 5km east of Loutra. A 30min walk along a boulder-strewn and tree-shaded path leads you to a lovely 12-meter waterfall where you can swim before you take the road back.
How to Reach Samothraki
Sea: During summer, Samothraki has regular ferry connections to Alexandroupolis (2 hours), Kavala (4 hours) and Limnos (3 hours). Off season, ferry connections are limited. There are also hydrofoil connections between Samothraki and Alexandroupolis (1 hour).
Getting Around in Samothraki
Bus: During summer time there are at least four buses daily from Kamariotissa to Hora and Loutra, via Paleopolis. Also there are four buses daily to Profitis Ilias via Lakoma.
Excursion Boat: Several caiques leave the Kamariotissa jetty for Pahia Ammos and Kipos Beaches, and the Samothraki excursion boat goes on trips around the island.
Weather in Samothraki
Located in the northern part of Greece, Samothraki has a colder climate than most of the other islands. Winter has low temperatures and rainfalls. Degrees rise in April and springtime is mild and sunny. Summer is hot, but temperatures do not rise as high as in the Cyclades islands.
Top 10 Destinations in Samothraki
All Destinations in Samothraki
Map of Samothraki