Catie FunkTravels Chios Greece Greek Island

TRAVEL: 3 Day Itinerary for Chios, Greece – Sakız Adası

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:

Day 1:

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.

Day 2:

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. 

Day 3:

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.

OR

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!

We want to hear from you!

Did you enjoy this 3 Day Itinerary for Chios, Greece?

Have you been to Chios, Greece?

What did you love when you traveled to Chios?

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Listen to our 3 day Chios getaway via our podcast!

Episode 50: When you move on to new things

Read more information about other islands we have visited:

Episode050-FunkTravels-Podcast-Website

Episode 50: When you move on to new things

Episode050 is our LAST (regular) episode! We have LOVED being a part of your lives and appreciate all of our listeners. THANK YOU for supporting us and following our journey! Don’t worry though, our website will still be around sharing travel and expat articles.

This episode wraps up a few life updates about language and our experience with buying a bed here. It also covers our 4th year anniversary weekend getaway to the Greek island of Chios just off the coast of Turkey.

Questions for the listeners:

  • Have you ever bought a brand new bed?
  • What is your anniversary tradition?
  • Have you been to Chios? If so, what did you love there?

Listen to Episode050 and let us know what you think! Links are below!

Mentioned links:

3rd Anniversary Travels to Cyprus – Episode030

Recent 4th Anniversary Travels: Chios, Greece

Bus company we should have reserved tickets on if the website worked…

Our AirbnbOur sign up code for a discount off your first stay!

Hatzelenis Tours – Car rentals

Larimar Boutique Hotel in Cesme

Mastic Museum

Volcanic Rock “Black Lava Rock” Beach

Olympic Village

Lidl Market

Upcoming Travels:

Lesvos

Rhodes

 

If you are just now joining in:

We encourage you to go back into the archives and listen back to our first episode.  And we encourage you to go back and listen to Episode009 which explains why we made the international move!

Since we won’t be releasing regular episodes, please join our newsletter to get future updates and news and follow along with daily updates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

 

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TRAVEL: 4 Day Itinerary for Cyprus

2017 started off with my desire to travel more frequently but for shorter lengths of time. While Jason can work from anywhere, I have a schedule for language learning and tend to be the one that keeps us closer to home. And honestly, Jason works better with a home base, and it tends to be less stressful for us both. That being said, 3- 4 day weekend trips have started to play a larger role in my travel planning.

It’s not my ideal way to travel. Short and quick trips don’t allow for you to really learn and embrace the culture. And you just don’t have time to see everything!  That being said, for our Thursday to Monday trip to Cyprus, we decided to dedicate our time just to the western area of the country knowing that we can easier travel there from Turkey again in the future.

Cyprus is not only beautiful but also has an interesting history. Learn more about our 4-day itinerary including our tips and tricks for exploring the South side of Cyprus near Paphos and Nicosia.

I hope to provide you with mini itineraries and resources as I work through writing about our travels. If you would like to listen to our time in Cyprus, check out Episode030! You will also find all links to places we traveled below via the Episode030 show notes.

Spoiler* If you want to know the truth behind traveling, make sure to read the very LAST paragraph!

Day 1: Travel Day – Istanbul to Cyprus

We are fortunate to live in one of the larger cities in Turkey, Izmir. And while it doesn’t have as many options as Istanbul, there are quite a few options for cheaper international flights. Pegasus is an easy 1 hour and 15-minute flight to North Cyprus from Izmir. Since Cyprus was once part of the Commonwealth, it is still a large tourist destination for Brits and other Europeans as well. There are tons of flights from Europe straight into the Greek side of Cyprus if you are coming from there.

Since we were already in Istanbul visiting some friends, we took a direct flight on Turkish Airlines from the Ataturk Airport. Our flight was at 8 in the morning and while I thought it could take us a while to get through security, it was pretty quick. I would always suggest coming earlier than later for the Ataturk airport though! Since my first time living in Turkey 8 years ago, the airport has really added some snazzy shopping, restaurants, and coffee shops. You should have no problem being entertained.

Cyprus has an interesting history between Turkey and Greece. There is a lot to say about it, but I will write the short story. Basically, in 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus twice and after the 2nd invasion, both parties established the ceasefire which is known as the Green Line. Both Turkish and Greek people were moved hastily to their matching nationality’s side and until 2008, the border remained closed due to the Turkish occupation(as acknowledged by everyone but Turkey-think Russia and Ukraine) of the north side of the island. Interestingly enough, Turkey recognizes this territory as it’s own independent nation called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. You can see what Google maps you use as to who believes what. Above is the English Google maps and below is the Turkish Google maps.

Originally we had planned to stay in the northern part of Cyprus, but the south has cheaper wine and pork… the draw was just too much to pass up. After arriving to North Cyprus we grabbed a special taxi that is allowed on both sides and headed over the border. One hour later, we had grabbed our rental car and started the 2.5-hour journey from Nicosia to Paphos.

Along the mini road trip route, we stopped at Petra tou Romiou, also known as Aphrodite’s Rock. We almost missed it because the road doesn’t actually have an exit for the site. The cafe nearby had a parking lot with an underpass walkway to the water.  The day was a bit rainy and cloudy and created this mystical mood over the beautiful area that is known in mythology as the birthplace of Aphrodite. The ground is just layers of water polished stones and the sound the ocean made as it ebbed and flowed was enchanting.

After our brief 40 minute stop, we headed on to Paphos, checked into our hotel, and relaxed a bit. The evening was chill and we enjoyed dinner and a movie at the local mall.

Tip – GPS vs. Sim Card: Rental car companies usually have a GPS option for the car. We have found the in last few countries, if possible, that getting a sim card with data is much easier, more convenient, and about the same price. The GPS was 6 Euros a day (30 Euros for 5 days) and we were able to get an MTN sim card with 1.5 GB of data for 22 Euros.

Day 2: Local Tour – Paphos

Sleeping in is always on Jason’s ‘requirements’ for our vacations. Off-season makes this possible. So we relaxed. Jason slept in. I went for a quick run. Then we grabbed a late breakfast around 10:15.  While at breakfast we made a plan for the day. Tombs of the Kings, Archeological Park, and a walk around the city center. I would definitely wear good walking shoes because you will walk (and climb) a lot!


We took a break at the local Starbucks. If you know me, then I had to get my country mug! Walked back to our car and chilled at our hotel for a while before heading out to dinner in the evening. Being Saint Patty’s Day, we hit up a local Irish Pub, enjoyed a beer, grabbed some nachos and Shepherd’s Pie. We waited forever for the live music to start but it didn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. So we peaced-out and headed on back for an early evening.

 

Day 3: Day Trip – Outside Paphos Tour

The next morning followed suit. After our brunch, we headed to a local winery, Fikardos. There is actually a wine route that tourists can spend the day doing. Cyprus has a long-standing history of wine (think…. Greek gods and goddesses) and it is the perfect location for it! We made it to 3 of the 5 in between our stop at the Saint Neophytos Monastery. Ironic huh? Well, in Prague, the monastery there made wine and beer. So maybe it isn’t so ironic. Fikardos winery was the closest to Paphos and the most interactive when it came to showing us their production area and wine sampling. The other 2, Sterna Winery & Museum and Vasilikon Winery Cyprus, were further north towards the monastery and while the views were nice to enjoy, the interaction was somewhat lacking. If you are looking to sit and enjoy a wine though, Sterna Winery is what I would suggest. It’s a small cozy little winery store with a little menu option and a nice view.

  


The Saint Neophytos Monastery which was founded in 1159 is situated in up into the mountains and is only a 30 minutes drive from Paphos. It is one of the best-known monasteries in all of Cyprus. There is painted rooms built into the walls of the mountain that you can, with a ticket go in. The ticket also gives you access to the monastery’s small museum which is filled with books, scepters, and a lot of other Greek orthodox antiquities. At one point the monastery had peice of wood from Jesus’s cross as a relic, though it is no longer there. The monastery also has a small church that is open to the public.

In the afternoon, we explored the Avankas Gorge. Definitely, wear sporty clothes… and sneakers for this little hike. It is not the easiest to get to, but we found it to exceeded our expectations. The walk from the parking area to the Gorge takes about 10 minutes, and then another 10-15 minutes to actually get to the depths of the Gorge. It is a great option for hikers and nature lovers, and it is family friendly (but not stroller friendly).

Tip – Roads:

  1. Roads are British style. The driver is on the right side of the car and you drive on the left side of the road. Be careful! There are lots of tourists out there and you will know them because all the rentals have a red license plate.
  2. NOT all roads are equal. And taking a shortcut road from one of the wineries to the Gorge is NOT a good idea (personal experience). Google maps may tell you it’s a road, but we had a run for our money. The landscape is mountainous and the roads are gravel and dirt. We will suggest to always use the longer route and main roads when traveling between locations! Our little rental car got a little beating from the ‘roads’ we used, and it was not so fun.

 

Day 4: Nicosia

Our last morning at the hotel was lazy. After a breakfast, we took a long walk along the coast going north of our resort. The coast is lined with resorts, boutique hotels, and apartments. But there is a nice walking path that everyone takes advantage of in the mornings and evenings. We enjoyed the sunny warm morning and the breeze coming from the sea. There is also an old shipwreck still captured in the rocks just off the coast.

After checking out of our hotel, we headed back the way we came to the capital city, Nicosia, for our last evening in Cyprus. After popping by our Airbnb, we walked to the city center and toured around both the Greek and Turkish sides. Nicosia is the last divided capital cities in the world (think Berlin, but nicer). If your passport allows it, you can cross between the 2 checkpoints in the middle of the city. There is a Greek passport control that you walk past, then for about 100 meters, you literally are in a neutral zone of unoccupied buildings before having your passport checked at the Turkish checkpoint.

Unfortunately, we did not allow enough time for any free walking tours this time around, and because we visited on Sunday, most museums and markets were closed on both side. But we did sufficiently walk almost every block available to us on both sides of the city. Our evening finished by splitting a delicious meat meal for two at Piasta Gourounaki and stopped by the market to stock up on some pork and cheese products.

Day 5: Flight Home

The last morning was spent at our Airbnb. Since it was a private room in a bed and breakfast place, we enjoyed breakfast with other guests and learned more about the history of Cyprus first hand via the Airbnb hosts. The Airbnb host even offered to meet us at the car rental and drop us off at one of the Ledra Palace walking checkpoint to cross over to the Turkish side where we would meet our taxi.

And ironically enough, walking the Ledra Palace checkpoint was one of the more interesting sites in Nicosia due to the history it holds(no pics allowed). The Ledra Palace was formerly one of the most glamorous hotels in the capital. Now it acts as a UN neutral meeting point for not only governmental meetings for conflict resolution but also a place Turks and Greeks can come to meet for business. It was eerie to walk through this ‘no-mans’ land and stop for a quick coffee at the meeting place while remembering the harsh history that brought them to this point.

After hopping in the taxi, it was a quick airplane ride back to Izmir and home sweet home!

Don’t be fooled:

While it sounds like everything was dazzling perfection and it can seem like life is perfect, I want to write a short note to remind readers that it, of course, is not! Our first night, Jason slept so poorly worrying about crossing the border illegally (which we didn’t). There was also the time we clipped someone side mirror because we were just two close to them on the road… which in turn, Jason felt compelled to call the car rental company and tell them about (and I didn’t). We fought over what to do, eat, and how to drive to our destinations. In fast the last night in Nicosia, I was so grumpy at him for not actively trying to help me figure out what to see in Nicosia since out time was so short. Then later I got mad over a bathroom. Because he wouldn’t use the bathroom at a place that required a purchase in order to get the bathroom pin code… Can you tell that it’s most me, Catie, getting mad about his integrity to do what is RIGHT and GOOD???

We argued, got short with one another, asked for forgiveness, gave forgiveness, shared sweet moments, and fell in love all over again. But you know, isn’t that marriage? It is, and it is worth every bit of it!

Now it’s your turn:

Have you been you Cyprus?

How do you celebrate your wedding anniversary?

Would you want to travel here one day?

What suggestions do you have for our next trip one day?

 

Read more about Cyprus via my guide at Nomadasauras.

 

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Read more information about other islands we have visited: