Greece expects to receive record visitors this year, and last year, Mykonos and Santorini’s airports saw their highest-ever numbers. If you’re one of the millions expected to arrive in Greece this summer but want to avoid the throngs of tourists, consider the “virgin” island of Samothrace. CNN recently profiled the island, calling it Greece’s “secret green ‘virgin island.'”
With a headline like that, Samothrace may not remain a secret for long. The green, lush gem sits close to Greece’s northeastern border with Turkey and can be reached via a short ferry from Alexandroupoli.
A verdant, green island
The Greek islands typically conjure images of white-washed Cycladic alleyways and beaches, but Samothrace has a completely different look and vibe, as well as diverse nature to explore. Lovers of eco-travel experiences have flocked to the island for years, and it’s known for its vathra, which are pools at the foot of its stunning waterfalls. Unlike the craggy Cyclades, Samothrace has three clean, clear rivers, and vegetables grow well on the island. It’s also home to rare and endemic plants and full of trees. Lovers of both the beach and mountain will find something to explore, and many visitors choose to stay inland for proximity to the vathra.
An ancient legacy
Lovers of history and mythology will also feel drawn to Samothrace’s ruins. The legendary “Winged Victory (Nike) of Samothrace,” which now lives at the Louvre in Paris, was found on Samothrace at its Sanctuary of the Great Gods, aka The Arsinoëion. The temple was one of the most important religious centers of antiquity, and the temple has been partially constructed, along with a replica of the iconic Nike.
The type of people who flock to the island tends to be laid-back nature lovers. The town of Therma buzzes during the evening when its tavernas and markets come alive. People come here for a calm time, not a wild one.
Have you visited Samothrace? What did you think?