Molyvos

4 Greek Islands You Can Visit from Turkey

Along Turkey’s south and west coasts there are a few Greek islands in close proximity, allowing you to visit two countries in one trip. Everyone knows Santorini and Mykonos but have you heard of Kos, Lesvos, Chios or Samos?

These four can be visited as a day trip from Turkey and vice versa – Turkey can be visited from these Greek islands in a day trip as well. Of course, if you have the time, I recommend staying over at least a night or two in order to experience what each island has to offer.

But if time is tight and a day trip is your only option, you can still fill your time with plenty of things to do in the main towns of each island. Going further afield than that will typically not be an option while on a day trip unless you have a car, due to the infrequency of buses. However, this is not a bad thing by any means! There is plenty to do in these main towns that will keep you busy.

*Please note: Before making any plans, be sure to double check all schedules for the ferries below because things do change. All times and costs listed in this post are correct as of August 2017.

From Bodrum to Kos island

Kos, one of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, is well known for it’s long sandy beaches and tourist resorts. It also has a reputation for being a party town, with it’s foam parties and endless happy hours, but don’t let that scare you away. It’s also home to Hippocrates, the father of medicine. You can visit the ancient plane tree right in town where he has been said to have lectured and taught his students. Kos also has a ton of ancient Greek and Roman archaeological remains scattered about town and most of them are free to visit!

Things to do:

  • Wander around Greek and Roman ruins such as the ancient agora, Roman odeon, bath complex, old basilica and temple of Dionysus
  • Walk in the footsteps of the ancients on paved Roman roads in the Western Archaeological Site
  • Take a short bus ride to the Asclepeion, an ancient site dedicated to Asclepius, the Greek god of healing
  • Relax on one of Kos’s many beautiful beaches (both sand and pebble)
  • Visit a mountain village such as Zia and enjoy the sunset
Kos harbor

Kos harbor

Roman odeon

Roman odeon

Kos's western archaeological site

Kos’s western archaeological site

Kos western archaeological site

Mosaic floor detail, Western Archaeological Site

Tigaki beach, Kos

Loungin’ at Tigaki beach, Kos island

HOW TO GET HERE:

Book your ticket with Bodrum Feribot located at the old harbor in Bodrum. The price is 17 euro one way or 19 euro round trip. The ferry departs at 09:30 and the return times depend on the season. In high season, the last ferry returns to Bodrum at 17:00 (5pm). Check Bodrum Feribot’s timetable for more info. Tickets must be booked at least one day in advance.

If going from Greece to Turkey – You will find boat companies lining Kos harbor where you can buy your ticket. Confirm prices first as they don’t all charge the same.


From Ayvalık to Lesvos

Lesvos is located to the west of Turkey in the northeastern Aegean sea. The island is famous for being the birthplace of the legendary lyrical poet Sappho, and for it’s production of that famous Greek spirit that everybody loves called ouzo. The ferry arrives in the island’s capital of Mytilene which is also a university town. Mytilene is a fun place to spend your time – it’s youthful energy is reflected in the colorful cafes populated by students and the creative street art displayed in the town center.

Things to do:

  • Wander around the center of Mytilene snapping shots of dope street art that decorates the narrow streets
  • Hang out with the locals having coffee in one of the cool cafes while enjoying the buzz of scooters whizzing by
  • Take in a beautiful view of the seafront while eating fresh fish in a harbor side restaurant
  • Go for a quick swim at the town beach
  • Visit the Castle of Mytilene – one of the largest castles in the Mediterranean
Mytilene Greece

My first view of Mytilene

cool cafe in Mytilene

One of of many cool artsy cafes in Mytilene

Mytilene Lesvos

It doesn’t get fresher than this!

Anaxos beach, Lesvos

Anaxos beach

HOW TO GET HERE:

You’ll have to get to Ayvalık in order to take the ferry to Lesvos, which can easily be reached by bus from Izmir. It is about a 2.5-3 hour ride from Izmir, so an overnight in Ayvalık* will be necessary. But no worries – Ayvalık is a cute town to explore, with many seafront cafes and a maze of tiny backstreets – enough to keep you busy for an overnight.

You must book your ferry ticket at lease one day in advance with Jale Tur, located at the port. The ferry leaves Ayvalık at 09:00 and returns from Mytilene at 18:00 (6pm). You can reserve your ticket online but the website is only in Turkish. Keep in mind “Midilli” is the Turkish name for Mytilene, the capital of the island and where you will dock. The price is 20 euro one way or 30 euro round trip.

If going from Greece to Turkey – In Mytilene, you will find travel agencies selling tickets to Ayvalık along the harbor front.


From Çeşme to Chios island

Also located in the northeastern Aegean, is Chios. The island is Lesvos’s neighbor to the south and is just 7km (4.3 miles) away from Çeşme in Turkey. It’s so close, you could probably swim there! Chios island is known for its production of mastic gum (mastiha in Greek) and is the only place where the trees that produce this magical medicinal sap grow. Mastic is used to treat a variety of ailments naturally and forms on the trees in the shape of a tear. It is referred to as “a tear that pleases, perfumes, relieves and heals.” Read more about mastiha cultivation here.

What to do:

  • Walk around Chios town’s cool city center and do some shopping
  • Buy some mastic products, Mastiha Shop in the center is a great place to get the good stuff!
  • Grab a beer and some shrimp saganaki at a waterfront restaurant
  • Take a bus to Karfas beach and enjoy some sun
  • If you stay over, make sure you visit one of the Mastichoria villages (see below)
Chios town

Chios town center

Chios mastic products

Mastic Products for sale

Karfas beach

Karfas beach, a short bus ride away from Chios town

If you are staying overnight and have extra time, some day trips* that I recommend are visits to two of the seven mastichoria (villages where mastic trees are grown and where mastic is produced) in the south of Chios – Pyrghi and Mesta.

The houses and public buildings in the center of Pyrghi are adorned with beautiful “xysta”, or geometric pattern designs. You could spend hours here looking around and never see the same pattern twice! It’s a feast for the eyes and for your camera!

Pyrgi Chios

Pyrgi’s original xysta patterns

Mesta is a village built in stone as a defense against invaders, originally built in the 12th century. The narrow streets were purposely built to resemble a labyrinth in order to confuse invading pirates. The residents, however, were said to have been able to get around their entire village by using their rooftops!

Mesta stone village

Mesta stone village

HOW TO GET HERE:

You’ll have to get to Çeşme in order to take the ferry to Chios, which can easily be reached by bus from Izmir. It is about a 1.75 hour ride from Izmir, so an overnight in Çeşme* is most likely necessary, unless you can get there extra early. Depending on bus schedules, this may not be possible. 

Çeşme is a very pretty and upscale town. It’s one of the places where Turkey’s elite vacations and can be a little expensive. But there is a very cute marina shopping area to walk around, waterfront cafes, a town beach and a cool castle to visit to hold you over until you reach Chios.

In Çeşme, you can book your ticket with Erturk Lines, located either at Çeşme’s port or in the town center. The ferries depart at 09:00 and return at 18:30 (6:30pm). Ferries are more frequent in the summer. Tickets must be booked at least one day in advance and cost 22 euro one way and 26 euro round trip.

If going from Greece to Turkey – travel agencies along the waterfront sell tickets to Çeşme.

*For bus trips to Karfas beach, Pyrghi and Mesta, check the Chios bus schedules here.


From Kuşadası to Samos island

South of Chios is Samos island is known for it’s vineyards, Samian wine and beautiful seaside towns. The ferry docks in the island’s capital of Vathy, a port town whose buildings are built in the shape of an amphitheater, hugging the bay.

  • Walk around town, photographing the colorful neoclassical buildings
  • Check out the town’s archaeological and Byzantine museums
  • Visit the old churches of Agios Nikolaos and Agios Spiridon
  • Sip some local Samian wine while enjoying the view of Vathy’s bay
Vathi Samos

Vathy’s pretty bay

Vathi

On the side streets of Vathi

HOW TO GET HERE:

Tickets can be booked with Meander Travel in Kuşadası town near the port. The ferry leaves at 9:00 and leaves to return at 18:00 (6pm). Tickets are 35 euro for one way or 40 euro round trip.

*The asterisked links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links used in this post, I will receive a small commission (never at any additional cost to you).



6 Comments

  • Michelle Schroeder-Gardner August 19, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    This all looks amazing! Definitely a goal of ours to sail over there one day.

    Reply
  • Indie Chick Travels August 19, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Michelle, thank you!
    They are all such beautiful places! I love being on a boat – any time I can take a trip on a boat somewhere, I always do! lol Definitely check out the Turquoise Coast of Turkey – it’s a must for sailing!

    Reply
  • Loretta Widen August 19, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    These places look amazing. I’m especially interested in Chios Island. The shopping looks fun and the narrow cobbled streets look beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Indie Chick Travels August 19, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Hey Loretta,
      Thank you! Chios is wonderful! I went there on a whim and it ended up becoming one of my favorite Greek islands. There is such a diversity there in the landscapes and so much to see and do! What’s even better is that there aren’t too many tourists (yet lol) so you have lots of the island to yourself 🙂

      Reply
  • Andrea Mayfield August 19, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    This is such an informative read! I love your photos! I am dying to go to Turkey and Greece and this sounds like a great guide to see both!

    Reply
    • Indie Chick Travels August 19, 2017 at 6:40 pm

      Thank you so much, Andrea! I really enjoyed traveling throughout both countries and highly recommend going if you get the chance! They are both easy to travel in and I love that it’s easy to get back and forth, too! That’s how I initally found out about all of these boat trips – I spent so much time in Turkey that there were days when I needed a break lol so I just hopped on a boat and found these gems 🙂

      Reply

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