Samos, one of the most easterly Aegean islands just a stone's throw from the coast of Asia Minor, is renowned for its wines, particularly for the white muscat wine found nowhere else.
The birthplace of many philosophers and mathematicians of antiquity, such as Epikouros, Aristarches, Pythagoras and others, Samos delights today's visitors with its lush greenery, varied landscapes and fascinating archaeological sites.
Among the island's first inhabitants were the Pelasgians, who established the worship of the goddess Hera on Samos.
Samos reached its greatest prosperity during the reign of the tyrant Polycrates, becoming one of the most powerful city-states of Ionia, dominating the seas with its famous samaines, boats with five tiers of oarsmen.
The capital, Samos Town or Vathi, is built on the verdant slopes that surround the island's deepest bay. It has retained its individual appearance, with its attractive neoclassical houses, old mansions with pastel facades.
The town boasts two major museums: the Archaeological Museum with displays of ancient sculptures. including the celebrated Kouros of Samos, vases and objects from the Geometric and Archaic eras, most of which were found at the Heraion (Sanctuary of Hera), the island's chief ancient site; and the Byzantine Museum with heirlooms from Samian monasteries.
From Vathi, if you take the road heading south, your first stop will be Pithagorio (familiarly known as Tigani, 14 km.), a small, picturesque port occupying the site of the ancient capital. The present-day jetty has been constructed on top of the ancient foundations.
The area abounds in important ruins: the Polycrates Wall (2nd half 6th century B.C.), the ancient theatre, and the famous Eupalinos Tunnel, a technical marvel dating to the 6th century B.C., which used to supply the town with water. The small archaeological museum houses local finds.
To the right of the port the castle of Lycourgos Logothetis can be seen atop a hillock. This 19th century edifice most probably rests on the ruins of the former acropolis. Within its walls are two Roman colonnades as well as the remains of Early Christian churches.
Not far from Pithagorio is the archaeological site of the Heraion, with its sanctuary to Hera of Samos, one of the biggest of antiquity. Within its precincts, where tradition maintained that the goddess was born and raised, are the ruins of a temple dedicated in her honour, Hellenistic and Roman buildings and even part of an Early Christian basilica.
Karlovassi, on the north coast of the island, is its second largest harbour, composed of three districts, Old, New and Middle Karlovassi. Here, too, you will find imposing neoclassical houses, reminders of earlier prosperous times, while 2 kilo metres away bathers will love the sandy beach of Potami, rimmed with luxuriant greenery.
The drive between Samos (Vathi) and Karlovassi runs along the magical coastline, cutting through riotous vegetation and picturesque villages. Six kilometres south of Karlovassi, set in marvelous surroundings, is the village of Marathokambos, which acts as a "balcony" over the island's southern beaches and has both old churches and caves to explore.
Still further south is the tiny harbour of Ormos, good for fishing and swimming, while beyond it lies a string of lovely beaches - Votsalakia, Hrissi Amos, Ai Gianis Eleimonas.
If you return to Samos by the inland road, you will come to the village of Mitilini, a market centre for the island. Here there is a very interesting paleontological museum filled with the fossilized remains of early horned beasts, mammoths and carnivores.
The island is well endowed with facilities of all kinds for tourists. Accommodation possibilities range from luxury hotels to family-style pensions and camping sites.