From Alexandroupolis to Samothrace
After Lesvos, we flew to Alexandroupolis (with the compulsory stop in Athens), where we spent a night before going from Alexandroupolis to Samothrace. We had ten days on the island before leaving for Thessaloniki and heading back to Barcelona.
We only spent one night in Alexandroupolis, and it was only because we had to take the ferry from there to Samothrace. We knew that there wouldn’t be a lot to see, but we ended up enjoying it more than we expected.
In the evening, the waterfront area was lively and lined with popcorn and candy floss stalls. The restaurants and bars overlooking the sea were all very busy.
The next morning, we paid a visit folk museum, which was small but quite interesting. We bought a map of Samothrace and had lunch at Gialos Seafood Taverna, a restaurant worth checking out if you are ever in Alexandropoulis for whatever reason! Soon after, we headed to the port to take the ferry.
Samothrace (Samothraki in Greek) is only 24 km from Alexandroupolis (in fact, we could see the island from the waterfront), but it took us a couple of hours to get there with the ferry.
Samothrace is the perfect place to visit in early July as it is much less well-known than the other islands. Even though it was the beginning of what is considered high season, we were able to just sit back, relax, and enjoy our surroundings. We stayed in Therma, a small town with a permanent population of about 100 people that might be better described as a cluster of bungalows and restaurants. There are only a few towns on the island, all of them quite small, and we chose this one because it was located near several of the waterfalls on the island, as well as a beach. We had a room at Studios La Kastania, a small but clean studio complex with friendly staff who spoke German but no English (we got by with our Greek phrasebook and a lot of pointing). There was even a barbecue for the guests, which we made use of one night. It was also one of the cheapest places we stayed at in Greece.
Therma gets its name from the local hot springs, which we didn’t take advantage of as hot water wasn’t exactly what we needed in July! We did, however, walk along the Gria Vathra trail, a beautiful area with waterfalls, streams, and pools where we spent most of our evenings. The water was freezing cold, but also crystal clear and very refreshing after a hot day under the sun. There were campsites nearby, and if we had brought tents or hammocks we could have just stayed a few metres away from the falls.
The fourth day, our friend Eden came from London. That evening, we went to I Xenia, a restaurant with an open-air treehouse where we shared several delicious mezédhes.
Our typical routine consisted of going to the beach in the morning for a couple of ours, wandering around the waterfalls in the afternoon, and then trying one of the restaurants in the area. One day, we also took a boat tour around the island and were able to visit a couple more beaches and see some of the unusual rock formations along the coast. Below, you can see a photo of a natural waterfall that dropped straight into the sea.
We also visited the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, the temple complex where the famous statue of Nike (now in the Louvre) was found. The only way to move around the island is by car or motorbike because there are only a few buses a day and they only stop in a few towns. We had to walk along a highway for over an hour and a half, but once we got there it was totally worth it. Built between the 7th and the 4th centuries BC, this spot served as a sacred place for rituals and sacrifices until the 2nd century BC. It’s easy to step back in time and imagine the area as it might once have been because of its impressive size and how well it has been preserved.
Even though not having your own vehicle makes seeing everything Samothrace has to offer a bit difficult, if you pick your base well you won’t be worried about missing a few things. We recommend staying primarily in Therma as there are several trails that leave from that area (as well as the beach, hot springs, and waterfalls, you can also climb the main mountain), and perhaps spending a night or two in Kamariotissa, the port town, so that you can get the bus from there to a couple other places. All in all, this is the perfect island for a ridiculously relaxing holiday, and probably one of the best Greek islands to visit in the summer, when most places are hot, expensive, and overcrowded.
On 10 July, we left Samothrace for Thessaloniki, our last stop in Greece. It was 7 am when we boarded the ferry, so we were able to watch the sunrise as we waved goodbye to one of our favourite Greek islands.