Samothrace – Ancient History & Rugged Beauty

Samothrace, also known as Samothraki, is one of the most rugged of the Greek islands, with the towering Mount Saos dominating the landscape, rising 1,611 meters into the sky. Below it and predominantly around the coastal margins of this 178 square kilometer island, lives just a few thousand permanent inhabitants. Most of them are in the main settlements of Samothrace township, generally referred to as Hora, and the port town of Kamariotissa, which is on the north-west coast and provides ferry access to mainland Greece at Kavala and Alexandroupoli. To be honest, you want to make your way to the towns and beaches away from the port as quickly as possible, as it’s not only buys when ferries arrive, but isn’t the best representation of what the island has to offer.

A short drive, around 14km or so from the port along the main road that follows the coast, is Therma. Once again, it’s a bit of a tourist locale, but is also the place you’ll find amazing mineral springs that are ideal for soaking away the soreness of a day spend hiking. Heading inland takes you to the capital, Hora, which was built on the mountainside overlooking the port, providing views across the Aegean so the townsfolk could keep a watchful eye for pirates. It’s a charming town, with narrow streets, homely tavernas and cafes, some of which have stunning ocean views.

For those into their history, you’ll no doubt be aware of the famed statue known as The Winged Victory of Samothrace. Now housed in the Louvre, Paris, it was originally unearthed here at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. This is the most visited landmark on the island, and there’s no wonder why. The ruins are packed with fascinating history and are open for people to explore. The more adventurous among you might like to hike to the summit of Mt Saos, which is said to have been where Poseidon sat and watched the Trojan War unfold. There are several other hikes across the island, taking you to waterfalls and swimming holes that few tourists visit. Along the way you’ll almost certainly encounter some goats. It’s said there’s 15 goats for every person living on the island!

The most popular beach is Pachia Ammos, a beautiful stretch of sand with a bar, tavern, umbrellas and deckchairs. If you want to escape the crowds and are up for a hike or water taxi ride, then make your way to Vatos Beach. If food is your thing, then you have to try the local goat. With so many of them on the island, they’ve mastered the many ways to prepare the meat into delicious dishes.