The most “non-Greek” island in Greece

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Port of Samothrace. Credit: Serafim Trahanis

Samothrace (or Samothraki) is a little-known Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea. The island has many breathtaking waterfalls and is surrounded by crystal clear waters.

Although a bit off the beaten track, Samothrace is a must visit for nature lovers who want to immerse themselves in paradise!

Geography of the island of Samothrace

Samothrace, located in the northern Aegean Sea, is one of the most rugged Greek islands, with its highest peak, Mount Saos, towering 1,611 meters (5,285 feet) into the sky. The island is a paradise for those interested in alternative forms of tourism as it offers countless activities and possibilities, all against a breathtaking natural backdrop of cliffs, forests and water.

Samothrace is unique for its landscape combining mountainous terrain, cool springs and the bluest seas.

The island is full of beaches, archaeological sites, rivers and streams that make it an idyllic choice for summer explorations. Visitors often come to Samothrace to hike and camp, striving to visit all of the island’s natural wonders.

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island of Samothrace
Waterfall in Gria Vathra. Credit: Angelos Konstantinidis/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

The island’s rich vegetation and waterfalls add to its beauty, the most famous waterfalls being Kleidosi (created by the Fonias stream) and Kremasto with its cave. The waterfalls on the island are a big draw, as natural waterfalls are not particularly common throughout Greece.

Visitors to Samothrace typically swim in the dozens of freshwater ponds and rivers, dipping their toes in their naturally cool waters. However, for those who prefer the sea, there are multiple beaches all around the island.

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Kipos Beach on the east side of the island. Credit: DocWoKav /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Some of the most beautiful and well-known beaches include Pachia Ammos, Kipos beach (which is unique for its beautiful blue/grey pebbles) and Limnidi. However, many who go to Samothrace may want to hike or take a boat south of the island to get around the mountain.

The beaches found here are some of the most beautiful on the whole island, the best known of them is called Vatos Beach.

Birdwatchers are also attracted to Samothrace and can very profitably enjoy their time in the lagoon of Aghios Andreas.

What to do in Samothrace

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Fishing boats moored at the port of Kamariotissa in Samothrace. Credit: Adamantios/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The port of Kamariotissa, the most populated part of the island, is connected to Alexandroupolis by ferries. Kamariotissa has a number of amenities including supermarkets and banks, as well as a number of restaurants and cafes. Fishing is one of the main industries on the island, and a fine range of traditional wooden fishing boats can be seen at the harbour.

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The remains of Hieron at Samothrace. Credit: Ggia /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Sanctuary of the Great Gods is the main tourist attraction of the island. It was well known during ancient Greece due to being a gathering place for a ‘mystery religion’. Mystery religions were religious schools that only allowed insiders to participate, keeping the religions themselves shrouded in mystery.

The “Winged Victory of Samothrace” is a marble statue of the goddess Nike discovered on the island in 1863. It is in very good condition despite being beheaded and is now in the Louvre in Paris.

Another winged Nike statue is in the Archaeological Museum of Samothrace. There is also a plaster cast of the “Winged Victory” in the museum. A visit to the museum is a great way to complement an otherwise very nature vacation with a dip in history and culture.

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The thermal spring of Gria Vathra in Samothrace. Credit: Kamikaze1975/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Therma village is another hub of the island. The area is home to many hotels and shops, as well as an alternative nightlife spot. Therma is near many of the campsites where the island’s younger visitors stay, so the bars are usually buzzing there.

The thermal springs in the aptly named village of Therma also attract hundreds of visitors as an alternative to the cool waters of the island’s many ponds.

The island is also popular with young people for hosting psychedelic trance festivals and is frequented by counterculture visitors from northern Greece.

For many reasons, Samothrace is one of Greece’s best kept secrets and deserves to be seen by people from all over the world for its beautiful landscapes and rich culture and history.

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