Lesbos is well known for olives and ouzo production, and visitors can see evidence of both everywhere. The island’s charms extend far beyond those pleasures, though: It’s a beautiful place of open plains, sweeping hills and sandy beaches with views of Turkey across the water to the east. Lesbos is also home to a remarkable petrified forest, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mitilíni is the island’s busy port city whose many churches and 19th-century mansions make it one of the prettiest towns in the northern Aegean. The iconic dome of the Agios Therapon church can be seen from everywhere in the port. The most famous citizen of Lesbos, the female poet Sappho, is honored with various tributes around town, including colorful street art inscriptions and a beautiful statue in Sappho Square.
The island has a long history of producing illustrious minds—Aristotle and Epicurus both taught here and Odysseas Elytis won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1979. Even today, a large student population breathes life into the waterfront tavernas and cafés, where young and old sit sipping frappes and playing backgammon in the afternoon sun.