Vathi is the capital of the Greek island of Samos, just 1 ½ hour ferry ride from the Turkish coastal town of Kusadasi. Samos is one of my favorite Greek islands to be visited either as a day trip from Turkey or on its own.
If you wish to stay over night in order to explore more of the island’s many historical site like the Heraion, Pythagorion, the Ephalinos tunnel or the Potami waterfalls, a good choice is the – aptly named – Hotel Samos.
For one it’s easy to find and perfectly located just across the road from the ferry terminal. At Euros 50 per night for a single room including breakfast and free WiFi, it’s reasonably priced and offers great value for money. The rooms are spacious and the bathroom’s standard is close to 5 stars with goodie basket, (working) hairdryer and good water pressure. The hotel has a lovely roof top swimming pool and bar where you can have a variety of freshly squeezed fruit juices or any other drinks you fancy as well as snacks.
There is a restaurant downstairs, indoors as well as on the terrace. The Greek salad is particularly appetizing and you can sit and watch the waterfront and the world go by. Everybody at reception is very friendly and helpful and will assist you with insider tips and excursions.
If you have only time to visit Vathi, walk along the waterfront towards Lion Square, passing b many, many cafes, restaurants and shops. These shops are mostly selling souvenirs and beach items, therefore, turn left on Lion Square, walk straight up, then turn right and you find a narrow street lined with some of the best boutiques I have ever seen, offering chic fashion at very low prices as well as really nice tiles, ceramic, paintings, sofa throws etc. In short, souvenirs of the better kind which also make nice gifts.
Follow the same road to the end, turn left and you come to the Archaeological Museum. It consists of two buildings opposite each other and you start on the left. This museum is an ‘ohhhh’ experience and the treasures inside are quite unexpected. Enormous korus statues from the holy road of the Heraion loom in the semi darkness and never fail to impress by their sheer size and nearly immaculate state.
Cross over to the other building and enjoy more exhibits reflecting Samos’ long history.
Opposite is a great example of an orthodox church with icons outside and fabulous chandeliers inside. Samos is also famous for wine and you shouldn’t fail to visit the wine museum although you may want to take a taxi because it’s about 4 miles out of town.
A good, and much cheaper way, to get around the island is the use of local buses. Continue to walk straight along the waterfront and you will see a few white and green buses parked. That’s the central bus station. You buy your ticket in the café, sit down and have a drink and wait until the waiter tells you that your bus has arrived and leads to it. The buses take the ‘scenic route’ which means that you get an island tour for all of Euros 3 before reaching your destination. You need time because the schedules are somewhat flexible but you also get to enjoy conversations with the locals. There are buses to all major towns of the island, but learn to read the names in Greek.