Mesta Village in Chios, Greece
Venture to villages from the Byzantine era, called mastichochoria, which were built to cultivate and protect the island's beloved mastic trees. These villages acted as fortresses with confusing alleys, watchtowers and tunnels to guard against smugglers. Ancient artists hand-etched black and white geometric patterns, called ksistá, into building walls as a strategy to disorient newcomers. Mesta, Pyrgi and Olympi are just a few of the many villages worth visiting.
The Nea Moni Monastery in Chios, Greece
Lose track of time wandering through the many museums, historical buildings and monasteries found throughout Chios. The Korais Library is one of the largest libraries in Greece, and hosts an eclectic mix of treasures, including texts from the 15th century, traditional costumes and tools. Visit the 11th-century Nea Moni monastery for its impressive frescoes and mosaics.
There's no shortage of beautiful beaches to relax on – you're on a Greek island, after all. Soak in the azure waters off Mavra Volia, a cove with smooth black stones and plenty of space to put a towel. If you prefer softer sandy beaches, Elinta is one of the most scenic on the island. For access to Greek café culture and lively DJ sets, Agias Fotinis is the place to be.
One of the best things to do in Chios, Greece is eat. Stroll through the streets of Chios and shop for the freshest catch of the Aegean Sea, often displayed in restaurant windows. Grilled octopus, lobster, handmade pasta served with tomato sauce and stuffed vine leaves (yiaprakia) grace the menus. For something sweet, try loukoumades – fried dough drizzled in honey – or masoukia, which is a pastry made with piney, herbal-tasting mastic, ground almonds and lemon zest.
Though the mastic tree grows throughout the Mediterranean, Chios is the only island where the tree produces a special kind of aromatic sap that's prized for its unique piney flavour and scent. Shop for mastic cosmetics, liqueurs, cookies, cakes or even pastas. The Chios Mastic Museum has a well-stocked gift shop.
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