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Northeastern Aegean Islands

Clinging to the Turkish coast and influenced by Asia Minor in many ways, this is a bunch of radically idiosyncratic islands with landscapes and local cultures so distinct, even the smallest ones feel like proto-nations. In fact, many of them enjoyed quasi-independence at various points in time and remember it fondly.

Eccentric Ikaria is marked by jagged landscapes, pristine beaches and a famously long-lived, left-leaning population. Nearby Chios provides fertile ground for the planet’s only gum-producing mastic trees. Other islands range from rambling Lesvos – producer of half the world’s ouzo – to midsized islands such as semitropical Samos and workaday Limnos, and bright specks in the sea such as Inousses and Psara. Samothraki is home to the ancient Sanctuary of the Great Gods, while well-watered Thasos seems an extension of the mainland.

Lesvos, Chios and Samos offer easy connections to historical Hellenic sites and Turkey’s coastal resorts.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Northeastern Aegean Islands.