Worth a Trip: Southern Samos
Driving west of Pythagorio, you enter a sparsely populated, beautiful mountainous terrain, dotted with just a few quaint fishing ports and the single fully fledged beach resort of Votsalakia. Up in the mountains, road signs point to beekeepers' huts, where the superlative but inexpensive Samian honey is on sale. But before you leave the coastal plain, make a detour to the celebrated archaeological site of the Heraion, where ancient Samiots worshipped the goddess Hera.
Further west, the road starts climbing into the highlands, where mass tourism has had hardly any effect on the traditional life of mountain villages. Stop at the village of Spatharei for sweeping sea views and lunch at the quirky Shall We Go to Anna's? and look out for roadside kiosks selling honey and other local products as you drive further on beyond Pyrgos.
After Ormos Marathokambou, the road starts to descend to a cluster of tourist villages, the most crowded of them being Votsalakia (often called Kampos), with its long, sandy beach. To escape the midsummer mob, head 3km further west to the more tranquil Psili Ammos Beach or Limnionas; stay the night in domatia here and sample the fresh fish at the beach tavernas. The latter can be combined with some great snorkelling if you venture west of Limnionas towards Tavern at the End of the World, an aptly far-flung establishment.
Past Kampos, the rugged western route, undeveloped and tranquil, skirts Mt Kerkis (1434m) until reaching the villages of Kallithea and Drakeï, where the road abruptly ends. A walking trail is the only link between this point and Potami on the north coast.
Hikers keen on exploring the flanks of Mt Kerkis, or even reaching its peak, should enquire in Votsalakia for the trailhead, which passes the convent of Evangelistrias on the way.