The people of Samos are the most friendly we have met anywhere in the Greek islands. We were welcomed wherever we went, whether in shops, tavernas or walking along the street. People would come up to us and say how happy they were we were visiting their island and wishing us a happy holiday. The family we stayed with went out of their way to make our stay memorable by sharing their meals with us and bringing us produce from their garden.
We visited in the last two weeks of September and enjoyed temperatures around 30 deg. On one day there was a chilly wind but other days were calm and every day was sunny, just a few clouds over the mountains on a couple of days which quickly evaporated.
It is worth visiting Samos purely for the archaeology. The Temple of Hera is quite incredible both in size and quality of the remains. Allow plenty of time of wander round and get a real feel for the place and don't miss the store yard at the back of the site where there are piled the most amazing artefacts. Not to be missed is the museum in Samos where many of the small votive offerings from the temple are on display. This has to be one of the finest museums outside of Athens. The museum in Pythagoria is also well worth a visit, although not quite in the same league.
Can't say I was greatly impressed with Samos Town itself, although it is in a lovely setting, it is a bit big and busy for my taste. However it is well worth a visit not only for the archaeological museum but also for the Byzantine Museum. It took us three visits to Samos to locate this, some locals telling us it didn't exist! It does, and it is quite spectacular. Situated immediately to the rear of the church just behind the port buildings where the ferries to Turkey leave from and not further back as it says in some of the older guide books. It contains 15th century icons and some very old bibles and sheet music.
We were based in Ireon, a quiet place with plenty of tavernas to choose from and bike/car hire, bakery, mini markets etc. Our favourite tavernas were The Anchor and Venetia's. Could happily have spent a whole two weeks in Pythagorio. So much to see and do and lovely to wander around the harbourside, tavernas and shops.
We travelled around on a motorcycle so were a bit restricted by distance and didn't get to the far west to explore Mt. Kerkis (will save that for another visit). We did explore the eastern side, Zoodoochu Pigis (fantastic views),Kerveli and Posedonia. Fantastic views across to Turkey from here. Our favourite beach on this side was Psili Ammos, very sandy beach and shallow water. Do stop and have a good look at the salt lake nearby.
Lovely drive across from Pythagoria towards Pyrgos. If you like local made ceramics head for Koumaradei. My favourite was Poppys on the right hand side just as you head west out of the village. Our absolute favourite beach was Balos, very quiet, just a couple of tavernas - one selling wonderful icecreams. At the far end it is very private under the cliffs with wonderful swimming.
We didn't explore a lot of the north coast but did go along as far as Manolates and Vourliates and have a long walk along the "Valley of the Nightingales" followed by large slices of baklava at one of the many tavernas in Manolates.
We took a boat trip to Samipoula, which was very enjoyable. The beach on the island is paradise, white sand, turquoise sea and absolutely not a sunbed in sight!
Downsides of visit of Samos? Really hard to think of any. It is quite a large island so not easy to see it all in two weeks and that is partly because there is so much of interest to see. The beaches are not of the tropical white sand type (except for Samipoula) and the best beaches are difficult to get to. Having said that there are plenty of pebble beaches with good swimming and they are not cluttered with rows of sunbeds. There are army camps scattered around the coastline facing Turkey but these are pretty small scale and there is no army presence outside of the camps.
In conclusion, would we visit Samos again? YES, YES, YES - can't wait!!!!!