June/July 2020 – Leros Greece (one of the Dodecanese islands)

Leros was a wonderful place to visit! It was a last-minute go with my gut decision that I’m so happy I made!

With Leros, maybe more than most places, I think where you stay will have a big impact on your experience. The island has a whole lot to offer, but with pretty different vibes from the various parts. For a vacation/holiday experience where you don’t plan to go exploring all that much, I’d recommend staying around Agia Marina, Panteli, Alinda, Gourna, or Xirokampos. Near Agia Marina and Panteli (central on the east), you’ll find the more classic Greek island architecture with winding alleys, the castle and old windmills, restaurants, shopping, and some nightlife. Across the bay to the north is Alinda where the buildings are a little more spread out, but it’s otherwise much like Agia Marina and Panteli, minus the castle and old windmills, of course. I’m told Gourna (central NW) is the place for sunsets and has a slightly more remote feel. I didn’t spend a lot of time in this area, so please drop a comment if you can tell us all more about it. Xirokampos (south) would be an even more remote area. It’s almost like you’re on another island and has a very relaxed feel; I loved the chill atmosphere! There are accommodations, a few restaurants, a market, a beautiful beach/bay, and great hiking (check out my videos below for a bit more on the hiking). But no trinket, or even clothing, shops from what I saw. Gourna seemed very similar, but to me, its central location on the island makes it feel just a little less remote. Both are great for a real getaway! Lakki (central SW) will probably be best if you want a bit more of a central location for exploring with or without a car or scooter. It was built out by the Italians in the 1930s during their occupation of the island (named Portolago at the time), giving it a unique architecture and grid layout. It’s an architecture that you don’t see anywhere too much anymore. Wikipedia says “It is one of the best examples of Italian Rationalist and Fascist architecture, with buildings by Armando Bernabiti [it] and Rodolfo Petracco [it].[1][2][3] Mussolini was said to have a mansion for himself near town.”. Maybe not everyone’s taste, I don’t find it the most attractive myself but found it very cool none the less. I walk a lot, so this could be different for you, but the only place I consider a bit far for walking from Lakki would be up north past Alinda by the airport (I made a video taking a bicycle ride up there, you can find a link to it below). In the north, it seemed to be more industrial. There’s a military base, the airport, farmland, but also a couple of great beaches, a winery, and some nice houses. I only made a couple of quick trips up there, so I may have missed things; if you know the area please drop a comment below to let us all know what else to see up there.

Leros, like I believe all of the Greek islands, has an incredible history. Some of which lends to a reputation of love it or hate it. Such as it’s past for holding political prisoners, a mental hospital on the island, and there is also currently a refugee camp on the island as well. Its World War II history is probably the most interesting to me though, you may have seen a couple of videos I made about some of the remaining military infrastructures near Xirokampos (see the last 2 video links below). There are other sites around the island from what I’m told too, I’d love to get back and explore more! The old buildings and caves from this WWII era are so interesting, but its strategic location has made it the center of many struggles dating back to the days of knights and pirates too. If you’re a diver there are a lot of sunken ships and downed planes to see in the water nearby, and it sounds like they keep finding more treasures all the time. I really enjoyed learning just some of the histories of this great island!

Transportation – The large ferries going between Athens and Rhodes stop at the port in Lakki, while the smaller ones traveling up and down the Dodecanese islands stop in Agia Marina. There is a bus that regularly travels quite a bit of the island, and taxis are plentiful. I didn’t take the bus or a taxi while on the island; if you have personal experience please share it in the comments below!

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