How to get to the island of Samothraki

“How do I travel to Samothraki?” The same question in every friendly meeting, every summer.
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“How do I travel to Samothraki?” The same question in every friendly meeting, every summer. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to this Northern Aegean island. Its rich history, intoxicating nature and enigmatic myths are just some of them. Samothraki is not about the glitz and the glam or the comforts and luxuries of traditional commercial tourism. Rather, it captivates with its alluring natural beauty, the imposing Mount Saos that seems to be floating over the sea when seen from a distance, its history and ceremonial traditions.

Samothraki, also known as the Island of Mysteries, is a pole of attraction for people of all ages and places, who visit the island year after year to enjoy hot baths in natural pools and thermal springs, experience the beauty of nature and feel the energy vibrations of this land that date back to the worship ceremonies of the Great Gods, known also as the Cabeirian Mysteries, that took place during the ancient Greek times.

The ancient temple of Samothrace
The ancient temple of Samothrace

The island is worldwide known for the 2.75 meters tall "Statue of the Winged Victory of Samothraki" (Niki of Samothraki), that was discovered there in 1863. The statue of Niki appears to be standing on the bow of a ship with its wings spread. According to historians and scholars, the statue was located at the highest point of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, also known as Cabeiroi and was probably erected to commemorate a naval battle victory of the people of Rhodes against the fleet of Antiochus the Third. Today, the statue is exhibited at the Louvre Museum and it is one of the largest and most popular attractions of the Museum. Tourists who visit Samothraki can find a replica of it at the Archaeological Museum of Paleopolis.

The minute you arrive at the port of Kamariotissa you immediately feel that there’s something unique about this island. It’s almost as if the time stopped a long time ago and the island runs on a different time and pace, you will fill compelled to slow down and get in sync with it. So, if you are expecting a sunny vacation with water sports, sunbeds, beach bars, clubbing and loud music, Samothraki is probably not a good choice. But, if you’re willing to allow nature to define the pace of time, and if you’re open to the island’s vibe and curious about new things to experience, Samothraki won’t disappoint.

Sandy beach in Samothrace
Sandy beach in Samothrace

Full moon over the Moon
Also known as “the Moon” (Fegari), Mount Saos, rises to 1.611 meters and is the tallest mountain of the Aegean. While most of the time it is covered with fog and looks rather stormy, during the summer, when there is a full moon, a lot of people hike to… ”the Moon” to spend a luminous night in nature.

A mountain with natural (swimming) pools
If you enjoy hiking, you will love the Mount Saos trails leading to the famous “Vathres”, (a name that describes natural pools formed in the rocks with crystal clear waters) of the island. Starting up at the settlement of Therma known for its thermal, sulfur springs, there are two trails that lead to Gria Vathra. Take the first trail if you’re up for an easier hike or you have kids. Get on the second trail if you’re an experienced or adventurous climber who loves a challenge. Added bonus for those opting for the second trail: at the end of your hike there is a sandy Vathra beach where you can rest and relax.

Natural pools formed in the rocks with crystal clear waters
Natural pools formed in the rocks with crystal clear waters

Crossing the water stream of "Fonias", located 5 km from Therma, you will find a spectacular trail that will take you through pockets of pristine, untouched nature to Klidosi, the highest Vathra. While hiking there, you will pass through several smaller Vathras that are popular among tourists. You will notice is that the higher you hike the less people you’ll meet at the Vathras along the way. The few that make it to the top, flaunt their accomplishment with panoramic photos, videos and selfies.

Last but not least, you may want to visit Vdelolimni, one of the island’s most important wetlands, located at the start of the Fonias (meaning “Killer”) water stream. It is said to have gotten its name because during the winter, the stream’s swift waters swept away the animals of the island. There’s also another version that claims a mystery murder around this area, but one can never be sure. So, put on your inspector hat on, book your ferry tickets to Samothraki and go solve the mystery!

"Supernatural" beaches
The Vathres are so unique and popular that many tourists leave Samothraki without having swam in the sea at all. And yet the beaches of Samothraki are beautiful, pristine with crystal clear waters. Book your cheap ferries to Samothraki at and enjoy snorkeling in sandy beaches overlooking the islands of Imvros and Tenedos. But remember: most beaches are not accessible by car. The most famous beaches to visit are the Gardens, Pachia Ammos and the exotic beach of, Vatos-reachable either by boat or through a narrow and winding mountain path that leads to this wildly beautiful turquoise water beach.

Sandy beach in Samothrace
Sandy beach in Samothrace

The island of mysteries
The admittedly unique aura of Samothraki may very well be attributed to the Cabeirian Mysteries and the myths associated with them to date. Their worship is traced back to the 3rd century BC, but we know very little about them. What we know is that at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, the largest monument of the island that exists to this day, ceremonies were held to initiate the candidates in the worship of the Supreme Gods, also known as Cabeiroi. It is unclear who these Gods were.
The Mysteries took place at the beginning of summer, started late at night and lasted for nine consecutive days. The Cabeirian Mysteries, just like the Elefsinian Mysteries were important religious ceremonies in Ancient Greece. There are local tales about Kings from all over Greece who would come to Samothraki to be initiated to the worship of the Supreme Gods. Those who participated were not allowed to talk about the content of the initiation ceremony at the penalty of …death.

Where to stay
Back in the days, tourists were big on free camping and wild parties. In time, this died down and nowadays most prefer the municipal camping, or they go to Therma, or camp in one of the Vathras and enjoy the outdoors at night.
At the Chora (main city of the island), you will find hotels, hostels, and a variety of rooms and studios that can fit any budget. A quick search can give you very good offers and packages for your stay.

How to get there
Get me there ASAP: Book a flight, take the train, or drive to Alexandroupolis. Get your 2-hour cheap roundtrip ferry tickets from the port of Alexandroupolis to Kamariotissa, the main port of Samothraki. There are also routes to and from Samothraki from the port of Limnos.

Tip: If you drive there, make sure to be super careful where you park your car. It is highly likely that if you park it under the shade of an oak or wild olive tree, you may find wild goats-yes, that’s right–on the top of your car when you get back. They are probably out looking for food so to them a car or a rock makes no difference as long as they can climb on it. Oh… and something else, it is said that wild goats in Samothraki are 15 times the population of the island so, beware!