Antissa is one of the best and most interesting of the traditional mountain villages of Lesvos.
Almost completely undeveloped, the only rooms to
rent are in Gavatha at the Paradise Restaurant and in
a few private houses scattered throughout the
valley which can be booked through Sappho Travel(if you are lucky). The town of Antissa sits on the side of a
mountain and is the regional center for the
villages of Vatousa, Xidera, Gavatha, Liota, Rema,
Zithra and Pterounda. There is a large and
beautiful platia with not one, but three enormous
platanos trees that make the village a very cool
place to come on a hot afternoon.
several restaurants in the square and an equal
amount of cafeneons. There's a pharmacy, something
that none of the other villages in the vicinity
have and a post office. There is also a medical
center which serves as a hospital for this part of
the island. The only drawback to the area is that
besides the rooms at the Paradise in Gavatha,
there are few if any places to stay. But it's a
nice place to come for a day and especially nice to come for dinner. Even when the rest of the island is hot, the Platia in Antissa is usually comfortable and there are several very good tavernas here which specialize in local meat, fresh fish and vegetables.
If you are looking for a good place to buy an affordable house in Lesvos, Antissa is a great place to look because it is big and lively enough to be here year round and though not on the beach it is close enough. You can probably find something inexpensive on the website of SapphoEstate
Below Antissa through a sea of olive trees you come to a small harbor full of fishing
boats and a long beach with a few trees that offer
shade, a beach taverna and a cantina that serves drinks, sandwiches, a few simple dishes and plays a lot of Santana. Gavatha is built upon a peninsula that
shelters the main beach. There is a
small Church of St. Pandelemon on the rocks above
the village, guarded by a rusted old tank with
it's gun pointed at Turkey. There was an excellent fish taverna in the closest thing Gavatha has to a village square, called the Aegion, which was sold to an Athenian who struggled with the menu until he finally got it right which was about the time he began struggling with his health. It is now empty.
Most of the
tourists who come here can't be called tourists
any longer because they have been coming for years
and are almost a part of the village. Many have
bought homes in the area. It's a very quiet place
with virtually no nightlife beyond whatever may be
happening at the beach taverna. Most people go up to Antissa which by comparison is cosmopolitan. The Paradise was one of the best
restaurants on the island and people came from all
over to eat and enjoy the view. The owner was an
extremely hard working woman named Stacy, who
moved to the island from New Jersey 25 years
She closed several years ago and sadly she passed away in 2020. I am sorry she never got to reopen it because it really was a special place.
The beach at Gavatha is a good one for those who like sandy beaches, though when the wind blows from the north there can be waves and flying sand, though it is usually calm the closer you are to the town. There used to be a lot of
seaweed which washed up on the shore but the
villagers made a courageous effort to get rid of it,
perhaps believing it makes the area undesirable to
tourists, and have been pretty successful. But the
truth is that even when there was a lot of
seaweed, once you walk out a few meters the sea is
as clear as anywhere. The best place to swim is
the far end of the beach near the Cantina that serves drinks and food. Snorkling along the
rocks is fine though there are not a lot of fish.
If you snorkle far enough you will come to the
beach at Kampo Antissa. You can also drive there by
following the signs through the valley which is probably a better way to travel.
Kampo Antissa is full of olive trees, orchards, farms and
gardens and the dominant color is green. Campo Antissa has even bigger waves with a strong north wind and if you are not a good swimmer you may want to stay close to shore. But even in the summer the beach can be empty and if you are a practicing nudist looking for privacy or a Deadhead with a satchel full of shrooms then this is the place to go if you want to be left alone. When the wind
comes from the north east there are great waves.
When it blows from the south the sea is calm and
when there is no wind at all it's like a millpond. There are a couple conveniently placed changing cabanas, not that you will need them since there probably won't be anyone here. There are also showers and a covered area with a picnic table.
In Campo Antissa there is no village but the center of the
area is the popular Kostas Taverna above the paved riverbed that leads to the sea
and the long empty beautiful beach. The valley is a collection of farms and
gardens. Directly across the sea Turkey is close
enough to be clearly visible every day. If you
follow the riverbed which has been paved it will
take past Kostas Taverna on the right and down to
the beach. There is a pond at the end that is full
of eels, frogs and turtles and there are lots of
interesting birds around. One you get to the beach
you can choose to drive to your right or walk to
your left where the promontory that seperates
Campo Antissa from the beach of Gavatha begins and
you can have as much privacy as you
like. On the road between Kampo Antissa and Gavatha is a sign to the village of Liota which has a nice square, one of the oldest platanos trees on the island, a healing spring and a very nice little taverna that can get quite festive on a Saturday night. At the far end of the beach in Campo is an abandoned tank that you can climb in and see what it is like to be in one.
If you follow
the road east past Campo Antissa you will pass
brilliant green fields of clover and drive
alongside a river. The road actually crosses the
river (no bridge but it's not too deep and the
kids love it) and goes through a small settlement
before coming to the ruins of ancient Antissa on a
promontory. It's an interesting area with ancient
stones scattered around and some big walls still
standing. The beach is secluded and there is a
very pretty church that sits above it that
provides shade for the hottest part of the day.
There is also a taverna nearby that has live music
on Saturday nights during the summer, though
finding your way back after the party could be
tough. The road is hell on small cars and should
be taken slowly and sober or with a jeep. You can continue along the coast and go all the way to Skalohori.
Antissa and Gavatha Review
So here's a few odds and ends that I may have mentioned above but may not have. Anyway they should make your trip more interesting....
of the best restaurants in the
area and a great place to stop for
a drink on a hot afternoon is
Pedinon, in the platanos shaded
main square in Antissa. People
come from all around for his
Perivoli Monastery between Antissa
and Vatoussa is a garden paradise.
The caretaker is quite nice with
an ability to speak in rhyme a
good portion of the time.
village of Zithra between Antissa
and Vatousa has known better
times. Most of the houses are now
in ruins and this old couple are
two of only a handful of people
still living there.
will happen to Zithra is anybody's
guess. It may end up being totally
deserted or bought up by
foreigners and there is evidence
of some houses being fixed,
perhaps by relatives.
whole island is full of
Greek-Americans and Australians
who have returned to their home to
retire or start new businesses.
Pablos Kalfas is one of
those. The former Eressos taxi driver from Australia has opened To Kati Allo in the tree-shaded square of Antissa and his food is a step above what you will find in most villages.
at Kostas in Campo Antissa is a
tradition. Just find the paved
river-bed and follow it down till
you see it on your right up a
small hill or just turn right at the sign to Kampo Antissa on the road to Gavatha. His family came back
to Greece from Melbourne,
Australia. he just recently got married so congratulate him.
about Antissa from In Search of Sardeles Pastes