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A Secret Treasure of the Aegean

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Discover Lipsi

Lipsi is a small archipelago at the edge of the south-eastern Aegean, between Leros and Patmos. Its 24 islets and 6 rocks form a dazzling landscape reminiscent of Polynesia. The capital is Lipso, the only inhabited island and the mythical land of the nymph Calypso.

Lipsi is a secret treasure of the Aegean, a particular favourite of nature lovers and sailors seeking a haven of tranquillity and unspoiled beauty. If your dream holiday involves gorgeous turquoise seas and crenelated coastlines, verdant plains and low hills with small cedar forests, the scent of aromatic herbs and the sound of seabirds, this jewel of the Minor Dodecanese is the place for you. It is also ideal if you practise mindfulness, as it will heighten your senses and increase your appreciation of the spectacular surroundings.

3 memorable experiences on Lipsi
  1. The traditional Wine Festival, in August. It lasts three days, with dancing, music, and plenty of wine. Don’t leave without buying a special commemorative glass.
  2. If you choose one of the itineraries to Lipsi, don’t forget to take an excursion boat to Arki and Marathi, two unspoiled idylls of the Minor Dodecanese.
  3. Enjoying an afternoon stroll up to Aravi windmill, which stands on the highest point in the island’s capital.
Beaches of Lipsi

Lipsi’s irregular coastline has a number of enchanting coves with golden sand and gorgeous seas. They are all easily accessible, with a bus running to and from most of them several times a day. It is worth discovering:

  • Busy Katsadia, with views of Leros. This long stretch of sand has large trees for shade, while the sea is shallow. The lack of wind makes it a good anchorage for the many sailing boats that tour the island complex. There is a bar-restaurant at one end.
  • Platis Yialos, in a sheltered cove with shallow turquoise waters, a favourite destination for families with young children. Although it is not an official beach, it has a taverna, as well as some friendly ducks that live here, so don’t be surprised if they join you for a swim! You can get here by road, by sea, on foot or by public transport.
  • Liendou, a narrow strand a short walk from the port. It has no sunbeds or umbrellas but there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the area.
  • Beautiful Kambos, stretching around a cove with limpid aquamarine waters. It has no amenities but there are a few tamarisk trees for shade.
  • Papandria Bay with its crystal-clear blue-green sea and view of the rocky islet of Lyra. If you walk along the shore to the west, you’ll find a series of smaller but equally lovely beaches.
  • Secluded Tourkomnima, which has sand, pebbles, and trees for relaxing under, as well as a view of the Aspronisia islets and Monodendri Beach. It is a 60-minute walk from Lipsi Town or can be reached part of the way by car along a dirt road and the rest of the way on foot.
  • Hochlakoura, an idyllic setting in the south-east of the island, with white pebbles and limpid turquoise waters, but no trees offering protection from the sun. It is 2 km by road from the town and is accessible by public transport or by sea.
Postcards from Lipsi: 6 things not to miss

Lipsi Town
Built around a natural harbour, the island’s capital is also its only settlement. Admire the whitewashed houses with their blue doors and shutters, and the cobbled streets with a wonderful view of the port and the picturesque fishing boats in the marina.

The Church of the Virgin Mary of Haros (Death)
Constructed in 1600 by monks from Patmos, this simple Byzantine church is famous for its remarkable image of the Virgin Mary holding the crucified Christ rather than the baby Jesus. There are a number of antiquities in the churchyard.

The ancient acropolis of Lipsi once stood at the top of Kastro Hill, the island’s highest point. Today, there is an archaeological site there, where the remains of some buildings can be seen.

The Church of Saint John the Theologian
This magnificent church dominates the centre of Lipsi Town and its courtyard has a good view of the port. Constructed from hewn stone, its distinctive blue dome and twin belltowers can always be picked out from afar. It houses the 16th-century icon of the “Dark” Virgin Mary, as well as a collection of archaeological finds.

The island’s trails
Lipsi has unique hiking trails that go through landscapes rich in Mediterranean vegetation and suffused with the scent of cedar trees and the sea breeze. It is worth taking the 900-metre paved footpath from the Church of the Dormition (at Kato Kimisi) to the church at Ano Kimisi.

One of the most exotic locations in the Aegean, this group of three islets east of Lipsi offers an arresting spectacle of high shale rocks, white beaches with smooth pebbles, and blue-green waters. The fantastic sea around the islands is perfect for underwater exploration.

Tastes of Lipsi

Lipsi is a paradise for lovers of seafood, while it also has some delicious local specialities. Try stuffed baked calamari, black rice with squid ink, “orphan” yiaprakia (dolmades without minced meat), bean soup with orzo, goat in lemon sauce, and courgette flowers stuffed with rice. If you choose one of the ferry tickets to Lipsi, don’t forget to sample sourdough bread flavoured with anise and mastic and baked in a wood-fired oven.

The local cheese pies, pitaroudia (chickpea fritters) and bread rolls (barley, wheat, and eptazimes – “kneaded seven times”) are also excellent. Favourite treats on Lipsi include xerotigana (fried strips of dough) served with honey and walnuts, poungakia (filo “purses” with a sweet filling), and preserves made with tomatoes or grapes.

Before leaving the island, it is worth tasting the results of its long history of winemaking. Try Fokiano (a strong sweet red wine) and Viktoria (a white table wine) and hear stories about how the locally produced Anama was exported to the Vatican and used in Holy Communion during the Italian occupation.

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