Chios: Greece’s Best-Kept Secret (Sneak Preview from our Upcoming Travel Issue)

If the game $25,000 Pyramid, made famous by Dick Clark, had “Places in Greece” as an answer choice, among the likely clues would be: Athens, Parthenon, Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu and Peloponnese. Hardly anyone would mention hidden gems like Alonissos, Kastellorizo, or Samothraki. And wonderful though those three islands are, they are mere dots on typical Map of Greece placemat found in many a Greek restaurant, often so small they go unnamed.

That a much bigger dot, however – a blotch, really, and one that looks very much like the State of New Jersey, and is actually the fifth-largest island in all of Greece – is relatively unknown to tourists, renders it – Chios, that is – an excellent candidate to be proclaimed Greece’s best-kept secret.

Oh, there are plenty of Greek-Americans who visit Chios year in, year out. But most of them have their roots there. Comparatively fewer of them, and fewer non-Greeks yet, utter the words “hey, why don’t we go to Chios” when formulating their Greece travel plans.
That an island as large as Chios is so devoid of tourists, however, does not mean it is not worth visiting. Quite the opposite, in fact.


But if Chios is worth visiting – for reasons we will explore later – then why don’t more tourists go there? That’s just it – unlike other islands that depend on tourists to survive and thrive, Chios does not. There’s a lot of money on Chios, from shipping to the cultivation of masticha trees – which only seem to grow correctly on that island, and specifically in the Southern region, in fact. Chians, then can take or leave tourists. Generally a very friendly bunch, local Chians will make tourists – Greek and non-Greek alike – feel right at home. But they won’t go out of their way to generate tourism, either. If the tourists happen to show up – then so be it.


Now that we’ve covered why Chios is such a “well-kept secret,” what is it that makes it worthwhile to visit? Why Chios, as opposed to so many other Greek islands from which to choose? One of the attractions, in fact, is the lack of tourism. It’s ample size, coupled with only modest tourism, makes it quite comfortable and spacious, easy to find a room or rent a car, be seated quickly in a restaurant, or obtain an umbrella on the beach…