Agios Efstratios is a solitary island in the Northern Aegean Sea. It is located between Lesvos, Skyros, and Lemnos. The uniqueness of the island and the simplicity of its people are its distinguishing features.
History of Agios Efstratios
Its name derives from a Byzantine monk who devoted his life to a monastic existence on this particular island during the years of Iconoclasm when he was in exile.
In the early 5th century BC, the island was inhabited by Athenians. During the Roman period, numerous battles took place in the region, resulting in the abandonment of many islands until the 2nd century BC. In Byzantine times, the island suffered repeated pirate attacks, so when Saint Eustratios arrived on the island in 813 AD, he found only two inhabitants. Subsequently, the island was attached to the Great Lavra Monastery of Mount Athos and experienced significant economic and demographic growth. During this period, the inhabitants built the settlement of Saint Mena.
During the Greek War of Independence in 1821, significant naval forces from the surrounding islands participated in ship crews. Eventually, the Greek sovereignty of Saint Efstratios was recognized in 1914 by the Great Powers.
From 1928 to 1963, the island was used as a place of political exile. The present-day village is relatively new, as it was constructed after the destructive earthquake of 1968. The residents abandoned their homes and settled in the new settlement built in the area where they previously cultivated their fruits.
Beaches in Agios Efstratios
Saint Efstratios boasts several charming beaches, many of which are located in the western part of the island and offer stunning sunsets.
- Settlement Beach: The closest beach to the island, next to the harbor, with sand and a beach bar.
- Agios Antonios: A magnificent beach 6 kilometers south of the settlement, with crystal-clear waters, sand, pebbles, and oak trees. Access is via a rugged dirt road.
- Agios Dimitrios: A large beach with sand and oak trees, about 5 kilometers from the settlement, easily accessible.
- Ftelio: A large sandy beach.
- Lidarió: The most beautiful beach on the island, large and sandy.
- Fragkou: Small, sheltered, and sandy.
- Trypiti: A secluded cove with sand.
- Alonítsi: The largest beach on the island with sand, suitable for windsurfing. Here, you will also see one of the few vineyards on the island.
- Neraki: A small cove with sand.
- Karavotsakismo: With colorful pebbles and an impressive rock.
Sights in Agios Efstratios
Among the top attractions of the island, there are approximately 15 churches that were not destroyed by the previous earthquake. Among them, the most picturesque ones are the churches of Panagia Evangelistria, Agios Georgios, and Agios Nikolaos. These churches are located in separate locations and offer stunning views of the sea.
Activities on Agios Efstratios
- You can visit the old village to admire its architecture and explore the building of the Marasleios School.
- The "Museum of Democracy" offers an opportunity to learn about the lives of political exiles on the island.
- The church of Agios Mena offers a wonderful view and amazing sunsets, making it an ideal destination for leisurely outings.
- The cave of Osios Eustratios also provides an opportunity to enjoy the stunning views from this spot.
- Finally, the sea caves where seals nest offer a unique opportunity to observe marine life on the island.
These activities combine nature, history, and the culture of the island, providing a rich exploration experience.
How to travel to / from Agios Efstratios?
To travel to Agios Eustratios, there are various transportation options:
- Ferry Routes from Lavrio to Agios Eustratios: Ferry routes from Lavrio to Agios Efstratios are operated 2 to 3 times a week by the ferry company Seajets. The journey takes approximately 7.5 hours, and the ticket cost is 24€.
- Ferry Routes from Lemnos to Agios Eustratios: These routes are also operated by Seajets, 3 times a week, connecting the ports of the Aegean islands. The travel time from Agios Eustratios to Lemnos is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, and the ticket cost is 7€.
- Ferry Routes from Kavala to Agios Eustratios: If you are in Northern Greece, the Seajets Aqua Blue ferry departs from the port of Kavala 2-3 times a week, with an intermediate stop at the port of Myrina in Lemnos before reaching Agios Eustratios. The duration of the route is 6.5 hours, and the ticket cost is 26€.