HomeLifestyleTravelPlaces To Visit

Bliss in Lipsi: A hidden haven in the Greek islands

Bliss in Lipsi: A hidden haven in the Greek islands

Lipsi is a small Greek island in the Dodecanese that will steal your heart and entice you back year after year. We get a special tour from Lipsi's mayor

Lipsi has myriad lovers, from the insatiable British tourists visiting each autumn to the truly devoted who marry islanders so they get to stay full-time (plus the eco-conscious who laud the island’s decision to ban single-use plastic).

But nobody loves Lipsi more than the island’s all-swimming, all-singing, superstar mayor, Fotis Maggos.

You’ll find Fotis—or in all likelihood he’ll find you—while strolling the streets of Lipsi town with a proud smile on his face, greeting each and every one of the island’s residents with a warm “kalimera,” (good morning) or “kalispera (good afternoon).

"Nobody loves Lipsi more than the island’s all-swimming, all-singing, superstar mayor, Fotis Maggos"

From the island’s newest-born sons and daughters to the latest arrivals from the ferry, Fotis really does make special effort to get to know everybody who sets foot on Lipsi.

Ask him about what to see on the island and he’ll surely point you towards the island’s best two beaches: Platis Gialos and Hohlakoura.

Platis Gialos is a white sandy beach with shallow, shimmering turquoise waters. Hohlakoura is an oasis of calm sheltered from the northern meltemi winds, where you can hear the ocean breathe as it brushes over small white pebbles.

Eat: tasty tavernas and atmospheric ouzeries

View of Lipsi church from Greek island Lipsi harbour with Greek flags flyingLipsi's stunning harbour offers plenty of authentic Greek cuisine alongside paradisial views

Kairis Lipsi Bakery is the hub of morning activity on the island. Nab a table in the shade and choose between a selection of freshly baked pastries, decadent yoghurt and fruit bowls or a hearty cooked breakfast to start the day in style.

Lunch is best enjoyed in a shaded restaurant beside the sea, such as Diliaila on Katsadia beach, with its relaxing wind chimes and garden-grown dishes, like honey and orange baked aubergine or pomegranate molasses with fried feta.

Lipsi only really has one small village but when it comes to dinner, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice in Lipsi Town.

For that traditional taverna vibe, complete with ocean views and charismatic hospitality, head to To Pefko for crunchy fish croquettes, butter-soft octopus salad and the unctuous homemade hummus with avocado.

The house salad of apple, walnut and graviera cheese perfectly complements succulent meats, such as oven-baked pork, chicken souvlaki or grilled fish fillet.

"Lipsi is the place where the nymph Kalypso managed to hold Odysseus in one place for seven whole years"

After dinner, patron Nikos may well tell you his theory about why people are so drawn to the island: “They say Lipsi is the place where the nymph Kalypso managed to hold the great adventurer Odysseus in one place for seven whole years. I believe Kalypso still holds sway over travellers who visit the island to this day.”

Ouzo “Asprakis” is a convivial ouzerie that specialises in small mezze plates of local seafood served drenched in olive oil and best enjoyed with a small glass of ouzo, water and ice.

Raucous laughter accompanies delicious dish after delicious dish of grilled mackerel, unbeatable fava purée, salty and moreish sundried octopus, herby seafood pasta, sticky chili cheese fondue, summer Greek salad in a bowl made of pita and chargrilled meatballs with barbecue sauce.

The ouzerie is located next to the new harbour, which was built in record time under the watchful eye of mayor Fotis.

He recalls: “I love to swim in the waters of Lipsi every single day. While the harbour was being built, I would swim laps in front of the workers, one eye on their work to keep them in check.

"The harbour was built in only four months. The national news crews came all the way from Athens to report on the project—it was unheard of for something to be completed so quickly!”

"The new harbour was built in record time under the watchful eye of mayor Fotis"

Nestled among the charming streets of the old village above town you can find the refined cuisine of Manolis Tastes.

Sit al fresco on the terrace to enjoy accomplished dishes like zingy seabass ceviche, delicate octopus carpaccio, grouper fillets wrapped around brown shrimp, saffron rice, seafood linguine and mussels in sweet but pungent ouzo sauce. Finish the evening with the most angelic panna cotta with local honey.

Yiannis Restaurant is another excellent choice, blending traditional Greek recipes with wider Mediterranean techniques.

Start with delightfully fresh tuna and avocado tartar, tasty swordfish carpaccio with orange sea salt and a ricotta salad with balsamic dressing, sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts.

Indulge in a second course of herby cream cheese seafood croquettes, fried saganaki cheese and fried shrimp before moving on to mains of succulent grilled tuna, codfish and swordfish steaks.

Drink: award-winning local winery and hillside cocktails

Vineyard at Lipsi winery on Greek island LipsiLipsy Winery is home to the famous sweet red wine, Asposperitis

If you get the chance, don’t miss out on the tasting evenings at Lipsi Winery.

Perched high above town in a terrific spot overlooking the archipelago, you’ll learn all about the history of Fokiano, a grape that has been cultivated on the island for years, that produces an award-winning sweet red wine called Asposperitis.

Angela’s Café is the perfect spot for a sunset aperitif or an after-dinner drink. Another hillside venture, Angela’s is the island’s undisputed queen of cocktails.

Do: meet the local cheesemaker and ride into the sunset on horseback

Visit Alfa Farm for an insightful, characterful and hilarious tour of the local cheesemaking facilities. Chief cheesemaker Maria will have you in stitches as you learn about and sample the full spectrum of cow, goat and buffalo cheese.

If the idea of riding through town on a beautiful horse, as the sun sets over the Aegean, has you excited then you’ll have to pay Lipsi Horse Riding a visit.

This friendly and funny, family-run stable have a great selection of horses and they’re even kind enough to follow along to capture memorable photos and videos from the experience.

Stay: a private villa overlooking the ocean

There can be no more blissful place to stay on Lipsi than a private villa with views of Hohlakoura. Villa Colompini, for instance, is an Italianate beach house set within a garden of olive groves, wonky prickly pear cacti and sweet-scented mountain thyme.

Gorgeous washed-out blue tiles lead you from the living area to the wide veranda, where you’ll be met with dazzling views of Hohlakoura beach stretching toward distant shores on the horizon.

It takes just two hours to reach Lipsi by ferry from Kos. Leading leisure airline Jet2.com offers friendly low fares, great flight times and a generous 22kg baggage allowance to Kos from Bristol airport. Flights start from £99 one way. Airport parking and hotel was provided by Holiday Extras.

Josh was invited to visit the island of Lipsi by RE:MAKE.grMeals, accommodation, transport and tours were provided by the Municipality of Lipsi.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...