Petra Holidays 2019 / 2020
Set around a turquoise bay on Lesbos’ northern coast is the traditional fishing village of Petra. Here there’s a Blue Flag-awarded beach, which backs into a historic village populated by cobblestone streets and terracotta buildings interspersed with local tavernas and markets. Petra is a blissful picture-perfect Greek island in a Mamma Mia or Shirley Valentine vein - although many people heading off for their 2019 / 2020 Greek holiday may plump for the more bustling Molyvos, Petra offers its own unique charms. Despite being within striking distance of Lesbos’ more buzzing facilities, Petra will ensure that visitors can duck the energy-sapping crowds and enjoy some well-earned peace and quiet.
One top Petra landmark is the towering church of Panagia Glykofilousa, which casts a glorious shadow over the village from its rocky outcrop above. A 17th-century Turkish merchant’s abode is discovered within the village below, with Vareltzidaina’s House having been renovated and opened up to the public. Comprising of interesting and dated ornaments from a previous time, some of the artistic decoration that adorns the house is nothing short of stunning in appearance. Other attractions to seek out during a Petra holiday include paying a visit to the Ouzo distillery. Ouzo, of course, is the classic alcoholic drink of Greece and has particularly strong links with Lesbos. Petra’s distillery (one of a few dotted around the island) has been run by a local family since it opened in the 1800s, and they’ll welcome visitors in for a tour.
When it comes to wining and dining in Petra, then holidaymakers can lick their lips in anticipation of the myriad of flavours of traditional Greek cuisine. The Women’s Co-Operative is highly recommended, as is Restaurant Thalassa. Both specialise in Greek menus (complete with fresh seafood) as well as catering for vegetarian diets. Elsewhere Kalderimi, The Mermaid and The Reef follow similar tourist-friendly menus, while Marina, DAK - Espresso Snack Bar and Lemon Bar offer up a wider culinary experience, serving up a choice of international (including American) dishes to complement their Greek selections.
From historical landmarks to wildlife regions, the area around Petra is a varied one. Panagia Glykofilousa, which commands the immediate skyline above Petra and loosely translated means ‘Our Lady of the Sweet Kiss’, is a church situated atop the rock of Petra. After negotiating 114 steps you’ll be treated to a staggering bird's eye view of the whole bay. Polichnitos Hot Springs, the Petrified Forest of Lesbos and Kalloni Salt Pans are well worth venturing to as well.
Depending on the time of year you plan to enjoy your Petra holiday, you’ll be able to witness a couple of interesting festivals that offer carnival-like atmospheres, such as the Sardine Festival and Lesbos’ island-wide celebrations in the week leading up to Lent. The Sardine Festival is held every August in the acknowledged sardine capital of the island, the Bay of Kalloni. The Lent celebrations see Petra embracing the carnival spirit by staging parades, dancing and colourful costumes, along with plenty of local food and music.
Action & Adventure
If action and adventure are more your holiday bag, Petra shouldn’t be ignored. Not least because the island of Lesbos is respected as being an excellent centre for water sports, with scuba diving among the most popular. If immersing yourself that far underwater doesn’t appeal to your sense of holiday adventure, then why not indulge in more surface-based water sports, such as canoeing, sea kayaking, windsurfing or pedaloing.
Staying completely dry, holidaymakers exploring Petra might want to take a glass-bottomed boat tour or hire a catamaran during their stay, while trips to the islands of Chios and Samos - as well as the nearby coastline of Turkey – are all within easy reach. Lesbos also offers a great selection of scenic and historical walking trails, along with more challenging hilly treks.
One of Petra’s top attractions is the beautiful stretch of beach that fronts the charming village. Albeit a vastly quieter one than others in the area, Petra still reflects the trappings of a modern beach resort (umbrellas, beach chairs, showers and changing rooms). The golden sands and clear shallow waters which lap gently against this shoreline have earned a coveted Blue Flag status, while the backdrop of hills and greenery complete the perfect holiday picture.
If you do fancy checking out other beaches in the area, take a trip in a southerly direction down this popular stretch of Aegean Sea coast to the tiny village of Anaxos. Here you’ll find another resort-style beach with even more attractive restaurants and bars. For an extra peaceful experience, seek out the small beach at Avlaki.
‘Low key’ is the phrase best used to describe the type of nightlife discovered in and around Petra, but that’s perhaps doing it a disservice. While Petra might accommodate fewer bars and clubs than other Greek resorts, the ones they have are full of atmosphere. Tortuga Bar – conveniently situated in Petra’s town square – will instantly appeal to young holidaymakers. It’s a waterfront bar that emits a fun and friendly atmosphere. Housed in a refurbished traditional stone building with stunning views of the sea, it’s recognised as the perfect spot to enjoy an early romantic drink while you watch the sunset. Later on in the evening, Tortuga Bar becomes a lively music and dance scene with a DJ set.
Located just a few miles up the coast, Molyvos’ Congas Beach Bar is parked right on the beach of the picturesque village and is home to a range of the best summer cocktails you can find on the island. Attracting a younger set (although welcoming anyone and everyone), Congas is a popular hangout with an exotic ambience and style. It plays chill-out tunes from sunrise to sunset. Elsewhere in Molyvos is Molly’s Bar, a charming and stripped-back café-bar with an English pub vibe.
Imagine a romantic village setting which boasts its own pretty beach, factor in plenty of boutique shops and intimate bars, as well as a coastal location on a stunning Greek island, and you’ve pretty much summed up the couple-appeal of Petra. Recognised as an idyllic setting for a special break for two, Petra is the perfect place to indulge in sunset beach walks.
If sunsets are your thing, you may also be interested in travelling a few miles further up the coast with your loved one purely to experience the majesty of a Greek sunset unfolding over the backdrop of nearby Molyvos Castle. While you’re there, check out the beautiful and romantic vistas taken in when overlooking the little harbour at Molyvos. Best enjoyed with a glass of cold sangria.
Petra is a veritable treasure trove of interesting architecture and churches. One of the most noted examples is the Panagia Glykofilousa, situated atop Petra rock and well worth a look if you’re prepared to climb the 114 steps to the top. This historical religious construct lords it up above the village and you’ll find colourful 16th-century paintings adorning its four walls. The First Kiss Gallery is owned and run by resident Canadian-born artist, Paul Henry, and showcases various sculptures and paintings inspired by the concept of intense realism infused of humour. Elsewhere in the village is a cultural centre which offers classes in various spiritual and cultural topics. Petra is also one of the hangouts of famed author Carol P. Christ, who leads seminars there for women every summer.