A short flight from Athens or a 30-minute ferry ride from nearby Turkey, the Greek island of Chios is a true hidden gem, boasting picturesque beaches, medieval villages, quaint tavernas and nary a tourist in sight (present company excluded).
stay: Located among lush citrus groves in the Kampos region, Argentikon Suites offers the pinnacle of luxury in a setting reminiscent of Tuscany. Behind high stone walls lies a luxe estate with eight spacious and beautifully appointed suites, each with private entrances, stunning garden views and such decadent touches as Hermès bath products. Enjoy breakfast under an arbour of grape leaves at the on-site restaurant, pick fresh grapefruits in the hotel's private orchards, swing by the spa and sauna or simply take a dip in the infinity pool and bask in the Chian sun. Argentikon Suites, Main Street, Kampos, 82100, Chios, www.argentikon.gr
see: With southern Chios being the only place on earth where mastic trees grow, the medieval villages of Mesta and Pyrgi (where mastics are still harvested) are a must see. Protected by an armada of stone walls, Mesta was built back in the 14th century as a maze of tunnels designed to keep invaders out. Getting lost in back alleys and dead ends is half the fun as you wind your way to the town centre for a glass of local mestoutsiko wine. Pyrgi, down the road, includes a main square with unusual black-and-white designs etched into the façades of many houses. These elaborate geometric patterns, created by a special carving technique involving layers of black volcanic sand and cement, are entirely unique to Chios.
shop: Just down the road from Argentiko, the Citrus Museum and its well-stocked gift shop provide a plethora of tasty souvenirs -- think exotic preserves like chestnut and Chian orange marmalade, traditional spoon sweets and mouthwatering marzipan (scoop up a box of quince and bitter almond "delights," sure to impress). In Chios Town, look for stores selling soaps, sweets and even sodas made from the sweet resin of the mastic tree. Citrus Museum, 9-11 Argenti St., Kambos, Chios, www.citrus-chios.gr
dine: There's no better place to sample traditional Chian cuisine than Hotzas in Chios Town. Locals love this 130-year-old taverna for its extensive selection of regional tapas; the handmade pasta and white beans stewed with tomato and bitter orange is swoon-worthy, too. For a meal with a view like no other, visit To Asteri, perched atop a steep cliff with panoramic views of the Aegean Sea and serving up delicacies like rooster in wine sauce and mastic ice cream (bonus: the abandoned Byzantine village of Anavatos is just a few minutes' drive from the restaurant). To Asteri, Kostas Kostalos, Avgonima, www.toasteri.gr
Whether you decide to camp out in Kampos or tour the entire island (easily doable in two days, by the way), a visit to Chios is sure to charm. --Serena Matter
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