Excursion to a Mountain Village
An enjoyable destination for a day trip is the hamlet of Ayiassos, 23km (14 miles) west of Mitilini. The town, built on the foothills of Mount Olympus, consists of traditional gray-stone houses (with wooden "Turkish" balconies, often covered in flowering vines), narrow cobblestone lanes, and small churches. Here, local craftspeople still turn out their ceramic wares by hand. Excursion buses can bring you from Mitilini, or you can share a taxi (about 70€ for the ride and a reasonably moderate wait).
A Side Trip to Pergamum in Turkey
From Mitilini, there's a direct connection to Turkey via its port of Ayvalik, a densely wooded fishing village that makes a refreshing base camp from which to tour the ancient Greek site of Pergamum. The acropolis of Pergamum is sited on a dramatic hilltop, with substantial remains of the town on the surrounding slopes. The complex dates back to at least the 4th century B.C., and there are remains from this period through Roman and Byzantine times. It is one of Turkey's most important archaeological sites. All-inclusive 1-day tours to Pergamum -- including round-trip boat fare, bus ride to the site, and guided tour -- cost about 100€; inquire at Mitilini travel agencies such as Dimakis Tours, 73 Koundouriotou (tel. 22510/27-865), or Aeolic Cruises Travel Agency, 47A Koutouriotou (tel. 22510/46-601). Ships to Turkey usually sail three times a week, more often in high season, if the demand is there. A passport is required, but no visa is required for a 1-day visit. However, U.S., British, Irish, Canadians, and Australians need a visa for even an overnight; it costs between 45€ and 55€, but is good for 90 days in Turkey. Your visa is issued at the Customs House upon your arrival in Ayvalik.