Though it has lost about half of its original forest cover to huge fires since 1987, with the worst in 2000, Samos is still the most densely forested and mountainous of the islands in the eastern Aegean, with cypresses and pines, vineyards and orchards, and some lovely hill villages.
Of the latter, some of the nicest, Vourliotes and Manolates, are those inland from the wind surfing resort of Kokkari, on the north coast.
With the coming of the paved road, Manolates has had a big increase of tourists in recent years. This is the main wine region of Samos, noted for production of dessert wines and dry white wines as well, a fine area for walking on some of the old trails, with valleys and streams to the west near Platanakia.
Much of the north coast, however, is rocky, with steep cliffs. The port of Vathy (also called Samos Town) is on a deep natural bay on the northeast coast, with some neoclassical buildings and an excellent archaeological museum, one of which houses a five meter high kouros (free standing statue of a single figure) from the sanctuary to the goddess Hera on the southeast coast.
There is also a collection of prehistoric tools in the museum, and votive offerings of Egyptian design, resulting from trade between Samos and Egypt in ancient times; ivory miniatures of Anatolian and Mesopotamian origin, imperial gold coins from the 5th or 6th century AD, and beautiful Archaic period statues are also displayed.
The old town of Vathy, up above the modern port, is an enjoyable place to wander, among old Turkish houses with red tiled roofs along little lanes.
Between early July and early September, the Manolis Kalmiris Festival stages various events; the Wine festival, lasting several evenings, is held during the last week of August, with musical performances and food stands. The 18th century monastery of Zoodokhos Pighis, to the east of Vathy, sits up on the cliffs amid pine trees, over the fishing village of Mourtia, with a cobbled path leading to it.