The second largest city on Samos, KARLOVASSI is somewhat off the main tourist map. For one thing it is in the far north-west of the island about 33km from Samos Town. For another much of the city is plain and uninteresting and neither does it have much in the way of a beach.
Karlovassi is strung out along the coast at the end of a wide, lush valley.
Karlovassi is several small towns grown into one and many of the locals refer to it in the plural Karovasia.
Karlovassi is also spread over a very wide area and falls into five districts - the old, the new, the middle, the bay and the harbour, although the bay and harbour can really be considered as one.
Karlovassi once was a major commercial and industrial leather processing centre, with a large volume of exports and much attendant wealth which has resulted in any number of grandiose churches and imposing mansions as well as several abandoned and derelict tanneries.
Karlovassi has a small scruffy beach of sand and shingle hemmed in between breakwaters and next to the harbour road. There is a small beach taverna and a few sunbeds where you can watch the ships go in and out of the harbour - probably the most interesting thing about the beach.
There is a notable carnival in Karlovassi at the end of February/early March and in summer there is a festival around the Greek musician Manolis Kalomoiris Three local religious feasts also take place at Karlovassi - Profitis Ilias on July 20, Metamorfosis on August 6 and the Assumption a week later.
There are regular daily buses from Karlovassi to Samos Town and plenty of cars and bikes to rent. As Karlovassi is also a sizeable port there are plenty of ferry connections to other islands and to mainland Greece.
Neo Karlovassi stands in the centre of the area, divided by a gorge from Meseo Karlovassi, which is located 1 km to the west. Paleo Karlovassi is situated 1 km to the west, hidden from sight by the Agia Triada hill. Further to the west is the port of Karlovassi. Nowadays, Neo Karlovassi, Meseo Karlovassi, the port and Ormos have spread out in the plain and have been united in the biggest and most sparsely inhabited settlement on the island of Samos, bigger even than some towns in Greece.
Karlovassi is a busy trade centre. Three departments of the Aegean University are also located there: the Department of Mathematics, the Department of Information and Communication Systems Engineering, the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science.
Sights of interest in Karlovassi are the churches of Christ, of Holy Mother and of Saint Nicholas, which are part of the island's ecclesiastical history. Also noteworthy is the chapel of Saint Antonios, which is built in a nearby cave, as well as the monastery of Saint John the Theologian, which has always been worshipped by the residents of Paleo Karlovassi.
Vine and olive growing is the main occupation for the residents of Karlovassi.
The monastery of Prophitis Elias (Prophet Elias) is close by, about 3 km to the southwest of Karlovassi, situated at an altitude of 200 m. It was built by the monks Neophilos and Gregorios in 1739. Its church has a fine wood-carved iconostasis and plenty of sacred vessels.
To the west of Karlovassi is the seaside village Potami, where hot mineral springs have been found. Another sight of interest in the area is the tiny church of Metamorphosis (Transfiguration of Christ), dating back to the 11th century, which is considered the older Christian temple on the island of Samos. In recent years, Potami developed into a resort.