The Beatles visit Greece • Days 4-8

July 26 - July 30, 1967
Timeline More from year 1967
Lichadonisia Island, Greece

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On July 22, 1967, Paul McCartney and his girlfriend Jane Asher joined John Lennon, his wife Cynthia and son Julian, Pattie Harrison’s 16-year-old sister Paula Boyd, Mal Evans, and NEMS employee Alistair Taylor on a trip to Athens, Greece. They aimed to explore a group of Greek islands that The Beatles were interested in purchasing to live on. The remaining group members, George and Pattie Harrison, Ringo Starr and Neil Aspinall, had already travelled to Greece two days before.

To reach the islands, they had arranged for a luxurious yacht named MV Arvi. However, due to a storm off Crete, the yacht was delayed. While waiting for it to arrive, they spent their time sightseeing. The yacht, which had 24 berths and a crew of eight, including the captain, a chef, and two stewards, eventually arrived on July 25, 1967, and the party, minus Ringo Starr and Neil Aspinall, set sail to the set of islands they intended to purchase.

On this day, July 26, Ringo and Neil returned to London. Maureen, Ringo’s wife, was in the late stages of pregnancy and had remained in Britain. Ringo was eager to see her.

The rest of the group spent the day swimming, sunbathing, and visiting the islands. According to documents held at the National Archives in England, the main island was called Aegos, but it seems that no island exists with that name. The Beatles planned to have separate villas on the five small unnamed offshore islands surrounding Aegos.

The group fell in love with the place and asked Alistair Taylor to proceed with the purchase upon his return to London. However, the purchase process became too complicated, and The Beatles decided to abandon the project.

The group stayed a few more days in Greece, and George Harrison, his wife Pattie, and Mal Evans left on July 29. The rest of the group left on July 30, 1967.

It was 1967 and I was searching the Aegean for a get-away-from-it-all island for the Beatles with the Beatles’ technical wizard Alexis Mardas. Magic Alex was one of the many extraordinary characters the Beatles attracted in their heyday. He was a particular friend of John’s and very nearly as peculiar. But he was good company and he was Greek. We had a great time doing this recce. Eventually, we found a beautiful island of about 80 acres with four superb beaches. So the Beatles could have one each if they wanted. And it even had four smaller islands circled around it.

The Greek island was priced to sell at £90,000 and it looked like just what the Beatles ordered. But this was at a time of currency restrictions so nothing was as easy as it seemed. The Beatles wanted to take a look for themselves and have a holiday into the bargain and I sprang into action to organise it. Alex went off to Greece to prepare his father’s house in Athens for us and to hire a large enough yacht to accommodate Paul and Jane, John, Cynthia and Julian, George and Patti, Ringo and Maureen, Big Mal Evans and his wife, Neil Aspinall and me.

Alistair Taylor – From “With the Beatles: A Stunning Insight by The Man who was with the Band Every Step of the Way“, 2011

We were all going to live together now, in a huge estate. The four Beatles and Brian would have their network at the centre of the compound: a dome of glass and iron tracery (not unlike the old Crystal Palace) above the mutual creative/play area, from which arbours and avenues would lead off like spokes from a wheel to the four vast and incredibly beautiful separate living units. In the outer grounds, the houses of the inner clique: Neil, Mal, Terry [Doran] and Derek, complete with partners, families and friends. Norfolk, perhaps, there was a lot of empty land there. What an idea! No thought of wind or rain or flood, and as for cold… there would be no more cold when we were through with the world. We would set up a chain reaction so strong that nothing could stand in our way. And why the hell not? ‘They’ve tried everything else,’ said John realistically. ‘Wars, nationalism, fascism, communism, capitalism, nastiness, religion – none of it works. So why not this?’

Derek Taylor – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

We went on the boat and sat around and took acid. It was good fun being with everyone, with nippier moments. For me the pace was a bit wearing. I probably could have done with some straight windows occasionally, I’d have enjoyed it a bit more. But nothing came of that, because we went out there and thought, We’ve done it now. That was it for a couple of weeks. Great, wasn’t it? Now we don’t need it. Having been out there, I don’t think we needed to go back. Probably the best way to not buy a Greek island is to go out there for a bit.

It’s a good job we didn’t do it, because anyone who tried those ideas realised eventually there would always be arguments, there would always be who has to do the washing-up and whose turn it is to clean out the latrines. I don’t think any of us were thinking of that.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

We rented a boat and sailed it up and down the coast from Athens, looking at islands. Somebody had said we should invest some money, so we thought: ‘Well, let’s buy an island. We’ll just go there and drop out.’

It was a great trip. John and I were on acid all the time, sitting on the front of the ship playing ukuleles. Greece was on the left; a big island on the right. The sun was shining and we sang ‘Hare Krishna’ for hours and hours. Eventually we landed on a little beach with a village, but as soon as we stepped off the boat it started pouring with rain. There were storms and lightning, and the only building on the island was a little fisherman’s cottage – so we all piled in: ‘’Scuse us, squire. You don’t mind if we come and shelter in your cottage, do you?’

The island was covered in big pebbles, but Alex [Alexis ‘Magic Alex’ Mardas] said, ‘It doesn’t matter. We’ll have the military come and lift them all off and carry them away.’ But we got back on the boat and sailed away, and never thought about the island again.

George Harrison – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

When we finally arrived at the magical island that was for sale, the boys were instantly under its spell. It only had a fishing village with a few hundred occupants who were friendly and hospitable but mercifully not overly interested in the Beatles. The party was able to wander around drinking  in the sublime tranquillity of the place. To visit that island was to fall in love with it and that is what the Beatles and their womenfolk proceeded to do. I was swiftly ordered to get on with the purchase without delay.

Alistair Taylor – From “With the Beatles: A Stunning Insight by The Man who was with the Band Every Step of the Way“, 2011

From 26 July 1967: The Beatles visit a Greek island they intended to purchase | The Beatles Bible

[…] The days that followed were all swimming and laziness and beautiful sunshine.


After sunset each night we’d gather together on the top deck and sing until two or three. George played his ukelele, John got out his Greek guitar and we’d sing strange Hindu chants over and over again for hours on end !

We came home to London in two relays. George and Pattie wanted to go a little early — to pack again and leave for California — so Mal flew home with them on the following Sunday.

Then on Monday Paul, Jane, John, Cyn, Julian, Paula and Alexis headed for London. Alexis just about had time to pack a fresh set of clothes in time to leave for Los Angeles on the Tuesday with George, Pattie and Neil !

There’s no room here to tell you about the Harrison holiday in Hollywood so that will have to wait till next month.

From The Beatles Monthly Book, September 1967
From The Beatles Monthly Book, September 1967


THERE was a time when you could recognise a Beatle a mile off. Just by his hairstyle. You can still identity them straight away. But as individuals rather than as a corporate body. This, for instance, is obviously John Lennon, taking a little nourishment in a village near Athens, where he is on holiday. He’s the satirical one, remember. So his “Jesus Saves” tee-shirt is a dead giveaway. For he it was who said last year that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” And then had an awful time explaining that he was deprecating the fact, not boasting about it. If you can’t tell Mr. Lennon by his sense of humour, there is another way. He’s the one who wears glasses.

From Daily Mirror, July 27, 1967
From Daily Mirror, July 27, 1967

The Beatles’ Travels in Greece and the Dream to Buy an Island

[…] Last year, I came across some articles from July 1967 in the Greek newspaper To Vima, containing daily reports about the group’s movements. Together, these suggest a detailed and plausible route for the group’s cruise in Greece, including a number of specific locations, which I’ve never previously seen discussed. […]

After their stay in Athens, the group began their cruise around islands. This was also reported on by To Vima. While a number of articles and books cover the Beatles’ day trip on July 23rd, To Vima’s reports are the only source I’m aware of that provide details of the route of the cruise itself. Most of these articles are bylined either “L. Tsirigotakis” or “L.T.,” suggesting that Labis Tsirigotakis was again most likely the author. They indicate that the group took a route north up the Evian Gulf before later heading to the Sporades islands and back to Athens.

According to To Vima, the Beatles embarked on their cruise on Monday, July 24th without Ringo Starr, who was returning to London to be with his pregnant wife. By July 26th, the group and their companions had reportedly reached the northern tip of the Evian Gulf, an area rich with thermal mineral springs. The newspaper says the group bathed at Kamena Vourla on the mainland, and ate at “a secluded place” on the other side of the gulf at Edipsos on Evia.

The article does not tell us whether the Beatles also took some time to bathe in the steaming springs at Edipsos, where the sulphurous water colors the rocks yellow. If they did, they would have been joining a long line of distinguished travellers since ancient times from Roman Emperors to Winston Churchill and Greta Garbo.

What we are told is that on Thursday, July 27th, the group visited the pine-covered island of Skiathos just north of Evia. The area is blessed with an array of picturesque beaches. But this stop did not go to plan, as the group found themselves unable to maintain their anonymity. They first visited the island’s jewel – the long curve of golden sand at Koukounaries.

But no sooner had they stepped off their hired yacht, the Beatles were recognized, and onlookers soon began to clap and cheer “in the familiar hysterical way.” Thus, Alexis Mardas drove them to an isolated beach, where they played in the sand and swam before going back to the boat to eat. Despite this setback, the newspaper says that Skiathos particularly appealed to John Lennon and his wife, Cynthia. They planned to return the following year.

The following day, To Vima says the Beatles visited other islands near Skiathos and “passed close to the island that was proposed to them to buy.” They stopped at all the main islands in the Sporades group, spending hours on both Alonissos, where they ate lunch, and Skyros, where they went for walks throughout the whole island and bought souvenirs and presents. They also visited Skopelos, which they “enjoyed…a lot.”

The yacht that the Beatles were travelling on arrived back in Athens’ Tourkolimano (today called Mikrolimano) harbor in the afternoon of Saturday, July 29th, according to the newspaper, with the Beatles due to fly back to London on July 30th or 31st. We are told in other accounts that most of the party returned on the latter.

Knowing the apparent route of the Beatles’ cruise gives us some clues about which island, or islands, the group may have been interested in. In fact, the trip as reported by To Vima could easily have included three separate islands that can be plausibly connected to the group.

The Greek island most often linked to the Beatles is Agia Triada (Holy Trinity), which sits in the Evian Gulf close to the town of Eretria on Evia. It is not mentioned in any of To Vima’s reports, but would have been an easy stop-off on the route north up the Evian Gulf towards Kamena Vourla and Edipsos. A member of the family that owns the island told me that the Beatles did indeed visit Agia Triada in the mid-sixties, but while they may have been interested, it was not for sale.

Another plausible candidate for the group’s interest is Tsougria, a small, green island close to Skiathos. Tsougria is mentioned in a report on the Beatles’ trip in a different Greek newspaper (Makedonia) with Paul McCartney reportedly stating that while the group “wanted to buy” the islet, “they are no longer selling it to us.”

It also seems likely that Tsougria was the island near Skiathos “proposed to [the group] to buy” mentioned by To Vima. But the Makedonia article is clear that the island would not be sold. We are told this was because the Greek Ministry of Agriculture stepped in to prevent this from happening.

Hence, if the Beatles were indeed interested in either Agia Triada or Tsougria, it seems to have quickly become clear that neither was available. In addition, neither of these islands match descriptions we have of the one the Beatles wanted. A number of accounts in books say the group were interested in an island about eighty acres large, surrounded by several smaller islands.

The Beatles’ application to the British government for permission to buy the island, held in the UK’s National Archives, is broadly in line with these. Though it does not state an overall size, it says the island had three hundred thousand square metres (seventy-four acres) of arable land and it also refers to five smaller offshore islands.

While these details do not closely match either Agia Triada or Tsougria (which are 12 and 290 acres large respectively), they do resemble the Lichadonisia archipelago off the northern tip of Evia. The largest island in this group, Monolia, is about 85 acres big, and very close to a number of smaller islands. Monolia also has other features mentioned in some descriptions, such as several houses, olive groves, and a gently curving bay.

What’s more, the 1995 documentary The Beatles Anthology includes images of an island that looks very similar to Monolia. And having visited the Lichadonisia myself, I can see how they might prompt rapturous reactions such as those provided in some accounts (the Beatles’ ‘Mr Fixit’ Alistair Taylor described the chosen islands’ location as “paradise”). While easily accessible from mainland Greece, the archipelago has a remote and other-worldly feel.

Finally, the Lichadonisia are close to two places that, according to To Vima, the Beatles definitely went to: Edipsos and Kamena Vourla. They are a fifteen-minute boat trip from the latter.

The timing of the negotiations over the sale is another significant factor. The archive correspondence indicates that the Beatles’ initial application for permission was not made until July 25th, when the Beatles were already in Greece, and officials were not informed that the plans had fallen through until the end of October 1967. A note on October 30th from a Bank of England official says that while negotiations did proceed, the group was “advised of certain legal difficulties and of additional sums required” and therefore decided “not to go ahead with the purchase.”

It is certainly plausible that the Beatles were at one point interested in either Agia Triada or Tsougria, or both. But if so, these prospects were apparently quashed while the group were still in Greece. Where was the spot, then, that was apparently the subject of substantial subsequent negotiations? In my opinion, the evidence points towards the Lichadonisia.

Jonathan Knott – From The Beatles’ Travels in Greece and the Dream to Buy an Island –

Last updated on February 24, 2024

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