Home Destination Guides Accommodation 27th January 2020


      After Rhodes, Kos is one of the largest of the Dodecanese islands being 45 kms long and located  just 5 kms from the coast of Turkey.  Kos has all the makings of the perfect holiday destination with golden sandy beaches, crystal clear sea, pretty villages, historic sites and nightlife for those who want it.  The eastern side has lovely sandy beaches with great views of the Turkish mainland.  Scenic mountains lie along the southern side of the island and fertile plains supply fresh local produce.  The clear waters around Kos make it perfect for scuba diving and there is a choice of dive sites for both beginners and the more experienced.
       Historically, Kos has a mixed heritage influenced by the Romans, the Ottoman Turks and latterly the Italians, but its best known inhabitant was probably Hippocrates, the ‘father of medicine’, who was born in Kos in 460 BC.  There is a variety of traditional and international cuisine on the island and fresh local fish are usually on the menu, try the tasty local dish ‘Burdeta’, which is fish cooked with cayenne pepper and paprika.
     The capital and main port of the island is Kos town, located in the centre of the eastern coast with superb views of the Turkish coastline.  Kos town is a popular tourist destination as it combines fine beaches, good sightseeing and a lively nightlife in one package.  There are great amenities for families and couples alike, cafes, restaurants and bars abound and much of the town centre is now a pedestrianised area.  There is a reasonable local bus service to other parts of the island but the buses can become overcrowded in high season.  Kos town has an active nightlife, the clubs and bars are buzzing and you can dance the night away in one of the towns’ many discos.
     The main focus of Kos town is the harbour area, divided into the Old Harbour and New Quay areas.  Here you can sit in a taverna watching the ferry boats rub shoulders with up-market yachts and colourful local fishing caiques.   For a great day out join one of the island excursion boats which leave from the Old Harbour to visit other nearby islands such as Rhodes, Symi, Kalymnos and volcanic Nissyros where the pungent smell of volcanic sulphur permeates the air.  It is also possible to take a day trip excursion boat to the Turkish town of Bodrum, where the shopping is said be excellent. 
   Alongside the harbour is the impressive Castle of the Knights, which was built in 1450 and fortified later, towards the end of the 14th Century, following attempted invasions by the Turks.  Opposite the castle entrance is the massive Plane Tree of Hippocrates; with a girth of 14 metres it is the oldest tree in Europe and purports to be the very tree that Hippocrates taught his pupils under!  Close by is the Gazi Hassan Pasha Mosque, built in 1786 and one of several in Kos town.  A short stroll from the mosque is the Harbour Area Excavation site housing the remains of a temple of Aphrodite.  The town Museum is fascinating and other sites worth visiting are the Western Excavation, the restored Odeon and the mosaics in the Casa Romana.
    To the north and south of the harbour are golden sandy beaches with tree-lined avenues crammed with hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and bars.  The southern strip has a cycle path running parallel to the road as bicycles have become a popular mode of transport in the town and can be hired from a number of shops.
Beyond Kos Town..... 
Psalidi and Therma
     Just outside Kos town, approx 4 kms to the west is the enthralling ancient site of The Asklepeion, a marvel of Greek architecture and the leading medical sanctuary in its day.  It was named after Apollo’s son ‘Asklepios,’ the God of Healing, whose symbol is a staff with a snake curling up it, still seen outside some pharmacies and Greek medical practitioners today, not to mention on UK medical bracelets.  The site is carved out of the hillside and built on terraces with superb views over Kos town and beyond.  There is a local bus service to the site from Kos town, but some visitors choose to cycle there, as it is only just outside the suburbs. 
     To the east of Kos town is Psalidi with a lovely sandy beach, a fun water park and, for nature lovers, an interesting wetland reserve.  Travelling on from Psalidi, you can visit the hot springs of Therma, located 4km outside the small village of Agios Fokas.
     The next largest (and liveliest) resort on the island is Kardamena, about an hour’s drive from Kos town and closer to the islands’ airport.  Kardamena is a major package destination and popular with young couples and singles because of the vibrant nightlife.  There is a long sand and shingle beach, which shelves gently into a clear blue sea.  Umbrellas and sun beds can be hired and water sports are available but the beach is very busy in the high season.  The beach is flanked by lively restaurants and bars serving exotic cocktails.  Kardamena has more of an international atmosphere and the cuisine caters for 'foreigners' rather than offering authentic Greek cooking.  The town centre is full of hotels and has all the usual amenities, banks, mini markets and shops.  There is a lovely harbour area where boat trips are available along the coast and across to the volcanic island of Nissyros.  However, Kardamena really comes alive when the sun sets and there are a host of energetic dance bars and noisy discos that the younger visitors keep in business. 
     Travelling inland, north of Kardamena and close to the airport, is the site of Antimahia Castle, which dates from 16th Century and was built by the Knights of St John.  Antimahia is also the site of a 250 years old windmill, the only remaining windmill on Kos that is still working.
Mastihari and Pserimos     
     On the north coast, charming Mastihari still retains a village atmosphere and is a lot quieter than Kardamena.  There is a beautiful sandy beach with lovely views of the bay and the surrounding islands of Kalymnos, Plati and Pserimos. For those looking for tranquillity this is the perfect spot, with a handful of shops and tavernas in the village and a delightful harbour where working fishermen still ply their trade.  From the harbour you can take a boat to the tiny nearby island of Pserimos, but don’t imagine this as a sleepy island.  Lots of companies take day trippers to this beach island and as a result it can become very crowded at peak times.
     Close by, on a long, impressive sandy bay is the village resort of Tingaki, popular with windsurfers and families because of its gently shelving beach.  This is also a quiet resort with a choice of shops, tavernas and bars, yet it is only a 20 mins bus ride from the active nightlife of Kos town.  Taxis are readily available for hire, and for the more energetic, there is a back road to Kos town used by cyclists.
Kefalos and Kamari Bay   
     Hidden away on the western side of the island is the picturesque village of Kefalos, set into the hillside above beautiful Kamari Bay.  There is a gorgeous sandy beach, a handful of shops and tavernas and some good fish restaurants located on the bay.  There is a disco, but the local people follow a traditional way of life and the pace is very laid back.  There are boats available to take you around the headland to find your own quiet piece of beach, or to take a closer look at the tiny offshore islet of Agios Nikolaos and its chapel.  This part of Kos is unspoilt and there are aromatic pine woods to be explored at Plaka, but to get the best out of this area you would need to hire a car hire.
Island Connections
   Kos airport is about a 45 minute drive from Kos town.  Package holidays are available from both the major and Greek specialist tour companies.  Charter airlines fly direct from the U.K. to Kos during the summer months, usually from April to October.  Flying time from the U.K. is just under 4 hours. 
    Olympic Airways offer scheduled flights from the U.K. to Kos via Athens.  Timings vary depending on how long you need to wait for the connecting flight to Kos.  The Olympic Airways domestic flights from Athens to Kos run all year round, although the flight schedule will be less frequent in the winter months and the flight time is approximately 40 mins.
     Kos is a popular destination for island hoppers; it has numerous ferry connections to the rest of the Dodecanese islands, including Rhodes, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos, Samos and Symi.  These ferries are usually circuitous calling at several islands on the way and some continue on to the Athens port of Piraeus. There are tour boats to the small nearby islands of Nissyros, Pserimos, in addition to Bodrum in Turkey. All timetables are subject to change and times should be checked locally.
The foregoing information was last reviewed in November 2006. Things change, and whilst we are often travelling in Greece we do rely to some extent upon others to provide updates in order to keep the site as current and accurate as possible!  If you have updates or information that you think should be included here, please mail the webmaster@aguide2greece.com  - thank you.


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