An Aegean nirvana composed of deep turquoise and dark green, the Greek island of Kos is the third largest in the Dodecanese chain and certainly one of the most beautiful. From its historic and colorful town center to the more remote peaks of its mountain range, Kos is an island ripe for exploration.
How to get there
Kos has an international airport, which means that direct flights are available during the high season. The island is also accessible by fast ferry from Bodrum, Turkey with Yeşil Marmaris, which takes around 20 minutes. The ferry departs in the morning and returns in the evening for those visitors who prefer to make Kos a day trip.
What to see
Don’t be surprised to discover that Kos Town is full of wandering tourists who are either there for the day or spending an extended holiday at one of the many resorts. Walk along the waterside and visit Plateia Platanou, the beautiful town square right by the very well-preserved 15th-century Castle of Neratzia. Take a break at one of the cafés in the square, and make sure to visit Hippocrates’ Plane Tree (where historians believe he taught his students), which also includes a fountain built by the Ottomans. The island’s other famous historical sight is the Asklepieion, which sits about three kilometers (1.86 miles) southwest of Kos Town. This sanctuary was built to honor Asclepius (the god of healing) in the 3rd century BC and also, befittingly, became a school of medicine. To reach the site, you can either rent a bike or take Bus number 3 from the town center.
If you’re a traveler who enjoys getting away from the crowds, it’s a good idea to rent a car from the many car rental places in the town center and explore the island’s other corners away from the city center. The mountain village of Asfendiou is a definite stop on a Kos road trip, especially its beautiful church and many tavernas. Nearby, you’ll also discover Palio Pili, the ruins of a historic fortress that looks out over one of the most impressive views of the island. The hike up to the fortress requires some effort (as cars can only go up to a certain point), but the stunning view is definitely worth the hike!
Where to swim
Of course, visiting Kos would not be complete without a day at the beach. Kos Town is full of beaches that take up almost the entirety of its coast. However, one of the most beautiful beaches is the rather remote Paradise Beach at the other end of the island. However, be aware that this beach is only accessible by car, and the last part of the road is very rocky and requires quite a bit of effort to traverse. There are only two handmade signs that direct the way, but once you reach the heavenly beach, you’ll understand why visitors take on the challenging journey. Paradise Beach is a gorgeous stretch of white sand with turquoise waves and a grand mountain range. One section has sunbeds (four euros each) and a bar with refreshments, while the other side has nothing but untouched sand where you can lounge around on your beach towel.
Where to eat
If you made your way to Palio Pili, you’re in luck because one of the island’s most fantastic restaurants is right nearby. Taverna Oria sits right across the fortress and has one of the most beautiful views imaginable. Take a seat at one of the colorful wooden tables and order whatever they have prepared that day, including amazing tzatziki, eggplant salad, Greek salad, and local fish or meat from the grill. Every Friday, the restaurant also hosts live music, while the view of the sunset will become a memory you’ll never forget.
Where to stay
Kos has plenty of options in terms of accommodation, from budget to utter luxury (such as the newly opened Casa Cook). However, the family-run Olympia Mare Hotel is one of the island’s best options because of its peaceful and local demeanor as well as its beautiful private beach. You’ll be happy to know that the very friendly owner, Niko, will be there to greet you and make sure you have everything you need.
Photos by me