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Kimolos is an unspoilt Greek island in the Aegean. It is adjacent to Milos, and makes up the Cycladic island chain with numerous other islands. Kimolos is renowned for its white sandy beaches, hidden coves, sparkling turquoise waters, and unique churches. It’s only town of Chorio is quiet, relaxed, and exudes a leisurely aura. While Kimolos is of volcanic origin like so many other of these islands, it has a lot of chalk – calcium carbonate – and in fact there are some chalk mines on the island. The name Kimolos is an ancient word meaning “white stones.” Medieval sailors used to call the island Argentiere, meaning “silver island,” maybe because the sun shone upon the white stones and made them look silver.
I spent a week exploring the island with my friends from Travel Bloggers Greece. As a group, we were invited by the Afentakeion Foundation to explore the island, discover its natural beauty, and taste the local cuisine.
The Afentakeion Foundation is a non-profit organization on Kimolos, the purpose of which is social offerings, focusing on the island of Kimolos and the people from Kimolos. In this context, it organizes various activities and events, mainly medical and cultural. The foundation was founded in the late 1800s by George Nikolaos Oikonomou Afentakis, a man from Kimolos with a great big heart.
Things to do on Kimolos Island
There is plenty to do on Kimolos, mainly in the outdoors. The small town of Chorio is delightful to wander around and has several museums and churches. Kimolos beaches are exceptional, and often not very crowded even in the summer.
Chorio is the main town on Kimolos, and apart from the port at Psathi, is where most visitors will spend time. It is located on the southwestern side of the island, in the shadow of Mount Xaplovouni. You will find that other Cycladic island towns are called Chora; Chorio is slightly smaller and more traditional village than these other towns. While many Greek towns have one main square, Chorio has quite a few, and you may find yourself wandering the warren of narrow lanes, stumbling on the various town squares. Chorio’s homes are covered with the typical Greek island whitewash, domed roofs, and bright blue doors.
Churches of Chorio
There are over 80 small churches in Chorio to explore. Many are simple family chapels, dedicated to various saints. These churches are maintained by the families and passed down the generations. On each saint’s feast day, the churches host festivals in Chorio’s many squares. A lot of the churches date back as far as the 16th century. The largest church is the Metropolitan Church of Panagia Odigitria, in the town centre. It was erected between 1867 and 1874 and has a collection of impressive icons inside. Eight of the churches, including the Birth of Christ inside the castle, are protected by the MInistry of Culture.
In the centre of Chorio is the Archaeological Museum, which showcases the history of Kimolos. The clear glass floor allows visitors to see a reconstruction of an ancient burial below while the rest of the two-storey building has artefacts and relics related to the thousands of years of history in Kimolos. It is a very informative museum, with plenty of photographs and diagrams related to the items on display. Some of the highlights are the statues and resolutions dating back to prehistoric times. The museum is located in the town centre, across from the Metropolitan Church of Panagia Odigitria.
Folk and Maritime Museum
Another museum in Chorio you must visit is the Folk and Maritime Museum, which is located in the kastro, or castle, in a small house. The museum has a wide array of cultural artefacts related to the heritage and history of the people of Kimolos. The aim of the museum is to preserve the Kimolos way of life. Some of the exhibits include textile looms and embroidery machines used by the women, carpentry tools, pottery, and household wares. The maritime element of the museum is seen upstairs in a corner with various drawings, memorials, and naval instruments.
Like many other small Greek towns, Chorio has a medieval castle, called the kastro. The kastro is located on the foothills of the mountain and consists of two different sections. The inner section, which is the oldest, dates to the 15th century and has some small houses, an inner courtyard, and the Church of the Birth of Christ. Chorio’s Inner Castle is in ruins, but visitors can still visit. The outer section dates to the 17th century and has numerous houses and a very narrow alleyway. This part of the castle was still designed for defense, and in fact following a pirate attack and fire in 1638, more towers were added to strengthen the defense of the outer castle. As a general rule, the closer to the castle the house is, the older it is. People still live here; the Folk and Maritime Museum is located adjacent to the eastern gate of the outer castle.
Go shopping in Kimolos
Kimolos is a wonderful place to purchase traditional artisan and handcrafted wares. There are two souvenir shops near the port of Psathi and a couple in Chorio. In Chorio’s Arzantiera Boutique, they sell unique creations made by Greek artists. Here you will find little toy boats made from tin. These boats are replicas of a toy tin boat found abandoned in an old house. They were used by the children for a game and today the little boat is trademarked by Kimolos. Our hostess shared the story of the toy boats with us during our visit.
You will also find a shop selling dourvades, which are traditional tote bags made on the islands. Many of the people who continue to make them inherited the craft from their family, like Theano, who learned from her grandmother.
We also visited a small shop called Farma toy Samblou, which makes traditional Kimolian cheeses like manoura and xino. Manoura is a semi-firm dry cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is wrapped in grape must and aged, which gives it a distinctive black outer layer. Xino is made from sour skim milk. It is crumbly and often served on top of breads or with a tomato salad. The shop also sells local honeys and caper berries.
Psathi is Kimolos’ port town. It is where the ferries from Piraeus and Milos come in, and it also has a very small beach to the right of the port. Psathi is a very popular beach because of the number of ferries that arrive here. You can swim and relax in the sun, visit the small souvenir shops near the port, or have coffee and drinks at the little tavernas. The tavernas are also open for lunch and dinner and offer wonderful fresh fish dishes.
Goupa is located near Psathi. It is a small fishing port on the coast below Chorio where there is excellent fishing and snorkelling. It is also a great place to see the syrmata, or boat garages, that are carved into the rock. The next beach over, Rema, also has sea caves and good snorkelling.
Explore the Beaches of Kimolos
Kimolos is blessed with numerous beaches, all of them pretty gorgeous. Here is a list of some of the beaches we visited.
Prassa Beach has excellent swimming; you can spot sea urchins, corals, and colourful reef fish as well as maybe a monk seal or two. There are also sea caves near here to explore. Prassa is accessible by car and by bus and has a small beach bar.
Psathi Beach is by the port of Psathi, and as a result can be busy with tourists and locals. It has a wide sandy beach lined with tavernas and cafes. The charming 18th century Church of Agios Nikolaos is here.
Bonatsa is a long, golden sand beach perfect for families with kids because it is shallow. It is an organised beach with beach bars, umbrellas and chairs for rent, and activities. You can access Bonatsa by car or bus and there is ample parking.
Aliki is next to Bonatsa. It is a pebbly beach lined with tamarisks, and shallow like Bonatsa, so it is also perfect for swimming and relaxing. In the spring, there is a lake here also, that has a lot of interesting birdlife. Aliki Beach has two tavernas, Sardis and the Blue Tavern. There is parking here.
Monastiria and Soufi
These two beaches are on the opposite side of the island and difficult to access without a four-wheel drive Jeep (the road is not good) or a sailboat. You can also walk from Chorio, which takes about an hour and a half. The first beach you arrive is called Monastiria, a long sandy beach great for swimming. 15 minutes further is Soufi, another beautiful sandy beach. Even though there are no services here (so take water!), Soufi was my favourite beach on Kimolos. If you don’t have a Jeep or sailboat and don’t feel like walking, the sea taxi makes a round-the-islands tour and stops here for a swim.
Klima Beach is an unorganised (no services) beach near Chorio. It is only a short 20 minute walk from town and is lined with tamarisk trees. It’s popular because of its seclusion, but should be avoided on days when the wind comes from the north. There is parking here.
Karas Beach isn’t actually a beach; it is a low coastal rock area popular with younger people and divers. It’s an easy walk from Chorio.
If you like ruins, you need to visit Ellinika! This sandy, unorganised beach is where you can see the sunken ancient town and the ancient burial grounds. It is on the west side of the island, and it is accessible by car.
Mavrospilia is right next to Ellinika. It is a long, sandy beach with a few trees for shade. Perfect to watch the sunset and explore the caves and rock formations. Both Ellinika and Mavrospilia are secluded and attract couples seeking privacy.
Hike to Skiadi
Skiadi is a very unique geological formation on the northwest side of the island. It looks like a large stone mushroom and was formed through erosion. The harder rocks at the top of the monument stayed while the softer rocks at the based have eroded away due to wind. The monument, which has spectacular views across the island, is part of the Atlas of Geological Monuments of the Aegean. It’s rare formation is very important to not just Kimolians but to Greeks as a whole and to the world. We hiked to Skiadi from the car park, which is located just off the main road between two churches. The hike takes about 30 minutes from the car park, but if you choose to walk from Chorio it will take about 90 minutes. Avid hikers can continue on to the beaches at Ellinika and Mavrospilia and back around to Chorio. There are a lot of hiking paths on Kimolos for travellers interested in walking.
Meet the Kimolistes
Kimolistes are volunteers that do many things in the island. They host outdoor cinemas at the castle and at some of the beaches. We were lucky to watch a movie inside the castle one night during our visit. The Kimolistes also maintain open-air libraries with books in many languages. You can find these free libraries in several places around the island, at Chorio and Prassa beach. It is okay to take a book and return it later. At Prassa Beach, the Kimolistes provide kids toys in a large wooden box. Kids (and adults) can use the beach toys, which are things like balls and rackets, pails, etc, and return them at the end of the day. They also organise hiking excursions around the island and preserve the hiking paths for everyone to use.
Do a cruise around the island and Polyegos island
This fun day trip leaves from Kimolos at 9:30 and returns around 17:30 or 18:30. Sometimes, the boat stops at some of the Kimolos beaches for a short swim. Polyegos is a nearby islet, just a mile off the Kimolos coast. It is one of the best preserved geological island in the Aegean and is part of the European Natura 2000 program. The boat costs €35 and includes a light lunch. Polyegos has an abandoned settlement and mine in the centre of the island; there is also a ruined church here. The highlight of the island are all the beaches, though, which you can stop and swim at.
Alternatively, you can cross to Pollonia in Milos and take a tour from there. There are many boats that connect the two islands daily and it takes about 30 minutes.
Where to eat and drink in Kimolos
Paradosiakos – traditional Bakery (Chorio)
This traditional bakery in Chorio makes the famous local delicasy called Ladenia, which is made made of dough, fresh tomato, onion and olive oil. Here you can also find tirenia (a local cheese pie), Elenia (bread filled with olives from Koroni) and rusks with lentisk seeds. They also make bread cookies with elaborate designs that offer to weddings.
Stavento Café (Chorio)
Stavento is an all day cafe bar that serves juices and coffees during the day and drinks at night. It is located in front of the Odigitria church, in the alleyways of Chorio. Stavros, the owner, lives permanently on the island with his family. This was our daily stop for coffee.
Stavento Ice Cream (Chorio)
Near the central square of Kimolos (Kambos square) you will find Stavento Ice Cream run by Smaragda, Stavros’s wife. Smaragda makes the ice cream herself and it tastes heavenly.
Agora Cocktail Bar (Chorio)
This all day café bar located in the central Agora and opposite the castle seves breakfast, light dishes and desserts during the day and an amazing selection of cocktails and other spirits at night.
Kali Kardia “Bohoris” Restaurant (Chorio)
Located in Kambos square in Chorio this family run taverna operates since 1924. It serves a selection of Greek cooked dishes (magirefta). Here you will taste the best mousaka on the island, goat stew, imam, and other traditional flavours. Inside the taverna you will find an old juke box where you can play a song or two.
Palaia Agora (Chorio)
Located next to the castle, Palaia Agora is the place to eat the traditional Greek souvlaki and Greek salad.
Restaurant Sardis (Alyki)
Located in Alyki beach, this family run restaurant run by Beba and her family serves fresh fish, local delicacies (ladenia, pitarakia) and meat dishes. We also had the chance to try some of the restaurants specialities the lobster and shrimp spaghetti. They also have rooms to let.
Meltemi restaurant is located at the edge of Chorio overlooking the village and the Aegean sea. It is run by the young talented chef Avgoustis Galanos who took over the restaurant from his parents and has managed to present the traditional Greek dishes in a more modern “gourmet” way very successfully. I will never forget the Kimolos salad made with watermelon and quinoa. I also liked the stuffed pork with sun dried tomatoes and local cheese and the spaghetti with basil, tomatoes, pine nuts and Kimolian cheese.
Kyma Restaurant (Psathi)
Located in Psathi (port), this family run restaurant with tables on the sand serves fresh fish and traditional Greek dishes. I really enjoyed the fresh barbounia fish, the traditional pie and the stuffed aubergines.
Restaurant Postali (Psathi)
This all day cafe -bar and restaurant is the first thing you will see when you arrive in Kimolos as it is right on the port. We bought sandwiches from here which we ate on a secluded beach and on another occasion we had a delicious lunch with fresh salad, local cheeses and a variety of grilled meat.
Where to stay in Kimolos
There are several different hotel options in Kimolos. The Aria Hotels have eight different hotels; some of us stayed at the Kimolos Blue hotel, which is near Chorio. The remainder of the group stayed at Kimolia Gi, which is near Prassa.
Kimolos Blue Hotel
Kimolos Blue is located at Aliki Beach and has eleven rooms surrounding a private garden and pool.
Kimolia Gi is located on a family farm near Prassa Beach. The four spacious studios are crafted with sustainable materials with respect to the local environment. The farm serves an organic breakfast with their own produce and eggs, and also makes their own wine.
The Windmill is a boutique hotel with just five rooms, located within one of Kimolos’s restored windmills on a cliffside overlooking the port of Kimolos at Psathi.
Thalassa Beach House
Thalassa Beach House is a private self-contained house that sleeps four right on a beach about 2 kilometres from Chorio town.
Milaki is a small, six-room hotel near Psathi and Chorio with larger family rooms that come with sofa beds in addition to queen-size beds.
Bonatsa Beach House
Bonatsa Beach House is a three-bedroom hotel at the popular Bonatsa Beach. All three bedrooms have direct access to the beach.
Each of the three houses at Psathi Blue can accommodate two or three people and are all equipped with double beds, living spaces, verandahs, and televisions. Psathi III has a fully equipped kitchen, but neither of the other two do.
Alikaki has three studios, each with a fully equipped kitchenette, double bed, sofa bed, spacious living area with a flat screen television, and a patio beautiful views of the coast. Alikaki is located only 600 metres from Aliki Beach.
Aria Kimolos Residence
The Aria Kimolos Residence is a two-bedroom holiday home near Chorio ideal for two couples on holiday. It has a fully equipped kitchen, spacious living room with a flat screen television, a large verandah, and views over the sloping hillside to the coast.
How to get to Kimolos
There are two ways to get to Kimolos from Athens: ferry boat or flight. We took a Zante ferries from Piraeus, which took approximately eight hours. There are also high speed ferries which take less time. They stop at some of the other Cycladic islands too. You can also fly or take a ferry from Athens to Milos and then ferry over to Kimolos from Pollonia.
I fell in love with Kimolos! It is unspoilt and quiet, with friendly people, nice beaches, and great food. Despite the extensive tourism in the rest of the Cyclades, like on Mykonos, Naxos and Santorini, Kimolos remains a local island with a rich heritage and a unique culture. I recommend stopping at Kimolos for a few days on your tour of the Greek Islands!
I would like to thank the Afentakeion foundation, for inviting us to Kimolos. Mania Tsavlidou, Dimitris Papadimitriou, and Dimitris Ventouris for showing us around the island, the mayor of the island Mr. Konstantinos Ventouris and the residents of the island for their warm hospitality. Mr Fotis Marinakis, from Kimolistes for the hiking and open air cinema, Zante Ferries for our transportation, Aria Hotels and Kimolia Gi for our stay.
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