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Kos is one of the most popular islands of the Dodecanese. It has golden sand beaches, crystal clear waters, archaeological sites and activities for the whole family. If you are looking for nightlife you can head to Kardamena and if you are looking for a family vacation, Tigaki is a good choice. There are many things to do in Kos, and in this post, you will find my suggestions.
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Travel Guide: Kos Island, Greece
Where is Kos
Kos is an island in the Dodecanese archipelago in the east of Greece. It is nestled between the islands of Nisyros, Kalymnos and Astypalea, with Tilos, Rhodes, Leros and Symi not far away. It is also located close to the Turkish mainland, with the tourist town of Bodrum being less then 25km away from the island’s capital.
The best time to visit Kos
The best time to visit Kos is during the summer season, which runs from around May until October. Flights do sometimes start a little earlier than this (mid/end of April) but the sea and evenings are still quite cold at this time.
The spring months are best if you want mild temperatures, low prices, fewer crowds and would like to see the wildflowers in bloom, while the latter months of September and October are best if you want to enjoy the luscious warm water.
The peak months in Kos are July and August when temperatures are well in the 30s (sometimes 40s), prices are higher and hotels are much busier. This is still a great option if you’re a family and need to travel in the summer holidays, but the shoulder months are preferable if you have the choice.
17 Interesting Things To Do in Kos, Greece
1. A visit to Asklepeion
Located just 4kms to the south-east side of Kos town, Asklepeion is reputably the most visited tourist destination in Kos. This archaeological site was built in honour of Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician who cured people and taught the art of healing to his students. Asklepeion is located just a few meters from natural springs and has the remains of the temples of Asclepius and Apollo that was initially destroyed by an earthquake.
This sanctuary is rumoured as the world’s first hospital. While on the top of the terrace you can have a great view of the town below which is an amazing experience. Tickets: Full: €8, Reduced: €4
2. Hippocrates tree
Located in the centre of Kos town and just outside the Castle of Knights, Hippocrates tree is one that you don’t want to miss on your visit to this beautiful Island. Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, used to taught his students under this plane tree. Although the current one is only 500 years old, there is a possibility of being a descendant of the original tree that stood there 2400 years ago.
3. Visit the castle of knights – Neratzia Castle
Located on the entrance of Kos harbour this piece of architecture was built by the Knights in an attempt to protect the island from the Ottomans. In 1945 this piece of construction was damaged by an earthquake. However, not everything was damaged. In your visit to Kos town, spare some time and tour this place and see the remains of this castle.
4. Archaeological Museum
Although the Kos Archaeological Museum is small, it houses a mighty collection of sculptures dating from the Hellenistic to late Roman and Venetian periods. Located in the Plateia Eleftherias, the neoclassical building was constructed in 1935. Among its more notable treasures are beautiful mosaics, statues, and pottery from the Asklepion site and a statue of Hippocrates. Anyone interested in archeology, art, or the history of the island would be remiss to pass up the opportunity to see the museum’s unique artifacts.
5. Roman Odeon
Kos’ famous theater, the Roman Odeon, dates back to the 2nd or 3rd century. The once grandiose theatre served as a venue for concerts, music competitions, and theatre performances and could seat up to 750 people. The site has undergone a great deal of restoration, but many of the front rows of the Odeon are intact. The first nine rows were cut from marble and were designated for royalty and members of the upper echelon of ancient society. The remaining rows, those intended for the lower classes, were carved out of granite. The Roman Odeon is located near the ruins of Casa Romana. The Odeon is open to visitors daily and it is free to enter.
6. Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora was once the main marketplace of Kos. Exposed by an earthquake in 1933, today the area is filled with archaeological finding including remnants of mosaics, columns, temples, houses, and baths. There is also evidence of a shrine to Aphrodite, a small temple that is connected to Hercules, and a Christian Basilica dating to the 5th century. The Agora’s location next to the harbor made it the perfect meeting place and a prime location for the movement and trading of goods brought into the harbor. Admission to the Agora is free and the site is open to visitors daily.
7. Castle of Antimachia
This impressive medieval fortress is located in the centre of the island, to the southeast of the village of Antimachia. The Venetians began in the 14th century and the inscription above the gate denotes that the Venetian Castle was built up even more in 1494 by the Knights of Saint John, like Neratzi Castle. However, Antimachia is rumoured to have been used as a prison for condemned knights. Despite the numerous attacks over many years, the outside fortifications of the castle still stand strong. The castle’s only entrance can be found in the double gates on the north side of the fortress. Inside the church, not much remains, but you can see the two Venetian churches built in the 16th and 18th centuries. Although the churches aren’t as old as the original structure, they do still hold services. Views from the top of the battlements include the Kardamena coast and the island of Nisyros. The Castle of Antimachia is free to visitors and open daily.
8. Souvenir shopping In Kos town
The town has a handful of shops scattered all over the town selling souvenirs all in pocket-friendly and affordable prices. Also, there is a public market just before entering the town where you can shop for mementoes and souvenirs at affordable prices
9. View the Sunset at Zia village
This is a mountainous village located 10 miles from Kos Town. This village has a rich landscape, and your visit to the island will not be complete if you don’t get to see the amazing view of the sun setting while in Zia village. There are also some nice restaurants serving traditional food in the village. Watching this picturesque sunset is one of the best things to do in Kos.
10. Wineries and wine tours
Greece is reputable for wine-making, this history ranges back from 500Bc. High-quality wine brands are made, and this is evidenced by the fact that a number of local wine brands have won international awards.
Kos lives up to this reputation, and there are several wineries that you can visit. Triantafylloupus vineyard is the winery to visit if you are seeking for a wine tour with high-quality wine brands. It is open from Monday to Saturday from 7:30 until 15.30. What is even more interesting about this place is that the tour is free and there is no much pressure to purchase a bottle of wine. Which makes it one of the best things to do in Kos for wine-lovers.
Another place to visit if you are looking for a wine tour is Hatziemmanouli winery which was completed in 2004. This winery accepts tours and offers quality wine. See here for more information.
11. Nightlife and food in Kos
Instead of Kos going dull at night, this Island rather gets to life at night. The numerous trendy restaurants and bars will ensure that you stay entertained. There is cool pop music being played around and making the experience one not to miss in your visit.
Different towns and cities in Greece have different signature meals. In Kos, you will find Krasotyri which is a unique spicy cheese that contains wine. Another traditional local delicacy that you have to try is the tomato spoon dessert. One of the best things to do in Kos is to east the local food.
12. Beaches in Kos
Greece has some of the best beaches in the world. Kos also does not disappoint in this. With most of them being sandy beaches and having crystal blue waters they offer those who visit with plenty of activities to ensure they stay entertained. There are more than 20 beaches on the island but here are the four major ones:
This is the most famous beach on the Island. Located 20kms on the south-west side of Kos town Mastichari is an exotic sandy beach that ensures the visitors stay entertained. There are umbrellas and basking beds too. The major water sports are kite surfing and windsurfing.
Just 3kms to the north of Kos town, Lambi is a popular beach barely a stone throw away. Just like Mastichari, Lambi also is organised with umbrellas and sunbeds which are just a perfect recipe for a good time with your family. The major water sporting activities are waterskiing and surfing.
Tigaki beach is another sandy beach 10 km long awarded with a blue flag. It is just 11 km away from Kos town and is great for families and sports lovers.
Just 3 kilometre from Kos town, this beach has both sand and pebbles. It is organised with umbrellas, sunbeds and watersports. It also has many seaside restaurants in case you get hungry.
Located 12 kilometres to the south of Kos town, Thermes is a black pebbled beach with hot water. There is no water sport, but this beach offers a secluded, private and cool place to spend time with your spouse.
13. A day trip to Nisyros Island
Nisyros is famously known as the Island of the Volcano. It is here you get to see a crater volcano and feel lava rumbling beneath your feet at only 19.5 Euros. There are daily boat trips to Nisyros from Kos ensuring that you visit the Island and return on the same day.
The tour also includes a visit to the monastery of Panagia Spiliani and free time to explore the town of Mandraki with the white and blue houses.
14. Lido Water Park
Can you believe that this tiny island is home to one of the largest waterparks in all of Greece? Lido Water Park is located 25 kilometers outside of Kos town and occupies over 75,000 square meters. Race friends and family down their multi-lane waterslide, or for a real rush, opt for a ride down the Kamikaze slide or in the Black Hole. If you’re looking to relax, spend some time floating down the Lazy River or kick your feet up in the Jacuzzi. Families will love the kids’ area with pint-sized slides, waterfalls, and a rotating water bucket. You’ll definitely work up an appetite having all that fun and when you do, Lido Water Parks is full of restaurants, snack bars, coffee bars. There is something for everyone and enough to make this a full-day attraction.
15. Kos Island Jeep Safari
For a great way to see the island, hop on a Jeep safari! This 7-hour tour in a 4×4 Land Rover will take you off-road to some of Kos’ most beautiful hidden gems. After you make your way through the dense vegetation, you will get to stop at a traditional coffee shop. Then, you’ll continue on to the peak of Mount Dikaios, where you’ll experience some of the best views on the island. Your guide will then bring you to a tavern in Zia village where you will get to indulge in a traditional Greek lunch with delicious local wine. After lunch, you’ll stop by the peacock park before the tour comes to an end.
16. Scuba Diving Day Trip
One of the best ways to experience the Aegean Sea is to be in it! You’re going to spend plenty of time swimming on Kos’ beaches, but another way to enjoy the water is by scuba diving. Even if you’ve never been scuba diving before, don’t worry! The excursion starts with an in-depth briefing on safety and how to properly use your equipment. You will have 2 dive instructors with you every step of the way as you swim between 2 different countries and explore the gorgeous underwater world of the Eastern Mediterranean. You can choose to take a second dive or spend your remaining time on the boat soaking up some sun, or grab some snorkelling gear and take it easy in the water for more incredible marine life encounters. If you’re adventurous this is one of the best things to do in Kos.
17. Take a Boat Cruise to Kalymnos, Plati, and Pserimos
This all-day boat cruise is a great way to get out and see some of the other islands surrounding Kos. The cruise’s first stop is in the beautiful village of Vathi on the island of Kalymnos. The scenery as you pull up to Vathi is breathtaking and the village itself is picturesque. Once you return to the boat, a souvlaki buffet lunch is served.
After lunch, you might get to spot some dolphins looking for their own lunch as you pass the nearby fish farms. The cruise will then stop at Plati islet where you can jump in the turquoise-blue water for a swim. The last stop of the cruise is the island of Pserimos. Take a step back in time as you explore the island with no streets. Brimming with pristine natural beauty and charming panoramas, Pserimos is a true escape!
Where to stay in Kos, Greece
Here are my picks for the best accommodations:
In Kos town:
Grecotel Kos Imperial Thalasso is ideally located close to Kos Town this luxury resort offers a private sandy beach, a spa centre, gourmet dining, and beautiful gardens. It offers air-conditioned rooms with a private balcony and satellite TV. It also has three swimming pools with waterfalls and rivers, and a swimming pool only for children. Although the hotel is near the town it is situated in a quiet location.
Triton Hotel is located in front of the beach and within walking distance from Kos town. It offers air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi.
Jonathan Studio Apartments offers self-catering rooms with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi and swimming pool 2 minutes walk from the beach. Outside the hotel, there is a bus stop. It takes the bus 15 minutes to get to Kos town.
Astir Odysseus Kos Resort and Spa is a 5-star hotel located on the waterfront. It has 5 swimming pools, a spa, sports facilities, kid’s activities and a variety of restaurants.
How to get to Kos, Greece
Kos has an international airport with direct flights from Athens (1 hour) and many European cities.
A great way to get from the airport to your hotel is by private transfer. Welcome Pickups is a company I have used a lot around Europe, they charge the same as a taxi, but there is an English speaking driver waiting for you at the arrivals with your name on a paper, a bottle of water and many tips to share about the island.
Ferries to Kos run almost daily during the summer from Piraeus port in Athens (prices are around 20 € one way) and the journey takes at least 10 hours depending on the island it stops on the way. Prices and journey times depend on the ferry company.
Kos is also connected with other islands like Patmos, Leros, Rhodes, Kalymnos, Nisyros, Lipsi, Astypalea, Tilos, Symi, Karpathos and Kastelorizo.
Kos is an island with many things to do that will ensure you have a great vacation.
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