Kos is the third biggest among the Greek Dodecanese islands and has a lot to offer for a great holiday! Sandy beaches, many extraordinary sights, a lively nightlife, luxurious hotels, and many water sports centres around the island.
What is Kos famous for?
Kos is one of the most popular Greek islands. It is famous for its historical sites, beautiful landscape, and stunning beaches. Kos has a history 5,000 years long and through times it has been influenced by different cultures. Therefore, sightseeing is most interesting activity in Kos. You can explore Asklepion, the medical centre of Hippocrates, medieval castles, and some of the best historical monuments in Greece.
Where is Kos Greece?
Kos is a Greek island in the southern part of the Dodecanese in between Nisyros and Kalymnos. The island measures 40 km by 8 km located 4 km from the coast of Bodrum in Turkey, and the ancient region of Caria. The capital town of the island is Kos Town. The island has a population of nearly 31,000. Throughout its history, the island has been known by the Greek, Kos. A person from Kos is called a “Koan” in English.
Kos Greece on a map
How to travel to Kos Greece?
The easiest way to reach Kos Greece is by plane. Kos International Airport “Hippocrates” is receiving domestic flights all year round from Athens. Frequent flights are also carried out from Rhodes, Heraklion, Thessaloniki, and Astypalea. The airport is connected with some European destinations during summer as well. The flight duration from Athens to Kos is approx. 1 hour.Read more
Kos airport is located 24 km from Kos Town, so you best arrange for taxi transfer or car rent upon your arrival. There is a public bus route between the airport and Kos Town as well.
4 times per week there is a ferry route carried out between kos and Piraeus port in Athens. The trip lasts about 11 hours. Kos is connected by ferry with the islands of Rhodes, Kalymnos, Patmos, and Leros, and Bodrum in Turkey as well.
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What to see in Kos Greece?
Kos was a rather important place in ancient Greece, and it has an extraordinarily rich history. Therefore, there is a lot of interesting sightseeing to be done in Kos, among which is the impressive Sanctuary of Asclepius, the Ancient Agora, the fortress in Antimachia, and the Venetian castle in Kos Town. The picturesque village of Zia is worth a visit and you will also have the chance to visit the tourist resort of Bodrum in Turkey on a boat trip.
List of important sights in Kos
- Asklepieion – the most important archaeological site in Kos – in ancient years it was operating as a healing centre. It got its name from Asklepios, son of Apollo and a protector of medicine and health.
- Ottoman Mosques – in Kos you will see some of the marks history left on Kos, like the mosques of Kos Town, reminding us of the Ottoman rule lasting four centuries on the island like in most of Greece.
- Ancient Gymnasium – The Hellenistic Gymnasium in Kos is part of a total complex of Hellenistic and Roman periods, including the Hippodrome, the Acropolis, the Nymphaeum, as well as the ruins of the Aphrodite and Hercules temples.
- Kastri Islet – is situated right in front of Agios Stefanos beach. There are still the remains of a fortification and a tiny church on the islet. You can go there by boat or even swim there from the beach of Agios Stefanos.
- Basilicas of Saint Stephen – near the beach of Kamari in southern Kos you will find a complex of Paleo-Christian basilicas. They date form the 5th and the 6th centuries AD.
- Ancient Agora – the ancient town of Kos includes the remains of the Ancient Agora; it is located near the harbour. The ancient town has also sanctuaries, streets, a stadium, a gymnasium, and other settlements.
- Thermal Springs – at Agios Fokas there is a sea-pool with hot springs. The place is known as Thermes and is extraordinary place in Kos island.
- Nerantzia castle – also known as the Castle of the Knights is located at the port entrance in Kos Town. Built in the 14th century by the Knights of St John, on top of a former Byzantine fortress.
- Hippocrates Garden Cultural Center – located in Mastichari the centre is dedicated to Hippocrates, the father of medicine. It is an exact replica of an ancient 5th century BC Greek settlement. It organizes seminars of ancient Greek philosophy.
- Hippcrates Plane Tree – Hippocrates would teach his students the secrets of healing under this plane tree, at least so the story goes. This tree is a descendant of the original tree.
- Archaeological Museum of Kos – standing in the centre of Kos, this great museum includes findings from the Asklepieion, the Ancient Agora, and the other ancient sites on the island.
- Casa Romana – is a beautiful Roman mansion built in the architectural style known also from the houses of Pompeii with remarkable frescoes and atriums inside.
- Antimachia House – is a traditional house in the village of Antimachia representing the local architecture.
- Antimachia Venetian castle – is located on a hill above the village with a spectacular view to the sea. Constructed in the 14th century, its walls are in a good state today and inside the walls you will find two churches.
- Ancient temple of Dionysus – the ruins of this temple are to be found south of Kos harbour near the ancient Agora, on Vasileos Pavlou St.
- Roman Odeon – it was constructed during the 2nd century BC and it is very well preserved. Crowds of people used to gather here to watch fights between prisoners, just like in the Colosseum in Ancient Rome.
- Byzantine castle of Pyli – located 4 km from Pyli, you will find the abandoned village of Paleo (Old) Pyli with a ruined castle on a hill. This castle was built during the Byzantine times, later restored by the Venetians to defend the area.
- White Stone Cave – this excavation site is connected to the Prehistoric times. According to findings the cave is dated from the Neolithic Age to the Bronze Era.
- Agios Ioannis Monastery – situated 7 km south of Kefalos has a spectacular view to the sea.
- Kefalos Folklore Museum – has a unique collection showing the agricultural life of the locals dating from the 18th century till today.
Kos Beach Guide
In Kos you will find any kind of beach! Sandy, pebbled, secluded, crowdy, organized, non-organized. All are easily accessible and there is a beach for every taste! Some of the best beaches in Kos are Tigaki beach, Kardamena beach, Marmari beach, Kefalos beach, and Mastichari beach. Find the list of 20 great beaches in Kos below.
- Thermes beach – Sea-pool with hot water springs called Thermes (Empros Thermi), in a small cove with black pebbles and rocks, located 12 km from Kos Town. The last 20-30 minutes before reaching the Thermes you will have to walk a dirt road with rather steep cliffs and a beautiful view to the sea. Going uphill after bathing in the hot pool-water can be rather difficult.
- Mastichari beach – Sandy, family friendly, water sports, windsurfing, located 27 km southwest of Kos Town.
- Kefalos beach – Sandy, family friendly, water sports, windsurfing, located 40 km southwest of Kos Town. It is probably the most beautiful beach in Kos and the most famous one. One of the Kos trademarks. It is connected by regular bus servide from Kos Town.
- Kardamena beach – Sandy, family friendly, water sports, diving club, party beach, located 30 km southwest of Kos Town.
- Lambi beach – Sandy, family friendly, water sports, located 3 km north of Kos Town.
- Tigaki beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 11 km west of Kos Town. Tigaki beach is a 10 km long beach of white sands. The shallow waters make Tigaki ideal for kids and a relaxing place to swim and have fun with the waves.
- Psalidi beach – Pebbled, family friendly, water sports, diving club, windsurfing, located 3 km southeast of Kos Town.
- Camel beach – Pebbled, family friendly, nudism friendly, located 30 km southwest of Kos Town.
- Lambi Mylos beach – Sandy, family friendly, party beach, located 3 km north of Kos Town.
- Limnionas beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 43 km northwest of Kos Town.
- Marmari Limnaria beach – Sandy, family friendly, water sports, windsurfing, located 20 km southwest of Kos Town.
- Psalidi Ramira beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 3 km southeast of Kos Town.
- Psilos Gremos beach – Sandy, family friendly, water sports, nudism friendly, located 32 km southwest of Kos Town.
- Town beach – Pebbled, harbour, water sports, located in walking distance from Kos Town.
Partly organized beaches
- Paradise beach – Sandy, nudism friendly, located 30 km south of Kos Town.
- Marmari beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 20 km southwest of Kos Town.
- Agios Fokas beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 8 km southeast of Kos Town.
- Kamari beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 45 km south of Kos Town.
- Lagades beach – Sandy, family friendly, secluded, located 40 km southwest of Kos Town.
- Polemi beach – Sandy, nudism friendly, located 32 km south of Kos Town.
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Kos – Things to do
Diving in Kos
Kos Divers Club is a Padi resort and dive shop that offers all Padi courses, technical courses, Nitrox and Trimix filling station. Padi, IANTD, Cmas instructors, great facilities, and accommodation. It is in the facilities of a hotel in Psalidi village with plenty of diving sites around.
Liamis Dive Centre is a boat-based diving centre, located in the main harbour of Kos Town. It has been in operation for over 25 years. Busses are on a regular schedule between the town and its suburbs. Buses also run from other resorts to Kos Town enabling divers to join the boat well in advance of departure – no matter where they are staying in the island.
The dive centre Arian Diving in Kardamena offers exciting and safe diving through a variety of unusual dive sites including unusual rock formations with caves and tunnels, reef dives and the opportunity to dive through bubbles rising from a volcano.
Windsurfing – Kitesurfing in Kos
The Big Blue Surf Center is the premier windsurfing and kitesurfing centre in Kos Island in Greece. It is to be found on the beach in front of the 5* Natura Park Village. Located in Psalidi, just 5 km from Kos town, the centre is well known for the Meltemi wind which blows side shore from the left almost every day during the summer season.
For those who love water sports, the specially equipped Horizon Surfing Center on Troulos beach (north coast of Kos, close to Mastichari) provides the proper equipment for windsurfing, kitesurfing, and catamaran sailing.
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Kitesurfing Kos in Mastichari provides lessons for all levels (from basic to intermediate and kids courses) and equipment. It is a registered VDWS centre which offers world-wide recognized certificates for all courses. Get your international windsurfing license here.
Windsurfing & Watersports Club Kos is based in Psalidi on the east coast of Kos. Here the conditions for windsurfing, sailing, and parasailing are perfect during the summer. Both for advanced windsurfers and beginners. https://www.anemoswindsurf.gr/
Bicycling in Kos
Kos is known as the “cycling island”. It is one of the best activities in the island, and with a 13 km long cycling road, starting from Faros beach and ending at Psalidi beach, bicycling is a popular means of transportation. Except for this cycling route, there are many mountain trails perfect for cycling.
If you love the movies do not cheat yourself for an evening in Cine Orfeas, which is a comfortable open-air cinema in a beautiful location. Enjoy some of the best movies under the stars.
Horseback riding in Kos
Enjoy the beautiful nature of Kos from a horseback! In Kos horse riding can be practiced at riding tours for families, children, and couples in the countryside or at the beaches. You will find a couple of stables offering riding tours in Marmari.
Weather and climate in Kos
Kos island has a mild Mediterranean climate and many sunny days all year round. For many months, the sea temperatures remain rather high and allow you to enjoy swimming even in low season. The summer climate is very pleasant with warm temperatures reaching 30 °C. It rarely rains in Kos, especially during the summer months.
Villages in Kos
Kardamena is a small town 7 km from Kos Island International Airport at Antimacheia, situated mid-way along the south coast of the island. Once a small fishing village, it is now a popular summer destination, especially for British tourists, over the past two decades, offering pubs and restaurants, bars, and night clubs and water sports facilities and daily boat services to Nisyros, the neighbouring volcano island that you ought to visit. There are many interesting archaeological treasures to visit as well, such as the Temple of Apollo, the early Christian Basilicas, and the Ancient Theatre. During the summer, at Kardamena White Bait Festival, join locals at a tradition that promises a lot of dancing and fun.
Kefalos Town is situated at the southwest side of Kos, 43 km from Kos Town. It is built on a stone height, dominated by the imposing windmill of Papavasilis and is home to about 2,500 inhabitants.
The things to see in and around Kefalos:
- Ruins of a medieval castle
- Ancient site of Palatia
- Basilica of Agios Stefanos at nearby Kamari
- White Stone Cave
- Monastery of Agios Ioannis (Thimianos)
- Mikro Limanaki beach at the north of Kefalos peninsula
History of Kos
Ancient history of Kos
According to Roman mythology, Kos was visited by Hercules. The island was originally colonized by the Carians. A contingent from Kos participated in the War of Troy. The Dorians invaded it in the 11th century BC, establishing a Dorian colony with a large contingent of settlers from Epidaurus, whose Asclepius cult made their new home famous for its sanatoria. The other chief sources of the island’s wealth lay in its wines and, in later days, in its silk manufacture.Read more
Proximity to the east gave the island first access to imported silk thread. Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC) mentions silk weaving conducted by the women of the island. Silk production of garments was conducted in large factories by female slaves.
In the Hellenistic age, Kos attained the zenith of its prosperity. Its alliance was valued by the kings of Egypt, who used it as a naval outpost to oversee the Aegean. As a seat of learning, it arose as a provincial branch of the museum of Alexandria and became a favourite resort for the education of the princes of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Among its most famous sons were the physician Hippocrates, the painter Apelles, the poets Philitas and, perhaps, Theocritus.
Except for occasional incursions by corsairs and some severe earthquakes, the island has rarely had its peace disturbed. Following the lead of its great neighbour, Rhodes, Kos generally displayed a friendly attitude toward the Romans; in 53 AD it was made a free city.
Medieval times in Kos
The island was later conquered by the Venetians, who then sold it to the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes (the Knights of St John) in 1315. Two hundred years later the Knights faced the threat of a Turkish invasion and abandoned the island to the Ottoman Empire in 1523. The Ottomans ruled Kos for 400 years until it was transferred to Italy in 1912. In World War II, the island was taken over by the Axis powers. It was occupied by Italian troops until the Italian surrender in 1943. British and German forces then clashed for control of the island in the Battle of Kos, in which the Germans were victorious. German troops occupied the island until 1945, when it became a protectorate of the United Kingdom, who ceded it to Greece in 1947.
Ancient Agora of Kos
The Market place of Kos was considered one of the biggest in the ancient world. It was the commercial and commanding centre at the heart of the ancient city. It was organized around a spacious rectangular yard 50 metres (160 ft) wide and 300 metres (980 ft) long. It began in the Northern area and ended up south on the central road (Decumanus) which went through the city. The northern side connected to the city wall towards the entrance to the harbour. Here there was a monumental entrance. On the eastern side there were shops. In the first half of the 2nd century BC, the building was extended toward the interior yard. The building was destroyed in an earthquake in 469 AD.