Leros – Stunning Beauty Amidst an Archipelago of Magical Islets

Leros, a rather small island belonging to the Dodecanese archipelago, is situated between Kalymnos and Patmos, perfect for island hopping to its two neighbors and the nearby tiny island of Lipsi.

  1. Where is Leros Greece?
  2. Map of the Dodecanese Archipelago
  3. How to Reach Leros Island?
  4. How Big is Leros Island?
  5. Leros Capital
  6. Lakki – The Port of Leros
  7. Alinda – Seaside Village
  8. Leros Beach Guide
  9. Leros – What to see?
  10. History of Leros
  11. Leros – What to do?
  12. Lipsi Islet – a Paradise
  13. Arki Islet
  14. Agathonisi Islet
  15. Weather and Climate in Leros
Drone view of Agia Marina in Leros island, Dodecanese Greece
Drone view of Agia Marina in Leros

According to an ancient myth Leros was the favourite island of Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting, who loved to go hunting here, since Leros had a large population of deer. Besides the mythical past, Leros has a most interesting history which you can learn all about in the monuments, the Medieval castle, and the museums of the island.

Where is Leros Greece?

Leros is a Greek island belonging to the Dodecanese island group in the southern Aegean Sea. It lies 317 km from Athens’ port of Piraeus. Leros is part of the Kalymnos region. Nearby islands are Patmos, Lipsi, Arki (with tiny Marathi), Kalymnos, and the small islets of Agathonisi, Agia Kyriaki and Farmakos.

Map of the Dodecanese archipelago

Map of Dodecanese Archipelagos
Click to enlarge the map – Coordinates of Leros island: 37°9′N 26°51′E

How to reach Leros island?

You can reach Leros from Athens by ferry. It departs from the port of Piraeus in Athens 4 times per week. The travel duration is approx. 8 hours. You can also reach Leros by ferry from Rhodes, Kos, Patmos, Kalymnos, and Lipsi, during the summer ferry routes are operating almost daily.
You can reach Leros Municipal Airport with domestic flights from Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”. The flight duration is 50 minutes, and upon arrival you can hire a taxi for your hotel.

Agia Marina in Leros island, Dodecanese Greece
Agia Marina in Leros

How big is Leros island?

The island is 74 km² and has a coastline of 71 km. The municipality includes the populated offshore islands of Pharmakonisi, Levitha, and Kinaros, as well as several uninhabited islets, and has a population of more than 8,000, although this figure swells to over 15,000 during the summer peak. It is known for its imposing medieval castle of the Knights of Saint John possibly built on a Byzantine fortress.

Leros villages – Platanos, Panteli, and Agia Marina

View from the iconic Castle of Panteli in Leros island, Dodecanese Greece
View from the iconic Castle of Panteli

Platanos is a well-developed town set in between the towns of Panteli and Agia Marina. The 3 of them are considered a unity and as such constitute the capital of the island. Agia Marina and Alinta are both picturesque and popular with many hotels, restaurants, and shops. Platanos is the cultural centre of the island with many neoclassical houses, as well as historical monuments. With its narrow alleys and old charming houses throughout the whole village Platanos creates a charming atmosphere. At the top of a nearby hill stands the Castle of Panagia, the 11th century Byzantine fortress one of the most impressive sights in Leros. Driving around the island you will find several quaint villages with a rich history as well as stunning beaches with a crystal-clear sea.

Pandeli, Leros - Photo by S. Lambadaridis
Panteli beach in Leros @S. Lambadaridis

Lakki – the port of Leros

The port of Lakki in Leros island, Dodecanese Greece
The port of Lakki in Leros

4 km southwest of Platanos is Lakki, the main port of Leros. It is secure and safe and the largest natural harbour in the Mediterranean Sea. It has modern port facilities and two units for servicing yachts. It looks like a huge lake, with an open space of only 400 meters towards the sea. This natural characteristic was the reason why it was called Porto Lago (port – lake) by the Italians and was chosen as a naval base.

Lakki has a quite different colour from the rest of the island yet it is both unusual and extremely impressive. Imposing buildings stranded across the beach, are built in a modern and simple, so-called International architectural style. Monumental buildings, wide streets, rows of tree and parks, all designed and developed by the Italians during the inter-war period of 1934.

Alinda – Seaside village in a natural bay

Leros - photo by S. Lambadaridis
Leros@S. Lambadaridis

3 km from Platanos you will find Alinda, a tourist resort built around a natural bay with a rich vegetation of pine trees and olive groves. Today it is a popular resort with numerous hotels and rooms for rent. In the village of Alinda you will find the Historic and Folklore Museum of Leros.

Leros Beach Guide

In Leros you will find both organized as well as secluded non-organized beaches. The 3 best organized beaches in Leros are Vromolithos, Agia Marina, and Alinda beaches, but there are many quiet secluded beaches around the island as well. Leros has a rich and fascinating seabed which is the reason why it has developed into a scuba diving destination in recent years.

Organized beaches

Alinda beach in Leros island, Dodecanese Greece
Alinda beach
  • Agia Marina beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 2 km north of Platanos
  • Alinda beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 3 km northwest of Platanos
  • Vromolithos beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 3 km south of Platanos
  • Ksirokambos beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 9 km southeast of Platanos

Partly organized beaches

  • Tonnys beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 2 km south of Platanos

Non-organized beaches

Blefouti beach in Leros island, Dodecanese Greece
Blefoutis beach
  • Dioliskaria beach – Sandy, secluded, located 7 km north of Platanos
  • Gourna beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 7 km west of Platanos
  • Blefoutis beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 9 km northwest of Platanos
  • Merikia beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 6 km south of Platanos

Leros – What to see?

Windmills overlooking Chora, Leros - Photo by S. Lambadaridis
Windmills overlooking Chora in Leros@Sotiris Lambadaridis

The Castle of Panagia (Virgin Mary)

On the north-east shore of Leros, stands the castle of the island, Kastro Pateli. It rises at the top of Pitiki Hill about 200 metres above sea level. The Church of Panagia was built on the western side of the fortress, comprising a religious and cultural symbol for the residents of Leros.

Fortress, Leros island - Photo by S. Lambadaridis
Fortress, Leros@S. Lambadaridis
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Temple of Artemis

Visitors interested in history must visit the archaeological ruins at Partheni, located next to the airport. During excavations in 1980, a group of churches built on top of Roman structures was discovered. The exact position of the ancient temple of Parthenos has yet to be identified. Although early Christians used to build their churches on top of ancient Greek temples by recycling the original materials, it has not been possible to establish the exact location of the early Christian church within the vicinity of the ancient temple grounds.

Agios Isidoros

Drone view of the small chapel built at the rock of Agios Isidoros near Leros island, Dodecanese Greece
Drone view of the small chapel built at the rock of Agios Isidoros

In the area of Kokkali you will find the picturesque, little church of Agios Isidoros. It is built on an islet in the sea and is connected to the old submerged little port by a small passageway built next to it.

‘Tunnel’ War Museum

The new ‘Tunnel Museum’ in Merikia is a place of great interest with many significant exhibits from the period of World War II. It was inaugurated in August 2005 and it is recognized as being completely unique in its nature globally and it registers many visitors annually from around the world.

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Archaeological Museum

In the modern Archaeological Museum of Leros, you are invited to enjoy fine exhibits and artefacts dating back to the island’s pre-historic period to medieval times. One can see inscriptions, grave markers, coins, mosaics, and vessels which are on display at the museum.

Folkloric Museum

‘Alinta’, the Historical and Folkloric Museum, is hosted in the Tower of Belleni in the seaside village Alinda. Costumes, needlework, musical instruments and hand-crafted, ecclesiastical wood carvings dating back to the historical period from 1880 to 1920 and depicting Leros’ urban nature, are exhibited.

History of Leros

Antiquity

Thucydides stressed the special importance of the bays and the harbours of Leros during the Peloponnesian War (431 BC – 404 BC), where Leros supported the democratic Athenians. After the end of the war Leros came under the sovereignty of the Spartans. The island had a famous sanctuary of the goddess Artemis.

It then followed the fate of the rest of the Dodecanese Islands during the years of Alexander the Great and his successors, the Roman years and the Byzantine period. After the division of the Roman Empire, it was, like all of Greece, ruled from Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

During Medieval times

During the 13th century, the island was occupied by the Genoese and then by the Venetians. In the year 1309, the Knights of St John seized and fortified Leros.

Old windmills in Leros island, Dodecanese Greece
Old windmills in Leros

During the Ottoman rule, and along with the other islands, Leros enjoyed a privileged regime, with partial autonomy and self–government. During the Greek Revolution of 1821, the island was liberated and became an important base for the re-supplying of the Greek Navy.

Leros – What to do?

Scuba diving

Diving in Greece

Leros is a volcanic island and as such the visibility of the water is remarkably high. You can see clearly to a depth of 30- 45 meters. In the bays around the island there are many wrecks from WW II. There are also numerous underwater caves. The water temperature in May-June is 20-21°C, July-August 23-24°C, September-October 24-26°C. All dives are accompanied by the C.M.A.S instructor Panos Sideris, who has 20 years’ experience of worldwide diving.

Daytrips to nearby islets

Lipsi – a paradise for free campers, naturists, and hikers

Platis Gialos beach in Lipsi island, Dodecanese Greece
Platis Gialos beach in Lipsi island

Lipsi is, as you will discover, a haven with its unspoiled natural landscape, crystal-clear waters, stunning secluded beaches, and relaxed atmosphere. Lipsi is a perfect travel destination for you who seek to pull the plug and stay in privacy. It is a paradise for free campers, naturists, and hikers.

Beach Platis Gialos, Lipsi - Photo by S. Lambadaridis
Beach Platis Gialos, Lipsi@S. Lambadaridis

Lipsi is located between Leros and Patmos. It is well serviced with ferries passing between the Dodecanese islands and on the main route for ferries from Piraeus.

The cave and the springs of Lipsi

The island of Lipsi contains springs at Fountani in the area near Kimissi along with other minor springs also flowing in this region. The Cave of Ontas dominates the settlement. A 960-meter paved path carved into the hill connects the upper quarters of Kimissi with the lower ones.

Arki islet

Tiganakia, Arkoi - Photo by S. Lambadaridis
Tiganakia, Arkoi@S. Lambadaridis

Arki is a small Greek island which is part of the Dodecanese archipelago. It is situated in the eastern Aegean Sea, close to the Turkish Aegean Coast. The island belongs to the municipality of Patmos and has a population of around 50 inhabitants.

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There is ferry service that runs between Samos, Patmos, and Lipsi, that calls at the island, as well as occasional small ferries to other nearby islets such as Marathi just opposite Arki, which boasts the best beach of all the islets.

Islets near Leros and Lipsi islands, Dodecanese Greece
Islets near Leros and Lipsi islands

Agathonisi islet

Megalo Chorio, main harbor of Agathonisi (small island near Leros)
Megalo Chorio, main harbour of Agathonisi

Agathonísi is a small Greek island located at the northernmost point of the Dodecanese in Greece. It is surrounded by many smaller islands and is home to two villages, both built inland: Megálo Chorió (“Big Village”), and Mikró Chorió (“Small Village”). The island’s only port is the settlement of Agios Georgios, which has a few hotels. The island is also locally known as Gaidaro, or by its ancient name Tragea.

Weather and climate in Leros

Like the rest of the Dodecanese islands Leros has a warm, pleasant Mediterranean climate. Temperatures during the year range between 13 – 20 ºC. Leros is an ideal sailing destination for yachts and smaller sailboats with its natural safe harbours and bays providing shelter and safe mooring during bad weather. Anchoring is permitted on the eastern side of the island. The south and southwest coasts are military areas, where anchoring is prohibited.

AprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober
Air17º21º25º29º29º25º21º
Sea17º20º22º24º25º23º22º
Average air and sea temperatures in Leros in ºC
Leros island - Photo by S. Lambadaridis
Leros Island@S. Lambadaridis