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.
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
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.
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
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.
Lakki – the port of 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
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.
- 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
- 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?
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.Read more
According to an old legend, an icon of Virgin Mary appeared on the island emerging from the sea. It is told that in some miraculous way it was placed in gunpowder storage area of the castle between two lit candles and there it remained despite all efforts made by the Turkish Aga of that period to have it removed.
So, a church was built in her honour on that very spot, and soon it became a sacred sanctuary of worship for seamen and the residents in general. The original, small church was built at its current location in 1669. The basilica temple has endured several interventions and additions during the 18th and 19th centuries. The temple exhibits many valuable Episcopal icons of supreme quality. Many of them, together with other artifacts, are displayed in the Ecclesiastical Vestry of Byzantine Art, which was recently built next to the temple of the church and operates as a museum.
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.
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.Read more
In the late 1930’s, the Italians fortified the naval base of Leros, building the largest underground munitions’ storehouses and creating workshops for the assembly and maintenance of arms. Also, they built underground storehouses for various, other materials.
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.
‘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
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.
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?
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
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.
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 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.Read more
Ancient ruins of an acropolis are situated on the hill overlooking the main harbour. Although little remains of the structure, the stones used to build it make a good viewpoint at which to see the sun set over the Aegean. At one end of the island, towards the island of Lipsi is the best beach on the island, Tiganakia. This beach is small and somewhat rocky but provides crystal clear waters to swim in and the view across the bay to the nearby islets is idyllic. This beach can become swamped in high summer (July and August) as day trippers from nearby Lipsi visit the beach frequently. At the other end of the island is a cave, which contains several stalactite and stalagmite formations. The cave is however difficult to find as the land around it is covered by olive trees and bushes.
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.
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.
TICKETS & THINGS TO DO:
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.