The second-largest island of the Dodecanese, Karpathos is a picture of wild, untouched beauty.
Once you’ve driven around the island, explored its stunning beaches and taken in the unique geology that surrounds you, you’ll feel like part of a secret club of those who have been fortunate enough to visit this very special part of Greece.
Taking in the beauty of Apella beach
The road to Apella beach along the east coast of the island boasts a view of deep blue that sets the tone for the beaches of this island. Somewhere on the road from Kyra Panagia beach to Apella is a section of the road where you can stop the car and take in the beauty of Apella from above. After taking in the majestic bird’s eye view of the turquoise sea lapping against white rocks, drive down the winding road towards the nearby taverna and head the rest of the way on foot. Once you pass through the rocky corridor leading to the beach, find a spot to leave your things and, quite simply, forget about them. You’ll spend the rest of your time floating blissfully in the salty, clear water that will softly nudge you into vacation mode. Insider tip: Apella is, with good reason, a popular beach. Get in early or on a weekday to enjoy this spot without the masses that often follow.
Strolling through the village of Menetes
The village of Menetes sits between the two coasts of Karpathos. Its alleys lined with colourful homes perched upon the mountain make for a magical late afternoon walk. As the sun starts to set slowly, it leaves a soft glow on the colours of peach, pink, lemon yellow and soft blue. Once you’ve strolled through the town, head to the Church of the Assumption for a picture-perfect view of the town in all its colourful glory.
Lunching at Folia Taverna
Spoa is a small, slow-moving village, and that is exactly how the locals like it. Folia Taverna is the quintessential village taverna, serving up classic dishes like souvlaki, fried garidakia (baby prawns) and calamari. Spoa’s close proximity to the small port of Agios Nikolaos means that the seafood is freshly caught, and it also means you have the perfect swimming spot before or after your lunch. The balcony at Folia boasts sweeping views of the village and sea below, however, there is a more authentic local experience to be had at the street-side tables which are usually frequented by the older inhabitants of the village who spend the afternoon in discussion over a beer.
Swimming at Diakoftis beach
Also dubbed “Paradise beach”, Diakoftis is a beach that lives up to its name. Slightly tricky to find (drive around and behind the airport and take the bumpy road all the way to its end), the reward is a pristine stretch of turquoise that could leave you thinking you’ve been magically transported to the Maldives. Lined with soft white sand, the beach of Diakoftis has two sides to choose from and both promise clear, slightly cooler water. Insider tip: try to plan your trip to Diakoftis on a less windy day for maximum enjoyment.
Chasing the sunset along the west coast
After taking a late-afternoon dip at the beautiful Lefkos beach, hop in the car and follow the road along the west coast of the island. The low sunlight throws a magical glow on the rocky landscape of the island and leads you all the way to the traditional village of Olympos, where time seems to have stood still. Aside from the ladies dressed in traditional Karpathian costumes selling trinkets, you’ll find a sunset that’s so breathtaking, that even the locals stop what they’re doing to take the view in.
Sampling the local speciality – Makarounes
When the Italians invaded Karpathos in the early 1900s, they brought with them their love of pasta. Makarounes is the Karpathian combination of handmade pasta and local Greek cheese. A soft, curled pasta made from flour and water, Makarounes are usually served with sautéed onions and topped generously with grated sheep’s or goat’s cheese. Makarounes are found on almost every menu in Karpathos and must be tried at least once. You can also find them dried and available to buy in packets throughout the island to take home with you.
Spending a blissful day at Mikri Amoopi beach
For a day of doing absolutely nothing other than relaxing by the most crystal clear beach you can imagine, head directly to Mikri Amoopi beach. Located next to the larger Amoopi beach, Mikri Amoopi is a smaller bay with a handful of sun beds, often nabbed early in the day. There’s a tavern and a hotel restaurant nearby, which is a good thing because once you arrive at Mikri Amoopi, you’ll want to stay all day.
Rhodes is a popular summer destination for so many reasons, and after a long, sunny day at one of the island’s breathtaking beaches, there’s nothing better than a fresh scoop of gelato from Dream Cream.
From the moment you step into this chic gelateria, you will see you are in for a treat. Event stylist Lia Mylona’s passion for all things pretty is evident in every corner of the space, which has been so carefully thought out.
“Dream Cream is a family business but mostly it was a family dream. Ice cream has always been a bonding experience for us, having it as a treat on Sundays, going to gelaterias after a busy day to enjoy some good gelato together. But we didn’t have a proper gelateria in our neighbourhood and thought why don’t we open our own?” says Lia.
“We started brainstorming everything from the name, logo, flavours, interior and obviously the most boring part, logistics. We sat down and after hours and days and months of planning, Dream Cream emerged!”
“We wanted something different. Something so Pinterest-worthy that everybody would want to take a picture of. And we pretty much did it in no time! Everybody loves the pink aesthetic – even men!” adds Lia.
Beneath the colourful countertop, there are rotating specials that include Oreo, cheesecake, Bueno, lotus biscoff and a small selection of vegan options. Made fresh from a variety of natural ingredients, every flavour tastes exactly like it should; with a delightful range of gelato flavours that can be served in a cone or cup.
The pistachio is arguably one of the most popular flavours and that’s not surprising, given it’s made with pistachios from Aegina Island, known as the best in the world; another local fave is the chocolate pot ice cream dessert, which is layer upon layer of deliciousness.
And if you are looking to add more sweetness to your gelato, try the signature mini ice cream pancakes that feature the perfect balance between texture and smoothness; or the choux ice cream- soft pastry buns with a luxurious ice-cream filling!
The menu changes seasonally depending on availability, so there are plenty of reasons to keep going back, which will be even easier soon; due to the store’s popularity amongst both locals and international visitors, a second Dream Cream gelateria is opening shortly- right in the centre of Rhodes!
Rhodes, the largest Dodecanese island, officially launched the tourism season for 2022 on Sunday March 27, with the first charter flights landing at Rhodes International Airport “Diagoras” and hotels opening their doors to welcome international visitors.
Nine flights were scheduled for Sunday bringing tourists from Frankfurt (Germany), Bristol (UK), Bergamo (Italy), Stansted (UK), Charleroi (Belgium), Manchester and East Midlands (UK) and finally, the last charter arrived from Bologna (Italy).
A total of 38 charter flights are expected to arrive on Rhodes in the last few days of March while many flights are scheduled to arrive in the month of April.
Rhodes is one of Greece’s most popular all-year-round destinations thanks to its beautiful beaches, clear waters, castles and ancient civilisations, as well as its gourmet restaurants and traditional tavernas serving local delicacies.
Home to one of the best-preserved medieval settlements in the world, the Old Town of Rhodes has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site; as well as the Colossus of Rhodes- a statue of the Greek sun god Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes in 280 BC- it is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Greece’s leading carrier Aegean Airlines currently has three direct flights from Athens per day to Rhodes, and there is one overnight ferry route from Athens to Rhodes, which is a 16.5-hour trip.
Rhodes, Symi, Kos and Leros are some of the Dodecanese islands that are included in a new 42 million euro project for the protection and preservation of their archaeological sites and historical monuments that date back to Medieval, Byzantine, and Ottoman times.
The Greek Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni announced the new project, that will be financed by the Recover Fund, during a recent visit to Rhodes’ Medieval Town.
“Care for our smaller islands is of utter importance. Apart from the 16,800,000 euros that we secured for the restoration and reopening of the National Theatre of Rhodes, there are now many other projects that we have secured for the Medieval City, which will be of huge benefit not only for Rhodes and the Dodecanese,” said Minister Mendoni.
Works will be completed in Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Symi, Halki and Agathonisi.
“The cultural project that’s being launched today on all our islands is unprecedented. In the first phase, works will be completed in Rhodes, Kos, Agathonisi, Leros, Kalymnos and all the other islands will follow after that with prioritisation and above all abundance of interest and care,” said Regional Governor of the South Aegean, George Chatzimarkos added.
Projects include the creation of an integrated historic centre in the Medieval settlement of Rhodes, as well as the development of an open-air museum at the Medieval port, and the maintenance and restoration of the Rejep Pasha mosque.
Kos will see a restoration of the Neratzia Castle and the early Christian baptistery of Agios Ioannis; as well as works on the Defterdar mosque and the Purification Fountain, plus reconstruction of an Italian arcade and the creation of an open-air sculpture gallery at Nerantzia Castle.
In addition, Kalymnos’ Venetian windmills will be restored; Leros will see a former hotel in Lakki restored; Symi will have its bell tower at the church of Agios Ioannis Prodromos restored; whereas the Panagia Horiani Church and Archaeological Museum in Halki will have works done.Lastly, works will also take place at Agathonisi’s Thematic Archaeological Museum.
Greek family-owned and based in Athens, Variety Cruises, the world’s largest small ships cruise line, has created a new 8-day itinerary for 2022 that will take a small group of guests around some of the most beautiful unexplored Greek islands.
With a focus on boutique travel and off-the-beaten-track itineraries, this unique Unexplored Greek Islands cruise is designed to allow guests to discover unknown gems with rich history, incomparable light, translucent water, and heavenly beaches.
From the 1st of July through to the 16th of September 2022, Variety Cruises’ Callisto ship will set sail for ten stunning Greek island destinations. Departing from the port of Piraeus in Athens, it will head straight to Cape Sounion, for sunset cocktails and a welcome dinner under the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon.
“This cruise offers a more nourishing side of Greece, a taste of true Greek culture. These are places where people take pride in offering hospitality – in line with the ancient custom of filoxenia, love of strangers – and where things are done with meraki, love and soul. A cruise voyage unraveling the most authentic Cycladic and Dodecanese islands of Greece,” says the team at Variety Cruises, who are there to help each guest experience a great getaway that caters to personal taste and preferences.
With only 34 guests on board, the intimate cruise ship then arrives at the island of Ikaria, one of the world’s famous Blue Zones. Once the ship docks, guests are guided as to where they can explore authentic villages, hikes in wild landscapes, or a dip in one of the eight natural thermal springs. For something less adventurous, they can take part in cooking classes or have a coffee with some of the friendly locals.
Each day travellers are able to discover a new port of call, a hidden cove with crystal blue waters, a glimpse of ancient history, a rich cultural diversity; with the next stop being the tranquil island of Patmos, home of the Grotto and Monastery of Saint John the Apocalypse. In the afternoon there is another stop off at the hidden island of Lipsi, before finishing the tour of the Dodecanese in Kalymnos– a destination filled with fresh flavours, rich cuisine and history.
With plenty of time for independent exploration, there are many opportunities to jump off the vessel’s platform straight into the Mediterranean Sea for a swim, snorkel or a kayak in a secluded beach or cove. This is especially magical as the ship sails towards the famous Cyclades, where guests are whisked off to private bays that can only be reached by small ships. Guests will be able to experience the authentic beauty of Amorgos, before a stop off at Koufonisia and Iraklia– which feature the most stunning waters.
Serifos island is the last destination on this trip, highlighting the Cyclades’ brilliant light, and steadfast traditions. Enjoy one last swim at one of the island’s remote beaches before heading for the final stop at the port of Piraeus.
Callisto has 16 experienced crew on board, hosting 34 guests. The modern ship boasts classic lines and comfortable lounges, as well as spacious dining areas, a library and two decks for sunbathing, shaded areas and outdoor bar and loungers. Guests are able to enjoy 360° views of the unobstructed ocean and can mingle with others in public areas, or enjoy a moment to yourself in the ample deck space, before retreating to one of the 17 ocean views cabins- all offering windows or portholes.
At a tranquil village on the island of Symi, you will find a gorgeous little villa designed for couples to connect, de-stress or just relax along the stunning waterfront.
This tiny fishing cottage “On the Rocks” in Nimborio, is a place where you can unwind and feel totally at peace. From a quick dip at a nearby beach to enjoying a coffee and some light reading, or a candlelit dinner on the private terrace- this small sanctuary for two provides the perfect base for couples on a romantic getaway.
With the option to do what you like, when you like, the space offers privacy, freedom, and a mini home away from home vibe. Featuring one bedroom, one bathroom, a private terrace, wardrobe space, air-conditioning, and free WiFi, the holiday cottage is a short walk away from a traditional Greek taverna, a hotel restaurant, and a beach bar serving food all day long.
For those who wish to explore the rest of the beautiful island, guests have easy access to Symi’s main harbour town using the regular water taxi service, which also connects to many of the island’s breathtaking beaches every morning and afternoon. Water taxis can also be booked privately in the evening for those wishing to head to town at night- where you will find a great range of eateries and bars to choose from.
So if you’re planning your next Greek island escape for two or even looking for an ideal retreat as a solo traveller (for the ultimate me-time), this is the perfect place!
With numerous bicycle lanes in the main town and wonderful cycling routes around the island, there’s no better way to explore Kos’ cultural and historical sites than hopping on a bike!
From Hippocrates’ tree where the famous Father of Medicine practiced his therapies to Therma (hot springs) on the east coast of Kos or beautiful Zia where you can enjoy a fabulous meal and the stunning sunset- the adventurous cycling routes in Kos are endless!
Located in the Dodecanese, the flat terrain of the island makes cycling an easy and popular means of transport for both locals and international visitors. Here you will find locals on their bikes heading to work, school, or to the shops; and will be sharing the lanes with visitors who are exploring Kos’ main town, beaches, and historical sites along the way. It’s also the perfect way to admire the historic buildings until you reach a café, restaurant, or bar of your choice so you can sit down for a relaxing drink and some food- before you start riding again.
Just this month, Greece’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Michalis Papadopoulos announced that Kos is emerging as a prime biking destination, and during the event, Papapopoulos highlighted Greece’s efforts to establish a National EuroVelo Coordination Center that would promote cycling tourism in Greece.
“Currently there are 6.5 thousand bikes available for rent on Kos island– a huge advantage for the development of bike tourism,” Papadopoulos said.
Exploring Kos’ main town by bike is a great experience and highly recommended. Featuring a 13km cycle lane stretching right along the waterfront, the bicycle path of Kos begins from Faros beach all the way through to the end of the beach at Psalidi, with a distance of about 13 km. With many side roads, some of which lead into the city of Kos, cyclists can choose which path they would like to discover first.
For those who are more confident cyclists, there are routes through mountains and dirt roads, overlooking the stunning nature on one side and the panoramic view of the island of Kos on the other. There are many paved roads, with limited traffic that will lead to charming villages and beaches beyond the centre of town, including some of the island’s most popular beaches- Tigaki and Marmari.
On the island, visitors can find many bicycle rental shops, with bikes suitable for all ages, levels of experience, and tastes. Ranging from road bikes to mountain bikes up to tandem bikes (for two riders); others prefer to take part in organised cycling tours, which can be booked while on the island or in advance.
Located in the Dodecanese, Symi island is known for its colourful picture-perfect town, ranked a national monument for Greek architecture.
Symi boasts natural beauty- with its secluded coves (scattered throughout the island) enchanting beaches (accessible by boat); and in contrast to its rocky coastline, the interior of the island is forested with cypresses and conifers- making it a stunning destination.
After a recent trip to this breathtaking island, here are my tips on the Best Things to do in Symi!
1. Get lost in Symi’s main town
Start by the harbour, named Gialos, where pastel-coloured Venetian mansions beautifully fill the town. When you think that you have seen it all, climb up several steps (450 to be exact) at Kali Strata in order to reach the Chorio, the village-like old part of town. If you are not a fan of exercise, there’s a five-minute bus that leaves every hour but you’ll miss the magic of admiring the charming houses on your way up and the picture-perfect view of Symi. At the top, there is the Kastro, which used to be an ancient acropolis and its old walls became part of the castle built there by the Knights of the Order of St John in 1407. Make sure you are there in time to enjoy the sunset from this spot.
2. Hop on a boat tour around the island
A daily cruise around Symi is a great way to see all the secluded beaches and coves. The traditional boat, POSEIDON, offers daily cruises from the Gialos. Captain John, the owner, (lately along with his son Thodoris) has been touring around the island for the last 20 years and knows all the hidden beauties. He is also a great chef, as he is also preparing the menu during the tour. It departs from the port at 10:30 a.m. and returns at 17:30 p.m. The itinerary depends on the weather but normally you will be able to swim to the majestic beaches of St. Georgios, St. Vasilios, and Fokospilia. Inside this cave, there is a hidden beach where you can swim and (if you are lucky) see the seals that live there. The buffet is served at Seskli island on tables under the trees.
3. Meet Mr. Takis Psarros, a local artisan
You won’t notice anything different from the outside, since you will see a typical store, full of leather goods in the town’s main port. But look closer. Inside the shop, you will find Mr. Psarros working on his amazing leather artwork. His designs are truly unique but the most extraordinary part is the procedure. Millions of burnt dots on leather; and countless hours of creation compose the solitary work of art that is created by the talented pyrographist. He is the only artist in Greece who designs pieces using the method of skin pyrography. Mr. Psarros holds a Guinness World Record for the largest pyrographic “Poseidon and Amphitrite” with 11.000.00 dots, which required two years’ worth of work.
4. Visit the Monastery of Panormitis
It may seem like an Italian town filled with mansions boasting magnificent sea-views from their balconies but in reality, it’s a holy Monastery of the 18th Century, dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Set against a stunning backdrop of pine-covered mountainsides, the monastery welcomes the ferries by a loud bell sound- as they arrive and depart. You can also admire the wonderful chandeliers and the silver-leafed representation of Archangel Michael, Patron Saint of Symi, and protector of sailors. There is also a small museum and if you climb some steps, you can see the cells where the monks live and where many pilgrims choose to stay.
5. Enjoy delicious dishes at Haritomeni while enjoying the sunset
Haritomeni restaurant is perfectly positioned in Upper Symi, an ideal spot to watch the sunset. Head there in the evening before the sun is about to set and sit on the terrace. Besides the stunning view of Symi harbour, the food here is absolutely delicious, even the simplest dishes taste amazing at this family-run tavern that serves traditional Greek dishes using the freshest local produce available.
6. Buy a Sea Sponge
The inhabitants of Symi were the first Greeks to work as sponge divers. They were the pioneers who also taught other islanders how to dive, process, and trade the sponges. That’s why many international travellers who visited Greece in the Middle Ages believed that sponges only came from Symi. We visited Dinos Sponge Centre, the oldest sponge shop of Symi (since 1939), and met Mr. Dinos and his son, who explained to us many things regarding natural sea sponges that are animals and not plants as most people believe. We chose the appropriate sea sponges for our body and face for loofah use, bath time, and exfoliation- as they have top-notch exfoliating, circulation-boosting, radiance-enhancingabilities.
7. Enjoy life at the beach
If you want to stay in Gialos, Nos beach is the perfect deal. A small piece of paradise that offers sun loungers, parasols, a shower, and a café -restaurant. A few kilometers away, you will find Gyala beach with a canteen that serves the tastiest country potatoes. Nimporio is another small beach, in the nearby bay, with sun loungers and a tavern; access is by boat or by road. Nanou is a picturesque pebble beach in a green landscape with cypresses, hidden behind high hills and crystal-clear water. Marathounda is a narrow bay with many goats running around. Agios Nikolaos is a popular beach with sand and pebbles and natural shade. The best beaches are Agios Vasilios,Agios Georgios,Dysalonas where the cliffs drop steeply behind the beach with its deep blue waters. The 300-metre high, vertical rock that stands behind this beach creates a majestic landscape. Don’t miss Agia Marina. Take a taxi boat (we took Pan. Ypakoi boat) it has a new restaurant and a small island straight opposite the beach with a church, that you can reach by swimming.
8. Eat at Manos Fish Restaurant
This taverna is a unique experience thanks to its owner. Mr. Manos is some kind of entertainer for his clients, along with his parrot Markos. He will narrate stories of glorious nights at his taverna with celebrities who sing and dance until the morning. The photos outside the bathroom are the evidence. The seafood here is another experience! Don’t forget to taste “symiako garidaki” (small shrimp of Symi).
9. Have a drink at Symi’s main town or along the port
You will spot them during your stroll around the picturesque alleys of Symi Town, and visit them at night. The bars with a great atmosphere in Symi include Tsati, Achinos, Vapori, Charani, Los and Yaghta. They won’t disappoint.
10. Admire 1900 Hotel
We met the architect Dimitris Zografos, who decided to restore the old house of the Mastoriadis family and convert it into a boutique hotel, under the name “1900 Hotel”. Mastoriadis was the person who brought the first autonomous diving suit (“scafandro” in Greek) to Greece and Symi. Dimitris Zografos tried, through careful and thoughtful restoration, to keep its heritage alive. The house has been left merely intact. The main rooms of the house have been seamlessly transformed into four elegant suites (1901, 1902, 1903 and 1904), steeped in history.
How to get there
Ferries depart from Piraeus port about three times a week and arrive at Symi after approximately 20 hours. It might be more convenient for you to reach Rhodes by plane (a one-hour trip from Athens) and then travel to Symi by ferry from Rhodes (the ferries are almost daily). Symi is also connected by ferry with Kalymnos, Patmos, Leros and Tilos.
Where to stay
Limani Life: Right on the promenade of the port, an old mansion has been transformed into six comfortable, minimalist aesthetic rooms in pastel colours and nautical touches.
The Old Markets: Housed in a restored building in the old market of Symi, just 400m from the port. Highlight the breakfast served on the terrace with majestic views.
Iapetos Village Hotel: Colorful houses, a tropical garden and a pool with stone arches, this hotel is like a tiny village of a children’s fairytale.
Where to eat in Symi
Manos Fish restaurant for fresh fish. Bella Napoli Trattoria Italiana, for pasta and pizza. Charitomeni restaurant for a delicious meal with a sunset view. Taverna restaurant International, a traditional Greek taverna. Pantelis, a great gastronomic destination. O Tholos for great food by the sea.
Many thanks to Deputy Mayor Mr. Nikitas Gryllis and the Mayor Mr. Lefteris Papakalodoukas for making this press trip happen!
The Medieval City of Rhodes was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is one of the best-preserved and largest inhabited medieval towns in Europe. When you approach the walls of Medieval Old Town of Rhodes keep in mind you are about to enter the oldest inhabited medieval city in Europe.
Today roughly 6,000 people live within the walls, and driving through the old town is restricted to residents only. Boasting incredible Gothic architecture and historical importance, walking around the Medieval City is a must when visiting Rhodes island!
History of the Medieval Old Town of Rhodes
The medieval city is located within a 4 km-long wall and is divided with the high town to the north and the lower town to the south. Originally separated from the lower town by a fortified wall, the high town was entirely built by the Knights. The Order was organised into seven “tongues”, each having its own seat, or “inn”. The inns of the tongues of Italy, France, Spain and Provence lined the main east-west axis, the famous Street of the Knights. To the north, close to the site of the Knights’ first hospice, stands the Inn of Auvergne. The original hospice was replaced in the 15th century by the Great Hospital, which was built between 1440 and 1489.
The town has never been abandoned and when exploring the medieval streets of Rhodes, it seems time has stopped in the middle ages; the magical atmosphere is highlighted by its knightly past.
Strolling the streets of Old Town Rhodes
Boasting cobbled streets and Gothic towers, this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site is filled with mosaic-covered alleyways, and historical streets that are home to the Palace of the Grand Master with its towered, majestic entrance and large courtyard; Ottoman buildings such as the Suleymanie Mosque and Byzantine temples, medieval buildings, traditional fountains, Byzantine and Gothic churches, shops, taverns, cafes and bars that are all scattered throughout the Old Town, all blending together to create a unique and picturesque whole.
There are roughly 200 streets or alleys – some of them have no name and getting “lost” here is part of the excitement as every little corner has a piece of rich history to be told. And remember the name “Sokratous Street” as a point of reference, as this is the closest the Medieval City comes to having a main street.
What to see in the Old Town of Rhodes
With gates all around the Old Town, you can start your tour from wherever you wish and while wandering around, we recommend you check out the following…
-The Palace of the Grand Master, which has an imposing entrance and well-preserved towers and battlements. The interiors of the buildings, decorated with ancient ornamental objects and artifacts are also a must-see.
-After entering through the Liberty Gate, make your way through to Symi Square and Argyrokastrou Square next to it. Here you will discover the ruins of a Temple of Aphrodite.
-The Street of the Knights; here you will discover more about the Order of Knights and the seven different buildings that were built for each of the tongues, or countries the Knights of Saint John were made up of.
-Knights Street leads to the Palace of the Grand Master that has different exhibits as you walk around the halls of this historic castle.
-Make sure you visit the clocktower (dates back to 1852 and is the highest point in Rhodes Old Town), the synagogue and the mosques of the Suleyman and Recep Pasha.
-It is also worth visiting the churches of Panagia tou Kastrou and the Panagia tou Bourgou.
-Visit the Museum Square where you’ll find the Archaeological Museum located in the former hospital building of the Knights of St. John, here you’ll find artifacts, sculptures, and other items that date back to over 2,000 years ago. Also worth visiting is the Museum of Modern Greek Art, Decorative Arts Collection Museum, Museum of Our Lady of the Castle Museum, the Byzantine Museum and the Jewish Museum of Rhodes.
-While here, we suggest brunch or lunch at the lovely courtyard of the Cafe Auvergne, which is just a step away from Knights Street; or head to Marco Polo Mansion for an unforgettable dinner.
-Have a drink at the Cellar of the Knights- located in Hippocrates Square, it’s one of the most unique places to have a drink. Hippocrates’ Square or Platia Ippokratous is a charming town square in the heart of the UNESCO Old Town with a majestic staircase, a wonderful fountain, and a range of cafes and shops filled with locally made sandals, jewellery and other products. The square can be reached by coming into the Old Town through the Marine Gate.
– Once you’ve walked through the inner streets of the Old Town, make sure you make the most of the views from the historic part of town from up high- you’ll be able to take some spectacular photos from above.
From Rhodes Airport it’s around a 35-minute drive, you can catch a taxi or a bus from the airport to the Old Town.
A small, authentic, undiscovered island, located in the northern Dodecanese; Leros boasts charming harbors, coves and inlets protected from the winds.
There are also shipwrecks, a war tunnel museum, a natural port (one of the largest in the Mediterranean) that transports you to Italy, four marinas, pristine nature, different types of architecture, and very rich history. Are you ready to explore it?
What you need to know before you arrive
-Leros is a little island in the Dodecanese, located between Patmos and Kalymnos. Thanks to its location, Leros is perfect for island hopping to Patmos, Kalymnos, and Lipsi.
-Leros has a population of about 8500 inhabitants, which makes the island very distinct.
-From 1958 to 1995, Leros was home to one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Europe. The island was economically dependent on the mental hospital since entire families worked there as guardians, but the hospital’s terrible living conditions affected the locals working there.
-During the junta of the Colonels, the island was used as a place of internal exile for political protestors.
You can reach Leros island by sea or air. Ferries from Athens to Leros depart from Pireaus about four times a week. The trip lasts approximately 8 hours. Leros is also connected by ferry with Rhodes, Patmos, Kos, Kalymnos and Lipsi. During summer, ferries run between the islands of the Dodecanese almost every day. Leros Municipal Airport receives only domestic flights from Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”. The flight from Athens to Leros lasts 50 minutes.
Where to stay- An ideal area to stay is in Alinda or Panteli.
Tips for getting around
Leros has a bus network that connects you with the busiest places. Yet we recommend renting a car or motorbike in order to explore the island at your own pace and visit places you can’t reach by public transport. We rented our car from MOTOLAND in Panteli, founded in 1996 by Mr. Ilias who has been involved in the car and moto market of Leros for the last 15 years (Tel. +30 22470 26400).
Bear in mind that there are a lot of Vespas on the island. Plus, the employees of the municipality move around on a Vespa, a culture left by the Italians. There is even a motorcycle club, under the name of MOL.
Best time to visit- July and August are the two months in Leros when most travelers arrive on the island. Also, the weather temperature peaks during this period. On the other hand, June and September are not so busy and still quite warm, so they are the ideal months to enjoy the island.
Where to sleep
Nefeli Hotel: It is located in a peaceful spot next to Agia Marina town, very close to the beach of Kritoni in Leros.
Alea Mare: This renovated hotel right by the sea is set in the beautiful village of Alinda.
Irene Hotel: Just70metres from the beach of Alinda, this hotel is ideal for families.
Panteli Beach Studios: Located at the feet of the picturesque Platanos village, just a few meters from a sandy beach.
Where to eat
Milos restaurant: Located in front of a traditional windmill, with the breathtaking view of Agia Marina, this restaurant specializes in seafood and pasta recipes cooked with modern culinary techniques. It’s one of the best seafood restaurants on Leros if not the Dodecanese.
Psaropoula: A family-owned and run seafood taverna since 1962, set right by the water, on the beach of Panteli.
El Greco: A traditional taverna in Panteli, right on the sea; serving traditional recipes from Leros combined with modern Greek bistro cuisine.
Dimitris o Karaflas: Set in Spilia, whichlies between Panteli and Vromolithos; they serve tasty food and offer a nice view.
Sotos: Located in Drymonas, come here for delicious fish appetizers.
Petrino: Perfect for grilled meat in Lakki.
To Paradosiakon: Housed in a historic Italianate mansion on the waterfront of Agia Marina, this is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.
What to eat
Gavafes, a tropical fruit (citrus-flavored type of guava grown only on Leros), was brought over by Greek-Egyptians; and has a very intense aroma.
Patsavouropita (yogurt syrup cake)
Pougkakia (almond and mandarin pastries)
Ladotyri, a local cheese
Salted kolios (fish)
Soumada. Don’t pass up the opportunity to quench your thirst with this locally produced drink!
Where to drink
Calvo Café-Pub in Agia Marina, set in a beautiful old red building right by the sea.
Meltemi, right on the sea in Agia Marina.
View cafe-bar-restaurant, located at the castle, overlooking Agia Marina.
Apothiki Night-Club for Greek music.
Where to swim
Dyo Liskaria: Charming windless cove with deep blue waters. An organized beach with shops nearby. Chill at Zephyros Beach bar.
Alinda: One of the largest beaches of Leros. Organized beach with blue waters, shops and tavernas nearby.
Panteli: Famous beach of Leros. Here you will find one of the largest beach bars on the island, while nearby there are other shops and mini markets.
Agia Kioura: An isolated sandy beach with blue waters surrounded by nature. Take with you water, food and an umbrella. Don’t forget to visit the church Agia Kioura.
Vromolithos: A popular sandy beach with facilities next to the local settlement.
Agia Marina: One of the most famous beaches of the island with shallow, clear waters.
Xirokampos: Quite a large, sandy beach with deep waters that are suitable for diving. Near Xirokampos there is a small rocky beach, Panagia Kavouradena, for those seeking privacy and tranquility.
Agios Spyridonas: A small beach with sand and pebbles, that stands out for its clear blue waters and the shipwrecked boat on the shore.
Krithoni: Well-known organized beach with clear waters, fine pebbles and umbrellas. There are also tall trees around.
Koulouki: These are three consecutive coves, with fine, light sand, cool waters, surrounded by imposing pines and lush vegetation. At the middle beach, there is a snack bar with snacks and drinks.
Merikia: Beautiful, quiet beach near Koulouki, with crystal clear waters and large tamarisk trees that protect from the sun.
-According to myth, Leros island was where the ancient Greek goddess of hunting, Artemis, used to go hunting, thanks to the island’s large deer population.
-During the Byzantine period, Constantine the Great, incorporated Leros into the theme of Samos, and many magnificent Christian churches were built as well as the castle and the Panagia (Blessed Virgin) church on the hills.
-In 1314, Leros was occupied by the tyrannical Knights of St. John of Rhodes who governed it until the Turks invaded and took command of the entire Aegean archipelago.
-After the independence of Greece in 1829, all the Dodecanese islands were ceded to Turkey by the London Protocol in exchange for Euboea. From 1912 to 1943, the island was occupied by the Italians and during this time, the intention was to develop Leros into an Italian naval base. Over several decades important defense work was carried out and military installations were built with a new deep-sea port created at Laki. Many buildings were demolished and, in their place, grand buildings were erected in the new, modern style that is now associated with the Fascist architecture of the 1930s.
-During World War II, the Greek Sacred Battalion, together with the British alliance liberated the island from Italian occupancy. However, after almost 50 days of bombardment from German air raids, the Germans went on to occupy the island until the end of the war in 1945. This was further followed by a two-year occupation by English armed forces, which culminated in March 1948, with Leros and the whole of the Dodecanese finally being united with Greece.
Must visit villages – Leros is dotted with picturesque villages. The most popular of them are Alinda, Panteli and Agia Marina.
Culture/traditions of the island
-During the first two weeks of August, the wine festival of Leros is held in Xirokambos, where you can taste some –Lerian wine and enjoy traditional dances and local musicians of Leros.
-Every August, the Municipality of Leros organizes the Alindia festival, featuring athletic and other cultural events.
-The three Moon Festival is held in June, July and August (one for each full moon) with artists from all over Greece displaying their work in charming buildings of Leros.
-The Feast of Trata is held every year in September in Panteli, where the fishermen cook their fish and offer them to guests.
-In August, the celebration of Drymonas takes place on the local beach, where a Lerian cuisine festival is held with plenty of wine, food and dance, to the sounds of traditional and folk music.
-Gourna is the representation of the traditional threshing that takes place, free traditional appetizers and wine are offered with the sounds of a lyrical feast.
-One of the major events in Leros is the feast of Agia Marina on July 17th, which lasts two days and also the glorious celebrations of the 15th of August, when thousands of pilgrims arrive in Leros that day, at the church of Panagia of Kastro, the patron saint of the island, in Platanos village.
Do as locals do…
Dance at Disco Diana. Open from 1978 until the beginning of 2000. In 2019 it reopened with a disco ball and music from the ’90s. Its name (Diana) means Artemis, the Goddess of hunting, who is connected with Leros.
Insider tips- If you are departing by ship at 10:30 pm for Piraeus, before leaving head to “Leon” at the port for the tastiest souvlaki.
Ideal time to spend here? Leros is a small island and you won’t need too long. Three days should be enough to see everything, except if you want more time just to really relax.
Favorite part? The most picturesque site on Leros is the windmills in Pandeli, on the way to the castle.
What to avoid?
Don’t try to find nightlife in Lakki, there is not much happening. The nightlife of the island beats in the heart of Agia Marina.
Sometimes buses do not stick to the timetable. Avoid waiting at the bus stop if you have another option.
Scuba diving and snorkeling. Leros is gradually developing into a popular scuba diving destination in the Aegean Sea, due to the rocky coasts, the emerald water, and the old shipwrecks in the surrounding sea bottom. Popular Leros diving sites are the large Queen Olga Destroyer at the port of Lakki, the Anti-Submarine ship in the bay of Partheni and the wreck of German bomber Henkel-111 in the bay of Blefouti.
Here are some diving centers in Leros: Hydrovius Diving Center is a PADI resort on Leros island.
Camping and Diving Leros club is situated in the southern part of the island, really close to a quiet, small beach, ideal for diving or snorkeling.
Hiking. There are trails all across Leros. One of the most charming routes is from thevillage of Xirokambos, in the south, to theCape of Diaporo. It takes between an hour and an hour and a half. Along the way, you’ll spot an old Italian military building with wall paintings created by soldiers during World War II.
Where to shop
Aspronisi boutique is a chic concept store with Greek designers’ creations and a range of accessories.
Ageri island boutique has exclusive Greek fashion brands, handmade accessories, unique art and home decor items.
Fegaropetra stocks handmade jewellery and accessories.
Keramika Lerou (Artemisio-Sifounios Pottery) has amazing pottery that are made in the shop by Mr Sifounios Makis.
To Leriko stocks gifts, handmade jewellery and clothing.
What to see
-The Medieval Castle, originally built by the Byzantines on the site of an ancient temple and then restored by the Venetians.
-The flour mill at the port of Agia Marina, an architectural model of a 20th-century windmill.
-The Historical and Folklore Museum, housed in Bellenis Tower, on the way to Alinda. It includes photos from the Second World War, traditional instruments, old maps, and manuscripts, among other artifacts.
-The lovely chapel of Agios Isidoros, on the islet of Alinda that is connected to the land by a narrow passage. Built on the site of an ancient temple, it offers nice views, especially in the sunset.
-The church of Prophet Ilias by the sea, beneath the Castle of Panteli.
-The church of Agia Marina, made of stone with two bell towers. Tradition says that fishermen found an icon of the Virgin Mary here while they were looking for crabs.
-The Castle of Xirokambos, built in Medieval times on the site of an ancient acropolis.
-The Archaeological Museum, housed in a Neoclassical building in Agia Marina that dates from 1882. It houses collections of prehistoric findings, small statues and ceramics from the Geometrical era.
-The War Museum, which opened in 2005 and housed in a tunnel built by the Italians during the Second World War.
-The War Memorial in Lakki, the port of Leros, commemorates the attack of German bombers on the Greek destroyer Vasilissa Olga, during the Second World War.
-The Ecclesiastical Museum, housed in the Castle of Panteli. It hosts an ecclesiastical collection with Byzantine icons, gospels, candlesticks, and holy items as well as an archaeological collection with statues and vases.
-The Aerofono is an acoustic wall. The military employed blind people, who were thought to have better hearing capabilities, in order to listen to military movements in the area.
-The church of Agia Kioura. Political prisoners, including Manolis Glezos and the visual artists’ Kir. Tsakiris, Ant. Karagiannis and T. Tzaneteas that were imprisoned in a large military facility near the church painted icons on the walls of the church in 1968. The paintings are protected by the Ministry of Civilization as a work of art.
Take a day trip to…
Discover islands with turquoise waters like other Robinsons with the traditional boats “Barbarossa” and “Agios Georgios” that leave daily from the island’s capital, Agia Marina. You will enjoy ouzo and local handmade delicacies on the boat – as if you have escaped with friends until you find yourself on the soil of Aspronissia, Makronisi and Tiganakia. The few residents of Arki, Lipsi and Marathi will welcome you like family. Sometimes on your return, if you are lucky enough, you may enjoy the company of dolphins.
What to do
-Enjoy a wine tasting experience at Hatzidakis Winery, where you can discover the whole process of winemaking from the grape to the barrel. Mr Giorgios Hatzidakis himself will explain everything to you. himself. Certainly, you will taste different kinds of wine served with local mezedes.
-Admire the special architecture that has been influenced by the Cycladic islands but also by Italians and Alexandrians. Lakki, the capital of the island was designed by Italians and the most notable landmarks are the cyclical market with the clock tower, the church of St. Francis of Assisi, the lovely barracks on the edge of the waterfront, the theatre, and the hotel ‘Roma.’
-Learn about the history of the psychiatric hospital on the island. Italians during their occupation built small districts of unique buildings for the Italian Admiralty. Many years later, in 1957 the Greek government decided these abandoned buildings be converted into a psychiatric hospital. The bad conditions were highly criticized especially during the ’80s and ’90s and Leros island was stigmatized as a “shrink island” for a couple of decades.
-Visit Merikia tunnel, around Lakki, which was the maritime administration of Italians, who remained in Leros for 31 years (1912- 1943). During the Second World War, the Germans tried to recapture Leros due to its strategic and geographical location by bombarding it for 52 days until they finally conquered it.
-Watch the retro vehicle show, held every summer, or drive a vintage car or motorcycle around Leros.
Can’t leave until
You catch a boat to the tiny, uninhabited island of Αrchangelos, where there is only one taverna with amazing home-cooked Greek food and a sandy beach. A pure idyllic location. You need to arrive on your own boat or call the restaurant to ask them to pick you up with their boat.
Did you know?
-The story of the famous novel “Guns of Navarone” is based on the Battle of Leros, and Leros island’s coastal artillery guns that were built and used by the Italians and subsequently the Germans.
-Many local songs of Leros are among the most famous nisiotika (island) songs of Greece (“Pote Tha’nixoume Pania”, “Pos to Trivun to Piperi”, “Mes tou Aegeou ta Nisia”).
-The poet Giannis Ritsos was exiled to Partheni. It was here that he was inspired to create the oeuvre “18 lianotragouda tis pikris patridas” that was set to music by Mikis Theodorakis along with the magnificent “Ti Romiosini min tin klais”.
-Lerikos is the name of a local dance. In addition, the dance Issos is performed in Leros island.
*Special thanks to Mr Manolis Mathioudakis, Chairman of the Hoteliers of Leros for his valuable help in making this trip happen.
We arrived on Patmos Island in mid-June. This was our first visit here and as we arrived late evening, the first thing we caught sight of was Skala, the largest settlement and the main port of Patmos. Nicoletta, our host was there to pick us up and lead us to Langada, her traditional farmhouse in upper Kampos.
After a few minutes of driving, we saw a lush green estate with a traditional farmhouse built around a small chapel and a central patio; developed during the centuries- in perfect harmony with nature and the ambiance of total tranquility- it overlooks Kampos beach. We immediately felt closer to nature, closer to God and an inner peace came over us.
We were curious about its history. Who built it, why, and when exactly? Nicoletta, a tourist guide herself, narrated the story for us.
“In 1971, my mother, Dolly Kontogianni, set foot at the port of Patmos island for the first time. It was love at first sight. She was immediately captivated by the island’s special energy. She soon found a plot in Chora, the island’s medieval capital, where she was planning to build a traditional island mansion. Dolly was a restless spirit and loved houses! She never stopped exploring the island’s homes and plots until she discovered the 40-acre estate ‘Langada’.
There she found a farmhouse in a ruinous condition; according to the chapel’s lintel, it was built in 1698. It is said that the chapel and the room next to it had been used by generations of monks from the holy St John monastery; they wished to lead an ascetic life and their aim was to cultivate the land. The estate belonged to 30 heirs. As you can imagine, the buying process was very complicated.
Dolly finally managed to acquire the property in 1973. She slowly started restoring the house, strictly following the traditional building techniques and architectural style. She was fully dedicated to this project which lasted five years. Since then, we have spent numerous summer and easter holidays here with friends and family,” says Nicoletta.
Today Langada is a large property divided into two parts (Langada 1 & Langada 2) by the central courtyard and the chapel. Guests can rent the entire property or choose only half of it.
We spent two nights at Langada 2, which offers two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchenette, a sitting room, a beautiful courtyard, and a garden. The first bedroom is situated on the ground floor. It features a large traditional built-in double bed and an en suite bathroom. Exiting the bedroom, you will find a traditional sitting room that leads to the beautiful garden overlooking Kampos beach. The kitchenette and second bathroom are located at the back of the house. The kitchenette leads to a small courtyard with a dining table. The second bedroom, featuring a double bed, is on the upper floor and enjoys a large veranda with an unobstructed view of Kampos and the sea- we couldn’t get enough of this. The whole experience is as if we travelled back in time. It’s amazing to see how the houses were built back then.
Langada 1, consists of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a spacious fully equipped kitchen, the central patio and chapel, and a front terrace. The master bedroom is a suite consisting of two parts, a sitting area with a sofa that converts into a double bed, and the sleeping room with a second double bed. The room also features an en suite bathroom with a shower. The second bedroom has a large traditional built-in bed and a sitting area. The spacious kitchen has a contemporary yet indigenous character and it used to be a traditional kitchen with wood stoves and a chimney. We had the chance to see the other home too and were able to see the wonderful renovations Nicoletta’s mother made to the entire property.
Apart from our veranda, outdoors we also enjoyed the beautiful and picturesque central patio, which features a large table and a built-in low sofa under the trees. The home’s indelible traditional architecture, the experience of the past, and the tranquility all formed an unbeatable, exclusive experience for us on Patmos island.
If you are heading to Kos and looking for a unique beach experience that also offers therapeutic benefits, make sure to add the Therma Hot Springs to your list.
It should come as no surprise that Kos’ thermal springs have been well-known for their healing properties since antiquity- as it is, after all, the place where Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine was born.
Located at Agios Fokas, on the southeastern part of the island, about 12 kilometers from the centre of the capital, you will arrive at Therma (also known as Empros Thermi), the most popular thermal spring in Kos.
The location boasts raw, rustic, and beautiful scenery; and after a walk along the edge of a long beach filled with soft pebbles and a couple of old buildings, you will come across a small rock pool that invites people to dive straight in. Even though it’s really hot at first- especially when you initially step in- the best thing is to immerse yourself in the hot water and allow your body to relax and enjoy the experience. Keep in mind, seawater from the beach flows through the small pool and cools the therapeutic springs- creating a soothing feeling.
Facts about Therma Springs
The water originates from a hot spring in the mountains and flows down to meet the ocean at the natural sea pool. You can’t miss the Therma Springs as there are large stones surrounding the small pool that’s right next to the beach. As the hot water mixes with the seawater, it creates a lovely, relaxing bath and the amount of time you spend in there is entirely up to you, although it is said that you shouldn’t stay in for longer than 35 minutes at a time- as the water temperature ranges between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius year-round, providing a natural spa experience for those game enough to jump in.
As the water originates from the mountain, it’s rich in many minerals including sulfur (the distinct smell is clearly identifiable), calcium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium. These minerals are said to provide therapeutic relief to those with ailments and muscular aches and pains. The spring waters are also considered to help those with skin and respiratory conditions.
While many visitors head to Therma for the hot springs, the beach is also worth the visit. Unlike other Greek beaches that are known for their turquoise clear waters and soft sand- Therma Beach is covered with smooth pebbles and rock formations, which also makes for a wonderful foot massage. After a relaxing bath in the hot springs, it’s great to have a swim on the beach, where parts of the water are also warm. If you are there during peak season, you will also find massage therapists who offer a range of treatments at the beach.
Tips before arriving
– The Therma Springs are free of charge.
– It’s an unorganised beach with no umbrellas, toilets, or change rooms.
– As you start walking down, you will come across a cafe right at the top; they offer a light lunch menu, drinks, ice cream, and other snacks.
– To get to the hot springs you need to walk down a steep cliff, it’s a safe walk however it can be difficult to walk back up if you have young children with you. Make sure you are prepared with water, hats, snacks, sun umbrellas and wear comfortable shoes.
Agios Fokas beach is 12 kilometres east of Kos Town and the best way to get there is by car. You can leave your vehicle at the parking and walk down the dirt road (takes around ten minutes). You can also catch a taxi or arrive by bus (which regularly depart from the centre of town).