Everything about this stunning little island is quiet and peaceful. Surrounded by the jewelled turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Kastellorizo allows visitors to experience authentic island life, while enjoying a slow pace holiday.
Cobblestone alleys and traditional colourful mansions dot the scenic village and the waterfront is lined with tavernas and café-bars that spoil you for choice. Locals on this Dodecanese island welcome all visitors with open arms, which makes a holiday here all the more memorable.
Stroll around the main harbour
Kastellorizo’s beautiful little harbour is lined with charming neoclassical mansions that are two-story and painted in gorgeous shades- making them stand out. The horseshoe-shaped harbour is striking and it’s the first thing you see as you arrive by ferry. In fact, it’s one of the largest harbours in the Eastern Mediterranean. Here you will find wonderful restaurants, bars, shops and Sandrapeia Urban School, whose architecture is inspired by the University of Athens building. Also, look out for the New Market and City Hall buildings that were built during the Italian occupation.
Enjoy Kastellorizo Town
Behind the harbour-front are the town’s narrow backstreets that come to life at night- especially during summer. Although it has a small population (around 490 residents), the one and only town on the island is full of wonderful restaurants, cafes, a few bars and shops that are packed in the warmer months. Here is where you will find most of the hotels, banks, bakeries, and a range of places to eat. It really is a pretty town with lots of places to sit and enjoy the wonderful views.
Climb to Agios Giorgios
There are around five churches dedicated to Agios Giorgios (Saint George) on Kastellorizo island and if you take a walk to the Agios Nikolaos Castle, you will then be able to climb to reach the Monastery of Agios Giorgios tou Vounou (Saint George of the Mountains).
It takes 401 steps (to be exact) to reach it, but the views from here are absolutely worth it. Surrounded by huge stones, this deserted monastery resembles a fortress and hosts a catacomb, among other things. From here you will also be rewarded with panoramic views of the harbour, Mandraki and the Turkish coastline.
Explore the Blue Cave
The Blue Cave of Kastellorizo is famous worldwide and one of the biggest attractions to the island. This cave is said to be among the most impressive natural treasures found in the Mediterranean, as it’s larger than the Grotta Azzurra on Capri in Italy. Swimming in the cave, in the stunning reflected light, is a unique experience as the sunlight reflected at the back of the cave paints the water an incredible shade of Aegean blue, which is mesmerising.
Visit the Islet of Ro
From Kastellorizo, a day trip to the Island of Ro lasts around three hours and you will be able to see an islet that’s very special for Greeks; it’s symbolic importance is thanks to a heroic woman, Despina Achladioti, who lived on the island completely alone for 40 years. What started as a patriotic act of resistance during the Nazi Occupation lasted until she passed away. Every morning Kyria Despina proudly raised the Greek flag on this remote island and took it down every evening as the sunset. Departure from the main harbour of Kastellorizo towards the island of Ro, by speed boat, or a wooden traditional boat allows you to explore the islet and you will can have a quick swim or snorkel along the way.
Swing by Mandraki
A visit to Mandraki, the island’s second, more tranquil harbour is also a must. The peaceful, dainty and pretty bay serves as the secondary port of the island. It’s around 700 metres walking distance from the central port and can be reached within 10 minutes on foot. Mandraki is a wonderful place to swim, snorkel, or just sit back and relax with the locals at a cafe.
Learn some local history
A stroll around the older part of town is a great way to learn about the rich local history of the island. Kastello Rosso where the castle, erected by the Knights of Saint John on the russet hill, takes you back to the 14th century. Below the castle is a well preserved Lycian tomb.
Visit a unique church
Also make sure you check out the historic Church of Agios Konstantinos and Agia Eleni, which features gothic style architecture.
Check out the Archaeological Museum
The wonderful Ancient Museum houses ancient stone anchors, vases, marble statues and other finds dating back to the 4th Century BC. You’ll find a remarkable collection of artefacts from ancient and Byzantine times, as well as local arts and crafts that reveal so much about the traditions of the island. Displays include Byzantine writing tablets, traditional local costumes and a range of folk art. More exhibits can also be found in the old Ottoman mosque which houses the Museum of Folk Art.
Spend a day at the beach
Don’t expect to find any sandy beaches at Kastellorizo as there is not even one, but don’t let that put you off- as there are so many amazing spots to enjoy unforgettable dips as you dive in from rocky ledges, harbour quays or boats. Some of the most popular places for a swim include a spot next to Agnadi Hotel; in front of the Megisti Hotel at the harbour and, right across, at the Faros Café. And if you take a boat from the harbour you can explore may remote spots- make sure you make your way over to Plakes.
Take a boat tour around the island
A boat ride with a local skipper is the best way to see the hidden places and this way you can swim or go snorkelling at some of the nicest bays of your choice. Boats depart from the main harbour of Kastellorizo and you are able to explore the emerald waters, including the nearby islet of Agios Giorgios. When sailing around you will be able to discover small rocky bays as well as the secret Colones Blue Cave (not the Blue Cave mentioned above).
Taste local dishes and delicacies
Kastellorizo is renowned for its seafood dishes and each morning at the harbour, you can watch boats arriving with fresh fish, prawns, sea urchins and octopus that is delivered straight to the local tavernas. The fish is incredible and cooked to perfection. Also try Katoumari a seafood pasta, Souam Dormasi (stuffed onions) and the Vrithopites (chickpea fritters). When it comes to sweets the most unique is the Halvas tis Nifis, which is usually made for special occasions but you can find it all year round.
Eat at great restaurants
There is a great range of eateries to choose from including Alexandra’s for fine dining, Lazarakis for traditional dishes, The Seafood Tavern for fish and Athina for local cuisine. Also add Platania Taverna on Horafia Square, The Olive Garden, The Old Time and Agora to the list- you won’t be disappointed as all these restaurants use local and seasonal produce to create wonderful dishes.
Stay at the best place in town
The finest room for rent on Kastellorizo is the suite at Mediterraneo, a delightful little haven with seven vibrantly coloured bedrooms, some of which look over the harbour and a sunbathing terrace on the quayside. The rooms are spread over two floors and offer lots of light and a nice breeze as they face the sea.
Ferries run to Kastellorizo from Rhodes but schedules change seasonally. From Athens, you can travel with Blue Star direct from Piraeus to Kastellorizo and take a cabin. Otherwise, you can fly from Athens to Rhodes and from there you can catch a ferry.