Steeped in centuries of history
Beaches, nightlife and heritage aplenty
Kos, the third largest of the Dodecanese islands, has plenty to offer visitors. There’s no shortage of history to soak up. You’ll be tripping over Greek, Roman and Byzantine ruins in Kos Town and across the island, plus an ancient castle that overlooks the town. Elsewhere there are charming rural inland villages to discover and plenty of delicious food to savour. Many also come for the island’s lively nightlife and outstanding sandy beaches, especially those dotted along the north coast where tourists are well catered for.
There’s plenty to see in Kos Town. Don’t forget to snap a selfie at the plane tree of Hippocrates, under whose shade the great thinker supposedly taught students. In fact, the tree is only 500 years old and so would definitely not have been planted by Hippocrates who lived around two millennia earlier. Nearby sits the impressive 18th Century Hanji Hasan Mosque with its beautiful minaret.
Visit the Ancient Agora of Kos, which dates to the 4th Century BC. Among the ruins weathered by several earthquakes check out a shrine dedicated to Aphrodite amid the columns, arches and pleasantly picturesque green park that surrounds them. You should also visit the 15th Century Castle of the Knights of Saint John, which is bound to delight families with its blazons, columns and ancient walls made from local stone. Check out the small Italianate Archaeological Museum of Kos, which houses ancient statues of Hippocrates and magnificent mosaics among its collections.
In Mastichari call in to the Hippocrates Garden Cultural Centre, which features a fascinating replica of a typical 5th Century BC Greek settlement complete with a house and a stone theatre. The village is also home to one of the island’s best beaches. Visit the village of Antimachia with its traditional house and windmill, and a Venetian castle with sweeping views. Other villages worthy of a detour include Asomatos in the foothills of Mount Dikaios, Pyli with its castle and attractive village square lined with cafes and Haihoutes, which was abandoned in the 1970s but now houses an atmospheric taverna and a small museum. Get your flights to Kos today and start exploring.
Carefully selected Kos hotels
Best hotels in Kos for all types of traveller
We have a great selection of quality hotels in Kos to recommend. Mitsis Ramira Beach Hotel is an all-inclusive beachfront hotel in Psalidi. This family-friendly hotel features two on-site a la carte restaurants, a creperie-gelateria, five bars and a kids’ club. Grecotel Casa Paradiso is an all-inclusive beach resort set on a beautiful stretch of sandy golden coast. Facilities include a large sea-view pool, open-air playground, kids’ club and separate freshwater kids’ pool.
OKU Kos is an adult-only hotel with its own stretch of secluded beach. It’s an intimate village-style beach hideaway, featuring a spa and wellness area, and an on-site restaurant and bar. Lango Design Hotel & Spa is a luxury adult-only property featuring high-level design, a chic pool area surrounded by comfortable day beds and a coastal setting in north east Kos.
Mitsis Blue Domes Resort & Spa is a five-star luxury beach resort surrounded by lush gardens. Leisure facilities here include more than 12 pools and a great choice of dining options. Aqua Blu Boutique Hotel & Spa is a unique five-star boutique hotel with a state-of-the-art spa set on a beautiful waterfront corner on the Northern Lighthouse Peninsula of Kos Harbour.
Kos holiday FAQs
Make the most of your Kos holiday
Kos offers up a diverse larder, with lemons, olives, tomatoes, grapes, almonds, figs and melons among the produce that grows in a rich volcanic soil. You’ll find these in mezedhes and salads, while the island also offers many excellent sheep and goat cheeses. Try krasotyri, cheese marinated in wine. Speaking of wine, Hatziemmanouil, Triantafyllopoulos and Mesariano Organic Winery are among the excellent wineries where you can take part in tours and tastings.
What are the best things to do in Kos?
- Marmari Beach is a beautiful 1.5-mile-long stretch of golden sands in a relatively quiet tourist resort. Marmari has all the amenities you need including supermarkets, restaurants and tavernas all right on the edge of the beach. There are plenty of umbrellas, sunbeds and water sports facilities too, such as wind surfing and kite surfing. There are various attractions nearby including go-karting, a Byzantine castle and a water park.
- The aptly named Paradise Beach sits serenely in the middle of Kefalos Bay, its shallow, turquoise waters and large sandy stretch appealing to families and it’s one of the island’s prime sunset watching spots. There are ample sunbeds for hire, a large canteen-style restaurant and cafe bar, along with a water sports centre and an inflatables park. Go out to sea to discover an interesting natural phenomenon. The remains of an old volcano under the sea creates an effect of the waters erupting into thousands of tiny bubbles.
- Psalidi Beach is a long, narrow shingle beach just east of Kos Town. The beach fades to grass and is fringed by palm trees. There are numerous tavernas lining the beach, a water sports centre and plenty of sunbeds. The conditions here are ideal for kitesurfing and windsurfing, some of the best in Europe, there’s a diving school and you can even hire a flyboard here. There are quiet corners in the southern section where nudism is allowed.
- Kardamena Beach is a popular, large sandy beach that stretches for two miles at the southern end of Kardamena town near the harbour area and its many seafront bars. The beach typically attracts a younger crowd who come here to party or to recover from said partying. Facilities here include water sports, plenty of sun loungers and a good choice of tavernas. There are also several other smaller beaches nearby in Kardamena if you’re looking for a quieter spot.
- Therma Beach is overlooked by rocky cliffs at the south east tip of Kos with dramatic views looking out onto the volcanic island of Nisyros. The beach’s main draw are the hot thermal springs that give it its name providing a spa-like experience with a sea pool that reaches temperatures around 42-50 degrees Celsius. Enjoy the tickling sensation of tiny bubbles rising from the volcanic seabed. The beach is comprised of small, black pebbles and there’s a colourful little beach bar with sunbeds and umbrellas for rent. On the steep, rocky path leading down to the beach you may encounter the occasional goat.
- The popular, serene, largely shingle beach of Kamari Bay is less than a mile from Kefalos and runs the entire length of the harbour. The refreshing crystal waters here are some of the coolest on the island and the boundless Aegean views are dotted with pretty sailboats and fishing boats. The beach is split in two by a large stone jetty, with a sandy stretch on one side and an attractive cliffside backdrop on the other. You can try an array of water sports or just relax outside one of the many traditional restaurants and sea view cafes. It rarely gets too crowded due to the proximity of several other beaches.
Where to visit in Kos
Make your way to bustling Kardamena for the most colourful nightlife outside of Kos Town. Bars and clubs abound along the strip known as ‘Bar Street’. After lively nights out, spend the day relaxing on the soft sands of Kardamena Beach. If you’re feeling energetic, try windsurfing or jet-skiing. Alternatively, seek out quieter sunbathing spots at either end of the beach. Then feast your eyes on the views while tucking into fresh seafood at a beachfront taverna.
In Kos Town you can be marvelling at ancient Roman ruins one moment, then shopping at modern boutiques the next. From its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture to its incredible Roman Odeon and Asklepieion, the town is steeped in history. Dine at a harbourfront taverna while gazing at the dramatic Castle of the Knights. Or shop at designer boutiques and shops offering locally made souvenirs. In the evening, hit the buzzing bars and clubs that line the streets around Nafklirou.
Escape the bustle of Kos Town and Kardamena in laidback Kefalos. Stroll around the charming hilltop village, with its ruined castle and fascinating Folklore museum. Or stretch out on the sand-and-shingle shore of Kamari Bay. If you’re feeling active, try one of the many water sports on offer. An abundant choice of eateries awaits along the beachfront when you’ve built up an appetite. Or spend some cultural time admiring the remarkable mosaics at the ruined basilica of Agios Stefanos.
Just a 25-minute walk from Kos Town along a picturesque promenade is the relaxed resort of Psalidi. Perfect for families, its sand-and-shingle beach is lapped by safe, shallow waters. Water sports are available for the adventurous, while an ample selection of restaurants and bars provide plentiful dining and drinking options. Or head to nearby Therma Beach and let its natural hot spring waters revitalise you.
In contrast to bustling Kardamena on the south coast, the north’s Tigaki is a peaceful idyll of white sands overlooked by friendly family-run restaurants and bars. Its crystal-clear, shallow waters are ideal for children and for fans of water sports like kite surfing. Live music and karaoke venues provide family-friendly entertainment for livelier evenings out. Or make your way to a laidback beach bar and sip sundowners while gazing across the sea to Turkey.
Built in the 2nd Century AD and discovered in the 1920s, the Roman Odeon is one of the most significant ancient sites on the island. The amphitheatre could hold 750 spectators and is in surprisingly good condition. It was used to hold music recitals and public meetings honouring local dignitaries.
The ruins of Asklepieion are perhaps the most important archaeological site on Kos, and date back to the Hellenistic period of the 4th Century BC. According to legend the sanitorium was founded by the father of modern medicine Hippocrates and was devoted to Asclepius, the god of healing, and was a place where Hippocrates’ teachings on medicine and healing could be taught. Set on the slopes of a lush hill with impressive sea views, the structure was built on three terraces. The first contained public baths and guest rooms, the second has the altar of Kyparissios Apollo and the third holds the Temple of Asclepius.
Nafklirou is one of Kos Town’s prime nightlife areas in the heart of the tourist zone, packed with bars and nightclubs where you can dance until the early hours. It’s a shady cobbled street that plays host to numerous tourist tat shops, but it’s undeniably pretty and remains a good place to grab a cheap afternoon drink.
Agios Stefanos beach sits two miles north east of Kefalos and is a mixture of sand and shingle with shallow waters perfect for families. The rocky area surrounding the beach is bursting with beautiful flowers and lush vegetation and there are the remains of various interesting old Christian temples to take in. The main attraction though is the tiny islet of Kastri, which holds a desolate ruined castle in the middle of the sea.