The stunning island of Kos is a popular destination for travelers seeking a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its long sandy beaches, ancient ruins, charming villages, and vibrant nightlife, Kos offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on the beach, explore ancient landmarks, taste delicious Greek cuisine, or dance the night away in a lively bar, this travel guide will help you make the most of your time on Kos Island. Let’s dive in and discover all that this picturesque island has to offer.
What follows below is a complete travel guide that will give you a quick overview of everything you need to know about. All the things to do and the best places to visit in Kos island once you get there.
Kos Island is one of the Dodecanese’s most loved islands. It is known in many names such as “the island of Hippocrates” because it is the birthplace of history’s most popular doctor and “the garden of the Aegean” because of its wealth of crops and water. It is also known as Little Rhodes because of its geographical proximity to Rhodes Island as well as its history and culture.
Kos Island was under the colony of the Carians during its formative years. The Carians are a group of sea-faring people who predated the Minoans. The Dorians later on inhabited the island following the War of Troy during 11th century BC. Its strategic location, beauty, and fertile land made it in demand among people throughout history and its exceptional past was formed by several alternating reigns.
One of the earliest recorded milestones of Kos history was the 5th century BC when the famous physician and philosopher Hippocrates was born here.
During the Hellenistic period, Kos Island was a center of culture, arts, and sciences. The famous sculptor Praxiteles created many masterpieces here, and the island was also home to renowned philosophers like Philitas of Cos and Theodoros.
In the Roman period, Kos Island became an important center for trade and commerce. The Roman conquerors built impressive public buildings, including the Gymnasium and the Odeon, which are still visible today. The island also played a significant role in early Christianity, with several churches and monasteries built during this period.
From the 4th century AD until the island was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, Kos was part of the Byzantine Empire. During this time, the island played an important role in the empire’s economy and strategic defenses, as it was a key stop on the maritime trade routes connecting the east and west. The island suffered from frequent pirate attacks, and its population declined significantly during this time.
In the 14th century, the Knights Hospitaller, established their presence on the island. They built a fortress in the heart of the island, which served as their headquarters and a refuge for the island’s inhabitants during times of war and unrest.
Under the Knights’ rule, Kos prospered both economically and culturally. The Knights encouraged trade and commerce, and the island became a significant center of art and learning. The castle itself was transformed into a magnificent stronghold with impressive fortifications, towers, and underground tunnels.
However, the Knights’ rule was not without conflict. In 1457, the Ottoman Turks attacked and seized the island, ending the Knights’ reign. The Turks used the castle as a garrison and prison, and much of the fortress was destroyed during this period.
In the early 20th century, Kos Island was occupied by the Italians and served as a key military base during World War II. The Italian occupation brought about significant changes to the island’s infrastructure, including the construction of new roads, buildings, and ports.
After the war, Kos Island was finally united with Greece in 1948. Today, the island is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning beaches, historic landmarks, and lively nightlife.
According to the 2021 cencus, Kos Island has a population of 36.986 inhabitants.
The island of Kos has a well-developed infrastructure that caters to the needs of every visitor. It has a modern international airport, with flights arriving from several European cities during the high season. The main port in Kos town serves as a hub for ferry and hydrofoil connections to other Greek islands and Turkey. Once on the island, visitors can choose from a variety of transportation options, including car and bike rentals, taxis, and buses. The road network is well-maintained, and there are plenty of signs to guide visitors to their destination. Kos Island also has a range of accommodations to suit all budgets, from luxury hotels to guesthouses and apartments. Also important, the island has a modern hospital that provides medical care and emergency services to residents and visitors. In addition, the island has many restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops that offer a wide variety of goods and services.
Sun is among the primary and most appreciated features of Kos Island. The months of April through November are the period with rare rains. The island also provides an excellent Mediterranean climate that lets you enjoy sunny days and the sea to the fullest.
The best months to visit Kos island are June and September. The reasons are the ideal weather and the tourist traffic. Weather is not very hot with very low risk of rainy days and mass tourism hasn’t arrived yet or has left.
As one of the most popular Greek holiday destinations, you can reach Kos Island both by air or sea.
The ferry line ”Piraeus – Rhodes” is served by the boat Blue Star Patmos. Departs from Gate E1 of Piraeus port and lasts approximately 12 hours. The return trip starts from Acandia port in Rhodes town and lasts approximately 6 hours.
There is also the local shipping company of Dodecanisos seaways that connects the island with a catamaran high-speed boat (app. 2, 5 hours trip) throughout the year. Their catamarans depart from Colona harbor in Rhodes town.*
*Shipping companies may change their routs at any time, especially during the winter. Please kindly check their websites for updated information.
Kos Island has its own international airport (KGS) which is located in the northeastern part of the island, near the town of Antimachia. The airport is served by several airlines, including Aegean Airlines, Ryanair, and easyJet, among others. From the airport, you can take a taxi, bus or rent a car to get to your destination.
The moment you arrive, you are welcomed by its crystalline waters with a backdrop of mountainous and fertile terrain. The fresh air of the island also got a seductive quality. It is also rich in pristine beach towns, picturesque mountain villages, and relaxing sunshine. All these give to the guests lots of options that makes it impossible to get bored. We tried to gather as many worthy places to visit and must-see things to do in Kos as possible, and we have listed them below. Enjoy!
Kos Island is a wonderful place to explore while riding a bike. This is why bike riding is a very popular activity among tourists and locals alike. With its beautiful coastal roads with pristine beaches, ancient ruins, scenic towns, and stunning landscapes, Kos is the ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts. There are plenty of bike rental shops on the island, offering a variety of bikes or guided tours to suit all levels of experience. The primary bicycle road in the area runs for approximately 13 kilometers. Starts at Faros Beach and ends to the far end of Psalidi with plenty of small side paths.
The island is home to a wide variety of bird species, both resident and migratory, that can be observed in their natural habitats. The best time to go bird watching in Kos Island is during the spring and autumn months, when many migratory birds pass through the island.
There are also hundreds of flamingoes that spend winter months in the balmy Alyki wetlands close to Tigaki village. That offers a spectacular sight not only for birdwatchers but also for other tourists.
Zia village is the best spot where people love to watch the lovely sunset. This solar show is best seen from any of the vantage points on the road that lead from Kos Town to those villages located on Mount Dikeos. The location offers stunning panoramic views of the north side of the island and the Aegean Sea. As the sun sets, the sky turns into a beautiful mix of orange, pink, and red hues, casting a warm glow over the village and its surroundings. Visitors can enjoy the sunset view from one of the village’s tavernas or cafes, while savoring traditional Greek cuisine and drinks. Without doubt, watch the sunset view from Zia village is a must thing to do for anyone visiting Kos Island.
The official trademark of Kos. The Natur brand produces lemon and orange drinks, Kos Cola, fizzy lemon-lime and 10 more flavors. They are offered at minimarts and restaurants around the island. Their drinks are made from natural ingredients, including local fruits and herbs. They are free from artificial colors, preservatives, and sweeteners. Their popular flavors include lemon, orange, grapefruit, pomegranate, and rose, each with a unique taste that reflects the island’s Mediterranean culture.
Kos, similarly to Rhodes island wine culture, is home to several wineries that offer wine tasting experiences for visitors. Wine lovers can enjoy a tour of the vineyards, learn about the local grape varieties, and taste a variety of wines paired with local snacks. Some of the popular wines produced on the island include Assyrtiko, Malagouzia, and Athiri, each with a unique flavor and aroma. Many wineries also offer wine-related activities, such as blending your own wine or participating in a grape harvest. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just looking for a unique experience, wine tasting in Kos is a great way to explore the island’s culture and flavors.
Plaka Forest is a beautiful natural reserve and a popular destination for hiking enthusiasts. The place is situated west of the airport. The forest is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including pine trees, cypress trees, wildflowers and lots of cats and peacocks, which roam freely through the forest’s pathways. The place offers a great escape during those warm sunny days something that makes it an ideal location for a peaceful hike.
Kos Island is also an interesting destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Offering a variety of activities to enjoy in the fresh air and sunshine. Visitors can take a hike or bike ride along the island’s scenic trails, including the lush Asfendiou village or the scenic Mount Dikeos. Water sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, and snorkeling are also popular activities to enjoy, where the warm Aegean Sea provides the perfect conditions.
Haihoutes is an almost deserted village found on Mount Dikeos’ hillside. The village was abandoned sometime around four decades ago. Since then, it has become a beautifully creepy ghost village with only crumbling houses found there.
Located in Agios Fokas is a sea-pool that boasts of hot springs called the thermes. These thermal springs are a natural wonder with healing properties. They contain water that is rich in minerals, such as sulfur, calcium, and magnesium. They are also believed to have therapeutic benefits for a range of health conditions, including arthritis, rheumatism, and skin problems. The place is situated in a scenic coastal area, where visitors can enjoy stunning views while relaxing. There are several outdoor pools available for visitors to soak in.
With its natural healing properties and beautiful surroundings, a visit to the springs is certainly one of the must things to do in Kos island.
The remnants of Kos’s ancient town make up Ancient Agora located near the harbor. There are ample streets in the ancient town as well as a gymnasium, a stadium, sanctuaries, as well as other settlements. It was once the hub of political, commercial, and social activity in the ancient city. Built during the Hellenistic period, the agora was the heart of the city’s marketplace and was surrounded by temples, public buildings, and shops. Today, visitors can explore the ruins and marvel at the well-preserved architecture of the buildings that once stood there. The site is a testament to the advanced architectural and engineering skills of the ancient Greeks and provides a glimpse into their daily lives and cultural practices. It is a popular tourist attraction and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in ancient history and architecture. Most popular sites in the area of Ancient Agora are listed below.
This Hellenistic Gymnasium is a part of the complex of Roman and Hellenistic periods including the Hippodrome, the Nymphaeum, and the Acropoli. It is a very elaborated structure that dates back from 3rd century.
The ruins of the ancient Temple of Dionysus can be found south of Kos harbor that passes the ancient Agora on the Vasileos Pavlou Street. It was built in the 3rd century BC and was dedicated to the Greek god of wine, Dionysus.
The Archaeological Museum is found right in the heart of the town of Kos and houses findings from the Asklepieion, the Ancient Agora, and other parts of the island. The museum is home to an extensive collection of artifacts dating back to prehistoric times, including ceramics, sculptures, and mosaics. One of the most impressive exhibits in the museum is the Hellenistic-era statue of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, which stands over 2 meters tall. Visitors can also admire the intricate details of the Roman-era mosaics and explore the museum’s various galleries showcasing the island’s history and culture from the Neolithic period to the Byzantine era. With its impressive collection and educational displays, the Archaeological Museum is one of the must places to visit in Kos for anyone visiting the island.
Casa Romana is a gorgeous Roman mansion with an architectural style that resembles Pompeii houses. Inside, you will find nice atriums and remarkable frescoes. The villa dates back to the 3rd century AD and is thought to have belonged to a wealthy Roman merchant.
It has been beautifully restored, providing visitors with a unique insight into ancient Roman life. Visitors can wander through the villa’s various rooms, which include a courtyard, a bathhouse, and a dining room, all adorned with intricate mosaics and frescoes. The villa’s most striking feature is its floor mosaics, which are among the best-preserved examples of ancient Roman mosaic art in the world. These mosaics depict scenes from ancient mythology, including the story of the love affair between Aphrodite and Adonis.
According to the myth, Hippocrates taught his students the secrets of healing under the shade of this plane tree. The tree is estimated to be about 500 years old, and its massive trunk and sprawling branches provide ample shade and shelter for visitors. Obviously, the current tree is just the original tree’s descendant.
Folklore Museum has a unique and interesting collection that depicts the agriculture life of the island’s people from 18th century to this day. Its exhibits details the production of olives, honey, and other local crops.
The Castle of the Knights or Nerantzia Castle is situated at the port’s entrance in Kos Town. The Knights of Saint John built it during the 14th century on a spot that used to be a Byzantine fortress. The castle is surrounded by a moat and features massive walls and towers.
Visitors to the castle can explore its winding passageways and climb to the top of its towers for stunning views of the surrounding area. The castle also houses a small museum, which features exhibits on the history of the castle and the island of Kos. The castle is surrounded by a park, which is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, and is often used for cultural events and festivals.
Kos Island’s and Dodecanese islands rich history as a whole have vividly left a mark on the island’s architecture. The Ottoman mosques in Kos Town are strong reminders of how the Ottomans rule the island for around four centuries.
Built during 2nd century BC, the Roman Odeon was preserved pretty well. The theater is built into a hillside and features a semi-circular orchestra and seating area, as well as a stage area that is still used for cultural events and performances today. This used to host large crowds of people gathered together to watch the fights among prisoners.
Visitors to the odeon can explore the site and marvel at its impressive architectural features, including the intricate carvings and sculptures that adorn the theater’s walls. The site also houses a small museum, which features exhibits on the history of the theater and the island of Kos.
Asklepieion is Kos Island’s most significant archaeological site. The place was considered as one of the most important healing centers in the ancient world. It was named after Asklepios, the god of healing, Apollo’s son and protector of medicine and health. Patients from all over the Mediterranean would travel to this place to receive treatment for their ailments.
The Asklepion consisted of several buildings, including a temple, a library, a theater, and various treatment rooms. The treatments offered included baths, massages, herbal remedies, and even surgical procedures. The site is now a popular tourist attraction and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Antimachia Traditional House serves as the representation of area’s architecture evident in its external and internal decoration. It’s built in 1980, and is a faithful recreation of an early 20th century dwelling. It immerses visitors in a bygone era where daily life was infused with the briny scent of hard work and enriched by the simple pleasures of existence. This single-story structure is constructed entirely of stone and comprises several sections: the “formal” living quarters for the family, stables, loom, and bakery oven where bread was baked daily, and the combined kitchen and bedroom area. This arrangement reflects a time not so long ago but feels worlds away from our current reality. The traditional tools, clothing, musical instruments, and photographic records on display serve as poignant reminders of this era.
Antimachia Venetian Castle is perched on the hill on top of the village. It was constructed during 14th century by the Knights of Rhodes during their occupation of the island. Its strategic position made it an important defensive structure during the many conflicts that have taken place in the region over the centuries.
The castle consists of two main sections: the lower fortification, which houses the cisterns, guardhouses, and storage rooms. And the upper fortification, which contains the residential quarters, chapel, and watchtower. This imposing fortress has undergone extensive restoration work in recent years, so its walls surviving in good state to this day. Today visitors can explore its impressive battlements, climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views, and learn about its fascinating history in the on-site museum. Also, two churches can be found inside the castle.
Antimacheia’s windmill was restored to keep the tradition well and alive. You can find the windmill at a tiny square right in the heart of the village.
The complex of the Paleo-Christian basilicas is found close to the Kamari beach south of Kos. These basilicas date back from 5th and 6th century AD. The complex includes several buildings and were constructed during the early Christian period, when Kos was an important center of religious and cultural activity.
Today, visitors can explore the ruins of these ancient buildings and marvel at their intricate architectural features, including ornate mosaics and intricate carvings.
Kastri is a small island opposite Agios Stefanos beach. Remnants of fortification and a tiny church can be found on the islet that can be reached by boat. The little church is said to date back to the Byzantine era. It has become one of the most popular island’s sites for photography and sightseeing.
Despite its small size, the islet is a popular destination thanks to its crystal-clear waters and stunning natural beauty. Visitors can spend the day exploring the rugged coastline, swimming and snorkeling in the surrounding waters, or simply relaxing on the secluded beaches.
The abandoned Paleo Pyli village located 4 kilometers from Pyli with a ruined castle perched on top. Built in the 14th century AD during the Byzantine times and the Venetians restored it later on to guarantee the area’s defense. This castle played a crucial role in the island’s defense against invading forces. Its location atop a hill provided a strategic advantage, allowing its defenders to monitor and control the surrounding area.
The walls, towers, and gateways still standing as a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of its builders. The panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the castle’s battlements are simply stunning, making it a must-visit attraction for anyone visiting the island of Kos.
Hippocrates Cultural Center located in Mastihari is a commemoration of the ”father of medicine”. The center is dedicated to the life and legacy of Hippocrates, who was born on the island. It features a variety of exhibits and displays that detail Hippocrates’ life, as well as the history of medicine and healthcare in ancient Greece. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits, ancient medical tools and artifacts, and multimedia displays that showcase the ongoing relevance of Hippocratic medicine.
This is the exact replica of an ancient Greek settlement in 5th century that organizes seminars on ancient Greek philosophy.
The old Village of Kefalos is the most remote settlement of the island located 45 kilometers from Kos Town. The village is known for its traditional architecture, narrow streets, and stunning views of the Aegean Sea. An interesting info is that the locals have their own customs and dialect here. A cemetery can even be found right in the heart of the village, a feature that is currently a rare occurrence in Greece.
Visitors to Kefalos can explore the village’s shops, cafes, and restaurants, which offer a taste of traditional Greek cuisine and hospitality. The village is also home to a number of historic sites, including the ruins of an ancient acropolis and a Byzantine castle. Kefalos is also renowned for its beautiful beaches, including Kamari and Paradise beaches. They are popular destinations for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
With its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Kefalos is undoubtedly one of the places you should visit while in Kos.
The White Stone Cave is a crucial excavation site that is linked to the Prehistoric era. Based on the findings, it is believed that the cave dates as far back as the period of the Neolithic Age leading to the early years of the Bronze Era.
Municipality (+30) 22420-28420
Airport (+30) 22420-56000
Police (+30) 22420-28211
Port Police (+30) 22420-26594
Hospital (+30) 22420-28050
Taxi (+30) 22420-22777
Bus (KTEL) (+30) 22420-22992
As with any popular travel destination, the island of Kos is constantly evolving and changing. New attractions may be added, old ones may be renovated or even removed entirely. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to do your own research before making any concrete plans. Keep an eye on travel updates and stay informed about any changes to the island’s infrastructure or policies.
Whether you’re planning a future trip or simply dreaming of visiting someday, we hope that we’ve been able to provide some useful insights and tips. Also, if you think that we missed and worth visit place or thing to do, leave your suggestion in the comment section below. We will evaluate it and add it as soon as possible. Last but not least, do not forget to share to your social media and subscribe to our newsletter.
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