Kalymnos at a glance
The Dodecanese island of Kalymnos is situated between the neighboring islands of Leros and Kos. Although Kalymnos is a mountainous island, it is one with very picturesque and inspiring landscapes, filled with green forests and natural bays, where the blue waters of the Aegean meet the soft golden sandy beaches, creating a truly unique setting in which to enjoy holidays in Kalymnos.
This perfect setting makes Kalymnos an ideal destination for your summer holidays in Greece. As with the rest of the Dodecanese islands, Kalymnos is an island with a history that dates back to the ancient years. Kalymnos also has a very important nautical history, as the brave and dedicated inhabitants of the island played their role in the success of the 1821 Greek revolution against the Turkish occupation.
Kalymnos is also famous for the local divers who venture daily into the waters to collect the beautiful sea sponges from the seabed. One lovely aspect of the landscape of Kalymnos is that it is surrounded by numerous small islets such as Telendos, Agia Kyriaki, Pserimos, and Imia.
Visitors to Kalymnos have the opportunity to visit some of these small islands and enjoy the remote and isolated beaches that you will find along their coastlines. There are small boats that visitors can take from the port to these small islets.
The capital town and harbor of the island is Kalymnos, or Pothia as it is also known. It is a very picturesque small town with a great deal of traditional architecture. There are many renovated neoclassical buildings that perfectly blend with the modern houses and villas that were built here.
It is well worth visiting the Nautical Museum where you can see exhibits of sea sponges and the story of the importance that they played in the history and development of the island.
Other places of interest on Kalymnos include the cave of the Nymphs, and the old Byzantine churches and monasteries, in which you can see wonderful displays of impressive frescoes and religious icons.
Other popular destinations on Kalymnos include Emborios and Panormos, as well as some lovely and interesting traditional villages such Vathi. The island has some wonderful beaches where you can swim and relax.
Kalymnos is an island that offers a wonderful destination for peaceful and relaxing holidays in the blue waters of the Aegean. For accommodation, there is a variety of hotels, rooms, studios, and apartments to let providing comfortable and quality accommodation. There are also many traditional cafes and tavernas serving a variety of fresh fish and other local cuisines that you should try and sample.
Kalymnos has ferry connections with Athens via Pireaus and also North Greece via the port of Alexandroupolis. There are also connections with the nearby Dodecanese islands of Kos, Leros, Patmos, Lipsos, and Astypalea. The island also has air connections for both domestic and international flights. During the summer season, the airport caters to charter flights from many European cities.
History of Kalymnos
Originally, the island was called Kalydna then Kalymna and finally Kalymnos but to Ovid it was “ Silvis umbrosa Calymne” – shady, wooded Kalymnos.
According to Homer, the island participated in the campaign against Troy with 30 ships, but the first indications of human activity dating back to Neolithic times.
The God Apollo was the island’s protector and his temple was its political and religious center. His lyre is engraved at the back of the first silver coins cut in the 6th century B.C.
Twice occupied by the Persians (4th & 5th century) it was finally liberated by the fleet of Alexander the Great and, in the Hellenistic period, due to its geographical position, the island was actively involved in the merciless struggle for dominance between Alexander’s heirs. In the late 3rd century B.C. Kalymnos and Kos united under a common government that lasted until the Roman times when it became one of the members of the Province of the Islands.
Christianity reached the island from Asia Minor and churches, ornamented with colorful mosaics, were soon built. But the great earthquake of 554 A.D.caused serious destructions, not the least significant of which being the sinking of the neck of land that used to join Telendos with the mainland of Kalymnos. Today, the islet of Telendos stands across the bay of Myrties with the legendary profile of “the princess” adorning its southern crags while its sunken ruins await on the seabed to be discovered.
In the middle of the 7th century, bands of looting Arabs forced the inhabitants of the coastal regions to take refuge in the mountains. Later, in mid-byzantine times, more raids by pirates compelled the building of the fortress in Hora with its small but elaborately frescoed churches.
The early14th century brings the knights of the Order of St John to rule over most of the islands, including Kalymnos and in the middle of the 15th century, the knights constructed the Fortress of Hrisoheria to protect the harbor.
1523 sees the islands falling into the hands of Suleiman the Magnificent. But there is no indication of the presence of the Turks on the island of Kalymnos; no samples of Turkish architecture whether civil or religious.
Not until the beginning of the 18th century did the settlement of Hora, at the foot of the fortress, come into being. The inhabitants now dared to venture forth from their fortress and to build their homes and churches, the most outstanding of which is Panaghia Keharitomeni. Later, in 1850, they moved nearer to the harbor, and thus a new capital – Pothia – was gradually born.
From 1912 to 1943 Kalymnos was under the occupation of the Italians who left their stamp on the island with their architecture: two beautiful buildings, the Town Hall and the Prefecture stand along the seafront, and others are scattered in the town. The Italians gave way to the Germans who stayed for the next two years, 1943-1945, and only when World War II was over, on the 7th March 1948, was Kalymnos, with the rest of the Dodecanese, officially proclaimed part of the Greek Nation.
The Sanctuary of Apollo
An area is known to be hiding temples, a theater, a gymnasium, and other structures as well as writings and statues some of which have already been excavated and will soon stand in the Archaeological Museum of Pothia.
Today, one can visit the two churches built over the ancient temples that date back to the 5th and 6th centuries A.D.
The Medieval Fortress of Hora
A Byzantine “Kastro”, later enlarged and renovated by the Knights of St John (1309-1523). It has recently undergone reconstruction and made it more accessible to visitors. It constitutes the primary example of a residential center on the island.
The Church of Panaghia Keharitomeni in Hora
Evidently built with material from the sanctuary of Apollo Dalios and with early Christian features, it is adorned with unique post-byzantine icons and contains a magnificent, elaborately carved apse/nave, painted over with smoked gold.
The Byzantine Church of the Twelve Apostles
Tradition has it that this church, in Argos, was founded by the Blessed Christodoulos of Patmos.
Diving in Kalymnos
Kalymnos is a very beautiful island, and the crystal clear blue waters around the island make it a fantastic place to enjoy diving.
Sailing in Kalymnos
Whilst in Kalymnos you will have the chance to visit and see beautiful beaches and magnificent coastal sceneries. Sailing is very popular in Kalymnos and is ideal for adventure-filled holidays, combined with natural beauty and scenery.
Best hotels in Athens
Flights to Greece
Water Sports in Kalymnos
During your holidays in Kalymnos you will have the opportunity to try various activities and enjoy moments filled with fun and adventure. There are various watersports you can enjoy on the island.
Windsurfing and Kitesurfing
Kalymnos is a very beautiful Greek island with a choice of lovely beaches around the coast. Sometimes you will see people windsurfing and kitesurfing here on the island.
Yacht Charters – Cruises to Kalymnos
Yacht charters and Cruises in close islands are very popular in Kalymnos, as it has wonderful coasts and exciting destinations nearby, ideal for sailing and cruising.
It is worth a closer look at that unique museum in Greece. A really great collection of phonographs, cameras, bank notes, old photographs, paintings and many more that will make you not to want to leave and to get to know even more about the history of Lefkas.
Fans of sports and alternative activities will find Kalymnos a very interesting destination, as in recent years it has become very popular for those who enjoy rock climbing, water sports, trekking, and scuba diving – the island is one that offers amazing experiences and thrills.
Medical and Hospital info
Citizens of the European Community are entitled to free medical care in Greece. It is wise to have travel insurance., In case you need medical attention you can go to the hospital or to a local pharmacy (they speak English). If you use special medication you should take a copy of the prescription.
Take care of your skin in the sun it gets easily burnt. Use good sun protection.
You find the hospital “Vouvaleio” a little bit outside the center of Pothia.
Hospital telephone +30-22430-23025
In Kalymnos, you will find buzukia, discos, bars, and a cinema. Restaurants, taverns, discos, and bars you’ll find many in Masouri and Mirties.
Shopping on Kalymnos
In Pothia, the capital of Kalymnos, you will find a variety of shops. The shopping street starts at the taxi stand than down to the harbor. At the harbor, you find tavernas and all kind of shops.
Example: jewelry, glasses, toys, clothes, shoes, housekeeping, bakery, leather, grocery, pharmacy, gifts, sponges, honey, wines, liquors, herbs, films, cd-s, all kind of stuff you might need.
If you want to see more take a small street in Pothia and you might find some extraordinary shops with handmade things.
Supermarkets or mini markets you will find them in every village on Kalymnos. Between Chora and Pothia there some bigger supermarkets.
Souvenirs of Kalymnos are the sponges and honey. On this web page, there is a special page about the Kalymnian sponges. But there are more and nice Greek souvenirs you can buy in the shops. In some shops, you find really nice curiosity, like hand-woven carpets, ceramics, tablecloths or ancient and today’s art.
Jewelry is always a beautiful gift on your holiday. On Kalymnos there a lot of shops with a nice collection of traditional or special design jewelry.
Music is also a nice gift to remember your visit to Kalymnos. In the few music shops, you find a good collection of Greek traditional and today’s music on cassette or cd.
Shops and shopping enough on Kalymnos.
Shops are open from:
8 am – 1 pm and 5 pm – 8 pm
Saturday and Wednesday only in the morning
Tourists and souvenirs shops are open the whole week.
Beaches of Kalymnos
Kalymnos has several small beaches where you can stay all alone and enjoy the sun and sea.
The beach of Massouri is the place to be on Kalymnos. It is a good place for children and on the beach, there is a snack bar. You can also do some sports on the beach or go our with a banana or surfing or take the waterbike.
The latest new beach they made at the village Skalia. On the opposite of Myrties and Massouri you find the little island Telendos. Here are several beaches also for nude tourism.
What can I do on Kalymnos
Kalymnos is the place for a relaxed holiday and for an active holiday.
If you like sports Kalymnos is a paradise for climbers and for diving, sailing, surfing, and fishing. If you prefer a nice walk you can take one of the special routes over the mountain. On the island, you find beautiful caves, for example in Kefala and Skalia. For people who prefer ancient Greek, there are three museums and you can bring a visit to one of the monasteries or churches on Kalymnos.
On the island you find a lot of beaches, some you only visit by boat. If you like you can do several excursions by boat, bus or explore the island by motorbike or car. From Kalymnos, you can easily take a boat to one of the other islands as Kos, Patmos, Leros or Turkey.
How to get to Kalymnos
During the main season (May to October) the best option for international travelers is to fly to Kos. Busses and taxis (€10 – €16) take you to the nearby port of Mastichari, where at least 3 ferries a day run to the main Kalymnos port of Pothia. Journeys from the airport to the port are 10 – 20 mins, and the ferry crossing takes 45 mins. There are plenty of restaurants and bars at Mastichari if you have to wait for a ferry, and there are a couple of cheap hotels if you get a flight coming in late.
Flights to Rhodes airport are also available during the main season, with a 2½ hour ferry crossing to Kalymnos.
Flights to Athens operate all year round, and a connecting flight to Kos can be taken, or a ferry direct to Kalymnos (13 hours).
Go to Kalymnos
Kos Airport, using Olympic Airways or any other flight company that provides you service. Access Kalymnos using fast ferry boats, with close schedule, any time of the day.
With ship schedules from the central port of Piraeus. Greek coastal navigation, provides some types of ferry boats, that ships passengers right in Kalymnos Island, doing the 183 nautical miles in a few hours.
Lefkada-Athens distance is 385 km. You can go by car via the bridge connecting Lefkada with Aitoloakarnania without having to transfer the car to the ferry boat. Alternatively, if you do not want to drive, you can reach KTEL buses departing from major Greek cities, Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Ioannina From Athens it is daily and the journey takes about 5 hours, while the connection with Thessaloniki is 2 times a week and the trip takes about 7 hours. The underwater tunnel of Preveza-Aktion and the Rio-Antirrio bridge have greatly facilitated access to the island of Lefkada.
From Piraeus, there are 6 to 10 ferries a week depending on the season. For more information contact the Coastguard of Piraeus tel. (01) 4226000-4. Kalimnos is connected, by ferry, with many islands such as Kos, Rodos, Leros, and Patmos. For more information contact the Coastguard of Kalimnos tel. (0243) 29.304.
Kalymnos is an island that attracts many visitors, so in recent years has developed its own airport, that caters direct flights from the Eleftherios Venizelos airport of Athens.
Flying to Kalymnos is the fastest way to arrive and start your holidays as soon as possible. The airport of Kalymnos is situated in the Argos area and operates during the whole year.
If you cannot find a direct flight to Kalymnos, an alternative option is flying to Kos, and continue your travel to Mastichari, where you will take a speed boat or ferry boat to Kalymnos. The trip from Mastichari is 20 – 40 minutes, depending on the boat type you travel with. Kos also caters to many charter flights from various European cities, so you could choose one of them according to your plans and timetables.
If you search for air tickets and flying schedules, just enter your arrival and departure dates and our online program will present you plenty of options for your flight, so you can make your online booking safely and quickly.
Below you will find a selection of options for searching for and booking your air tickets to Kalymnos.
Getting around Kalymnos
Rent a car for your transportation in Kalymnos. The distances from Pothia to villages, beaches or climbing places are very short and offers nice views of the island.
Use Municipal Bus Service for your transportation around. It provides cost-saving fees and has a very responsive bus schedule. For your information and for the complete bus schedule, please visit the Transportation page.
Rent a motorbike from many bike rental offices around. The trip to Kalymnos with a bike is an amazing experience.
Kalymnos is the ideal place for exploration, diving or just sailing around. Many boat tripping companies are on the island who organize beautiful sailing adventures around the islands of the area.
Trips & excursions
When you are on Kalymnos you can make nice excursions on and around the island. You can make trips to theme trips and you can visit other islands. Or visit the village Bodrum in Turkey. Of course, it is also possible to make a trip with one of the ferries to a Greek island.
Caves and coves, a boat takes you to the caves of Kefala. After that, you go for a swim at the beach of Vlichadia, where you can visit the Sea world museum. Later you bring a visit to the little island Nera.
Sunset cruise, the boat goes around Telendos and you can enjoy the beautiful sunset of Kalymnos. After a visit to Emporios, you sail home under a sky of thousand stars.
Picnic cruise, discovery by boat and more. The boat takes you to little deserted islands and quiet beaches. You bring a visit to the caves and the harbor of Vathy. After the barbecue, you can enjoy the sun or refreshing swim in the blue sea.
Scuba Diving, a discovery of the underwater world at Vlichadia Bay.
Greek Night, a typical Greek night with Greek music, Greek food, and Kalymnian hospitality.
The main harbor of Kalymnos is in Pothia, the island’s capital. You find other very small harbor facilities in places as Emporios, Vathy, Myrties, and Melitsachas.
THE VALLEY OF VATHIS
The fertile valley of Vathi lies 11 kilometers away from the capital of Pothia. It is surrounded by high mountains and provides a safe harbor – Rina. Since ancient times the inhabitants have worked the land and cultivated citrus groves, producing high-quality oranges and tangerines. Animal farming is also important but fishing is no less significant.
The peak of its ancient civilization was in the Early Christian period when the whole valley was inhabited, with the port as its major residential area. Six of the 13 Early Christian basilicas found in Vathi are located in Rina and imposing structures in fairly good condition can be seen in the area called Ellinika.
Its most important monuments are:
- The Hellenistic fortress ( 4th-3rd century B.C.) in Embolas and the Early Christian basilica ( 6th century A.D.)
- The Hellenistic watchtower – Fillakes – used to warn the big fortress of approaching danger.
- The ruins of the settlement “Ellinika” in Rina are perhaps the best-preserved Early Christian structures in Greece.
- The Byzantine church of Kira Hosti which contains exceptional, recently- restored frescos (10th-14th century A.D.)
- The Byzantine church of Taxiarhis.
But, if you are not partial to historical sites, discover the hidden beaches towards the bays of Pezonda and Drosonda, or ask the boatman to take you to the “ Daskalio” in the entrance to the port and explore the cave with its cupola-like roof and hear the legends woven around it. Take long tracks up to the monastery of Kira Psili, or to Stimenia or to the “caves” dug out of hills of porcelain or even to the top of the mount Profitis Ilias……….
Watch weavers at work on their looms -“argalios”, observe the process of making the world-famous honey of Vathi, pick grapes with the farmers and see how their sweet red wine is made and, for winter visitors, picking fruit in the citrus orchards can be quite an experience!
Yachtsmen can anchor in the fjordlike port and then laze in the seafront restaurants and cafes or stretch their legs by walking through the winding lanes to “Platanos” for Greek coffee or a glass of retsina.
Argos is the only plateau of the island of Kalymnos. It is inhabited by a small community of farmers and goatherds. The dry climate and the fertile soil attracted settlers so that the population reached 2000 at one time but in the difficult’60s and ’70s many of the people were forced to immigrate to Australia, America and elsewhere. Being inseparably tied to their sheep and goats many of them lived in their new homelands with the dream of returning to their old way of life. Quite a few of them did return and, in fact, invested all their hard-earned capital in animal farming. They lost all they had and were obliged, once more, to take the bitter road back to “ xenitia ” – to foreign lands.
However, they are of a lighthearted and humourous temperament that comes out very strongly in their folk music and nimble dancing. The verses of their impromptu songs are scoptic – their aim is to tease and arouse a reaction which is usually an answer just as mockingly humorous as the one that gave rise to it.
Coming into the small village one will come upon the church of Aghia Apostoli, perhaps the most important of all the mid-Byzantine structures on the island, whose architectural form is most unusual. Further towards the center, one will reach the monastery of Evangelistria, a convent where once the nuns worked the loom, producing material and belts for the elaborate local costume, the “kavadi”. Walking on the hill slope where once the first settlement lay, one will discover the ancient water wells made of huge stones and, further up, the ruins of the watchtower where once the vigil spotted ships coming, from as far away as Patmos or Nisiros and hastened to light fires, warning the people of approaching danger.
But, for many, it is a sheer delight to simply walk through the village, breathing in the fresh, dry aroma of mountain herbs and receiving the friendly greetings of the villagers, hearing the tinkle of goat bells or the shrill crescendos of a bagpipe inviting you to dance.