Kos in recent years has become a very popular destination for both Greek and foreign tourists. And not unfairly, because it has a lot to offer and show. It is the third largest island in the Dodecanese, and over two-thirds of the coastline of Kos end up at beaches, ideal for swimming or water sports. The island is also known and loved by bicycle enthusiasts, as it is covered by bicycle paths in much of it, but also for wonderful cycling paths in nature.
Kos is the third largest island in the Dodecanese group of islands after Rhodes and Karpathos with an area of 290.3 sq km and has a population of 30,947 inhabitants. It is located in the southeastern Aegean, south of Kalymnos and north of Nisyros islands. The total length of the coast of Kos is estimated at 112 km.
The capital of the island and at the same time the main port is Kos town. The Asia Minor coast is only 4 nautical miles away from Kos Island.
The birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is rich in archaeological sites, historical monuments, and natural attractions. It has beautiful picturesque settlements and crystal clear beaches all along the coastline. All the above have brought the island into a modern tourist destination with thousands of visitors each year from Greece and abroad. Whatever your choice of on the island of Kos, the tourist infrastructure, as well as the warm hospitality of the residents, will leave you with the best impressions.
On the eastern side, near the town of Kos, you will find Psalidi beach named after the shape of the beach, the popular Lambi, which is the meeting place for young people, Foka beach with crystal clear waters and Therme with its steep cliffs, black sand and thermal springs.
On the northern side of the island you will find the cosmopolitan beaches of Tigaki with its shallow waters, Marmari, great for water sports lovers and Mastichari, a long, sandy beach with crystal clear waters.
On the south side is the homonymous beach in the village of Kardamena, the enchanting Paradise beach with the bubbles of gas coming out of the surface of the erupted volcanic underwater terrain and Kefalos beach with its cold, crystal clear waters.
There is a water park in Mastichari, a fully organized park with water slides and other games to entertain children.
The capital and port of the island, keep the memories of the Italian occupation alive in buildings such as the Police and the Municipal Market. For those who are coming for the first time, it is good to start from the basics: touring the ancient city market, Casa Romana, the Castle of the Knights and then relaxing on Eleftherias Square with the mosque and drink in Exarchia and the harbor hangouts.
After the earthquakes of 1933, the city was redesigned by the Italians and today it is distinguished by its beautiful buildings, its tree-lined rocks, and squares. A typical example of the Venetian period is the Castle of the Knights, whose moat has been transformed into the famous Phoenician Avenue.
The fun in Kos starts early. On every beach, you will find a beach bar to combine your swimming with music, beach volley, backgammon, coffee or even a relaxed drink. It is followed by the capital of the island, which transforms every night into a bustling, crowded and rhythm city, ready to satisfy all tastes. Those who want to enjoy their drink in a more romantic atmosphere, overlooking the sea, will prefer the bars that are located on the coast of Akti Miaoulis. Then choose one of the various clubs scattered around the streets of the city.
Many ancient travelers who visited the island were expressed in a lyrical way by calling “Kos sweet, good, ambiguous” (sweet and full of water – Heron, 3rd century BC). The island was first inhabited around 2300-2000 BC.
Situated along the other islands of the Dodecanese, at the crossroads of three continents and at the meeting point of great civilizations, Kos has developed and maintained for thousands of years its own culture, assimilating its various influences while maintaining its Greek character unchanged. It has emerged in one of the major centers and has played a valuable role in the creation of Mediterranean culture.
In the 13th and 12th centuries BC the Achaeans, whose culture assimilated the previous inhabitants, become the rulers of the island. At that time the Kos with the inhabitants of the nearby islands participated in the Trojan War (1194 BC).
At the end of the 6th century BC along with the other Dodecanese islands, Kos was conquered by the Persians, whom the Athenians later removed. At 477 BC becomes a member of the Athenian Confederacy, developing new settlements, institutions, economic and cultural activities. In 411 BC the Spartan fleet, during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), destroyed and plundered the capital of Astypalaia. However, the Athenian fleet, led by Alcibiades, recovers Kos and transfers the new capital of the island to its present position.
From 332 BC Kos belongs to the State of Alexander the Great and his successors until 42 BC, when the island was annexed to the Eastern province of the Roman state. In the Hellenistic period, Kos arrives at the height of its culture and emerges as a powerful part of the empire.
With the occupation of the Dodecanese in 42 BC, begins the Roman domination in the eastern Mediterranean.
From 330 AD, as a province of the Byzantine Empire, it accepts the raids of the Slavs, Arabs, Saracens, Normans who plunder and cause great destruction on the island. The end of the ancient history of Kos coincides with the great destructive earthquakes that occurred in 515 AD and the changes that have been made by them. Most of the public buildings were destroyed, while the coastal settlements were abandoned and the inhabitants settled in the mountainous areas.
After the temporary occupation from 1204 AD until 1262 AD, Kos returns to the Byzantines until 1314, when, along with the other islands of the Dodecanese, was occupied by the Knights of the Order of Sent John of Jerusalem.
In 1523, after 210 years of Knights’ occupation, Kos changed its conqueror. Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent with great naval and military forces occupies Rhodes, after the strong resistance of its inhabitants and then the rest of the islands. Darkness and terror everywhere, extinction and wild persecution follow. The properties are being seized, the houses looted, the churches turned into mosques. The Turkish Commander becomes the ruler of property, religion, the life of the inhabitants.
In 1911, Italy was involved in a war with Turkey, and in 1912 commander Ernesto Presbitero and under the general command of the regiment Giovanni Amelio begins the gradual occupation of the Dodecanese. The Italians occupy Kos in vain, and their inhabitants welcome them as liberators.
As soon as the ferry arrives in Kos, the first thing you can see is the Knights’ Castle that overlooks the entrance of the harbor and welcomes you to the island. This fortress is built in two parts, an interior and an exterior, in which parts of the walls, marble columns, towers, ramparts and stairs have been preserved. The city of Kos is, however, an open-air archaeological park. Ruins of classical antiquity, Hellenistic and Roman times, Byzantine churches and mosques and minarets combine in a charming way with modern buildings and intense, tourist life, thus giving the island a special identity. The most characteristic monuments are the Gymnasium, the Nymphaeum, the Odeon, the Roman House, the Ancient Agora, and the Via Cardo Street with houses decorated with mosaics, parts of the Hellenistic wall that surrounded the city, etc. If you are an enthusiast of ancient history, visit the Archaeological Museum of Kos where the finds of the excavations are kept and displayed.
On the island of Kos, great men were born. We can list the great doctors of antiquity, such as Heraclides, Thessalos, Draconas, Nevros, Praxagoras, Apollonidis, Kritodemos, Erasatrop, Nika, Daikpop, Xenophon and the greatest doctor of all times, Hippocrates. The Pythagorean philosopher, linguist and poet Episharmos, the historians and writers Eimerim and Sarano, the mememographist Hronda, the bucolic poet Theocritos and the greatest painter of antiquity Apelli.
Kos is famous for its baklava, sweet tomato and honey. Also, the local cheeses such as the one that keeps them in red wine have a special taste. The most typical traditional dishes are pasamacarona, honey (sweet with honey), gingerbread, desserts and puddings that are offered on the wedding days. As far as restaurants are concerned, avoid the tourist on Akti Kountouriotos. Sit down for a meal in the Platani village square (you may find it is hard to find a table) and taste delicious, authentic oriental dishes as well as a traditional restaurant in the village of Zia located on the green slope of Mount Dikaios and offers panoramic views of the Asia Minor coast.
There are public buses that start from the port, but for better comfort, it is good to have your own car or rent it there. The road system on the island is excellent with a central road artery, comfortable roads in a straight line, but the only downside is that the locals drive very fast and often make dangerous overtakes.
Visit one of the most famous resorts on the Turkish coast, Bodrum and its St. Peter’s Castle, the famous Museum of Underground Archeology, the remnants of the legendary Mausoleum (one of the seven miracles) and the marina (it is only twenty minutes by speedboat or one hour by conventional ship).
Are you interested in climbing routes? The volcano, the lunar beaches with the black pebbles and the picturesque villages of Nisyros (Mandraki, Emporios, Nikia) pull like a magnet the lovers of relaxed holidays.
The legendary island of Rhodes is connected daily with Kos (by catamaran and ferry), to have the opportunity to walk to its medieval city, the castle of Lindos, the baths of Kallithea, the Filerimos hill, the monuments of the Italian occupation and many other attractions.
Symi island has established itself as a destination for cosmopolitan holidays. There you arrive in three hours from the port of Kos.