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THE ESSENTIAL TRAVEL GUIDE TO KOS ISLAND AND TOP THINGS TO DO IN KOS

Kos is a stunning Greek island with amazing beaches, a vibrant Old town and beautiful scenery across this Western Dodecanese island

The island of Kos. located in the Dodecanese islands group, has all what makes Greece such an incredible destination magnet: many amazing beaches to choose from, a capital city with many attractions to visit and lovely villages or landscapes to discover.

This makes Kos a great magnet for many travellers, but still has fewer tourists versus the more famous Rhodes, Santorini or Mykonos. Also its proximity to Turkey and some smaller Greek islands, makes it a great gateway to explore beyond. But Kos itself has enough attractions to keep you busy for at least 1 week.

Kos has a very broad spec of activities and places to visit , so it can be enjoyed by all traveller groups. Its not so much a party island, so for that there are other Greek islands more fitting.

In this map, you can see that Kos is extremely close to Turkey ‘s Riviera, being located on the DODECANESE Islands group. the capital Kos Town is 25-30 minutes by ferry away from Bodrum

WHEN TO GO TO KOS

Like most Greek islands, the best time to go to Kos is during Summer. Ideally in June until mid July as it should be less hot and also cheaper but in August you might still get some good bargains. Temperatures will be in the low 20s degrees celsius and will reach 34.35 degrees during the day, Expect no rain during these months but it will be windy, mostly at at the end of the day

Best time to swim in Kos is from June to October as sea temperatures will be ranging from 23 degrees in June to 28 degrees in high Summer in August. Some parts might get cooler due to the windy conditions. Kos has excellent conditions for windsports in both North and Southern coastlines.

HOW TO GO TO KOS

The best way to get to Kos is by plane. From June onwards, you can fly directly from most European cities with charter flights done by holidays companies or low cost companies such as Ryanair, Wizz Air, Condor, TUI, Transavia, Eurowings and several others. Also bigger companies like Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France/KLM increase their flight offer during this season.

If you are already in Greece, the cheapest and fastest way to travel to Kos is then by ferry. Ferry services run all Summer long , starting usually in May/June and ending in September.

The biggest ferry companies serving Kos are:

  • Dodecanisos Seaways – the fastest jets connecting all Dodecanese islands for a quick island hopping. You can check schedules and book tickets here
  • Blue Star ferries – is a company connecting all Greek islands all the way to Athens. Slower than others but very reliable and very qualitative. Ferries schedules can be checked here: website
  • Other smaller companies connect daily to Turkey or to Kalymnos island , like Makri Travel or Sky Marine ferries. I found the ferry hopper website very useful and with no extra fees really good to book ferry connections here

HOW TO GET AROUND KOS

Kos isn’t a big island and its quite flat versus others, so to organize a transfer and then shuttle bus its quite easy and cheaper than renting a car. There are also public buses connecting from almost everywhere from Kos Town. You can check KTEL routesb and prices at KTEL website here

Taxis are useful to get to the hotel after arrivals and again departing. They are a little expensive but still acceptable for a couple of rides. There are Taxi fix rates going to Kos town from the airport: 25€ to Mastichari, 35€ to Kos Town, 25€ to Kefalos.

My recommendation is that you get a taxi or a shuttle with your hotel to go to your hotel/ accommodation and then arrange a transportation on your own, either a shuttle or just rent a car/ quad/ buggy for some days to go and explore the island.

There are many local reliable rental car companies that you can use on the island, but call before to make sure you get a vehicle during July/ August they are often sold out. Expect to pay 45-50€/ day, for a week rental you can pay as low as 35€.

Road conditions are mostly good in Kos, just beware of the Greek driving style – I was fine with it that but you must be aware that they drive really fast.

WHERE TO STAY IN KOS

Kos can be quite diverse when it comes to choosing your stay and it will be a very different experience. The island is small enough so that you can actually visit other parts of the island, independently from you overnight. Still it will take you at least 50 minutes from Kos Town to Kefalos area or from MastIcharia area to Kos Town 30 minutes.

I personally liked Mastichari for a more quiet stay not far from Kos Town but alsi found Kefalos a great location to explore the Southern beaches. At the end you have essentially 5 regions to choose from:

  • Kos Town area: located at the tip of Kos islands, you should stay at the capital of Kos to be close to main attractions, shops and to take boat trips / ferries to everywhere. Its not a dream beach location, including Marmari and Tigaki just nearby, as its quite windy here and its far from most island attractions
  • Mastichari: on the north coast, this is the place in Kos to see the best sunsets by the sea, having one of the most beautiful beaches in the island (also with some wind) and being halfway between Kos town and Southern Kos. Also its close to LIdo Waterpark, the biggest one in Kos plus its harbour has boat trips on offer to nearby islands.However its remoteness comes with the price that without car , you won’t get far or need to rely on shuttle buses and its still a stretch to Kos Town.
  • Kefalos: For some better value for money and the best beaches Kos has to offer, Kefalos bay area is just perfect. The beach of Kefalos itself is average despite the lovely views of the islet of Agios Stefanos, but its close to the amazing Paradise beach and has lovely nice small restaurants by the beach. On the other side its not the liveliest of places and its quite a distance from most island top attractions, so to rent a car or other vehicle is a must here.

If you need hotel recommendations , just message me.

WHERE TO EAT IN KOS

Kos is where Greek Food meets the beautiful architecture and colors from Greece, that unlike in other islands, white and blue doesn’t always prevail but a blend of colors. I really liked this in Kos, it did bring a different character to food experiences here.

This is the restaurants list you can’t miss in Kos:
🔹Fish House taverna in Kos Town
🔹Select Restaurant in Kos Town
🔹Palatiano restaurant in Mastichari – my personal favorite!
🔹Cavo Greco in Paradise Beach area
🔹Taverna Dikeos in Zia village
🔹Oromedon Restaurant in Zia Village
🔹Tam Tam beach bar restaurant in Mastichari
🔹Zorba restaurant in Kos Town
🔹Taverna Antonio‘s in Kefalos Beach
🔹Kompologaki restaurant in Agios Stefanos/ Kefalos bay

Best dishes to order for me and taste great local food were:
🔹Marinated octopus
🔹Zucchini Balls
🔹Shrimps saganaki
🔹Feta cheese with sesame and honey
🔹Shrimp souvlaki (grilled)
🔹Stuffed aubergine (or grilled)
🔹Meat on the spite (lamb or chicken)

Hope you like the list and can enjoy soon a great meal in amazing Kos island! Let me know if you liked it!

TOP THINGS TO DO IN KOS

Kos is mostly know by its offer of many beaches but it does have much more on offer. On this list I did select the best things to do in Kos and the best beaches will be covered in a separate section holiday island like many in Greece but its the most incredible nature wonder of them all as it lays its foundations on a thousands years old huge volcano crater that makes it so unique and special.

The top attractions in Kos that you must see are:

  • Kos old Town
  • Castle of Kos Town & Hippocrates Tree
  • Roman Odeon of Kos
  • Askilipeio/ Asklepios Temple
  • Agios Stefanos basilica & Kastri islet
  • Castle of Marathonamchon
  • Zia Village
  • Mastichari Bay

In this map of Kos, all main sights of the island can be identified. From Kos Town to Kefalos bay area its a 45 minutes drive.

Kos old Town

The vibrant capital of Kos is well worth a visit with its beautiful marina, narrow streets with bougainvilleas and colourful houses. Starting with Kos town beautiful marina promenade, where most buses arrive, youd should get to the central Eleftherias square, seeing the Fish house taverna alley, one of the most photogenic restaurants in whole Kos on the way. Other top sights include the Municipal market, Diagoras square, with the incredible Zorbas restaurant.

From here you can tale the street to the Roman Odeon of Kos or head back to the castle gate, to walk down and contemplate the beautiful Nafkiro bougainvillea street with its many restaurants plus visiting for free the Roman Agora of Kos. From here its a short walk to Kos castle.

Kos Town Castle & Hippocrates Tree

Kos Town castle is just a stone throw away from the old Town and you can visit it for free every day of the week, except Tuesdays, from 8.30am -3.30pm. Before you enter the castle, there is a historical monument called Hippocrates tree, as history says the father of medicine was teaching his pupils under its shade. It’s no longer the original one, but it’s many hundreds of years old, and it has a small water fountain from the Ottoman times. After entering the castle via the beautiful bridge, its a great but short walk along part of the city walls, as most of the castle is under maintenance, with great views of the marina, sea and naval headquarters.

Roman Odeon of Kos

This beautiful Roman amphitheater from the 2rd century is a proof of the Roman ingenuity to build such great structures. Located 10 minutes from the Diagoras square, it’s free to visit, being open everyday from 8.30am to 3.30pm (except Tuesdays).

Askilipeio/ Asklepion Temple

The most beautiful ancient temple in Kos island, the Asklepion temple is a must see, for anyone interested in ancient history but also any culture interested traveller. Located 15 minutes by car or small train west of Kos Town, its open everyday from 8am -8pm and the entry costs 8€. The small trains leavers from Kos marina, depart hourly and cost 5€ return trip.

Built on 4th BC, the Asklepion was not only a sanctuary dedicated to the god of Medicine but also a hospital/ healing center, where Hippocrates, the so called father of medicine practiced his science together with other physicians. Despite being mostly in ruins, due to natural disasters and no maintenance may decades, its the most important archaeological site in Kos and the most famous Asklepion in whole Greece.

Pyli Castle ruins

The most spectacular castle in Kos Isĺand is by far the Pyli Castle- Incredible location, beautiful hike and stunning views from Kos Northern coast. The best way to get here is by car or with a tour as its off the main road, 30 minutes from Kos Town.

The other great aspect about this castle is that is for free and its always open. The hike is moderate and takes 30 minutes in some rocky and not always greatly marked paths, so do take ideally hiking shoes and not sandals or flip flops.,but you will get there. Try to go as early as possible as it will be hot in Summer from 11am and get the sun behind your back.

Agios Stefanos basilica ruins & Kastri Islet

Agios Stefanos is a beautiful basilica located south of Kamari beach on touristy yet quiet Kefalos bay. It was build around the 5th century AD and cointains still some of the original mosaics and columns. Just like other sites in Kos island, its free to visit and open everyday.

Just in front of the Agios Stefanos basiica, its the other top attraction of Kefalos bay- the amazing rock islet of Kastri.

This little island Iis iconic in Kos and has a picturesque blue dome church dedicated to Saint Nicholsas (Agios Nikolaos) One can easily swim across and visit the island or tehn get there by paddle boat, to dive from its rocky shores into the deep blue waters of the Aegean.

For a stunning bird eyes’s view of the Kefalos bay, you have two great viewpoints- to the South a great scenic stop by the road after driving 10 minutes in direction of Cavo Paradiso beach. To the north, just by turning to the right before camel Beach and heading near the hotel Panorama studios. And if you are in Kefalos bay, do try one of the great reasturants I recommended above , to enjoy beautiful bay views and from the Kastri islet and its church.

Castle of Marathonomachon

Only 5 minutes by car (or take a bike)from Kos downtown, this hidden gem of a castle is worth a stop for some pics and a look to its exquisite medieval architecture. Its a privately owned villa , built in the 20th century that served also as a hotel for some time. Now its not open to visit its interior but still a must see in Kos island.

Zia Village

Zia is the most beautiful village in Kos island, Greece , making it also for me one of the top things to do in whole Greek islands.

Located in the middle of Kos mountain range, 20-25 minutes by car from Kos Town, through some winding narrow but in good condition road, it has the most stunning Café in Kos Island, colorful streets and stunning setting on a mountain with great views of Kos western coast. You must leave the car at the entrance of the village in a parking lot as the villages is car free.

The 5 places you can’t miss in Zia village are:
🔹Watermill Café
🔹The stairs of Zia
🔹Church of the Assumption and Sunset Taverna viewpoint
🔹Dikeos Restaurant
🔹Ormedon Green roofgarden

Do arrive early to avoid the tour crowds coming at around 11am or stay longer to see the sunset. It’s a great 1/2 day tour just to see something special away from the crowds of Kos Town.

Mastichari Bay

Nestled in the Northwestern coast of Kos, Mastichari is an amazing paradise beach combined with great Summer vibes with its beach bars in a lovely fishing village setting. And if that wasn’t enough, the Mastichari beach offers great watersports activities and a stunning sunset location! Its harbor is the starting point of day tours to the smaller islands of Kalymnos and Nysiros.

With a a wide stretch of fine white sand beach, beautiful clear blue greenish water, Mastichari is for me one of the top 3 beaches in Kosn island. Moreover, its the place of my favorite restaurant in Kos island, Palatiano Restaurant & Bar, with friendly staff and very delicious local food for reasonable prices.

The best way to get to Mastichari Is by car or by bus, with hourly connections to Kos Town and other main hubs, being only 20-25 minutes from Kos. Ticket costs 2.10€ one way, that can be bought with the driver. You can check the bus schedules here.

BEST BEACHES IN KOS

Kos island has an amazing coastline that offers some of the finest beaches in Greece, whose diversity can fit almost every taste. Depending on you are staying overnight, you will most likely access to a beach nearby. Note that on the north and eastern part of Kos it might get very windy vs other parts of the coastline.

For me the best beaches in Kos island are:

  1. Paradise Beach
  2. Camel Beach
  3. Mastichari Beach
  4. Therma Beach
  5. Cavo Paradiso Beach

The Paradise beach in Kos delivers what it promises on its name: a wonderful fine white sand beach with clear blue waters and well protected from stronger winds thanks to the high cliffs. Paradise beach is actually the first of a series of beaches that stretch along a large half bay with great restaurants, watersports and more.

Paradise beach in Kos is fully serviced with sun lounges costing from 7 to 10€ a day, has a small beach bar with fast food and then higher up a restaurant. It also has a watersports activity center.

It has a particularity: on its left side, marked by a big blue buoy, there is an incredible sight: bubbles coming out of the sea floor, giving you the sensation of being in a nature jacuzzi, although the water temperature isn’t really hot as it blends with the sea immediately.

If you climb up the rock on the right, you will have a stunning sight of the whole beach and beyond. Paradise beach can be reached from Kefalos in 10 minutes by car or in 45 minutes from Kos Town ( the half duration, if you depart from the Kos airport. There’s also regular bus services from Kefalos area.

Camel beach is a unique secluded beach in Kos, that owes its name to the restaurant located at the beginning of the beach road. Its a quick drive to get to the parking on the bottom of a steep dirt road, with amazing views from the top. Its a relative small bay in comparison to the nearby beaches in Kefalos area, but it does have a unique location, well protected from the wind. Its only 5 minutes by car from Kefalos town.

Mastichari beach is what you would call the best all round beach in Kos. Located on the small fishing village of Mastichari, it has more than the eyes meet – fine white sand beach, blue azure waters, plenty of cafés & restaurants plus the kitesurfing schools.

And If you come from the south side its a dream view of Mastichari with a lovely beach path connecting it to the several properties along the coast. You can access it by car or just take a bus from any of the big Kos transportation hubs . Its an easy 20 minutes drive from Kos Town.

The Therma beach in Kos is precisely a thermal beach, that gets volcanic geothermal waters that mix with the Aegean sea in a round nature pool. The road to get there is quite scenic and it takes only 20-25 minutes from Kos Town. The challenge is then the 20 minutes walk to get to the beach where this nature pool is located. Note that there is only a small Café at the parking lot before you head down, then are no services, sun lounges or other facilities (except an abandoned hotel but this is also fully closed). The water temperature reach 45 degrees celsius but its fine to stay in the pool for 5-10 minutes.

Cavo Paradiso in Kos is the real Paradise beach that you have dreamt of! And even more because the road to get there is likely to leave you feeling you are going through some kind of probation but when you get to that viewpoint before the final turn to the parking lot you know you got to heaven on earth in Kos.

The beach itself that you can access from the parking lot at first sight but the view point is

Stay also tuned for posts for more Greece islands and have a look to the posts already published. Send me any questions per message or comment below.

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My name is Renato Azambujo. I live currently in Hamburg, but was born and raised in sunny capital of Portugal, Lisbon. I also lived in Switzerland for some years, before settling in Germany for the last years.

I am huge passionate about travel, photographer and a global explorer, always looking to the next destination.

I have so far visited over 70 countries across the 5 continents, because I really love knowing about new places, interact with different cultures and get to know myself better after each journey.

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