Kos is a beautiful island in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Part of the Dodecanese chain, Kos is the third largest island of this area. The capital is Kos Town, which is also the main port and population centre. It’s number of whitewashed hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and sandy beaches with crystal clear waters, make the island a very popular tourist destination.
The island, which is the birthplace of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, also known as “The Father of Medicine”, has a very rich and colourful history, with many sights that are open to the public throughout the year. Guests can stroll through the city and find some of the most interesting and breathtaking monuments from the Roman and Byzantine Empire, the period of the Crusades and the Venetian conquerors and from the Ottoman period. Modern buildings of Italian architecture that were built during the Italian period can also be found throughout the island.
The most significant sights one must visit while being on the island are the numerous castles, like the Neranztia castle, the castle Antimachia, the Castle of Kefalos and the castle of old Pyli.
Things To Do and See in Kos
This stunning medieval castle is located at the entrance of the port. Probably constructed in the 14th century A.D. by the Knights Templar as part of their fortification efforts on the island. It owes its name to the many sour oranges that surrounded the area back in the 14th – 15th century. During the period of the crusades, the castle, alongside the castle of Saint Peter (today’s Bodrum Castle) controlled the sea way towards the holly lands. Visitors cannot miss the massive castle as it guards the entrance to Kos Harbour. They can also enter the castle by paying a small fee. Once inside, visitors can take a look at the impressive and picturesque views of the harbour, the city and the ocean.
Considered to be the centre of the contemporary city, Eleftheria Square is the meeting point for all visitors and locals as it is very close to the main port, the old city and the lively Bar Street. It is full of a long spanning history, with monuments and sights from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine period, all the way to the period of the Knights of St. John, the Ottoman conquest and the Italian occupation. Guests will be surrounded by three huge buildings inherited from the Italian Era, the municipal market, the club and the Archaelogical museum which has a beautiful prehistoric collection of statues and mosaic floors. As you reach the end of the square, you will spot the Defendar Mosque.
Under the huge branches of this magnificent tree, Hippocrates supposedly taught his students the art of medicine and examined his patients. It is estimated to be 2,500 years old and with a trunk of 12 metres periphery, it is said to be one of the biggest platane trees in Europe. The tree is situated in the centre of Kos Town in Platia Platanou, opposite the Lotzia Mosque and over the years, it has become hollowed. A notable fact is that seeds and cuttings from this beautiful tree have been presented to many countries around the world as a gift, spreading it all over the world in many medical universities, libraries and institutions.
Located approximately 4 km from the centre of Kos Town and perched on a picturesque hill filled with rich flora and breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea, the Asclepieion of Kos is the most important monument of the island and temples of its kind. Considered to be a place of worship of the god Asclepius, who mythologically was the first doctor-demigod. According to Greek myths, he was such a talented doctor that he could even bring back the deceased. The origins of medicine lay in this magnificent monument, as it is where Hippocrates taught the profession in the school built within the sanctuary and cultivated scientific medicine.
The island of Kos suffered major damage during the great earthquake in 1933. This gave the Italians, who were occupying the island at that time, the idea to reconstruct the city’s building plan. Part of this reconstruction was the Roman Manor, also know as “Casa Romana”, a huge mansion of 36 rooms and 3 atriums built on the ruins of an old Hellenistic style house. Nowadays, visitors are able to walk around this magnificent Pompei model house and take in its beauty and admire the hundreds of breathtaking mosaics, decors and statues.
Each year Kos celebrates St George with festival and a horse race in the village of Pyli. It begins with the procession of the Saint’s icon which is then followed by a parade of the horse riders and finishes with the race. Approximately 20 rides take place, training throughout the whole year. The priest will announce the winning horse by cracking an egg over it. The ride of the winning horse get a prize and so does the runner up. This is a remarkable custom that is very popular among visitors and the locals.
The island of Kos was under Ottoman rule for approximately four centuries, from 1523 to 1912, and the monuments that have survived till today are strong reminders of this. Two Ottoman mosques stand in the centre of Kos Town and are historical and architectural landmarks of the Ottoman rule. They do not operate anymore, but are preserved thanks to the restoration works. They are interesting landmarks for visitors to see, as they show the rich historical past of the island.
In Ancient Greece, every agora or also known as forum, was the commercial and social centre of each city. There have been many to have been excavated in Greece and the one in Kos is considered to be one of the largest. It was the centre of Kos’s finance, with numerous workshops, shops and altars. Nowadays, the Agora is part of the archaeological zone of the port. Visitors can walk through and be part of the bustling centre that once was. They will see parts of the fortification of the city, the sanctuaries of Aphrodite and Hercules, remains of ancient houses and a small part of the ancient port. A notable fact is that the largest part of the Agora is burried under the modern city.
Popular Resorts of Corfu
Kassiopi has blossomed from it origins as a quiet little fishing village into a small, beautiful and bustling resort which has something for everyone, from families to couples and groups. There are several shingle beaches within an easy five to ten minute stroll of the village. The pretty harbour is a centre for day trips and is lined with smart cafes, restaurants and bars, making it a perfect spot for relaxing and watching the world go by. Kassiopi also boasts a wide range of gift shops with something to cater for every taste. There are many more excellent tavernas and bars scattered throughout this small village striking a perfect balance for both those who wish for a quiet, more traditional atmosphere and those who enjoy some lively nights with music and dancing.
Avlaki is a beautiful, sweeping bay located between Agios Stephanos and Kassiopi. Backed by just a few villas and two excellent tavernas, this beach is a favourite with locals and tourists alike as it tends to be very quiet with crystal clear water, perfect for swimming and snorkelling. This beach is stoney and shingly and sunbeds and parasols can be hired for a small fee. Visitors to this stunning beach are guaranteed a peaceful time relaxing in the sun and watching boats come and go in the bay. Avlaki can easily be reached by car or on foot. From Kassiopi a relaxed stroll will take approximately half hour. Likewise, it is possible to walk to Agios Stefanos and the beach at Kerasia which will take approximately one hour, enjoying stunning views and perfect photo opportunities along the way.
Known by regular visitors as St. Stefanos, this tiny bay is renowned as being one of the most attractive places to stay on the upmarket north-east coast of Corfu. This picturesque little village has a charming, traditional and wonderfully peaceful feel to it and many people return for their holidays time and time again. An excellent collection of tavernas and cafes huddle side by side along the pretty harbour front, together with several gift shops and mini markets. St. Stefanos has its own shingly beach for sunbathing, relaxing and watching pleasure cruisers and smart boats going in and out of the bay. This area is beautifully surrounded by verdant landscapes, has wonderful views from every angle and it is a perfect spot for walkers. Stunning beaches can be found in every direction from here and motor boats are available for hire to reach more secluded bays.
Sitting side by side on the beautiful east coast these are two of Corfu's prettiest and most photographed resorts and the emphasis is on relaxation and tranquility. Dramatic and stunning coves are found all along this area overlooked by lush green landscapes of olive trees and cypresses. Kalami has become a well known resort by its association with the famous Durrell family, some of whom once occupied the beautiful White House. This is now an excellent and very popular taverna, sitting in a superb position on the shoreline with the waves virtually lapping its sides. This tiny, upmarket resort has several bars and tavernas spread along the beach front and is a well known area for water sports and motor boat hire. Its neighbour, Kouloura is a stunning horseshoe-shaped little bay, with a quiet taverna and bar overlooking the beautiful harbour and is within walking distance around the bay from Kalami.
A stunning little place on the northeast coast of Corfu, Nissaki has a glorious collection of white pebbled coves and is ideal for those who wish for peace and relaxation. There are plenty of walks and hiking trails in the area with Mount Pantokrator as an amazing backdrop. Motor boat hire is available to explore secluded bays or there are many areas for snorkelling and swimming in the crystal clear waters. Several tavernas and shops can be found here and other resorts are close by if you wish for more in the way of nightlife, one of them being Kassiopi which is approximately a 20 minute drive away. Nissaki has many picturesque bays with scenic coastal walks. Kaminaki, Krouzeri and Agni are close by as well as Kalami and Kouloura.
Sidari is a highly popular destination on the north west coast of Corfu, with visitors returning year after year. Stretching across a wide area, one of its main attractions is the long sandy beach as well as its nightlife. The resort has a vast array of cafes, bars and restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisine from Greek to British, Italian, Chinese and International. There is plenty of entertainment and many bars offer karaoke, quizzes, tribute acts and dancing. Nearby is the famous Canal D'Amour, with its unusual rock formations, tiny coves and channels which are ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Located close to the village of Peroulades and the stunning Logas Beach, also known as Sunset Beach, Sidari is highly recommended for families and groups hoping for a fairly lively holiday.
Situated on the northern coast between the sea and the rolling hills, Roda is approximately 20 minutes drive from Kassiopi. It is renowned for its long stretch of fabulous sandy and pebbly beach which it shares with the neighbouring resort of Acharavi. The Roda coast road runs parallel to the beach and is lined with an array of shops, bars, tavernas and restaurants. Visitors can enjoy Greek and international cuisine at its finest and many bars offer evening entertainment such as karaoke, quizzes, singers and the fun and enjoyable Greek dancing. This charming, small town makes a perfect getaway for people of all ages and nationalities and everyone is certain to enjoy Greek hospitality at its best. Just outside Roda are miles and miles of unspoilt countryside – perfect terrain for hikes and horse treks. The seafront route to Acharavi is around 25 minutes’ walk and will lead you past some tucked-away restaurants. For a more demanding trail, you can go up to Episkepi, in the foothills of Mount Pantokrator, where you’ll get immense views and a glass of wine when you arrive.
Paleokastritsa is one of the most photographed places on the island of Corfu, if not in the whole of Greece. Its dramatic coastline, absolutely stunning scenery and the lush green landscape that surrounds it is unrivalled. Located on the north west part of the island there are many little sandy and pebbly beaches with turquoise waters dotted along the bay and excellent bars and tavernas are spread around them. Sunbeds and parasols are available for hire on the beaches and if you wish to visit a more secluded bay you will find a water taxi at your service. A beautiful 18th century monastery sits on the hilltop overlooking the town and visitors can visit and take in the fabulous views. The main town of Corfu is approximately a half hour journey away. Paleokastritsa is a must see for all visitors.
Gouvia, on the east coast of the island is in close proximity to the main town and the airport, approximately 9km. Once a small fishing village and built on the site of an ancient Venetian harbour it now hosts the main marina on the island where many yachts and smart boats moor during the summer season and from where visitors can try their hand at sailing activities. Several sandy, shingle and pebbly beaches are located in the area with watersports and fun activities all catering for the many visitors that arrive during the season. Gouvia village has many things to offer the tourist such as gift shops, bars, cafes, tavernas and restaurants which cater for all ages and tastes. An excellent bus and taxi service allows quick access to the main town and all its sights. Gouvia is close to other resorts in the near vicinity such as Kommeno, Kontokali and Dassia. An ideal destination for visitors of all ages and nationalities.
Connected to the nearby resort of Gouvia by a coastal road, Kontokali is also in close proximity to Corfu's main town and conveniently located in easy reach of the airport about a 20 minute drive away. Excellent cuisine can be found at several very good tavernas and for those who prefer the quieter pace of life the nightlife here is much more low key than in other resorts. Being so close to Gouvia the two resorts almost converge into one and are within walking distance of each other. Visitors can easily pop along to Gouvia for livelier evenings and more restaurants and bars. The main shopping area here is also in Gouvia and a small supermarket can be found at the marina. Kontokali is ideal for people who want rest and relaxation in a quieter setting but can reach other areas and resorts easily.
Kommeno Bay is a stunning and very tranquil area, surprisingly located very close to Corfu Town and nearby busier resorts. Quiet, winding roads lead to smart hotels and villas in this exclusive part of the island and beautiful, scattered beaches and little coves of sand and shingle are dotted below the hotels and along the bay. The more bustling resorts of Dassia and Gouvia, with its marina, are within a short distance and easily reached. A stunning little church is located in a picture perfect position, jutting out in the bay and allowing for fabulous holiday photographs. Parasailing and water skiing are available here and the superb waterpark at Aqualand is a short drive away. Conveniently located about 20-25 minutes from the town and the main airport.
Kavos is at the southern tip of Corfu and is one of the most heavily commercialised and busy resorts on the island. Known as the clubbing capital of Corfu it is mainly aimed at young people and in keeping with its party reputation it is heaving with music bars and nightclubs that keep holidaymakers going all night long. There is a vast array of tavernas and restaurants serving all types of cuisine from Greek to Italian, Chinese and Mexican as well as many fast food outlets located throughout the resort. Kavos is a very large resort and has a long sandy beach for relaxing and sleeping off a heav