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Why Should I Visit Kalymnos?

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Kalymnos at a glance

The legendary island of sponge divers and sponge fishing is also a paradise for climbers, an internationally renowned diving resort, and most recently a caving mecca. Indeed, Kalymnos is emerging as a favourite travel destination for adrenaline junkies and anyone who loves exploring the natural world.

It is a jewel of arid, rocky beauty and wild landscapes set in deep blue seas, possessing an energy all its own that never fails to captivate visitors.

With centuries-old hiking trails, a seabed littered with ancient shipwrecks, a unique history, and a rich culinary tradition, Kalymnos offers an authentic experience of discovery and adventure. Proud and uncompromising, it remains an island of extremes, which you can visit by choosing one of ferry tickets to Kalymnos.

10 reasons to visit Kalymnos
  1. To stroll through the narrow streets of Pothia, the capital of the island, which is built in the shape of an amphitheatre on the slopes of two hills. Admire its Italian-influenced neoclassical mansions, imposing captains’ houses, and simple sponge divers’ dwellings.
  1. To discover an international mountaineering destination and one of Europe’s premier rock-climbing locations. There are more than 70 climbing crags on the island and over 1300 routes for all levels of ability.
  1. To learn about the fascinating history of Greek sponge-fishing at the Maritime Museum of Kalymnos. The superb collection includes sponge-divers’ equipment, sponge processing tools, nautical instruments and charts, finds from shipwrecks, and photographs.
  1. To visit the Cathedral of the Transfiguration (1861), which dominates the seafront of Pothia. Its marble icon screen was carved by the great sculptor from the island of Tinos, Yannoulis Chalepas.
  1. To wander round the excellent New Archaeological Museum in Pothia, where finds from prehistory to the post-Byzantine period are displayed. The most significant attraction in the collection is the bronze “Lady of Kalymnos”, a superb example of Hellenistic sculpture dragged up from the sea in a fisherman’s net in 1995.
  1. To explore the remains of the medieval Chrysocheria Castle (15th century), built by the Knights of St. John, and the three stone windmills around it.
  1. To take a day trip to beautiful Telendos, just 10 minutes from Kalymnos by water taxi from Myrties. You will be captivated by its fantastic beaches, picturesque streets and wonderful tavernas. The island is also ideal for hiking and diving.
  1. To attend the iconic Scandalopetra International Diving Festival and Games. For one week every July, the fascinating underwater world around Kalymnos reveals its secrets to professional divers and explorers. The events range from free-diving demonstrations to an underwater photography competition and guided tours of museums.
  1. To admire the most beautiful fjord in the Aegean, in the verdant environs of Vathy. This long, narrow inlet of blue-green water flanked by tall barren rocks ends at Rina harbour, behind which is a fertile green valley full of mandarin and orange groves.
  1. To spend time at the Sanctuary of Apollo, the most important place of worship in ancient Kalymnos, dedicated to the island’s patron and protector. Admire the temples of Apollo and Asclepius, the theatre, and the assembly, as well as two early Christian churches dating from the 5th and 6th century.
The top 5 beaches

Masouri: The most popular beach on Kalymnos is a paradise of sand and pebbles with crystal-clear blue waters and excellent views of the island of Telendos. It is a favourite of young people, due to its many beach bars that pound out music into the early hours of the morning, and of climbers from all over the world, who relax there after tackling the popular crags on the surrounding hills.

Kantouni: A sandy beach with clear blue-green waters and wonderful views of the imposing mountain and the Monastery of the Holy Cross. The atmosphere is cosmopolitan and extremely youth-oriented, as there are several beach bars that are open 24 hours a day.

Platis Yialos: Black sand, crystal-clear blue waters and amazing sunsets make this beach, near Panormos, one of the most famous on the island, and worth visiting if you choose one of the ferry tickets to Kalymnos.

Emporeios: This pebble beach with crystal-clear waters and large plane trees is especially popular with fans of windsurfing, kitesurfing and water-skiing due to its exposure to strong winds.

Arginontas: A deep bay surrounded by trees and a beach with round pebbles and bright blue-green waters create a beautiful exotic landscape. For lovers of seclusion with the amenities of an official tourist beach, 16.5 kilometres from Pothia.

Don’t leave Kalymnos without…
  • Visiting one of the sponge workshops on the seafront in Pothia to see how sponges are processed, and buy a souvenir.
  • Having a diving lesson at one of the island’s certified diving centres.
  • Enjoying magnificent views of the Pothia Valley and the Aegean from the courtyard of Saint Savvas’s Church in Kalymnos Town.
  • Discovering the island’s beautiful hiking trails. The 4.5-km route from Pothia to the lush Vathy valley along a path paved with small rocks, built by the Italians during their occupation of the island, is unforgettable.
  • Exploring the stunning Kefala Cave (also known as the Cave of Zeus), considered the most beautiful on Kalymnos. Its most impressive chamber, containing huge stalagmites and stalactites, is 103 metres long.
  • Taking a day trip to the island of Pserimos, 50 minutes by boat from Pothia. It is also known as Kapari, due to the capers that grow there, and you will be captivated by its stunning beaches.
  • Riding from Masouri to Emporeios by mountain bike, following the coastal road with views of the sea and the island of Telendos.
Tasty experiences
  • Sample the local sweet Anama wine.
  • If you choose one of the tickets to Kalymnos, don’t miss out on myrmizeli (a local salad of tomato and cheese served on a double-baked barley roll), mououri (goat or lamb stuffed with rice and liver and cooked in a clay pot in a wood-burning oven), dolmades (also known here as fylla), chickpea fritters, and kapetanato (pork cooked in a clay pot with potatoes).
  • Enjoy charcoal-grilled swordfish and fabulous lobster linguine.
  • Taste the famous spinialo (an unusual fisherman’s dish of sea urchins, skate and pinna preserved in seawater) with onions and olive oil.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with gyristes (a local kind of doughnut served with honey) and galaktoboureko (milk pie).
  • Try the island’s delicious seafood mezes such as octopus balls, octopus stifado (a kind of stew) or octopus with macaroni, as well as stuffed squid, sun-dried lobster tails, karnaki (a skate and mayonnaise salad), Simi shrimp, and the famous brined fish of Kalymnos.
  • Serve your mezes with the bread known as eptazimo (literally “kneaded seven times”) made with aniseed and ouzo, or double-baked barley rolls (made with aniseed, mastic and black sesame seeds).
Trivia

Kalymnos is home to one of the world’s most famous international climbing festivals. Every October, the island witnesses a series of breathtaking spectacles as hundreds of accomplished athletes from every corner of the globe tackle its sheer limestone rocks. The four-day programme also features climbing marathons, cultural events, educational activities, photography exhibitions, and parties with live music. One of the most extraordinary sights is deep water soloing, where climbers without safety equipment ascend crags that overhang the sea.​

MAP OF KALYMNOS