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Why Should I Visit Kos?

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Kos at a glance

The birthplace of Hippocrates and a famous healing centre in antiquity, Kos offers today’s visitors an attractive mix of traditions and historical periods through its architectural and cultural heritage.

On this cosmopolitan island, Greco-Roman beauty coexists with the exoticism of the East, and medieval fortresses with the austere modernism of the period of Italian rule.

Its lush green hills slope down towards exotic beaches that resemble tropical paradises, while the island's strong cycling culture compares well with that of many European cities.

A favourite island among foreigners, especially Northern Europeans, Kos is an ideal destination for anyone who loves a holiday with a historical flavour, for lovers of nightlife, but also for those who want to experience the healing embrace of nature. You can visit it with a ferry ticket to Kos.

10 reasons to visit Kos
  1. To explore Kos Town, a fascinating mosaic of cultures and eras with important archaeological sites, mosques and Turkish fountains, Venetian castles, neoclassical villas with gardens, iconic buildings from the period of Italian rule, and tropical palm trees that sway in the sea breeze. Be sure to make a stop at the central Eleftherias Square. 
  2. To visit the famous Asclepeion (4th century BC), the third largest healing centre in the ancient world, and the Medical School of Hippocrates, the father of medicine. The archaeological site is in a magnificent location, on the verdant slopes of a hill with a view of the Turkish coast.
  3. To explore the medieval fortress of Neratzia (14th century), built by the Knights of St John, which dominates the eastern end of the harbour and offers fantastic views of the sea. It was built using material from the Asclepeion and the ancient city of Kos. 
  4. To discover a cycling mecca with a 15 km network of cycle paths and bicycle racks everywhere. It is worth attempting a circuit of the island if you choose a ticket to Kos. 
  5. To explore the abandoned medieval village of Palio Pyli, a stone-built gem on the forested slopes of Mount Dikeos. Climb up to the 10th-11th century Byzantine castle, reminiscent of the famous fortified town of Mystras in the Peloponnese and enjoy superb views of Kos, the neighbouring islands of Kalymnos and Pserimos, and Turkey. There are some wonderful frescoes inside the Church of Ypapanti here.
  6. To enjoy the sunset from the mountain village of Zia on the highest slope of Mount Dikeos, with views of Kalymnos, Pserimos and the Turkish coast.
  7. To see the excellent Archaeological Museum, a listed building (1935) from the period of Italian rule that houses a wealth of archaeological finds from the Classical to the Late Roman period. In the entrance hall, visitors are met by an enormous head of the goddess Rhea. The collection includes important works of sculpture and some beautiful mosaics, including one depicting the arrival of Asclepius on Kos.
  8. To stand on the ramparts of the historic Antimachia Castle, built by the Knights of St John (14th century), and gaze at the magnificent view of the sea between Kos and Nisyros. 
  9. To visit the superb Casa Romana, a Roman villa from the 3rd century AD that reveals the splendour and opulence of Roman Kos. The villa has exquisite mosaic floors, with depictions of wild animals and sea creatures, as well as other fascinating artefacts.
  10. To swim in the thermal pool at Therma, a beach with black volcanic pebbles and hot springs that also heat the sea.
The top 5 beaches

Kardamena: A three-kilometre-long beach with shallow blue water, sand dunes and cedars trees that provide natural shade. The sea breeze and the scent of cedar give the place an idyllic atmosphere. The beach has tourist amenities and is a particular favourite of water sports enthusiasts.

Tigaki: A tropical paradise with 10 kilometres of golden sand and shallow waters, ideal for families with children and for surfing the waves in the open sea. The road that connects Kos Town with Tigaki is good for cycling. The beach has tourist facilities and is a great place to go with a group of friends or if you’re a fan of water sports.

St Stephen: A much-photographed beach that combines the beauty of nature with history, as it is just a few metres from the lovely old ruins of two early Christian temples (5th-6th century). It has tourist amenities and offers opportunities for water sports. Right in the middle of the bay is the small rocky island of Kastri and the Church of St Nicholas. The beach is located three kilometres northeast of the village of Kefalos, and can also be reached by walking along the coast from Kamari Beach.

Mastihari: One of the island’s most exotic beaches, where white sand and sparkling turquoise waters come together to create an idyllic landscape. The beach offers every amenity, with excellent water sports facilities, especially windsurfing. If you stay until the evening, you will be rewarded with a fabulous sunset.

Paradise Beach: A seemingly endless six-kilometre stretch of sand with shallow crystal-clear waters and a gradually shelving beach against an exotic backdrop of palm trees and cedars. The beach has colourful umbrellas and sun beds and offers every amenity for water sports. Its restaurants and tavernas are renowned for their fresh fish. It is well worth visiting if you choose a ferry ticket to Kos.

Don’t leave Kos without…
  • Going for a walk in Plaka Peacock Forest, created by the Italians in the 1940s. Set in an idyllic valley of pine trees, it is inhabited by some of the friendliest and most beautiful peacocks you've ever seen. Don't forget to take some seeds or bread with you to feed them.
  • Touring the town and the Asclepeion on the tourist train. An unforgettable experience for young and old alike.
  • Making a stop at the Tree of Hippocrates (opposite the Loggia Mosque). According to legend, it was under this enormous plane tree, 12 metres in circumference, that Hippocrates taught his students.
  • Taking a walk or bike ride to the old port with a view of the cruise ships, or along the palm-lined coastal road, one of the most beautiful in all Greece.
  • Wandering around the ghost village of Haihoutes on Mount Dikeos to see the remains of the stone houses there. Visit the church of Saint Demetrius and then have a Greek coffee at the traditional cafe to absorb the eerie atmosphere of the place.
Tasty experiences
  • Cool off with a cold kanelada (a local soft drink made from cinnamon syrup, cloves and aromatic herbs).
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with a preserve of cherry tomatoes stuffed with almonds.
  • If you choose a ticket to Kos, don't miss the local baklava and maeria (a traditional dessert with honey).
  • Purchase a ferry ticket to Kos and taste the thyme honey from Antimachia.
  • Savour krasotyri, also known as posa, a PDO (protected designation of origin) goat or sheep cheese matured in red wine, with a slightly spicy taste.
  • Try katimeria (twisted cheese pies filled with soft mizithra cheese, which are fried and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon), yiaprakia (dolmades made with vine leaves or cabbage leaves stuffed with rice or minced meat), stuffed courgette flowers, and pork with bulgur wheat.
  • Enjoy pasa makarouna (a baked dish with layers of minced meat, dried cheese, and handmade filo) and pitaridia (strips of pasta boiled in meat broth, with minced meat and pork fat).
  • Make a stop at a traditional bakery for Lambropita (a round cheese pie made with fresh unsalted mizithra cheese and plenty of eggs) and xismata (wheat bread made with grated cheese and aromatic herbs).

Every summer, as part of the iconic Hippocratia Cultural Festival (in July and August), there is a recitation of the Hippocratic Oath at the Asclepeion, in an atmospheric ceremony that transports onlookers back in time to Ancient Greece.​

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