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Why Should I Visit Nisyros?

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Nisyros at a glance

An island of black volcanic rock many thousands of years old, this tiny speck of land between cosmopolitan Kos and Tilos captivates visitors with its wild beauty. Some attribute its charm to the mysterious energy emitted by its active volcano, others to the diverse landscape.

It is unique combination of black sand and deep blue sea, verdant hills and hot springs, beautiful white villages in an authentic island style and picturesque churches perched on rocks.

Nature lovers, walkers, romantics and free spirits have always loved the island’s tranquillity and retro character. The same goes for the many artists who have made it their second home over the years. Having emerged as a film location for a number of European and American productions, the evocative volcanic island of the Dodecanese is ready to share its secrets with visitors attracted by an alternative destination with the allure of difference.

10 reasons to visit Nisyros
  1. Book a ferry to Nisyros to experience the mysterious and otherworldly atmosphere of an island formed by two major volcanic eruptions 25,000 and 15,000 years ago. Walk inside the giant crater, Stefanos, which resembles a living laboratory of bubbling mud, steaming fumaroles and a strong smell of sulphur in a white and yellow moonscape.
  2. To explore the picturesque Mandraki, the island’s capital, with its cobbled streets, pebbled squares, and white Cycladic-style houses with brightly coloured shutters. Make a stop at Ilikiomeni Square with its giant fig tree and two-floor neoclassical Town Hall, built in 1931 by craftsmen from Simi.
  3. To visit the imposing 17th-century Monastery of Our Lady of the Cave, built on the 30-metre-high rock of the Venetian Castle of the Knights in Mandraki. Climb the 270 steps that lead to the sacred cave of the church to admire the ornately carved iconostasis of 1725 and the icon of the Virgin Mary, which is said to have miraculous powers.
  4. To sit for a while in Porta Square in the village of Nikia, famous for its oval shape. Its pebbled decoration, made in 1923 by the famous local craftsman Paschalis Paschalakis, is a true work of art. The square is overlooked by the imposing Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  5. To wander round the amazing Volcanological Museum in Nikia, the only one of its kind in Greece. The state-of-the-art displays introduce visitors to the history of Greek volcanoes and their rocks.
  6. To admire the unique architecture in the dazzling mountain village of Emporio, where houses built from volcanic rock contrast with two-storey neoclassical buildings with impressive lintels. Climb up to the medieval Castle of Pantoniki and the 13th-century Church of the Archangels, and take in the incredible views of the Aegean and the caldera of the volcano.
  7. To enjoy a revitalising hydrotherapy session at one of the hot springs of Nisyros. Try the famous Municipal Baths of Mandraki (1500 metres north of the capital), the island’s old spa, with its well-renovated facilities. The waters reach a temperature of 46°C.
  8. To see the sunset from Palaiokastro, the impressive acropolis of Nisyros, and one of the most magnificent citadels in the Aegean. Built of solid black trachyte, it has stayed in superb condition for 2,600 years.
  9. To discover the island’s natural landscape and history through its famous stone-paved paths. There are more than forty of them, leading to every corner of Nisyros, passing by stone walls, farm buildings, old distilleries and tiny churches.
  10. To make a trip to the islet of Yiali, which resembles an open-air geological park stretching over two hills: a white one of pumice (which is quarried here, along with perlite) and the other green with dense pine trees.

10 extremely tempting reasons why you should immediately look for ferry tickets to Nisyros!

The top 5 beaches

Pachia Ammos: The island’s most beautiful beach, in a setting of large sand dunes and green mastic trees, has a wide stretch of dark shingle and shallow crystal-clear water that suddenly becomes very deep. Especially popular with fans of free camping, it has no facilities, so you need to be well prepared before you come. Access is not easy, requiring a drive along a dirt road and a 15-minute walk along a difficult path from Lyes.

Hohlaki: An impressive beach with large black volcanic pebbles in the shadow of huge cliffs of black andesite, below the Monastery of the Virgin Mary of the Cave. Access is on foot from Mandraki. One of the most beautiful places on the island from which to see the sunset.

Lyes: A beach with dark sand, flat pebbles and crystal-clear thermal waters. There is a canteen for snacks and soft drinks.

Paloi: A large beach with fine dark sand, shallow waters, and natural shade provided by tamarisk trees. There are no amenities here but the nearby village of the same name has tavernas and cafes for food and drink.

Yiali: The volcanic island opposite Nisyros has two fantastic beaches in attractive bays with blue-green waters. They owe their wild beauty to the pumice-stone quarry that has operated here for centuries. The south beach has a backdrop of red volcanic rocks, in contrast with the captivating sculptural forms in white pumice on the north beach.

Don’t leave Nisyros without…
  • Taking a boat trip around the island to swim at secluded beaches and in enchanting sea caves.
  • Going to one of the island’s village festivals to get to know its folk culture through traditional costumes, dances and songs. Don’t miss the traditional “summer wedding”, a three-day celebration open to all visitors to Nisyros.
  • Exploring the nearby islets of Agios Antonios, Stroggili, Pachia, Pergousa and Kandeleousa, where an abandoned lighthouse stands.
  • Walking the path from Evangelistria Monastery to the Hill of the Prophet Elijah, the highest point of the island (698 metres), for a stunning panoramic view of the Aegean. It takes about 60 minutes and is generally not too difficult.
  • Swimming at Avlaki, a deserted settlement of stone houses, where hot spring water flows into the sea, creating unique natural pools. The temperature of the thermal water reaches 59°C.
Tasty experiences
  • Book a ferry to Nisyros and enjoy boukounies (pork cooked with fat), kapama (goat stuffed with rice) and pitthia (chickpea fritters), skordalia (garlic dip) with almonds, and kaparosalata (caper dip).
  • Enjoy the local cheeses: krasotiri (cheese baked in red wine) and sakouliasti (local mizithra).
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with xerotigana and diples (sweets strips of fried dough folded and rolled into different shapes), loukoumades (doughnuts), finikia and kourabiedes (types of cookies) moustalevria (a pudding made with grape juice), and pastellaries (split figs with almonds and sesame).
  • Try locally produced sweet preserves (of bitter orange, quince, and tomato).
  • Cool off with a traditional soumada or kanelada (almond- and cinnamon-flavoured drinks respectively).
  • Drink koukouzina (a local spirit made from grapes or figs that tastes similar to raki).

The oval Porta Square in the village of Nikia has been named one of the best traditional squares in Europe.

Locals use the word “Nisyriasi” to describe the strong addiction of visitors to the volcanic energy of the island.

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