Travel Guide to Kos

Kos is one of the Greek Dodecanese Islands located in the Aegean Sea 370 kilometres south east of the mainland port of Piraeus and just five kilometres south of Turkey.

Kos is the second biggest island in the Dodecanese archipelago after Rhodes and can give its larger neighbour a run for its money when it comes to attracting the tourist hordes.

The island has 290 kilometres of coastline with a wealth of wonderful beaches – most which are smothered with cheek-by-jowl sun shades in July and August. It’s an island of big resort complexes and frantic foam parties.

But it’s also the birthplace of Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, and home to the western world’s first ever medical school. History and archaeology buffs will delight in its treasure trove of fascinating ancient sites.

The island of Kos is characterized by the typical architectural style of the Dodecanese islands, but the local elements have been altered by the tourist growth of the island. Large hotels, built in villages and main towns, have changed the post-earthquake look of the island with two-story buildings and wooden doors and blue windows.

The historic part of Kos town is the only area declared as a traditional settlement with conservation obligation and reminds the old way of life. The houses are built in stone and lime, while the doors and windows are framed with thin stone and the roofs are flat, in order to collect the water.

The capital of the island is Kos town which is located on the north-eastern coast of the island. Kos is particularly famous for being the birthplace of Hippocrates who is considered the father of medicine, Asklepeion is located 4 km from the modern town and the ruins traditionally housed the ancient Hippocratic School of medicine.

The most popular tourist destination is definitely Kardamena, in the southwest of the island a former traditional fishing village and today sensitively developed with restaurants, shops and nightlife. Close to Kos town, is the seaside resort of Psalidi, with numerous clubs and restaurants. To the Northwest of the island are Lambi, Mastichari, Tigaki and Marmari, all of which are renowned for their fabulous white sandy beaches.

A tour of the island should include a visit to Kos Town, the well organized and developed tourist resort of Psalidi, Agios Fokas and a dip in the healing Spa waters of Thermes. Mastichari, Kos’ main port, connects the island with Kalymnos. The port of Kardamena connects the island with Nissyros and Kefalos the ancient capital of the island.

About Kos

Kos is one of the best islands in Greece when it comes to a typical beach holiday. It was among the first to go for mass-market tourism in a big way with many Kos hotels thrown up on the long, sandy coastlines to the east and the south.

Kos is long and thin, about 45 by 11 kilometres and, unlike many other Greek islands, it’s mostly flat and low-lying, especially in the north and west. As a result, much of the scenery on Kos is not outstanding by Greece standards, although it does get more mountainous in the south and east.

The lack of hills has helped to make cycling a very popular Kos holiday activity and there are no end of bicycle rental outlets and even dedicated cycling lanes between the big holiday hotels.

As well as the brash nightlife of Kos Town and a plethora of beach resorts, the island also boasts some of the best archaeological sites to be found in the Mediterranean.

For many though, it’s the long, sandy beaches that make a holiday to Kos so appealing with day trips by boat to nearby Turkey a very popular holiday excursion.

With an area of 290 km2 and approximately 112 miles of coastline Kos lies between Nisyros and Kalymnos, covering an area of 290 square kilometres. The coastline is 113 km long.

In the past Kos was part of the continent, whereas it is today part of the Aegean, called Epirus Aegeida by the ancient Greeks.
After huge geological changes, the continent was divided and broken up, some of which are sunk and others becoming the islands of the Aegean Sea.

The climate and terrain of Kos is ideal for agriculture: the weather is mild throughout the year, the morphology of the terrain and the plentiful supply of water creates the best conditions for the cultivation of excellent agricultural products.

The production of Kos includes cereals, vegetables, fruit, grapes, tobacco and olives, while animal husbandry and beekeeping are also very significant.

Palms, cypresses and gardens make the island green, and this is constantly revitalised by the number of goats and sheep which roam the hill sides. Kos was the only island of the Dodecanese with a salt lake, one of the best in the Mediterranean.

There are 24,000 inhabitants in Kos. Most of the inhabitants now work in the tourist industry which to some extent has replaced the work of agriculture as the main type of employment.

Only a few areas retain their traditional occupation of agriculture and farming. These socio-economic changes have changed a once wholly rural society into an urban-tourist one.

The island has a reputation since ancient times for its hospitality and because of its location and port the people have developed an open and welcoming attitude towards visitors. The main holiday areas are to the south-west around Kamari Bay.

Kos Holidays

Kos is swept by magnificent sandy beaches, especially in the south, and Kos has some very impressive archaeological sites.The low-lying east coast attracted lots of cheap package tourism in the 60’s and 70’s and it shows. Avoiding the tat can be demanding.

Kos Beaches

Kos has been a popular beach holiday destination for years and the influence of package holiday companies is felt mostly on the east coast, around Kos Town, where the big hotel complexes dominate. Apart from a string of pleasant beach resorts along the north Kos coast.

Useful Info

Kos has everything, a fascinating and colourful town of italian mansions, palm trees, archaeological sites, a knights’ castle and a bustling harbour; a varied landscape of attractive mountains and featureless coastal plains and kilometres of sandy beaches.

Getting there

Find out information about getting to Kos by sea or by air.

getting to kos by sea

Information about getting to Kos by sea and air