Kos, the small Greek island, which you can cross by car within an hour, definitely has more to offer than you think! Here come my personal top 10 things to do in Kos island.
While sitting on the plane to the Greek island of Kos in the eastern Aegean Sea, I would never have expected that there is so much to discover on only 288 km²!
The beautiful white sand beaches, but also natural pebble beaches, the ancient sights as well as the picturesque fishing and mountain villages with their quaint tavernas make the island a top travel destination and one of the most beautiful Greek islands. Best of all, you never really have to waste much time in a rental car driving from one sight to the next, as it takes just under an hour from east to west!
I’ll show you which Kos sights I discovered during my holidays. So if you are also planning a trip to Kos, you should definitely put the following places on your to-do list:
Table of contents
Number 10 of things to do in Kos: The small town of Kardamena
Kardamena is a small, former fishing town in the south of the island with a beautiful old town with many cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs, attracting young people among others. I strolled a little along the harbor promenade, where old fishing boats, as you know them from the past, are docked and you can stop in places right on the water. If you have a lot of energy, you can go on an uphill hike of several hours to another sight on Kos, the St. John’s Fortress. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right footwear for that 😉
Number 9 of things to do in Kos: Markos Beach
A little insider tip I got myself from a friend is Markos Beach near Kefalos. It is a small, quiet white sand beach that is much emptier compared to other beaches mentioned in every Kos travel guide. A perfect place to read a book, listen to the sound of the sea with its blue waters and just relax… In the adjacent taverna you can also get cold drinks and the usual Greek specialties. And if you want to move a bit, you can walk directly along the water to the neighboring beaches.
Depending on which direction you walk, you’ll either get to other beautiful beaches like Lagada Beach and the very well-known (and often very crowded) Paradise Beach, or Sunny Beach, Agios Theologos beach and Magic Beach, which are all famous beaches in Kos island. Other popular sandy beaches in Kos include Agios Stefanos beach with turquoise waters and Tigaki beach with shallow waters.
Number 8 of things to do in Kos: Kos Town
The capital is also the largest city on the island, but still small enough to be able to walk around all the sights. There are some important historical sites like the 14th century Neratzia Castle and the Archaeological Museum and churches to explore here besides the harbor of Kos Town. For example, I visited the 2nd century amphitheater Odeon and the rebuilt 3rd century Roman villa “Casa Romana” with their interesting architectural style. After the sightseeing I strolled a little through the winding streets of Kos town with the many small shops and enjoyed the hospitality in one of the traditional taverns. If you don’t want to explore Kos Town on foot, I recommend a sightseeing tour with the little streetcar – a highlight not only for children 😉
Number 7 of things to do in Kos: The small harbor village Mastichari
This little village in the north of the island scores with narrow streets, cute stores and taverns. If you are looking for real Greek flair, you should not miss Mastichari as a Kos sight. In addition, you can make trips from there to the “sponge diver island” Kalymnos, which I can really recommend to everyone and thus occupies the 6th place in my top 10 list of things to do on Kos island.
Number 6 of things to do in Kos: The “Sponge Diver Island” Kalymnos
Kalymnos is a small, mountainous island that, like Kos, belongs to the Dodecanese islands. In fact, there are not too many tourists there, so you can stroll through the harbor in peace and marvel at the island’s mansions and villas. Absolutely recommended is the “climb” to the so-called centuries old monastery of the White Cross, from where you have incredibly beautiful panoramic views of the sea! At the end of my trip to this Kos island sightseeing I treated myself to the Greek specialty eggplant with feta in a small beach bar. The local waitress, who happened to have the same name as me, raved about the incredibly beautiful sunset you would have on Kalymnos. Unfortunately, I couldn’t marvel at it myself because I was already back at my hotel TUI BLUE Oceanis Beach at that point. It’s perfect for a day trip.
Number 5 of things to do in Kos: Embros Spa
Although it’s very warm on Kos as it is, I really wanted to check out the hot spring in the southeast of the island, which was created by volcanic activity. It is located directly at the sea and is only separated from the sea water by rocks forming a pool. Already on the approximately 10-minute walk from the parking lot down to the pebble beach, I noticed a slight smell of sulfur in my nose, which intensified the closer we got. The temperature of the water, which comes directly from the mountains, is sometimes over 50 degrees hot!
Nevertheless, I dared to take a short bath in the supposedly very healthy spring water. However, I must admit that I would not have endured it without the cold, refreshing waves of seawater, which sloshed over the rocks from time to time! Nevertheless, the visit of this sight on Kos was definitely worth it. When do you ever see sulfur-smelling (or rather stinking), bubbling water coming out of the ground…? 😉 There are even massages and scrubs offered right on site to round out the natural spa experience after the warming spa bath.
Awesome hotels in Kos
Number 4 of things to do in Kos: The abandoned village of Palio Pili
To have a look at the remains of an old village on Kos, you just have to follow the wooden signs from the parking lot towards the castle. Already on the way there are some abandoned, decayed houses of Palio Pili to see. After about 20 minutes you arrive at the top of the famous ruins of the mountain, from where you have a magnificent view of the island of Kos and the Aegean Sea. As every time, I could not miss a visit to a taverna. So I enjoyed a homemade lemonade with the beautiful panorama in the tavern Oria at the end. Small sidefact at this point: The taverna will probably remain in my memory mainly because of the quaint open-air toilet.
Number 3 of things to do in Kos: Mylos Beach Bar
Of course, a cool beach bar can’t be missing from my list of the top 10 sights on Kos. And there I can definitely recommend the Mylos Beach Bar right behind Kos Town! This bar convinces with the dreamlike location directly on the beach around an old windmill. In addition to the usual tables, you can also make yourself comfortable on a sun lounger by the sea and have the delicious food and drinks served directly there – an absolute dream! I enjoyed the ambiance there so much that I stayed until evening to listen to some more live Greek music.
Number 2 of things to do in Kos: Boat trip to Nisyros Island
Nisyros is a volcanic island, about 17 km away from Kos. The trip there is definitely one of my personal highlights. First of all, I was enchanted by the typical Greek blue and white houses in the small mountain village of Mandraki, which reminded me a lot of Santorini. The place is simply picturesque and I took a photo of this landmark on Kos every two meters. But then even more impressive was the visit of the walkable Stefano crater. It was definitely an unforgettable experience to stand in the middle of the crater of an active volcano!
Number 1 of things to do in Kos: The mountain village of Zia with the most beautiful sunset of Kos
If you love sunsets as much as I do, you can’t miss an evening visit to the 300 m high mountain village of Zia. I was there early enough to be able to enjoy the beautiful view over the coast and the sea in daylight before I got myself a seat in the tavern “Sunset Balcony”, from where, according to recommendations, one could experience the sunset best. To go with it, I ordered the homemade, refreshing, traditional cinnamon drink called “Canelada”. And yes, I can confirm that the drive there along the narrow serpentine road was more than worth it to get to this Greek village. This makes the trip to Zia village the #1 spot on my top 10 Kos sightseeing list.
There is still a lot more to see like the Tree of Hippocrates, the Plaka forest, The Asklepion where the father of medicine Hippocrates was trained in the 5th century, interesting museums and many more things to do in Kos island.
Still looking for a great hotel on Kos? My recommendations: