The Greek island of Kos is so much more than simply an oasis of brilliant sunshine cascading down upon a myriad of glorious beaches. It’s the deep roots of its history, the lovingly cooked Mediterranean cuisine that perfumes the air and the welcoming nature of those who live there that make the island truly spectacular.
Whether you are looking for things to do in Kos or places to stay, here is a compilation of everything you need to know about luxury holidays in Kos. To start you off…
Why visit Kos?
Steeped in history and bejewelled by beautiful beaches, the island offers the perfect combination of relaxation and enthralling exploration opportunities.
Where is Kos located?
The third largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, Kos sits just off the western coast of Turkey and north of the Greek island of Rhodes.
Enjoying the benefits of its Mediterranean location, the island experiences an abundance of sunshine during the summer months and mild yet wet winters.
In peak season, May to October, Kos enjoys long sunny days and average daily temperatures that hover in the 20s. Daily temperatures peak in August, coinciding with (not so surprisingly) the warmest sea temperatures.
Kos tourist information
- Flight time: 3 hours 51 minutes
- Local Airport: Kos International Airport
- Local Currency: Euro
- Local time: GMT +3 hours
As this blog is a comprehensive guide, to find the information that’s relevant to you use the handy page content links below:
- A brief history of Kos
- Top things to do in Kos
- Best beaches in Kos
- Kos boat excursions
- Traditional Kos cuisine
- Places to eat in Kos
- Where to stay in Kos
A brief history of Kos:
A view of Kastri Island from the Agios Stephanos Ruins
It’s always nice to know a little history about the place you are going. Whether it’s to satisfy your own curiosity or to provide interesting topics of conversation around the dinner table!
The island of Kos prides itself on its rich and varied history. A consistently well populated settlement, the island is now scattered with ancient ruins offering a window into the island’s exciting past.
Here are some interesting nuggets of information to get you excited about the island of Kos:
- Walk in the footsteps of the Gods: Greek mythology states that on returning from Troy, the Goddess Hera summoned a great storm to sink Hercules’ ship, however the demigod escaped and washed up on the shores of Kos.
- The birth place of the ‘father of medicine’: Hippocrates was born in 460 BC and went on to become an inspirational voice in the study of medicine. Using a philosophical approach and his skill as a teacher, Hippocrates led the way with his revolutionary views on ethics.
- A window into the past: With archaeological evidence dating back to the bronze age, the island’s long list of ruling powers, including the Romans, Turks, Italians, Germans and English, has resulted in the island containing an array of historical artefacts.
- Ahoy Matey: In the island’s history, periods of prosperity were threatened by frequent pirate raids, the most dangerous of the pirates were known as the Saracens.
- Trouble in paradise: In 1934 an earthquake nearly destroyed the whole island.
- United with Greece: In 1948 the island was finally united with the rest of Greece.
Top things to do in Kos:
Commemorate the life of Hippocrates at the Asklepieion
After the death of Hippocrates, a renowned Greek physician, the Asklepieion was constructed. A popular attraction located 4km south-west of Kos Town, the building was created not only to commemorate Hippocrates, but also to honour Asklepios, the god of health and healing. Although now in ruins, it is still possible to identify the different rooms and the complex that was home to Roman baths in the 3rd century.
A snake was the symbol of the institution, and this symbolism continues to be used today with the well-recognised Rod of Asclepius still being associated with medicine and health care.
Explore the Casa Romana
Originating from Hellenistic and Roman Times, this impressive house offers a fantastic insight into the architectural style that once was popular on the island. For a further look into the jewels of those time periods visit the Museum of Kos.
Stroll through the streets of Zia
If you’re in the mood for meandering around a picturesque village, Zia is the ideal place to explore. Located in the centre of the island, on Dikalon mountain, the enchanting village offers visitors old churches, shops and a number of tavernas and cafes in which to relax. Spend the day delving into an assortment of small boutiques selling beautiful lace, rugs and ceramics. The location also affords breath-taking views as the sun sets over the Dodecanese Islands, enhanced by lively night time entertainment, including traditional dancing.
A restaurant in the village of Zia
Investigate the Archaeological Museum of Kos
Built in 1935, the Archaeological Museum of Kos hosts a vast range of sculptures, frescoes, wall paintings and mosaics that beautifully display the architectural and artistic accomplishments of those who previously occupied the island. Explore the Roman Atrium, examine the Artefacts from the antiquity period up until the late Roman era that adorn the walls, stare into the eyes of Hippocrates whose imposing statue gazes out at all who pass. This is the ideal place in which to escape the heat of the day and spend time appreciating these fantastically well preserved historical artefacts.
Discover the Castle of the Knights
The ruins of a magnificent fortified battlement, the Castle of the Knights of St John stand at the entrance of Kos harbour on what used to be an island attached to the mainland by a single bridge. Consisting of two separate areas, the castle was built to be well defended from attack. Wander around the grounds and explore the castles bastions, battlements, gun ports and impressive draw bridge.
The Castle of the Knights
Watch the sunset from the Castle of Antimachia
For breath-taking views over the island, visit the ruins of the Castle of Antimachia. Built in the 14th Century by the Order of St John, this Venetian castle stands on a hill above the village of Antimachia. Visitors can climb on the battlements and investigate two charming churches, one of which you can enter. With the views reaching out to the horizon, this is a fantastic place to watch the sunrise or sunset.
The easiest method to reach the castle is by car, once there the castle has no entrance fee allowing you to freely wonder around and explore.
Cool off in the shade of the Tree of Hippocrates
This ancient tree stands at the heart of Kos just outside the Castle of the Knights. Legend has it that Hippocrates used to teach his students under the shade of its branches. Whether or not this is true, this tree is a magnificent spectacle with saplings given as gifts to medical schools around the world. With the symbolism of this tree continuing to inspire many, it is an attraction not to be missed!
The Tree of Hippocrates
Make a splash in a water park
For a fun filled adventure visit the Lido Waterpark in Mastichari. Throw yourself into the wave pool, meander down the lazy river and set the adrenaline pumping on the variety of water slides available. Or for a smaller and quieter waterpark choose the Aquatica in Kardamena! The perfect place to keep the kids entertained for a few hours, the park is filled with a range of water slides, a lazy river and a café offering a selection of snacks and refreshments.
Best beaches in Kos
A coastline stretching over 290km has resulted in Kos being home to a wonderful array of beaches. Whether you are looking for vast golden sandy beaches or hidden away bays, there is a beach to suit all who visit.
One of the islands most well known beaches, the glorious abundance of sand and crystal clear waters make Paradise Beach an ideal location in which to relax, soak up the rays and let the children play in the sand. With umbrellas on offer along with sunbeds and a water sports centre, this beach offers something for everyone. There is also a superb selection of tavernas serving fresh fish and Greek cuisine. A unique and thrilling feature of Paradise beach are the memorising bubbles that ascend from the sea floor through the water. A product of the volcano on a neighbouring island, this is the place to grab your goggles and make use of your underwater camera!
View down to Paradise Beach
A favourite with families, gently shelving sand slopes down into the calm waters of the Mediterranean Sea on the northern most point of Kos. With shade and sunbeds available, guest can also easily attain snacks and refreshments at the tavernas and bars that back the beach. However, this beach is not for those looking for peace and quiet.
Kos boat excursions:
Soak up the Grecian sun aboard a full day boat tour. Coast through the azure waters of the Aegean Sea and explore the islands around Kos. Dive into the water to cool off, explore seaside towns and enjoy the lunch prepared by the crew.
For the ultimate boat tour, book a private charter and explore the area around the island at your own pace.
Where you can visit on a boat trip:
Escape to the island of Nisyros. A Neighbouring island of Kos, Nisyros, offers a fantastic place to visit for the day. Journey to the mouth of a volcano then relax in the blue and white painted harbour town of Mandraki, weaving through its narrow streets and exploring the splendid Monastery of Panagia.
Take a trip back in time and visit the charmingly old-fashioned island Pserimos. Pristine beaches and a relaxed atmosphere encompass the island, making it a fabulous location to explore.
Examine the striking architecture of Kalymnos. Well known for its tradition of sponge diving, tiny yet colourful houses and mighty rocks ideal for climbing, there is plenty for you to discover.
Lose yourself on the mesmerising island of Plati. Crystal clear waters surround this uninhabited island making it the perfect place to dip into the water for a refreshing swim.
Rhodes & beyond
Or take a longer trip to the bustling island of Rhodes. Boasting a magnificent walled city, you can weave your way through the fascinating maze of stools selling an array of souvenirs, explore the historical side of the island or simply enjoy a delightful drink by the waterside. Alternatively, for a change of scenery you can make a break for the coast of Turkey and visit the harbour town of Bodrum. With plenty of shops and market stalls to peruse, along with a striking castle that stands guard over the popular port.
Traditional Kos cuisine:
Following in the footsteps of mainland Greece and the Mediterranean as a whole, the island of Kos captures in its dishes the warmth of the sunshine, the brilliant flavours of the produce from the fertile lands and the fresh saltiness of the coastal waters. Local cuisine makes use of meat, fish and seafood, along with vegetables, pasta, olive oil cheese and wheat.
Let your taste buds run wild with the variety of dishes on offer. Indulge in the fresh seafood produce that comes from the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and taste the exotic flavours of the vegetables and the juices of the fruit grown soaking up the rich sunlight.
Here are 5 local delicacies you should try:
Posa cheese (or wine-cheese)
Enjoy the gentle spiciness of the Posa cheese. Its fantastic red colour a result of letting the cheese mature soaked in red wine. This process draws in the flavours of the wine, adding a wonderful perfumed flavour to the cheese.
A local speciality, this dish consists of pork paired with seasoned ground wheat cooked in the juices of the pork.
A dish known for being enjoyed at celebrations, it consists of lasagne boiled in meat broth.
A popular sweet on the island, Varvara consists of boiled wheat in honey, sugar, almonds, nuts, raisins, pomegranate, cinnamon, rose water, orange zest and spices.
Drunk like a soft drink and popular in the village of Zia, Kanelada consists of cinnamon, sugar and water. This forms a flavoured syrup that is then added to water or can be added to tea, coffee, sweets and desserts.
Places to eat in Kos:
Dine in style at Lofaki. Boasting an awe-inspiring setting, you can dine gazing out over Kos Town, with neighbouring islands and the coast of Turkey visible off in the distance.
Treat your taste buds to a variety of tantalising Greek inspired cuisine. Offering everything from traditional Greek dishes and fresh seafood, to mouth-watering meats delicately cooked on the grill.
Boasting an exciting creative philosophy, Broadway promotes a laid back environment in which to relax and turn your meal a social event. Enjoyed by both locals and holiday makers, the passion of those who work there ensure guests receive top notch food and service.
Plaza Beach Restaurant
With the gentle lapping of waves providing the sound track to your meal, Plaza Beach Restaurant offers authentic Greek cuisine in a welcoming environment. Delicious food matched with friendly service ensures those who visit enjoy their experience.
Chaichoutes Traditional Kafenion
For a more rustic, traditional experience try the Chaichoutes Traditional Kafenion, located in the centre of the island. A living piece of history, this seemingly crumbling café offers delicious culinary delights. Enjoy the friendly Greek hospitality, views over Kos and its remote location that provides a peaceful escape from the outside world.
Located on the western cost of Kos next to an idyllic beach, Agios Theologos offers a charming traditional setting to enjoy a meal. Indulge in tantalising culinary delights as the sun sets and watch the soft red and orange hues slowly fade until the stars dominate the sky.
Where to stay in Kos:
For the ultimate luxury experience visit the new and simply fabulous Ikos Aria. With rooms directly on the beach, everything you need is at your fingertips. Tailor your day to suit you, laze on the beach, take part in the range of activities on offer or escape the hotel and uncover the islands hidden secrets.View Hotel
Located in the heart of Kos, many attractions are within easy walking distance. With all rooms featuring beautiful sea views, guests can enjoy gazing out over glistening azure waters during the day and observe the moonlight cascading across the darkened sea at night.View Hotel
Surround yourself with contemporary elegance. Providing a picture perfect setting in which to relax, guests can indulge in culinary delights in the hotel restaurant and delve into the pampering delights on offer in the spa and wellness centre.View Hotel
The Grecotel Kos Imperial Thelasso offers everything you need to keep the whole family entertained throughout their stay. Whether you are looking for a relaxing escape, an exciting adventure or a bit of both, a wide range of facilities and activities ensure everyone enjoys the holiday of their dreams.View Hotel
If five outdoor pools isn’t enough for you, I don’t know what is! Boasting a beachfront location, there are immaculately kept gardens to explore, a range of sporting activities, and if that’s not enough, you can rent bikes and explore the area around the hotel.View Hotel