Kos is the third largest island of the Dodekanese, located North of Rhodes at the southeast corner of the Aegean sea.
The island's size and variety of offerings could keep a visitor happy for a week-long visit or longer, and its proximity to other islands and Turkey allows for day cruises to Kalymnos, Pserimos, Nisiros, and Bodrum (Turkey).
While in Kos visitors can enjoy a plethora of cultural sites, a vibrant yet tame nightlife in Kos Town, and some of the best beaches of the Aegean. The villages of Mt. Dikaio are also worth a day-visit.
The Northern coast of Kos has been all but appropriated by package tourism, but it has developed tastefully, and on such a long coastline it never feels overcrowded. While all tourist activity is centered on the water, the beaches of the northern coast are often too windy for swimers. Alternately, conditions are perfect for water sports like windsurfing and kite surfing.
The southern coastline is sparsely populated and besides the rampant development of Kardamena, it's fairly inaccessible. Further southwest in the southern coast, Kos shelters the most beautiful beaches of the island. A five-mile wide patch of sand stretches for about five kilometers north of Cape Tigani, and it is locally divided into beach lots with names like Paradise Beach, and Magic Beach. Our favorite was Magic beach because it was very quiet, and Paradise beach for its fine sand and beautiful water. Paradise beach was a little too crowded for our taste though, but it's definitely worth a visit if the youthful "see and be seen" atmosphere is to your taste.
Just south of this stretch of beaches Agios Stefanos is a very well developed picturesque town. It's probably the most picturesque beach of the island with the Kastri islet within swimming distance, and the ancient ruins scattered right on the beach. Kamari and the extensive Club Med facilities are the places that offer major accommodations for those who stay in this part of the island.
Further west the lone road climbs to the little town of Kefalos that offers excellent views of the Kefalos Gulf below.
A winding road due north would take you to Limnionas, a tiny man-made port with nothing else to offer besides a restaurant of dubious quality and rather discourteous service. We regret patronizing the establishment. A better choice would be to drive further west through the winding paved road until you reach Ag. Theologos where the sunset is spectacular and the restaurant offers excellent food and service.
One of the recommended places to visit in Kos island is the "Thermes". Thermes is the location of sulfurous hot springs, fenced by a semi-circle of large bolders. The landscape is more reminiscent of a "moonscape" since it was bulldozed into submission, and we were very skeptical about the quality of the place. All skepticism subsided as soon as we entered the hot water inside the rock circle. Once your body adjustst to the warm temperature of the water, you don't want to get out. For those who get too hot, relief can be had by dipping in the cold waters outside the rock fence.
The town of Kos itself is a nice place to stay during a visit. Its endless cobblestone streets, the variety of shops, bars, and restaurants, along with its cultural landmarks and scenic promenade will beakon you daily if you happen to find lodging outside the town.
Needless to say, visiting Kos is much more enjoyable if you have a vehicle. Renting a moped would be adequate if you only plan to explore a small part of the island, but for further exploration a car is a better and a more comfortable choice. We found ourselves avoiding the northern, and faster road, in favor of the winding narrow pavement that took us through Mt. Dikeos.
Four or five days would be adequate to explore the island, maybe a bit longer if you plan to take all the side cruises to the surrounding islands.
Multiple daily flights from Athens land at the airport of Kos which is located in the center of the island, near the village of Andimahia. During the summer numerous charter flights from Europe also fly directly to Kos airport.
Daily ferries from Piraeus arrive at Kos Town and then continue on to the other islands of the Dodekanese. If you plan to visit other islands during the same trip you might want to leave Kos for last since connecting Ferries from Piraeus arrive at Kos around 4:00 in the morning, while a ferry from Rhodes arrives around 8:00 PM.
During our visit we sailed with the “Anthi Marina” which was a good ferry that has been showing its age. The service was ok, and the trip comfortable, save for the teenager that screamed all night long in an adjacent cabin, and the crew member who surprised us by entering our cabin unannounced to wake us up at 4:00 am when we arrived at Kos.
A better choice to sail might be the much newer and larger, Blue Star 2. It’s a bit more expensive but the speed, accommodations, and service are much better than the Anthi Marina. We chose Blue Star 2 for our trip back to Piraeus from Rhodes later during this same trip.
Our original plan was to purchase tickets in Piraeus for the trip from Piraeus to Kos, and then from Kos to Rhodes, but no travel agent in Piraeus could issue tickets for destinations beyond Kos. We were told to go to Kos and then get the tickets to Rhodes from there. Once in Kos, it was easy to get tickets to Rhodes just as was recommended.
After Kos we sailed to Rhodes with the Dodekanese Pride Catamaran. It accommodates four or five cars and makes the trip to Rhodes in a swift 2.5 hours after a quick stop at Simi. The ride is great (if you don’t get seasick) and if you can get to the very front it feels like an airboat ride (similar to riding and airboat through the everglades in Florida).
Connections to other islands of the Aegean might be hard to find from Kos. The way the Ferry companies operate, it’s very easy to sail from one island to another within a group like the Dodekanese or the Cyclades, but it’s nearly impossible to find a ferry to take you from one group of islands to the next, especially if you need to take a car along.
I found that even the Internet schedules posted by some of the ferry companies contain inaccuracies, so your best choice would be to consult a travel agent.
Kos Municipal Tourist Office (0242) 024-460
Kos Port Police (has updated ferry schedules): (0242) 026-594
Kos Airport (0242) 051-229
Tourist Police: (0242) 028-227