The Greek island of Kos is situated in the southeastern Aegean Sea and is the third-largest island of the Dodecanese island chain. The island sits between the islands of Kalymnos and Nisyros and is the second most visited Dodecanese island after Rhodos.
Kos boasts a rich history, with the first mention of the island dating back to Homer’s Iliad. Its location in the Aegean sea and proximity to the Anatolian peninsula (Turkey today), meant Kos was a strategically important foothold throughout its history.
The island prospered due to trade connections with the east and the production of silk. The island’s peak was during the Hellenistic Era, in the 3rd and 2nd century BC, which saw the construction of numerous theatres, temples, markets and fortifications. Most of these buildings are valuable archaeological landmarks today, attracting plenty of visitors each year. The Ancient Agora (market place) in the town of Kos was considered one of the biggest in the ancient world and an important commercial centre on the Aegean Sea.
During its history, Kos was ruled by the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and the Italians until it was ceded to Greece following the Second World War. Additionally, the island was briefly under the rule of the Knight Hospitaller (also known as the Knights of Malta) in the 14th century. This unique mix of different cultures resulted in some spectacular architecture found on the island.
Best time to visit
Those looking to spend their summer holiday or enjoy a sailing vacation on the island should visit during the warm summer months of June, July and August. If you are looking to avoid the hot weather and wish to spend your holiday away from the sea, exploring the historical sites, spring and early autumn are the best time of year to visit.
Kos things to do
Today, Kos is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its rich history, impressive architecture spanning over 2,500 years, beautiful beaches and untouched natural beauty. Here you can enjoy an active vacation as the island is a popular biking destination with plenty of bike paths across this, mostly flat, island.
Popular beaches offer plenty of watersport activities, and the beautiful coast and nearby reefs are ideal for scuba diving. Kos is also known for having perfect conditions for windsurfers and kitesurfers, and there are several surfing centres across the island.
For more culture-hungry visitors, the island has plenty of museums, temples, churches and landmarks to visit, spanning several millennia. The town of Kos is the most significant settlement on the island where you will find a combination of various architectural styles from the ancient, medieval and modern years. The town is dominated by the imposing Castle of the Knights of Saint John (also known as Nerantzia Castle) which stands on the eastern side of the harbour, connecting to the rest of the town via a bridge crossing the famous Palm Tree Avenue. Kos is filled with ancient landmarks like the Ancient Agora, Asklepieion healing centre and the Hippocrates Plane Tree where Hippocrates used to teach medicine to his students. The Archaeological Museum of Kos is located in the centre of town, and here you can see all the important archaeological findings from this island.
If you are looking to unwind, there are plenty of cafes, taverns, restaurants and shops located in pedestrian areas across the city. Local nightclubs will provide you with entertainment long into the night.
Where to stay in Kos
As the island of Kos is a popular tourist attraction, attracting around one million visitors each year, there is a wide selection of hotels and resorts to choose from. Visitors usually prefer to stay in one of the hotels located in or around the town of Kos or in the hotel resorts located in places like Lambi, Kardamena or Mastichari.
Some of the more luxurious hotels to stay in Kos town include the Alexandra Hotel, Kos Aktis, Kos Hotel and Kosta Palace, all of which have four stars. Staying in Kos town you will be near all the important landmarks and museums while also having the opportunity to enjoy nearby beaches.
Those who prefer to enjoy the beaches and crystal clear sea, will enjoy staying at one of the many hotel resorts located across the island. Some luxury resorts like the Astir Odysseus Kos Resort & Spa and the Grecotel Kos Imperial Thalasso are located very close to Kos town and are ideal for visitors that wish to explore both the culture and natural beauty of this Greek island.
Another popular tourist destination on the island is the area around the small town of Kardamena, located on the southern coast of the island. Here you can find plenty of luxury hotels like the Mitsis Blue Domes Resort & Spa, the Helona Resort, Mitsis Norida Beach Hotel, all offering extensive amenities including private beaches, pools and spas.
Several hotels and resorts, like the Ammos Resort or the Gaia Palace, can also be found in the town of Mastichari on the northern coast of the island. In Mastichari you will find plenty of beautiful sandy beaches with plenty of water activities available, and there is even a water park nearby.
The Greek island of Kos is home to some of the most beautiful beaches among the Dodecanese islands. Most of the beaches on this island are sandy with crystal blue waters. As the island is a popular tourist destination with an active surfing scene, beaches on Kos offer plenty of amenities. There are also plenty of secluded beaches and coves, ideal for sailing enthusiasts visiting the area.
Mastichari Beach is located 27 km southwest of the town of Kos and is a beautiful sandy beach. You will find several windsurfing centres along the beach.
Paradise Beach is a broad sandy beach situated in a large cove, located 30 km south of the town of Kos. This popular beach is surrounded by lush greenery and provides plenty of shade, ideal for families with children.
Located near the busiest tourist resorts on the island of Kos, Kardamena Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the island. Here you can find the pristine sea and plenty of water activities.
Lambi Beach is a sandy, family-friendly beach located just 3 km from the town of Kos. It has plenty of activities, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs.
Another beach located in the vicinity of the town of Kos, Psaldi Beach lies just 3 km southeast of Kos Town. There are several resorts located here, and you will find beach bars along the coast. As you approach the Agios Fokas area, be sure to look for the hot springs of Bros Thermá and enjoy the magical water there.
Lagades Beach is located on the southern part of the island, 40 km southwest from the town of Kos. This long and sandy beach sits in the gulf of Kefalos and is a little less crowded than the beaches located near the popular resorts.
The island of Kos is the second most popular tourist destination in the Dodecanese, beside the island of Rhodos. Here you will find an intense nightlife, with numerous nightclubs and bars offering plenty of entertainment lasting long into the night.
Kos town is the best spot for clubbing on the island with numerous clubs located in two famous streets in the centre of town. Popular beaches of Lambi and Psaldi, located just outside the town centre, house many beach bars and clubs attracting younger generations.
Alternatively, tourist resorts located across the island, such as Agios Stefanos, Mastichari, Tigaki, and Kefalos also provide its visitors with plenty of places to spend the night dancing.
Restaurants on the island of Kos vary in style, from the traditional Greek taverns to the posh restaurants offering gourmet dishes. The biggest selection of restaurants can be found in Kos town, where restaurants like Petrino, Broadway, Lofaki, Platanos and Stadium attract guests with their selections of quality seafood and traditional Greek dishes.
Other popular destinations on the island like Agios Stefanos, Kardamena, Kefalos, Mastihari, Tigaki and Lambi also have a wide range of quality restaurants, providing guests with delicious cuisine and spectacular views of the sea.
The Kos Marina was built in 2001 and is located just southeast of the town of Kos. Located on the northern coast of the Kos island, the marina is an ideal starting point for sailing around the Dodecanese islands and even the Turkish coast.
The marina is very well protected due to the breakwater on the east of the marina. It has a berthing capacity of 250 with 150 dry berths, and every berth has a power and water connection. Registering is done by radio and is required before entering the marina.
Other locations on the island of Kos where mooring is possible include the Kamari port in the bay of Kefalos, Kardamena port and the Mastichari port on the northern coast of Kos.
Located in the Eastern Aegean Sea, a short distance away from the Turkish coast, the Greek island of Kos enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate. Winters on the island are mild and rainy while the summers are hot and sunny. Average daily temperatures range from around 10 °C during the winter to 27 °C during the summer. Most of the precipitation on the island is concentrated between October and March while the summer months have the sunniest days as it seldom rains during the summer. Sea temperatures around the island can exceed 25 °C in July and August, making it ideal for swimming and enjoying water activities.