Kos at a glance
Kos is one of those lush islands, framed by golden, sandy beaches and emerald waters that exemplifies a blissful getaway spot. Oh, and there’s also a pretty pumping party scene for anyone that way inclined.
Platia Eleftherias, the main square in Kos Town, is a popular meeting and pit-spot for both locals and visitors. It hosts a number of alfresco café-restaurants that serve day and night, and acts as a gateway to the town’s winding lanes of gift shops and tavernas.
You probably didn’t know
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have made Kos their holiday choice on more than one occasion.
Suggested reading and/or suggested viewing
Greek Mythology, A Traveller’s Guide from Mount Olympus to Troy (David Stuttard, 2016)
- Population: 30,947 (2016)
- Annual visitor numbers: 1.58 million (2014)
- January mean temperature: 11°C
- August mean temperature: 26°C
Things to do in Kos
If the sugary smells wafting down the street outside this legendary bakery don’t get the stomach growling, then a peek inside will. Baked treats are everywhere: assortments of pretzels hang off hooks; breads pile the shelves behind the counter; and cakes, pastries, sweet Greek specialities – from Baklava to Loukoumades (honey doughnuts) – cram the display cabinets. There’s even ice cream (including a vegan option). Health nuts will struggle.
Pote Tin Kyriaki
Rumoured to be the oldest ouzerie on the island, this friendly little spot at 9 Peissandrou is off the tourist track so can be difficult to find. Persevere though, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most authentic and delicious Greek food on the island, such as the restaurant’s tomato-based, prawn saganiki (appetiser) dish with garlic and feta cheese, and fried zucchini flowers.
Jackson’s Beach Bar
Upmarket Jackson’s serves up well-priced, familiar western food and drinks from breakfast time to late. Add a prime beachfront spot within Kos Town and Jackson’s a prime tourist go-to. Special mention should also go to the brilliant staff-cum-entertainers, who run around the two-storeyed, balconied venue like pro athletes – with relentless enthusiasm and good humour.
Kardamena is to Kos what Malia is to Crete, with a suitable club strip and sweet-talking promoters to boot. Among the top nightspot contenders is Downtown, a club playing anything from rock indie to cheesy sing-along tunes where free shots are a regular fixture, fancy-dress encouraged and frenzied all-night dancing expected.
Head to Bedrock-themed pub-bar Flintstones in Kos Town for cocktails, beer and conversation in a lively atmosphere. A long-happy hour (from 7pm-10pm), good music and the odd free Sambuca is sure to induce more than a few cries of “Yabbadabbadoo!”
No-one comes to Kos for serious shopping, though the indoor market in Kos Town, on the edge of Eleftherias Square, is worth a mooch around if you’re interested in local produce. Tip: the glass jars of local honey and olive oil tend to go down a treat back at home.
If the name didn’t give it away, Olive Wood in the Old Town specialises in handmade, traditional olive wood products including kitchen utensils, chess boards, toys and decorative pieces. A great stop for gifts and souvenirs.
Considering its climate, it should come as no surprise that there are a number of creditable – some even award-winning – wines produced on Kos. Triantafyllopoulos Vineyard, which runs daily tours, is a good place to try some of the local vintage, including the applauded Malagousia-Sauvignon Blanc.
It won’t be the feature of a National Geographic documentary any time soon, but the small, natural hot spring at cliffside end of Therma Beach, 12km from Kos Town, is well worth stopping by one afternoon. Be prepared for a ten-minute walk along the less spectacular pebble beach to get there, and be rewarded with a dip in the marvellous, tepid pool, which mixes with the sea water to make a comfortable temperature.
The archaeological site of this ancient temple and medical centre, founded by the disciples of Hippocrates over 2,300 years ago, is Kos’s major attraction and good reason to leave the sunbed for a few hours. Of course – as is the norm in Greece – the ruins come with a good dose of ancient mythology, plus their hillside setting provides a magnificent backdrop for many Instagram-worthy pictures. Buses run regularly from Kos Town to the ruins.
The main reason to come to Kos is for its white-sand beaches. While most will head to tourist hotspot Kardemena, which is well equipped for the masses, those wanting a quieter bathe should check out Tigaki Beach in the north. While by no means deserted, its long, sandy shores and fewer facilities prevent over-crowding. Be aware that one end of the beach is a popular nude sunbathing spot.
- Hippocrates festival (July – August)
- Summerstar Kos (July/August)
- Masticahri wine festival (August)
- Antimachia honey festival (August)
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