Lying in the southern Dodecanese islands
Lying in the southern Dodecanese islands, and just 4km from the Turkish coast, Kos is a sun-kissed spot which has been much sought-after through history... having been a plaything of everyone from the Pharaohs to the British Empire over time. Now, it can be your plaything, too, with ruins and golden sandy beaches aplenty.
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Downtown Kos shops – a mix of international clothing chains, Greek chains and independent retailers – concentrate on Venizélou, its parallel Ippokrátous and the shorter perpendiculars joining them. The Italian-built covered market (Platía Eleftherías), a marvellous art deco-ish specimen from 1933, is touristy but an ideal one-stop venue for local wine, herbs, olive oil soaps, or soumáda (almond syrup) and kápari (pickled caper greens) from neighbouring Níssyros Island. Or visit the main winery itself: Hatziemmanouil, on the island trunk road just west of Zipári, with equally excellent reds, whites and rosés made from local and imported grapes.
Food & Drink
The rise of all-inclusive resorts in Kos has drastically culled tourist tavernas; survivors are likely to be better, locally patronised establishments. A year-round favourite, Kos Town’s only genuine ouzerí (Greek tavern), is indoor-outdoor Pote tin Kyriaki (Pissándrou 9), with varied titbits and strong tsípouro. Just south, in the namesake village, summer-only Ambavris serves superb meze medleys with local specialities like pikhtí (brawn) and pinigoúri (bulgur pilaff). For fresh, if basically presented, fish, you can’t beat Makis in Mastihári (just in from ferry dock), while the trio of ethnic Turk-run tavernas at Platáni village’s main junction contrasts sharply with the kalamári-and-chips norm. Sunset-watching tours, along with a meal afterwards, target Ziá hill village; Oromedon, where Bill Clinton once ate, has maintained high standards despite the tour-bus tango.
Union of Dodecanese with Greece
The Dodecanese islands were transferred to the control of the Greek Army on this date in 1947, something marked with patriotic displays and folk dances in local costume.
Aï Giórgi (St George’s Day)
On 23 April – or Easter Monday if Easter falls later – after morning liturgy, horse races enliven Pylí village. Once these finish, follow the crowds to a remoter chapel of the saint above Zipári, where drink and roast meat are offered to all comers amidst music and dancing.
Short Film Festival
For three days in mid-May, the Orfeas cinema (Platía Eleftherías) hosts three hours each day of short works, mostly by Greek filmmakers – the ‘travelling’ contingent of the hugely successful International Short Film Festival in Drama in northern Greece.
Full Moon Beach Parties
Durable Mylos Beach Bar at Aktí Zouroúdi, Lámbi (2km northwest of town), is the scene of these popular summer events, which include DJ sets, live pop and electronica; proceedings begin at 10pm.
From mid-July to early September, various concerts and drama are presented by the local municipality at selected plazas around Kos Town.
Kos’ main-town hotels cater to a business or island-hopping clientele, while resort/convention complexes cluster behind the principal beaches of Psalídi, Tingáki, Marmári, Mastihári and Kardámena. All-inclusive resorts have made big inroads locally. Two mid-range, shorefront town choices, with a more than nodding acquaintance to design values, are the Kos Aktis (Vassiléos Georgíou 7) and its well-regarded fusion restaurant/beach bar, plus Triton (Vassiléos Georgíou 4), also sheltering a decent ground-floor Italian eatery. A much-loved budget option nearby is the prodigiously welcoming Afendoulis (Evrypýlou 1). Out at the beaches, top picks include the garden-set Kos Imperial Thalasso (Psalídi), and the luxurious, spa-centred Iberostar Odysseus (Tingáki).