The fact that Kos is among the first ranks of the most popular Greek vacation destinations is not a matter of chance. Its antiquities, its monuments from the early Christian times and its medieval castles alone are enough to place the island among the top spots of that list. But the Asclepeion, the Nerantzia Castle and the Antimachia Castle are not the only reasons why the island is swarming with foreign (mainly north European) and Greek tourists every summer. Beaches with cosmopolitan flair like Tigaki, Paradise and Mastihari, green valleys with hot springs and its traditional inland settlements are also among the main tourist attractions of the island. But, once again, that’s not all there is to Kos. The high quality tourism infrastructure of its seaside resorts, the vivid nightlife, the centuries-old spirit of hospitality of its residents and the many surprises waiting those who really want to get to know the place where Hippocrates came from are among the many other things the island has to offer.
The abandoned settlement of Koniario is located north of Palaio Pyli, on the road connecting Amani with Lagoudi. The ancient history buff Iakovos Zarraftis, who was born on the island, mentioned that in 1917 the settlement used to have 25 houses where 100 Turkish-speaking farmers lived and it also used to have a teacher and a headman who answered to the governor of Pyli. The Muslim residents lived in the village until 1952. Then they moved away. The ruins of a mosque and some two-storey rural houses plastered with red mortar or ochre still exist today. Info The nearby forest is a protected woodland with special areas for strolls and picnics created by the local authorities.
Kos is the only island of the Dodecanese that has three kinds of mineral hot springs due to its volcanism: warm, lukewarm and cold. Note that none of them is operated as a spa. All of those springs are freely accessible to the public provided that you find a way, a vehicle and a map to get you there. The most important of them are: The hot spring of Agios Fokas (Empros Thermes). It flows into the beach of Thermes. It is a thermal mineral spring with water reaching a temperature of 47o C. It has great concentrations of sulfur, potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium ions and is good for rheumatic diseases, arthritis and gynecological problems. The hot spring of Agia Irini (Piso Thermes). This spring is close to the previous one and is accessible by boat or by following a trail. It is lukewarm and has concentrations of chlorine and sodium. Its water reaches a temperature of 45o C and it is good for kidney diseases. The hot spring at Kokkinonero. It is located southwest of the Asclepeion flowing into its archaeological site. The water is ferruginous and rich in carbon oxides at a temperature of 22,5o C. It helps fight off dyspepsia and intestinal ailments. The Volkanon hot spring. Muddy mineral water that is suitable for mud baths springs from another point very close to the hot spring of Kokkinonero. Source: V.Hatzivasileiou: History of the island of Kos, 1990 pp. 23-24, www.thermalsprings.gr
The peacock forest
West of the international airport of the island and near Antimachia lies the forest of Plaka in an idyllic valley. It is a manmade forest as its trees were planted by Italians during the 1940s. From 1978 to 1980 the forest service of the island regenerated the forest. A small refuge for peacocks and other bird species was created in cooperation with the hunting club of Kos. Today this forest is a marvelous recreational area where the Turkish pine (Pinus Brutia) and the stone pine (Pinus Pinea) flourish. The peacock population has increased over the years and they easily approach anyone offering them seeds or bread as they have grown accustomed to human presence.
Olive oil is the base of the traditional cuisine of the island. The locals favor fresh fish and seafood in general as well as meat from local farms. There are also many types of pasta that are locally produced. The “pitaridia” are noodles in meat broth. You should try the local “dolmades” (grape leaves filled with rice and spices) and the “pastitsio” (a baked pasta dish with vegetables). The “katimeria” are pancakes with mizithra cheese served with honey and cinnamon. The “ksismata” are wheat bread kneaded with grated mizithra cheese and spices. The “lampropites” are big round cheese pies filled with the so-called “prosfa”, namely unsalted mizithra cheese kneaded with eggs and leaven. The “kokkino tiri” (=red cheese) that is kept wrapped in red wine sediment in order to mature is a nice appetizer. The “pligouri”, namely ground wheat cooked with pork, constitutes a hearty meal.
The cherry tomato preserves of Kos and its baklava are renowned. The honey of Antimachia is one-of-a-kind. It deserves to bear the label “Protected Designation of Origin” on its packaging. The “kokkino tyri” is made from goat milk that is kept wrapped in red wine sediment.
By boat: There are boat services connecting Kos with the port of Piraeus every day, all year round. The journey takes 9 to 10 hours if you choose a high-speed ferry but can take up to 16 hours if you choose a conventional one.
Liners connect Kos with the rest of the islands of the Dodecanese as well as with Paros, Naxos and Crete on a daily basis.
In the summer hydrofoils and other boats offer daily excursions to the neighboring islands (Nisyros, Kalymnos, Fourni, Ikaria, Leipsi, Agathonisi). Kos is also connected with the port of Bodrum in Turkey on a daily basis.
By plane: There are two scheduled flights connecting the Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos” with the Kos island International Airport “Hippocrates” every day during the tourist season. The journey takes only 50 minutes. During the same period many charter flights from various European cities arrive at the island.
Transport on the island: There are municipal bus services in the town of Kos. Other buses connect the town with the rest of the settlements of the island. The fares are affordable. Most buses stop at Kleopatras Street in the town of Kos.
There are many cabs on the island and many car and bike rental businesses.
+30 22420 56000, 51591, 51567
+30 22420 26594-5
+30 22420 28724, 28223, 22326
Tourist Service Office of the Municipality of Kos:
+30 22420 24460
+30 22420 28050
+30 22420 23423
+30 22420 22444
Island bus services:
+30 22420 22292
Municipal bus services:
+30 22420 26276
+30 22420 26883, 24955.