- Accommodation & Hotels
- Things to see
- Things to do
- Stay safe
Kos or Cos is a Greek island, part of the Dodecanese island chain in the southeastern Aegean Sea, off the Anatolian coast of Turkey. Kos is the third largest of the Dodecanese by area, after Rhodes and Karpathos; it has a population of 33,388 (2011 census), making it the second most populous of the Dodecanese, after Rhodes. The island measures 40 by 8 kilometres (25 by 5 miles), and is 4 km (2 miles) from the coast of the ancient region of Caria in Turkey. Administratively, Kos constitutes a municipality within the Kos regional unit, which is part of the South Aegean region. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Kos town.
Kos is in the Aegean Sea. Its coastline is 112 kilometres (70 miles) long and it extends from west to east.
In addition to the main town and port, also called Kos, the main villages of Kos island are Kardamena, Kefalos, Tingaki, Antimachia, Mastihari, Marmari and Pyli. Smaller ones are Zia, Zipari, Platani, Lagoudi and Asfendiou.
The main religion practiced is Greek Orthodoxy. Kos has one of the four cathedrals in the entire Dodecanese. There is a Roman Catholic church on the island. There is a mosque for the Turkish-speaking Muslim community. The Synagogue is no longer used for religious ceremonies as the Jewish community of Kos was targeted for destruction by occupying Nazi forces in World War II. It has, however, been restored and is maintained with all religious symbols intact and is now used by the Municipality of Kos for various events, mainly cultural.
Tourism is the main industry in Kos, the island's beaches being the primary attraction. The main port and population centre on the island, Kos town, is also the tourist and cultural centre, with whitewashed buildings including many hotels, restaurants and a number of nightclubs forming the Kos town "barstreet". The seaside village of Kardamena is a popular resort for young holidaymakers (primarily from the United Kingdom and Scandinavia) and has a large number of bars and nightclubs.
Farming is the second principal occupation, with the main crops being grapes, almonds, figs, olives, and tomatoes, along with wheat and corn. Cos lettuce may be grown here, but the name is unrelated.
Transportation - Get In
Ryanair [www] offers flights all year around from Frankfurt-Hahn and Milan-Bergamo to Kos, prices can be as low as about €30 for a return flight.
From May till October charter airlines fly directly to Kos from many European airports.
Daily ferry services [www] from Piraeus, Rhodos, Patmos and Leros. From Kalymnos several times daily. From Santorini about 4 times weekly. From Syros twice weekly.
It is also possible to take a ferry from Turkish coasts, Bodrum and Datça. To Bodrum there is the faster Hydrofoil boat  (from €30 one-way, passenger only) or the slower ferry operated by the Bodrum Ferryboat Association [www](passenger/car/caravan: €28/100/200)
Transportation - Get Around
It is a fairly small island and there is every now and then a public bus going to every part of the island. From the airport, there is a public bus going to Kos town via Mastichari. Departure times can be found at the bus stops.
Depending on the season, there is many passenger ferries leaving for various neighboring islands. The main ferry to Kalymnos leaves from Mastichari. In high season, there are also daily ferries to Nisyros leaving from Kardamena.
There is plenty of taxis on the island. From the airport they will charge at least €15, even if you just go the Mastichari, which is only 5 minutes away.
By rental scooter
Scooters, ATVs and cars can be hired from many places. If you hire a scooter for several days, rent can be as low as 14€ a day. You may check the prices and offers, by visiting https://www.kosmotogp.com .
The island is part of a chain of mountains from which it became separated after earthquakes and subsidence that occurred in ancient times. These mountains include Kalymnos and Kappari which are separated by an underwater chasm c. 70 m (40 fathoms deep), as well as the volcano of Nisyros and the surrounding islands.
There is a wide variety of rocks in Kos which is related to its geographical formation. Prominent among these are the Quaternary layers in which the fossil remains of mammals such as horses, hippopotami and elephants have been found. The fossilised molar of an elephant of gigantic proportions was presented to the Paleontology Museum of the University of Athens.
The shores of Kos Island are washed by the waters of the Aegean Sea. Its coastline is 112 km long and is caressed by long immaculate beaches, leading to its main industry being tourism. Farming is the principal occupation of many of the island's inhabitants, with their main crops being grapes, almonds, figs, olives, and tomatoes, along with wheat and corn. Cos lettuce may be grown here, but the name is unrelated.
The main villages of Kos island are Kos Town, Kardamena, Kefalos, Tingaki, Antimachia, Mastihari, Marmari and Pyli. Smaller ones are Zia, Zipari, Platani, Lagoudi and Asfendiou.
Accommodation & Hotels
The island of Kos has various very beautiful beaches turned into popular touristy resorts and providing everything to enjoy a pleasant day. Numerous secluded coves are also available for those preferring calm and peacefulness. The quantity and variety of the beaches in Kos is impressive: long or small beaches with white, golden or black sand, beaches with smooth pebbles and picturesque coves are offering their crystalline waters.
The ancient physician Hippocrates is thought to have been born on Kos, and in the center of the town is the Plane Tree of Hippocrates, a dream temple where the physician is traditionally supposed to have taught. The limbs of the now elderly tree are supported by scaffolding. The small city is also home to the International Hippocratic Institute and the Hippocratic Museum dedicated to him. Near the Institute are the ruins of Asklepieion, where Herodicus taught Hippocrates medicine.
In Homer's Iliad, a contingent of Koans fought for the Greeks in the Trojan War.
In classical mythology, the island was visited by Heracles.
The island was originally colonised by the Carians. The Dorians invaded it in the 11th century BC, establishing a Dorian colony with a large contingent of settlers from Epidaurus, whose Asclepius cult made their new home famous for its sanatoria. The other chief sources of the island's wealth lay in its wines and, in later days, in its silk manufacture.
Its early history–as part of the religious-political amphictyony that included Lindos, Kamiros, Ialysos, Cnidus and Halicarnassus, the Dorian Hexapolis (hexapolis means six cities in Greek),–is obscure. At the end of the 6th century, Kos fell under Achaemenid domination but rebelled after the Greek victory at the Battle of Mycale in 479. During the Greco-Persian Wars, before it twice expelled the Persians, it was ruled by Persian-appointed tyrants, but as a rule it seems to have been under oligarchic government. In the 5th century, it joined the Delian League, and, after the revolt of Rhodes, it served as the chief Athenian station in the south-eastern Aegean (411–407). In 366 BC, a democracy was instituted. In 366 BC, the capital was transferred from Astypalaia (at the west end of the island near the modern village of Kefalos) to the newly built town of Kos, laid out in a Hippodamian grid. After helping to weaken Athenian power, in the Social War (357-355 BC), it fell for a few years to the king Mausolus of Caria.
Proximity to the east gave the island first access to imported silk thread. Aristotle mentions silk weaving conducted by the women of the island. Silk production of garments was conducted in large factories by women slaves.
In the Hellenistic period, Kos attained the zenith of its prosperity. Its alliance was valued by the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt, who used it as a naval outpost to oversee the Aegean. As a seat of learning, it arose as a provincial branch of the museum of Alexandria, and became a favorite resort for the education of the princes of the Ptolemaic dynasty. During the Hellenistic age, there was a medical school; however, the theory that this school was founded by Hippocrates during the Classical age is an unwarranted extrapolation.
Diodorus Siculus (xv. 76) and Strabo (xiv. 657) describe it as a well-fortified port. Its position gave it a high importance in Aegean trade; while the island itself was rich in wines of considerable fame. Under Alexander the Great and the Egyptian Ptolemies the town developed into one of the great centers in the Aegean; Josephus quotes Strabo to the effect that Mithridates was sent to Kos to fetch the gold deposited there by queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Herod is said to have provided an annual stipend for the benefit of prize-winners in the athletic games, and a statue was erected there to his son Herod the Tetrarch ("C. I. G." 2502 ). Paul briefly visited here according to Acts 21:1.
Except for occasional incursions by corsairs and some severe earthquakes, the island has rarely had its peace disturbed. Following the lead of its larger neighbour, Rhodes, Kos generally displayed a friendly attitude toward the Romans; in 53 AD it was made a free city. It was known in antiquity for the manufacture of transparent light dresses, the coae vestes. The island of Kos also featured a provincial library during the Roman period. The island first became a center for learning during the Ptolemaic dynasty, and Hippocrates, Apelles, Philitas and possibly Theocritus came from the area. An inscription lists people who made contributions to build the library in the 1st century AD. One of the people responsible for the library's construction was the Kos doctor Gaiou Stertinou Xenofontos, who lived in Rome and was the personal physician of the Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero.
The bishopric of Kos was a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Rhodes. Its bishop Meliphron attended the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Eddesius was one of the minority Eastern bishops who withdrew from the Council of Sardica in about 344 and set up a rival council at Philippopolis. Iulianus went to the synod held in Constantinople in 448 in preparation for the Council of Chalcedon of 451, in which he participated as a legate of Pope Leo I, and he was a signatory of the joint letter that the bishops of the Roman province of Insulae sent in 458 to Byzantine Emperor Leo I the Thracian with regard to the killing of Proterius of Alexandria. Dorotheus took part in a synod in 518. Georgius was a participant of the Third Council of Constantinople in 680–681. Constantinus went to the Photian Council of Constantinople (879). Under Byzantine rule, apart from the participation of its bishops in councils, the island's history remains obscure. It was governed by a droungarios in the 8th/9th centuries, and seems to have acquired some importance in the 11th and 12th centuries: Nikephoros Melissenos began his uprising here, and in the middle of the 12th century, it was governed by a scion of the ruling Komnenos dynasty, Nikephoros Komnenos.
Today the metropolis of Kos remains under the direct authority of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, rather than the Church of Greece, and is also listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.
Following the Fourth Crusade, Kos passed under Genoese control, although it was retaken in ca. 1224 and kept for a while by the Empire of Nicaea. In the 1320s, Kos nominally formed part of the realm of Martino Zaccaria, but was most likely in the hands of Turkish corsairs until ca. 1337, when the Knights Hospitaller took over the island. The last Hospitaller governor of the island was Piero de Ponte.
The Ottoman Empire captured the island in early 1523. The Ottomans ruled Kos for almost 400 years, until it was transferred to the Kingdom of Italy in 1912 after the Italo-Turkish War. The Italians developed the infrastructures of the island, after the ruinous earthquake of 23 April 1933, which destroyed a great part of the old city and damaged many new buildings. Architect Rodolfo Petracco drew up the new city plan, transforming the old quarters into an archaeological park, and dividing the new city into a residential, an administrative, and a commercial area., In World War II, the island, as Italian possession, was part of the Axis. It was controlled by Italian troops until the Italian surrender in 1943. On that occasion, 100 Italian officers who had refused to join the Germans were executed. British and German forces then clashed for control of the island in the Battle of Kos as part of the Dodecanese Campaign, in which the Germans were victorious. German troops occupied the island until 1945, when it became a protectorate of the United Kingdom, which ceded it to Greece in 1947 following the Paris peace treaty.
In the late 1920s about 3,700 Turks lived in Kos city, slightly less than 50% of the population, settled mainly in the west part of the city.
A 21-month British child disappeared in 1991, triggering an extensive investigation and international publicity. The child has never been found.
Things to see
- Ancient Agora.
- Roman Odeon.
- House of Europa.
- Casa Romana.
- Archaelogical Museum.
- Asclepieion. This ancient healing center is an impressive archaelogical site.
- Tree of Hippocrates. The current tree is only about 500 years old, but may possibly be a descendant of the original tree from 2400 years ago. According to the legend, Hippocrates of Kos taught his pupils the art of medicine under the platane tree.
- Castle/Fortress of Neratzia. A castle of Knights Hospitaller from 14th-16th centuries. This castle dominates the port and is where the impressive Avenue of the Palms starts.
Things to do
Relax on the beach, wind- and kitesurfing.
If you are looking for peaceful beaches, try Lakkos, with cedars and dunes, Agios Fokas with its dark sand, or Thermes.
Kefalos Bay is rather off the beaten track and has a number of good beaches: Camel, Paradise, Polemi, and Psilos Gremos.
At remote Cape Krikelos, you can choose from Skinos, Theologos, and Moscholiou.
The island of Kos is a top yacht charter destination in Greece. You can start your sailing experience from Kos and follow any possible route to other magnificent islands. The marina of Kos is located at the old harbour and is known worldwide since it has been available to skippers and yachting enthusiasts for over a decade. It has been described as one of the hottest cruising areas in Europe as it fulfills every need for any type of boat, such as fuel/petrol, speedboats, WC, showers, bilge & sewage pump out, waste disposal and many more.
- Istion Yachting (Yacht Charter in Kos), G.Papandreou Avenue, Kos Marina, 85300, . Visitors and tourists can find a wide selection of yachts and catamarans and suggestions about sailing itineraries from Kos to all the surrounding islands and Turkey coasts.
If you're on a budget, there is pita gyros for € 2,5 sold by most restaurants (some for 2€)
- Mummy's Cooking Restaurant (Evdokia), 13 Bouboulinas, Kos Towns (near Dolphin Square)). Tavern with traditional Greek food. Let mummy's son help you decide what to order and be surprised how good it all tastes. Reasonable prices, f.e. Moussaka 7€.
- Restaurant Alexandros, Irakleous, Kos Town (city center, near church with bright blue, illuminated cross on the steeple, walk up the stairs). Tavern with traditional Greek food. Almost every night full, but just keep trying if there is a place free. It is worth it. Reasonable prices, f.e. Moussaka 6€.