Visiting Kos - What to See and Do
(Kos Island International Airport Hippocrates KGS, Greece)
seems a bit busy, then head next door to Kos
, a peach of an island that reveals its magic slowly with a little bit of patience and exploration. Once you get past the overt tourism that employs nearly 75 percent of its population, there are some real treasures to uncover.
Ancient sites and beaches are the highlights of this Greek island. Known in the annals of history as the home of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, Kos has been settled and prosperous for some 10,000 years. That is certainly a long time, and sites like the Asklepion have endured the millennia to pique the imaginations of modern day visitors.
Kos Town is still the lifeblood of the island and makes a great base since most attractions can be reached with ease from this town. Otherwise, there are lots of resort towns strung out along the coast where local culture takes a back seat to package tours and the amenities needed to satisfy them. Find yourself an authentic neighbourhood in Kos Town and settle in for a real experience.
Ten things you must do in Kos
- The ancient Asklepion is reason enough to venture over to Kos. This is where Hippocrates established modern Western medicine and where it was practiced alongside the Old Gods for 1,000 years after his death in the 4th century BC. Besides the incredibly unique human heritage on display, the views from this elevated site are equally inspiring.
- Kos is really a tiny little town, but its Archaeological Museum attraction could easily exist in a major European metropolis. It was opened in the 1930s to protect the relics uncovered on the island. The mosaics are a special treat, as are the Hellenistic and Roman statues.
- The harbour has always had a fortress to defend it, and the current incarnation is the handiwork of the Knights of St. John in the 15th century. Although the interior is little more than a stone shell, it is still worth a look, especially if one of the summer concerts is scheduled to perform at the castle.
- Greece's largest Roman villa is right here on the island. The Casa Romana has 37 rooms and its current form dates to the 3rd century AD. The floor mosaics here are magnificent, and by wandering its many rooms you can get a sense of the splendour that the Roman elite must have once enjoyed at their peak.
- The island literally overflows with ancient sites. Sometimes they are so imperceptible that you stroll right past a temple of Artemis. The Roman Odeon is one of the highlights due to its excellent condition. Nearby is an Altar of Dionysus and a Hellenistic Temple that are in very good shape. There are days' worth of exploration right in the town of Kos, so grab a good map and go find yourself an ancient Greek temple.
- Sit under the Tree of Hippocrates where the great doctor himself once lectured students roughly 2,500 years ago. The tree itself is certainly bizarre looking, though it may not actually be the original tree. Either way, it is a good idea and the adjoining Municipal Fruit Market is fun to visit, allowing you to catch a look at locals out shopping.
- The 180 miles / 290 km of coastline and beaches on the island are no longer a secret. If it's crowds of socialising you want, simply wade into the throng of humanity at the Kardamena and Tingaki beaches. Paradise Beach is less congested than the package tour hubs, but down the coast Magic Beach and Kamel Beach are even more relaxing and empty.
- The Yachting Club of Kos is the place to go if you fancy a day out on the beautiful seas surrounding the island. Seeing the island from the perspective of the sailors is a special thing, and there are few better ways to spend a day than at sea on a traditional sail boat.
- There are other ways to explore the island's plentiful attractions, and biking is one of the best. Kos seems perfectly engineered for bicycling, and rentals are easy to secure in Kos Town and most resort villages. There are miles of empty roads, dirt tracks and other paths crossing the island that offer bikers a memorable addition to their holiday.
- If you really want an island adventure, you need to venture into the hinterlands beyond Platani to Plaka. Villages like Zia and Pili are tucked deep into the forested mountains of the island, but are accessible by bike, hiking or even by car. There is little in the way of modern amenities in this traditional region of Kos, but you will find nary a tourist in site.