Κως – Dodecanese

Kos may be considered a big, flat beach and party island mostly suited for mass tourism, but it also has several areas that can be of interest for the walker. It even has one spectacular short hike up a mountain for the most tremendous views in the Dodecanese. And nice both short and long walks can be done in the quiet Kéfalos area in the west.

For those that are interested in archeology few islands has more to offer, and luckily even this can be combined with walks or (at least) strolls.

For a great and comfortable stay in the Kéfalos/Kamári area I can recommend the (fairly up-market) Hotel Hermes. It is situated just under the Kéfalos cliff and has incomparable views of the bay. If you stay there or not do absolutely not miss their Sunday buffet, which was one of the many really great meals I had on this trip (for meat, maybe even THE best). I can also recommend the Restaurants Stamatia (at the Kamári square) and Faros (at the end of Kamári harbour).

In Kos Town much more care is needed for both eating and sleeping. I decided to stay at the very cheap Hotel Elena, which is old-fashioned and cosy. As well as very central. On a very noisy street though.

The town is pretty, but also displays tourist industry on a level unknown on the smaller islands. The restaurants in the harbour and on the various squares only filled me with disgust. But they serve their purpose I guess. For nice places to eat you must hunt in the back streets, but reward will be great if you do. Or you could (as I did) just let Lonely Planet do the job for you. Generally I can say that I have probably never had more good food on any Greek island that I had here. Everything I touched in Kos Town turned to gold, it seemed. Here is the list: First place goes to the up-market Petrino where I has a food and wine experience for life! The wine in question was a Skouras Moschofilero (in fact one of Petrino’s cheaper white wines, they had such a great list of Greek wines…). A fantastic wine which matched the lemon sauce on my fish perfectly! And Skouras really delivers for the money, as usual. The rest of the restaurants I tried were also excellent (in alphabetical order): Barbas, Hirodion, Karnagio, Olympiada and “Pote tin Kyriaki”.

Retsina also deserves a few comments (as usual). One of the best retsinas I have ever tasted was in fact from Kos and was called “Theokratis”. Unfortunately this is not made anymore. “Malamatina” is also an old favorite, fortunately this can be found many places. On this particular trip however, I liked “Georgiadi” perhaps more! But “Liokri” was THE retsina on this trip, and you can find it almost everywhere. Beautiful!

Selected walks from Kéfalos: For walks in the Kéfalos area take a look in Walks in Western Kos by Lance Chilton (referred to below as “/Chilton/”). There is also a walk in Rhodes Karpathos Kos Southern Dodecanese by Dieter Graf (referred to below as “/Graf/“).

•1 KAMÁRI – KÉFALOS – KAMÁRI HARBOUR (my total time 1h42, includes stops for photography and drinking; +-138m, 1 lap): This combines walk 1 and 3 in /Chilton/ for a decent stroll to get to know your neighbor area.

I used the alternative inland route for the last part of walk 3. A very attractive option.

•2 KAMÁRI – “TINY BEACH” – KAMÁRI (my total time 3h08, includes stops for photography and drinking, and even a couple of swims in the ocean along the way; +-61m, 0 laps): This is most of walk 9 in /Chilton/, then returning the same way.

The “tiny beach” in /Chilton/‘s text (and the couple of swimming possibilities before it) turned out to be so peaceful that I felt no need to venture further.

Go RIGHT of the laundry, no need to go left. Take care to follow the very faint path towards the final beach. Just before it there is a gate you must pass through.

•3 KÉFALOS – PANAGÍA PALATIANÍ – ANCIENT AMPHITHEATRE – MT. ZINÍ – KÉFALOS (my total time 5h05, includes  stops for photography and drinking; +-468m, 2 laps): This combines the first half of walk 7 (Alt. 3) in /Chilton/ with the latter parts of walk 4. I used the TRACK between the historical sites as seen in /Graf/ walk 23 (where you can also see the start of the walk from Kéfalos as an alternative), and I returned directly (using the road) from Panagía Ziniótissa without visiting the lower “platform”. You can see parts of it from above.

One really exhilarating walk! No huge problems finding the way, but you must CAREFULLY follow the instructions in BOTH books to be able to stitch this walk together.

Selected walks from Kos Town:
 For walks in the eastern area of the island take a look in Rhodes Karpathos Kos Southern Dodecanese by Dieter Graf (referred to below as “/Graf/”). On the web visit Kos Greece Holiday and Travel Guides by Foxy’s Island Walks.

•4 ZÍA – DIKEOS – ZÍA (my total time 3h22, includes stops for photography, drinking and admiring the views; +-649m, 1 lap): This is walk 26 in /Graf/. A short and intensive hike, but surprisingly easy considering the height difference. Part of that comes from the fact that you are able to ascend the pine covered flanks of a lower mountain, keeping most of the lowers parts of the walk in shadow.

This is one walk where real boots comes in very handy. Even then, go carefully, as it is very steep in parts. The path is stony and narrow, but did not feel insecure, except for a short stretch towards the end which, as the book says, can have a bad affect on some people.

A couple of small points about the book. The “two hours and twenty minutes” sign said 1h20mins at my visit. The “red metal arrow” was missing, but the path was still excellently marked with painted red arrows and blobs of paint. Also some older marks carved into stone.

•5 PILÍ – PALÉO PILÍ – AMANIOU – PILÍ (my total time 2h48, includes short stops for photography; +408m -447m, 2 laps): This is walk 25 in /Graf/.

Could have been a nice walk, but the many route finding problems ruined it a bit for me. Also the castle at Paléo Pilí was closed off for repairs. But I did spot a turtle as I was instructed.

The start of the walk is easy to find, but things soon get worse. The “fork” in the road just before the 10min mark is really just a turn-off to the right. The real fork shortly after is not the way to go. Also the “olive grove” that you enter at this point looked more like the mouth of a small creek, which it very well could be when it rains.

At the 40min mark it is unclear which ruins the book are referring to, as some are hidden and only visible when you get higher up. /Graf/ must refer to the ruins high up on your right, which you cannot really see at this point, not the ones straight ahead. A left curve and then ascending on a goat track did it for me, but this was an unnecessary difficult route. You should instead curve RIGHT at first, to get over and behind the ruins, THEN a wide curve to the left. This became more clear at a later point…

The important turn-off marked “!!” in the book was difficult to see as the initial path had caved in.

Just after the 1h35min point the text is just plain wrong, as you can see that the map actually says something different… You should fork RIGHT, then just follow the road in a sharp TURN to the left where it ends at a gate. There is no fork involved there.

•6 ASKLEPIEION: Perhaps not much of a walk in itself, but spend an hour or two strolling through the area. Can be made into a real walk by walking to and/or from town (NOT recommended as the first parts are along a dangerous road), or walking the entire way from Zía as in /Graf/ 27.













•7 KOS TOWN ARCHAEOLOGICAL CITY WALK (my total time 2h22, includes stops for photography and sightseeing; +31 -37m, 0 laps): Kos is really filled with archaeological sites, especially the town and its surroundings. Assuming that you perhaps take in the most important sites in one day of sightseeing, the Asklepieion, the fortress (Kastro) and the Acient Agora, there are many smaller or more overgrown sites that are also well worth visiting. On this little city walk I have constructed you can take them all in in just one stroll. Numbers below refer to the pictures above. My timing above starts at my hotel, and ends at the Hippokrates statue in the harbour. It does not include time was visiting the Casa Romana, which was closed for restoration at my visit (signs said closed until the end of 2006). During the walk you must unfortunately go across an extremely trafficed road (and back) twice, so you should start the walk early in the morning. The museum opens at 8 am, be there!

Start by walking to the Archaeological museum and spend at least half an hour there1.

Then stroll up Vas. Pavlou to the Altar of Dionysos2. Just a block or two before this site there are also some ruins that can be seen on your left. I did not take the time to check them out.

Carefully cross the Grigoriou to reach the Casa Romana3. In my case this site was closed. To the left of the building you can also see remains of the Central Baths and a few hellenistic houses.

Recross Grigoriou and stroll west along this road to get to the House of Europa, where you among other things can see some mosaics4. Unfortunately one of the most central mosaics have been badly damaged in recent years.

Then take the old roman Decumanus Maximus road further west. At the end, before turning right (north), go left to cross the main road for the Odeion5.

Recross the main road, and get back onto the Decumanus Maximus, where you can now go north6. Soon you pass the Western Baths7 and the Nymphaeum8. To the left are the Xysto9. At the end of the site see more mosaics10, before walking a few yards back towards the Nymphaeum to find a path up left to Tsaldari street.

Follow this street past the remains of the Old Stadium (left), but also pop into Gallias street on your right to see an old Roman House11. Further down Tsaldari you have remains of the North Baths on your right.

Even further down Tsaldari you will be at the waterfront where you turn left. Cross Megalou Alexandrou, and just in front of you, behind an old wall, are the scant remains of the Harbour Baths. Go a few meters back down again to admire the (modern) statue of Hippokrates12.

• Good starting points: • Kéfalos/Kamári • Kos Town

• How to get there: • By air • By ferry from some other Dodecanese islands • By ferry from the mainland • By hydrofoil from some other Dodecanese islands

• More info: • Kos Greece Holiday and Travel Guides by Foxy’s Island Walks • Kos Island Official Travel Guide, especially note Kos Island Bus Schedules

This page was last modified at November 1, 2009.

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