Looking for things to do in Kos? The Bumper Crew has it covered! We’re huge fans of Greece and have spent time in Athens, Santorini, Mykonos and loads of other islands we haven’t yet written about. We’ve visited Kos numerous times, and Stacey has even worked on the island, so we’re well-versed in things to do in Kos.
We spent eight nights on the island during our last visit and could have spent a few more, no doubt. The island has all sorts of things to do, whether you’re a sun-seeker, a history buff or love an adventure. Although this is a list of things to do in Kos, you can see the breakdown of what we got up to and when on our Kos itinerary post, which will help to plan your visit.
You’ll find all the usual stuff on Kos, like beach watersports and diving, but you’ll also find fascinating history, wildlife, interesting topography and landscape, and cats. Tons of them! Of all the places we’ve visited in Greece, never have we known so many cats. They are like Pret in London – you can’t walk down a street without seeing one. Ha!
There are some things to do in Kos which aren’t on this list, such as visiting Bodrum in Turkey. That is because the queues for customs get pretty busy and there are plenty of other things to occupy you than standing in a queue for ages.
Read next: Things to Do in Santorini
Read next: Things to Do in Mykonos
Read next: Things to Do in Athens
Things to Do in Kos
Before we dive into our things to do in Kos, here’s a very brief history of the island. Its history dates back to ancient times when the Carians first inhabited the island and later conquered by the Dorians. In 460 BC, Kos became a member of the Delian League, and it remained under the control of Athens until the end of the Peloponnesian War.
In the Hellenistic period, Kos was ruled by the Ptolemies of Egypt, and it became a centre of the medical sciences. This is where the famous physician Hippocrates was born. During the Roman period, Kos was a prosperous island and a popular destination for wealthy Romans. The Byzantine Empire and the Knights Hospitaller later ruled the island.
These days, Kos is a popular tourist destination and has been for quite some time. Its reputation has developed from its partying past to become a more upmarket destination. It’s now the second most popular island of Dodecanese, after Rhodes, and sees around a million tourists annually. So, without further ado, here are the best things to do in Kos for all you tourists!
1 | Visit Zia
Zia is a charming village nestled in the mountains of Kos. It’s a gorgeous village with plenty of tavernas and epic panoramic views over the island’s north side. Don’t forget to explore the little streets off the road through the town – there are some hidden gems and even walks up the mountain if you’re feeling a hike in the heat!
We recommend visiting Zia under your own steam and not with a tour. Although it’s a small village, you can spend quite a bit of time there by the time you’ve wandered around, browsed the shops, had some lunch and even visited Kos (Zia) Natural Park.
There are two car parks in Zia – one at the very start of the village and one at the end, by Kos Natural Park. And if you love to drive a winding road, take the mountain road from Zia to Asklipieio ruins. It’s fun to drive, especially on a quad!
2 | Enjoy a Greek Night at Fantasia
For one of the best sunsets on Kos, head to Fantasia for Greek night. Fantasia is just down the road from Zia and is one of the most fun nights you’ll have on the island. You’ll get your fill of some authentic Greek food, including bread, Greek salad, honey and feta pastry, sausage, and rice with lamb and potato, and be entertained by traditional Greek music, singers and dancers. There’s also a bit of audience participation if you fancy getting up to dance with them.
The sunset is wonderful as you take in the panoramic views of the northern side of Kos with the beautiful Holy Church of Genesis Theotokos Church. And finally, you get wine. Lots of wine. That’s because it’s on tap. Literally. You can just help yourself. So take it easy; otherwise, you might end up in a bit of a mess. Ha!
3 | Visit an Active Volcano at Nisyros
This sounds a bit more dramatic than it is. However, there is an opportunity to walk into an active volcano when visiting Kos. The volcano sits on the neighbouring island of Nisyros, and you can enter the largest crater of the volcano, named Polyvotis. Nisyros’ volcano is the youngest volcano in Greece and last erupted in 1888. If volcanos are your thing, you’ll find another one on our list of things to do in Santorini.
Boat trips run daily from Kos, taking about an hour from Kardamena (a little bit longer from Kos Town). Once you’re there, you’ll catch a bus to Polyvotis Crater, where there’s an entrance fee of a few Euros. You’ll have around 40 minutes in the crater, which is plenty, before heading back to Mandraki, where you’ll have about an hour to explore the little village before jumping on the boat back to Kos.
There are three parts to pay for to visit Nisyros volcano:
- The boat trip to Miryros
- The return bus from Mandraki to the crater (you can usually pay for the bus when you pay for the boat)
- Entrance fee to the crater (paid at the crater entrance)
4 | Kos Town
A list of things to do in Kos would only be complete with a visit to Kos Town. And if you’d like to know more, we’ve put a post together about the best things to do in Kos Town.
Unsurprisingly, Kos Town is the capital of Kos and the largest town on the island. It’s packed with a fascinating history and a few nice places to visit along the way, including cosy cafes, restaurants, and shops where you can grab a bite to eat or shop. We recommend heading towards Old Town. It’s a small district of only a few streets, but you will find some cute shops, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy a spot of lunch there.
And don’t forget to check out the archaeological sites, of which there are quite a few, like Casa Romana and Ancient Agora, which give you a glimpse into the island’s past. Kos Town is also famous for one other thing aside from the archaeological sites. And that’s the Plane Tree of Hippocrates. Legend has it that it was planted by the father of modern medicine himself over 2000 years ago. The tree you see today isn’t the original one but is suggested to be around 500 years old and a descendant of the original tree.
5 | Visit Kos’ Last Working Windmill
The last working windmill in Kos, the Windmill of Antimachia, is a little treat on the island in more ways than one. Entry to the windmill is free. Kind of. When you arrive, you’ll be welcomed with a plate of sweet biscuits made with flour from the windmill. The idea is you get to try the different flavours, then choose the one (or ones) you like and buy them to take home. A bag is only a few Euros and helps to keep the windmill turning. There are flavours ranging from aniseed to cinnamon, and each one is delicious. We took some aniseed biscuits, and olive bread sticks away with us. Yum.
With the small price you’ll pay, you get to take something away, plus you get a short guided tour inside the windmill, where they tell you about its history and how it operates. You’ll also find a cafe, toilets and a donkey at the Kos windmill. Be careful – the donkey likes to nibble on clothes! Ha.
6 | Plaka Forest
Plaka Forest is famous for one thing – peacocks, hence its nickname of Peacock Park. There are tons of them! You might even find a few cats, too. You can get pretty close to the peacocks, and if you visit at the right time, you might find one or two peachicks. Aside from the peacocks, Plaka Forest is a lush green space full of the gorgeous smells of pine, plus a few walking trails and picnic spots. It’s suggested tortoises live in Plaka Forest, too, but we never saw any.
7 | Go Wine Tasting
There are a few vineyards in Kos to visit. Some offer tours, and some allow you to wander the site alone to understand the wine-making process better with exhibits on show. We opted to visit the Hatziemmanouil Vineyards. It’s an upmarket vineyard with a few displays to learn more about how they make their wine.
Once you’ve looked around the site, you can stop for some wine tasting, where you can taste a few of their wines with some bread and cheese. And once you’ve figured out which one you love, you can order a glass and sit on the veranda or in the vineyard and enjoy a glass or two of wine with a small selection of snacks. Yum.
8 | Voyage on a 3-Island Boat Trip
Yet another boat trip from Kos for you. This is the 3-island boat trip that takes you to Kalymnos, Plati and Pserimos. The boat runs from Kos Town, leaves around 10 am, and returns around 5 pm. Plus, you get lunch on board after your first stop, which is a swim in the sea by Pserimos. In total, you’ll stop three times. Once to swim and a couple of times to get ashore, once in Valis, Kalymnos and again on Pserimos Beach, with each stop lasting about an hour.
Although you stop three times, you won’t land on three islands, even though it’s a 3-island boat trip. You only stop on two and pass by the third, which is Plati. The 3-island boat trip from Kos is worth it if you fancy a relaxing day away from your resort. Transfers and food are sorted, and you get to see different landscapes for the day. It’s an opportunity to do some sunbathing between stops, plus there’s a cafe on board for coffee, beers and cocktails.
9 | Enjoy a Sunset Dinner at Mastihari
Having dinner and watching the sunset at Mastahari was a locals’ recommendation. And what a recommendation it was. Mastahari is a small village on the northern coast of Kos. The town isn’t remarkable, but the sunset is. You will have the opportunity to eat dinner on the beach and watch the sun go down. We recommend this over watching the sunset at Zia because you can experience the same sunset of Zia at the Fantasia Greek night.
10 | See the Traditional House of Antimachia
The Traditional House of Antimachia sits opposite the Windmill of Antimachia and is worth tying in with your visit to the windmill. It’s a Euro or so to enter, and inside, you’ll see how a traditional Greek family used to live. It’s small, cute and won’t take you more than ten minutes to look around, plus you can buy some traditional Greek fabrics, like those made in the traditional Greek way, on a loom.
You can still find traditional loom weaving on Kos, believe it or not. We stumbled upon Strelitzia Of the LOMM, where we met Anthippi. Throughout summer, you’ll find her mostly in her shop, but over winter, she’s busy on her loom on the other side of the road where she’s making items for the shop.
We recommend visiting Plaka Forest early to avoid the crowds. Towards midday, it gets pretty busy! We got there around 9 am and were the only ones there. We passed back through after visiting the western part of the island, and it was super busy.
11 | Visit Therma Beach
Located in a fairly remote part of the island and only accessible via one road, the natural hot springs of Therma offer something unique on Kos. Down a dusty track at the end of a road from Kos Town, you’ll find Therma Beach. It’s home to a little pool of water heated via a hot spring from the hillside.
The mineral-rich waters are believed to have healing properties, but whether or not they do is by the by because it’s worth visiting to experience the heated water anyway. You’ll be surprised how hot it gets the closer to the spring you are.
12 | Visit Paradise Beach
Paradise Beach, also known as Bubble Beach, is regarded as one of Kos’s best beaches. It gets its nickname from a part of the beach where bubbles come up through the sand. You can see a blue marker to indicate where you’ll find the bubbles in the sea. Paradise Beach gets busy, so we recommend you arrive early!
13 | Visit Agios Stefanos Beach
Just a few kilometres away from Paradise Beach is Agios Stefanos Beach. Agios Stefanos Beach offers one of the best views from a beach on the island because it overlooks a tiny islet called Kastri. Kastri is one of Kos’s most famous landmarks and is home to a little church, which you can get to by swimming or taking a pedalo. You’ll also find the small ruins of the Basilica St. Stefanos at Agios Stefanos Beach, which are worth a wander around.
14 | Visit the Archaeological Sites
Kos has tons of archaeological sites dotted around the island. Lots are located in Kos Town, but a few are spread across the rest of the island. Most are free, but one has an entry fee, which is Asklipieio. Here are a few around Kos worth visiting:
- Asklipieio Kos (near Kos Town)
- Ruins of the Basilica St. Stefanos (on Agios Stefanos Beach)
- Roman Odeon of Kos (Kos Town)
- Neratzia Castle (Kos Town)
- Casa Romana (Kos Town)
- Ancient Agora (Kos Town)
15 | Visit Antimachia Castle
If you’re visiting Kardamena, you’ll likely catch a glimpse of Antimachia Castle as you travel towards the resort. Antimachia Castle is the ruins of a Venetian castle and dates back to the early 14th century when it was built by the Order of the Knights of Saint John.
Inside Antimachia Castle, you’ll find Saint Nikolaos Holy Orthodox Chapel, dating from the 16th century, and Ainst Paraskevi Holy Orthodox Chapel, built in the early 18th century.
Apart from that, you’re rewarded with some epic views over the gorge and Kardamena Town, but aside from that, there isn’t much to see. Much of the castle is in a poor state of repair, but it’s worth a wander around nonetheless. Antimachia Castle is free to enter and open 24 hours, but during the day, you might find an attendant there to collect some donations.
That wraps up our list of things to do in Kos. We have no doubt you’ll find plenty to occupy you on the island, whether you want to chill out on the beach or explore some of the more exciting things on offer because there’s a diverse range of experiences for every traveller.
Things to do in Kos Map
Below is a map of things to do in Kos to help orientate yourself on the island and plan your visit. Some things are worth tying in on the same day, such as Plaka Forest, the Windmill of Antimachia, and some of the beaches, for example.
Read our Kos itinerary to see what we got up to and when.
Read: Things to Do in Mykonos
Read: Things to Do in Athens
Is Kos worth visiting?
Yes, Kos is a wonderful island with plenty of things to do to keep you occupied. It’s also full of wonderful beaches with crystal clear water and great weather throughout the summer.
What’s the best way to get around Kos?
We usually rent a quad to get around. They are a cost-effective hire vehicle, small, fun to drive and will go almost anywhere. Plus, the weather is always great for hopping on the quad, but don’t forget to cover up with clothing or sun cream to avoid getting burnt.
Where’s the best place to stay in Kos?
We recommend staying in Kardamena. It’s in a great part of the island with close proximity to the airport and many of the things to do in Kos that we recommend. It’s also a nice place with lovely bars, restaurants, boutique shops, and hotels. Kardamena is more upmarket than it used to be, but you can still find the party places for those late-night cocktails. You’ll also find the usual warm hospitality you’d expect in a Greek resort.
Things to Do in Kos, Greece
- Visit Zia
- Enjoy a Greek Night at Fantasia
- Visit an Active Volcano at Nisyros
- Kos Town
- Visit Kos’ Last Working Windmill
- Plaka Forest
- Go Wine Tasting
- Voyage on a 3-Island Boat Trip
- Enjoy a Sunset Dinner at Mastihari
- See the Traditional House of Antimachia
- Visit Therma Beach
- Visit Paradise Beach
- Visit Agios Stefanos Beach
- Visit the Archaeological Sites
- Visit Antimachia Castle
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