A tiny island in the Aegean Sea, Kos is a Greek gem. With sandy beaches and year-round sunshine, it’s no surprise that this place has been drawing tourists for centuries. Plus there are so many great things to do in Kos.
It’s an island with endless blue waters, beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, delicious food (seriously), friendly locals…and did I mention it’s only 2 hours away from Athens?!
However, Kos is often overlooked. It doesn’t have the allure of Santorini, the party vibes of Mykonos, or the history of Rhodes, but it’s actually one of the best places to visit in Greece.
And its popularity is growing. It used to be much more of a hidden gem, however, it now welcomes quite a few tourists annually. Certain places like Kos Town can get quite busy, especially in the summer months.
Nonetheless, when you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, or just need an excuse to escape winter for some sun and sand, Kos is the perfect spot.
How many days do you need in Kos?
You’ll need at the very least three days in Kos to see everything the island has to offer, but ideally four or five. If you’re combining a trip to Kos with island hopping around other Greek destinations like Athens or Rhodes, then 3 days in Kos is enough before moving on to your next destination.
There are so many places to visit in Kos that you’ll soon see why you need at least that long. Spend some time walking around Antimachia – a maze of streets based around a castle perched on a hilltop.
And, if you’re spending longer on the island, then take a few day trips from Kos too, such as to the nearby volcanic islands or even to Turkey.
How to get around Kos?
There are several ways to get around Kos, but the most popular is by bus, moped, bicycle or simply on foot.
There are two types of bus servicing the island. The Kos town (KEAS) buses and the Kos island (KTEL) buses. Between them, they can get you almost anywhere, and the prices are super affordable too. Although be warned, the drivers can be a little reckless and certainly like to fling the busses around corners!
Another option for getting around Kos is by moped. This will give you more control over your day as you won’t have to spend time waiting at bus stops. Hiring a moped will likely cost between 25€ to 40€ per day.
Nonetheless, by far the easiest way to get around Kos is on foot. A lot of the best things to do in Kos are within walking distance of one another and this option will also save you some money.
Is Kos worth visiting?
Kos is definitely worth visiting. It’s one of the prettiest islands in Greece. Visit Kos for the perfect combination of historical archaeological sites and beautiful beaches, plus a new port, peaceful, palm-lined promenade and fishing harbour full with yachts.
A great destination for those seeking relaxing solitude but also want a bit of fun and plenty of natural beauty.
What is better, Rhodes or Kos?
This depends on what you’re looking for in a Greek getaway.
Rhodes is the bigger of the two islands and features one of the prettiest medieval old towns in all of Europe. You’ll also find peaceful beaches, hidden natural gems (like Seven Springs), and a fascinating Acropolis.
Discover the best things to do in Rhodes
In comparison, Kos is a little less known and has a few more beaches. But it also features the Asklepieion, one of the most important ancient temples in all of Greece. It’s also a stone’s throw away from Bodrum in Turkey – perfect for a day trip.
If you’re looking for fascinating history with beautiful scenery and authentic Greek towns, then both islands are perfect destinations.
What are the best things to do in Kos?
So, if you’re planning a trip to this delightful little island, then these are the 18 best things to do in Kos.
Explore Kos Old Town
The capital of this little island, Kos Old Town is one of the best places to visit in Kos. It offers plenty to both its inhabitants and tourists.
It’s near the harbour, where you can catch a boat to the neighbouring islands or Turkey and full of cute little Greek churches and authentic restaurants.
The main square is lined with shops selling local souvenirs or handmade goods such as molasses, herbs, soaps, and spice mixes.
Legend has it, this was where Hippocrates trained in the 5th century BC. It’s close to Kos Old Town and one of the best things to do in Kos if you enjoy learning about Greek history.
The Asklepieion is a simple rectangle made of stone blocks. It features restored columns that belong to the Ionic Temple of Apollo and ruins of an ancient healing temple & medical school where Hippocrates is rumoured to have once practised.
The excavation of the area discovered archaeological finds dating back to the Hellenistic era. There are also pieces from statues and some interesting items like tools for making objects out of gold or silver that were found in its grounds. All these are now housed in the adjoining museum.
The Asklepieion is one of the most important temples in Kos as it’s connected by legend to Hippocrates himself. This temple has been continuously rebuilt over the years but still maintains much of its originality.
Castle of the Knights of Saint John
If you love Greek history, then the Castle of the Knights of Saint John will give you a wonderful flashback into the past life of citizens of Kos. The castle took over 100 years to build. Although it’s now in ruins, it’s still one of the most wonderful things to do in Kos.
Also known as Nerantzia Castle, it’s located near the entrance of the harbour. There are some parts where you can climb ladders and cross drawbridges to enter the building. This gives you the feeling of what it was like way back when.
From the turrets, it offers breathtaking views of Kos, the surrounding mountains and the harbour. The castle is on the top of a hill, so be prepared for a bit of a hike as well!
Plane Tree of Hippocrates
When you’re near the Castle of the Knights, you won’t be far from Hippocrates Tree. The Plane Tree of Hippocrates is about 500 years old and 17-meters tall. It’s one of Kos’ tallest trees and one of the largest in Europe.
In ancient times, the Greeks used this as a trigonometrical point because its height made for easy calculation of distances. If your destination was more than halfway up the plane tree’s length then you would have gone too far.
In addition to being historically important, locals believe that rubbing leaves from this tree onto their skin can cure many ailments including fatigue. Because of this, you can actually buy oils made from the trees leaves in the town.
Located less than 200 meters from the shore of the beach of Kefalos (near Kefalos town), Kastri Island is one of the best places to visit in Kos. The island is rather sparse but its noticeable landmark is a tiny white church with a bright blue roof perched on top of the rocks.
It’s so close that people can swim to the island. But I’m cautious about recommending this as tidal currents are pretty unpredictable. However, if you’re a strong swimmer, the nearby waters are great for snorkelling too.
If you don’t fancy swimming, you can rent a small pedalo boat to reach the island or simply photograph its beauty from the shore.
Agios Theologos Beach
One of the prettiest beaches and best things to do in Kos, Agios Theologos is located as far west as you can go on the island. Just outside Kefalos town, it’s a small pebble beach with crystal clear water and an amazing view of Kos.
It can get crowded during the high season, and it’s also a favourite with the locals. Exposed and wild, the winds whip up the waves which crash onto the shore of this delightful bay. There’s also a traditional taverna – Agios Theologos Restaurant – located above the beach offering home-cooked food and even more wonderful views.
If cobbled streets, whitewashed churches, and the feeling of being taken back in time are what you look for in a Greek getaway, head to Antimachia which will be right up your street. The charming little town is around 23-km from Kos Old Town and the perfect afternoon trip.
It’s one of the most traditional settlements on the island, with authentic Greek buildings and local restaurants. A few must-sees while in Amtimachia are the Old Chapel, the Traditional Windmill, and the beautiful Traditional House of Antimachia.
Make sure to also pay a visit to the nearby Venetian Castle of Antimachia.
Perched on top of a hill beside the village, it’s one of the more beautiful things to do in Kos. Built in the 14th century, it offers lovely views of the surroundings.
Possibly the most popular beach in Kos, Lambi beach is a must for anyone wanting to spend a day in the sun. With blue waters and a mixture of white sands and small pebbles, it’s understandable, if all you end up doing here is sunbathing and paddling in the waters.
In the summer months, the beach offers a selection of sunbeds. It also has plenty of water sports available like parasailing, jet-skiing, and banana boat rides, as well as pedal boats that can take up to six people at a time.
It’s easy to walk there from Kos Town, but you can just as easily use public transport. Plus, if you walk down the beach to the far north side, you’ll find yourself on the neighbouring beach of Faros Beach, another great stretch of sand to explore.
The Roman Odeon
One of my favourite parts of visiting any Greek destination is visiting the Odeons. The Roman Odeon in Kos was built during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The first 9 rows still contain their original seats.
The ancient Greeks used this Odeon as a theatre for performing theatrical productions to entertain their citizens. Back then, it had a roof and could seat around 750 people. To this day, although the roof is no more, it’s still used as a music venue in the summer months.
After visiting the Odeon I recommend heading over to the Archaeological Museum. Here, you can see exhibitions from prehistory right up until Roman times (which they’ve had since 1984). It’s about a 10-minute walk away on foot.
Kos Achcheological Museum
This museum is located in the Old Town. It features a collection of ancient artefacts from all over Greece and is one of the top historical things to do in Kos.
You’ll find fabulous mosaics, traditional sculptures, Roman pottery, ancient weaving looms, and gold jewellery. One of the most well-known features inside the museum is the detailed mosaic of Asclepios and Artemis.
The entrance to the museum is €6 per adult. It’s also closed on Mondays so make sure to plan your visit around this.
Ancient Agora of Kos
Ancient Agora used to be an ancient market. Now, the area is a mass excavation site. They’ve unearthed temples, baths, houses full of mosaics, columns and other historical finds.
The Agora is a wonderful place to explore and will take up about an hour. It’s free of charge and located very close to the seafront.
Highlights include a Shrine to Aphrodite, a Christian Basilica and a Temple of Hercules. It’s usually open all day but is sometimes closed on Tuesdays.
This beautiful Roman House has been dated back to the 2nd century. One of the best things to do in Kos if you enjoy ancient history, the house is a fantastic place to explore. The architecture is a similar style to the buildings discovered in Pompeii.
The house stands out most due to its historic frescoes. The most remarkable of which depict a panther attacking a bear. These are must-sees whilst in Kos and are incredibly detailed.
The Casa Romana is open 8 am – 8 pm and is also usually closed on Mondays. The entrance is €6 per person. Highlights include the intricate frescoes, mosaics, ancient Roman baths, columns and statues.
Plaka Forest is a forest full of pine trees, sparkling water is derived from a spring and paths for endless walks. If you want to explore nature, then this gorgeous woodland is perfect.
Located near Amitachia, the pine tree forest lies inside a gorge that snakes its way down to the ocean. Exploring Plaka Forest is one of the most incredible things to do in Kos.
The area is well-known for its natural beauty. It’s popular as an outdoor leisure area for both tourists and locals. When you’re there, make sure to take a dip in the refreshing waters of the spring that runs down through the gorge into two deep pools, one at each end.
One of the best places to visit in Kos, this arch of beautiful sand is one of the best beaches on the island. Paradise Beach is perfect for families as it’s calm enough for children to splash about in the shallows. An inflatable play area is set up here in high season.
Located east of Kefalos, you can also enjoy watersports or simply lounge about on sunbeds with refreshing ice cream.
Western Archaeological Zone
Located opposite the Kos Odean, the Archeological Zone is a sprawling site that dates back to the 3rd century.
Amongst the ruins, you’ll find a theatre, houses and baths, two basilicas, a gymnasium, 17 white marble columns and one of the largest mosaics on the island.
Church of Agios Theologos
If beautiful traditional Greek buildings are one of the reasons you love visiting the country (or if you’re a keen photographer) then the Church of Agios Theologos will stun you.
This lovely but small church is located on the south side of the island, near Keflos. The white walls and blue accents silhouetted against the deep blue ocean make it a beautiful sight. The golden chandelier hanging from the ceiling only adds to the effect.