There are some great things to see and do on Kos island, Greece. I usually visit the Greek island of Kos when I am researching it to update it for the Rough Guides to the Greek islands.
Knight’s Castle – Kos island, Greece
You can’t really miss the Knight’s Castle, Kos. It’s referred to locally and in Greek as the ‘Castle of Neratzia’ meaning sour orange tree – and a wander around it will help you understand why.
It’s located right by Kos harbour’s entrance so that when your ferry pulls up for your Greek island hopping vacation, this grand monolith is right in front of you. It’s actually on a small little island connected by a bridge, really more of a dried up moat that surrounds it.
Why ‘sour orange tree’? Well, the Knight’s Castle Kos dates back to the 14th Century and during this time, many sour orange trees (neratzia) were planted on the island. During the late 14th and early 15th Century Kos was known as Neratzia hence why the Castle’s name has stuck.
Frequent visitors to Greece will have seen these trees all over the country as well as Kos island.
Update of Kos Castle MAR 2020:
Alas, Kos suffered a bad earthquake in 2017 meaning the inside of the castle had to close, so it’s not possible to go inside until further notice. But it is possible to wander around the outside and get a scale of Kos Castle.
Here I share with you some images of the inside as I visited before 2017.
Where to stay on Kos island, Greece
So you’ve decided to come to visit this large island and sightsee, including the Knight’s Castle, but where can you stay? If you’re anything like me, I am not a fan of package holiday/all inclusive hotels which, unfortunately, seem to blight Kos.
And let me let you into a little secret (or maybe it’s not a secret, who knows?): A lot of these hotels don’t employ local staff, so no money is going back into the Greek economy. Personally I want to try to help the Greek economy, hence why I went on a hunt for the smaller, family run establishments. And it is possible to find – as you’ll see in a minute.
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The exception to the All Inclusive
There is an exception to the ‘All Inclusive’ chain on Kos, a gorgeous Greek consortium with 30 luxurious properties across mainland Greece and the islands; Grecotel Kos Imperial Thalasso. The group also looks after the Agreco traditional farm and line of products from Crete and the Danilia traditional village and museum in Corfu, making it a truly luxurious Greek connection. I will be writing about my Kos Grecotel experience in due course.
During my Kos visit, I stayed at the lovely family run Hotel Afendoulis. Located literally a 10 minute stroll away (along the seafront) from the Knight’s Castle Kos, whilst not actually along the harbour/seafront, it is down a quiet side road and the family run establishment offers breakfast up until midday (I know right?!), takes credit cards (unusual for a small place) and breakfast is none of this packaged nonsense…expect fresh bread from the bakery with homemade preserves (quince, sweet tomato being just two examples of a choice of many, even the famous neratzia). And as the family are there throughout the day (mum, dad, grandpa, daughter and son-in-law), if you happen to be around at lunchtime when they’re cooking up a wee bite to eat (OK, this is Greece, not so ‘wee’!), they’ll pull up a chair for you to join them. You are assured of feeling like you’re staying at home. Indeed for me, Hotel Afendoulis is a home away from home.
I hope I’ve tempted you with Kos. It is a ‘package holiday’ destination, no doubt about it – but it’s possible to get away from it all.