Located in the Dodecanese chain of islands—at its shortest point only 4km from the Turkish coast—after Rhodes, Kos is the second most popular holiday island. Why? Because of its magnificent stretches of beaches and lively nightlife. I decided to take a look at some of the top things to do on Kos, and also offer some alternatives.
Looking for tips on what to pack for your Greek island holiday at any time of the year? Then read my Greek island all round packing list guide.
**Originally published in December 2015. Updated and re-published in August 2019**
Things to do on Kos – Beaches
12km from Kos Town, black sand, steep cliffs and dark, clear waters await you at this thermal beach. Many people come here to swim, or relax in the sea pool with hot springs and a lake sheltered by rocks. Thermes Beach is great for those with muscular pains, but also a good alternative from the typical touristy beaches.
Looking for a family friendly beach? 20km southwest of Kos Town is the sandy beach of Marmari.
It’s an organised beach, meaning you can expect plenty of sunbeds, tavernas, restaurants and water sports to choose from. The water is shallow enough for children – making Marmari a good choice for a daytrip.
Things to do on Kos – Nerantzia Castle – The Castle of Saint John
Take a break from the beach and visit the Knight’s castle, nestled at the entrance to the port of Kos Town. Constructed using local stone, visitors today can still see the four towers, gun ports, battlements and bastions that are intact, including the drawbridge over the moat. You can also visit the Museum at the north end of the castle, which houses several old inscriptions, sculptures and altars.
Things to do on Kos – Zia Village
Drive away from the coast and the capital and head into the mountains for the day. Hidden amongst forests and running water, Zia lies at the foot of Mount Dikeos and the area offers amazing views across most of the island, including magnificent sunsets. Choose to eat at one of the many tavernas, or if you’re feeling energetic, follow the road winding out of the village that takes you up the slopes of Mt. Dikeos.
Things to do on Kos – Water Park
An excellent choice for families—close to the village of Mastihari you can find the Waterpark Lido. Built in 2005 and offering rides such as Lazy River, the Wave Pool, the Giant Slide, the Black Hole and the Hydro Tube; for a fun packed day out, you can’t go wrong bringing your family here.
Things to do on Kos – Alternatives
Kos isn’t just an island for sun and beach worshippers, families and those looking for crazy nightlife, however. Lovers of history will relish the knowledge that Kos is famous for Ancient Greek medical history. Enjoy a trip to the Asklepieion—an ancient medical centre located just outside of Kos Town built in the first half of the 3rd Century B.C. to honour the God of Health and Medicine—Asklepios—and where the symbol of medicine, the coiled snake, originates from. It’s actually one of the major tourist attractions on the island.
Or there’s the famous Plane Tree of Hippocrates, located in front of the Castle of St. John’s in Kos Town. It’s said that it’s here that Hippocrates—one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine—used to sit and teach his students. The Plane Tree itself is actually only 500 years old, but be aware that when sitting there, you are resting in a place of true greatness.
Kos, therefore, is an island that offers something for everyone; families, groups, solo travellers and couples. With many travel companies flying direct from several European destinations and offering year round deals, you can’t go wrong by choosing Kos as your Greek island holiday destination.