No part of the past year has gone to plan, and of course that included our travel plans. After three cancellations of our holiday to Rhodes we’d been dreaming of for years we found a last minute getaway to the Greek Island of Nisyros. A gentle few nights away was the timely reset we so desperately needed.
The first three nights were spent at Oku Hotel in Kos followed by two nights on the most idyllic island a 1 hour ferry ride away. Read on to find out more about why we fell completely in love with Nisyros.
Time stands still in Nisyros. It is exactly the quintessential sleepy Greek island we’d imagined. Restaurants spilling out onto the streets along the water’s edge, waves lapping gently up against the sea wall as we sipped on Greek wine and dined on delicious local greek food, the beautiful beaches and glorious sunsets. There is a calm atmosphere here at the end of the summer season with few tourists to be seen on the island after the peak summer season fades. We relished in the morning silence walking through the alleys lined with the classic white houses with blue doors, pink bougainvillea flowers spilling over the balconies and sunlight gently creeping through the gaps in the buildings. Neighbourhood cats lounge lazily in people’s doorsteps. The odd scooter whizzes past.
The benefit of staying on Nisyros island is the quiet island life to be experienced once the ferry waves off the day trippers by 5pm. This is when the island returns to its sleepy self. The restaurants aren’t crowded, the alleyways are deserted and the human population count probably dips below that of the cat count. If you plan on staying over to spend a few lazy days here, Poseidon’s House right by the water’s edge is an idyllic accommodation spot. Booked through AirBnb.
This perfectly located little hideaway for two is cosy coastal chic. It has a superb rooftop terrace for lounging, dining and people watching. Steps from the front door lead down to a little bay which is perfect for a morning swim on a calm day.
In the next bay is a quiet black pebble beach. Nisyros has few sandy beaches, but the black pebble beaches are absolutely to be admired. The water appears inky black against the rocks, the coves are calm and the beaches are deserted.
The food offerings on Nisyros are exceptional. The main town, Mandraki, has an array of restaurants lining the seafront harbour where you can enjoy delicious food as waves gently lap the sea wall and that golden Greek sunshine warms your skin.
Award winning Geusea rates highest on most websites, and for good reason. Rich shrimp orzo or delicate white fish and sea greens, every dish’s ingredients are elegantly paired. The food is upmarket at this family run affair. The father, a fisherman and also our waiter works alongside his son – a Masterchef finalist. In the busy season it would be difficult to get a table so book in advance.
There are more rustic choices along this run of seafront restaurants, yet no less exquisite. We dined at Khokhlakoi Taverna for all our Greek favourites, tzatsiki, saganaki, fava with grilled octopus, fresh fish, greek salads. We were in heaven.
We also took a recommendation from a local to visit The Balcony restaurant on our day trip to the the volcano and it was actually our favourite meal during our stay here. Local and truly delicious Greek food. Make sure you order the feta in filo pastry and drizzled with honey – divine!
The little village where the restaurant is located also has a natural sauna where heat from the volcano seeps through the tiny cracks in the stone walls of this discreet bunker. See if you can withstand the heat for more than five minutes – we couldn’t!
For those seeking adventure and geology, a trip to the volcano should be on your list. For 60 euro hire a buggy and drive the well signposted breezy roads to the Stefano crater. The active volcano is the world’s largest hydro crater. You’ll smell it before you see it, but when you do get close look out for the sulphuric steam seeping out of the cracks of the crater. Neon yellow foam like substance spills out the holes. If you’re daring enough wave your hands over the openings to really test the heat. This activity is best done in the morning before tourists arrive on the ferry.
The hike to the hilltop looking over Mandraki is also worth a stomp before the day time heat kicks in. Panoramic views of the island and beyond are absolutely stunning. The hike is well signposted within the town.
Day trips to Nisyros are easy from Kos, however experiencing the true calm of the island only happens once the rest of the day-trippers leave.
Kos has two ferry ports for ferries to Nysiros, Kos town or Kardamena. Double check online before your journey to make sure you show up to the correct port. Kos Town ticket collection office can be busy so arrive at least 30 minutes before departure to collect tickets and know exactly what bay the boat leaves from. If the ferry is leaving from or arriving into Kos town it will say KOS as the departure / destination.
We used Ferry hopper website to book the Dodekanisos Pride ferries – they are faster (50 minute journey) and can be booked online. The Kateros company needs to be booked in person and is a slower journey (1hr 50minutes). With the ferries being infrequent we just opted to book with whatever carrier has the most convenient timings. Ferries don’t depart every day from Kos to Nisyros, so before booking any accommodation check that it coincides with ferry departure times.
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