homeGreece travel guide > Kassos, Patmos, Kalimnos, Leros, Tilos, Nissiros, Halki, Astipalaia
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Last updated : Nov 2009
Kassos, Patmos, Kalimnos, Leros, Tilos, Nissiros, Halki, Astipalaia  
Kassos, Patmos, Kalimnos, Leros, Tilos, Nissiros, Halki, Astipalaia  - TravelPuppy.com  
 
Kassos

(Piraeus, 255 nautical miles.) Kassos, the most southern of the Dodecanese lies just 3 nautical miles away from Karpathos. Emborios, the port, and Fri, the principal town, are scenic settlements, both with good beaches. Selai, a cave to the west of the village of Agia Marina, is filled with impressive stalactites.

Kassos can be reached by ferry from Piraeus.

Patmos

(Piraeus, 140 nautical miles.) St John is said to have been exiled to Patmos and was enthused to write his Revelations here. During the 11th century, the massive fortified Monastery of St John the Divine was built above the capital, Patmos Town (also known as Hora), in respect of the saint. The monastery is worth visiting for its church and chapels, displaying Byzantine icons, and also for the panoramic sight it affords out to sea. The island’s main tourist resorts are Grikos and Skala. Grikos is built overlooking Grikos Bay and has a beach nearby. Skala, made up of bars and tavernas, whitewashed houses, is also the principal port, and lies 2km (1.2 miles) from Hora Town. Patmos can be reached by ferry from Piraeus.

Kalimnos

(Piraeus, 180 nautical miles.) Kalimnos is well-known for its sponge fishinga tradition which is expressed in many folk songs and local dances. Along the northwest coast of the island there are numerous resorts with beautiful beaches, notably Mirties and Massouri. Good hotels can also be found in the chief settlement, Pothia, a cheerful port town with brightly coloured houses, founded in 1850. Close to Pothia lies Therma, a well-equipped spa with therapeutic bathing installations and accommodation. Horio, the old capital, stands below the remains of a medieval castle. Kalimnos can be reached by ferry from Piraeus.

Leros

(Piraeus, 169 nautical miles.) Leros is an island of green hills, fertile valleys and unspoilt beaches. The principal settlement, Agia Marina is made up of whitewashed houses, steep winding alleyways, and a number of neoclassical buildings, and crowned by a 14th-century Byzantine fortress. Most hotels are found in Laki (one of the Mediterranean’s largest natural harbours) and Alinda, both of which have fine beaches.

Leros can be reached by ferry from Piraeus and by plane from Athens.

Tilos

(Piraeus, 290 nautical miles.) Not much known by tourists, Tilos is a hilly island with many isolated and unspoilt beaches. The chief settlements are the inland town of Megalo Horio, crowned by a medieval castle, and Livadia, the island’s port. Close to Megalo Horio it is possible to visit the monastery of Agios Antonios.

Tilos can be reached by ferry from Piraeus.

Nissiros

(Piraeus, 200 nautical miles.) This small volcanic island lies between Tilos and Kos. The capital and port, Mandraki, is built just below the medieval castle. Close by at Loutra lie the famous hot springs, while in the centre of the island one can visit the vast smouldering crater, formed in 1522 by an enormous volcanic explosion.

Nissiros can be reached by ferry from Kos, Piraeus and Rhodes.

Halki

(Piraeus, 302 nautical miles.) Halki is a tiny hilly island, little known by tourists. From the main settlement and port, Nimborio (also known as Halki), Potamo is the only beach accessible on foot, although many other beautiful unspoilt beaches can be reached by boat. The island’s second town and former capital, Horio, was built inland to keep away from pirate attacks. Halki can be reached by ferry from Piraeus.

Astipalaia

(Piraeus, 165 nautical miles.) Astipalaia is mountainous but fertile, and little discovered by tourists. The capital, also called Astipalaia, is built on a steep hill and dominated by an ascetic Venetian castle. The most attractive part of the island is around Livadia, where there is a beautiful sandy beach. Astipalaia can be reached by ferry from Piraeus and by plane from Athens.

(Piraeus, 174 nautical miles.) Crete is the biggest and most southerly Greek island. In spite of a busy tourist industry concentrated along the north coast, Crete has preserved its unspoilt nature, local traditions and ancient monuments. Minoan culture, Europe’s first advanced civilisation, developed here between 2800 and 1000 BC. When Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, many artists took shelter on the island, founding the renowned ‘Cretan School’ of painters.

The capital and main port, Heraklion (Iraklio), offers a number of cafes, restaurants, nightlife and sightseeing opportunities. The old town lies within the 16th-century Venetian city walls, while the harbour is protected by Koules, an impressive Venetian Fortress. The National Archaeological Museum is one of the country’s top museums, displaying finds from the Minoan era, and the History Museum tells stories from Byzantine times up to the present day. Close to town stand three wonderful Minoan sites – Malia, Knossos and Phaestos. The palace at Knossos, founded in 2000 BC, was a huge city of 50,000 inhabitants, destroyed around 1600 BC by earth movements provoked by the volcanic eruption on Santorini. Places of interest here are the frescoed sanctuary and the royal apartments. Another palace, built on an the same plan around a central courtyard, can be seen at Phaestos, though the frescoes here are not so well preserved. The remains of yet a third palace can be seen at Malia.

East of Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, one of the island’s best-known holiday resorts, overlooks the Gulf of Mirambello and numerous fine beaches. East from here stands Sitia, another popular resort with restaurants, bars, hotels and a Venetian fortress. West of Heraklion, the well-preserved port town of Rethimno is made up of narrow winding alleys preserving a number of 16th-century Venetian stone buildings and 19th-century Turkish houses with traditional wooden balconies. At the western end of the island, Hania has a mixture of modern, neoclassical and Venetian architecture, as well as a Naval Museum and good beaches.

South of Hania, the beautiful Samaria Gorge, declared as a National Park, is the longest gorge in Europe. Enthusiastic hikers will be able to walk the 18km (11.2 miles) length in a day, while the less sporting can join an organised tour, departing from Hania.

The only major resort on the south side of the island is the small port of Matala, offering attractive sandy beaches and excellent fish restaurants.

Crete can be reached by ferry from Piraeus. There are airports at Iraklio, Hania and Sitia, with regular flights to Athens and several other Greek islands, as well as a number of European cities.