Kos, the not-so-sexy-but-still-nice Greek island

August 9, 2015 (Last Updated: March 7, 2022)
by Carolyn
Kos harbour

It may not have the spectacular caldera views of Santorini, the many iconic windmills of Mykonos, nor the jumble of white and blue houses that are native to so many Greek islands, but Kos still proved to be a fantastic island on which to enjoy a week of R&R.

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“Why Kos?” I was asked on more than one occasion when I told people we were spending the final week of our European holiday on the island. I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Kos until I started researching where we could stay and in the end my decision to choose Kos really came down to two things.

Firstly, we could fly directly from Munich to Kos without having to fly via Athens and, secondly, I had come across a resort which sounded (and looked, according to their website), fantastic. So, Kos it was!

My decision, however, started to be questioned as we drove in the back of a taxi from Kos’s airport to our resort at Agios Fokas, about nine kilometres from Kos town, the main town on the island.

Barren landscapes and abandoned buildings were pretty much all we saw for much of the 35 minute drive and I had to keep reminding myself not to judge a book by its cover.

With very few roads on the island, the main road from the airport to Kos travels inland, pretty well up the middle of the island, and ocean views were few and far between.

On arrival at the resort, though, everything changed. I had chosen Michelangelo Resort and Spa for our stay (read my review here) and it was the perfect location to really relax before heading home and back to the ‘real’ world.

With lovely views of the navy blue Aegean Sea from each room, three pools – including an amazing infinity pool – and a private beach (rocky, so we didn’t venture down there), this was my idea of a resort.

Pool, Michelangelo Resort and Spa, Kos, Greece
The amazing infinity at Michelangelo Resort and Spa, overlooking the Aegean Sea. Bliss!

Apart from two occasions when we caught the local bus into Kos town, we spent the rest of our time at the resort reading, relaxing, swimming and laying by the pool.

As a couple who normally like to really explore the area we are staying in, we did suffer occasionally from a (very) slight guilt attack – but we soon got over it!

On the days we did venture into Kos, we really enjoyed it. It has a lovely port area bobbing with fishing boats and yachts, a good selection of shops, numerous ancient Greek and Roman ruins, Neratzia castle, cute alleyways and plenty of cafes and restaurants.

There’s a real carefree holiday vibe to the place which was no doubt enhanced by the cloudless blue skies, sea air and consistently warm temperatures of 32 degrees Celcius.

Do give the Kos city tourist train a miss, though. The 25 minute ‘tour’ around the streets of Kos town cost €5 per adult and had very basic commentary. Instead, grab a city map and walk the route on foot.

Church in Kos, Greece
This church was one of the few buildings in Kos town to sport whitewashed walls and blue domes that are so typical on some of the other Greek islands.

Things to do on Kos

As I said, we were happy to spend most of our time at the resort but had we wanted to get out and about and see the sights there were plenty of options. Car, motorbike, quad bike and even dune buggy (yes, they are road legal on Kos) hire is a very popular way to visit some of Kos’s smaller villages.

Therma (the thermal springs), just a few kilometres up the road from Agios Fokas, are also an option for those who like to ‘take to the waters’.

Being surrounded by the sea, there are plenty of boat trips available, too. Ferries operate daily to Bodrum in Turkey (just 35 minutes away) as well as Three Island cruises which visit some of the closer Dodecanese islands.

Ferries to Rhodes, Patmos and Lemnos, among others, operate at least a couple of times per week.

Whilst the beach at Agios Fokas was rocky, the island does have many sandy beaches where you can rent sun lounges and umbrellas and partake in activities like parasailing.

Beach in Kos, Greece
In Kos town, there’s no shortage of beach umbrellas and sun lounges to hire for the day.

Is Kos a good island for Australians to visit?

Kos may be the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, (he was born there in 460 BC!) but it’s an unknown Greek island to many Aussies.

The only Australians we encountered were a Sydney-born guy of Greek heritage who has lived on the island for 22 years and runs a restaurant in Kos town, and a young woman from Melbourne who checked us in at the Aegean airlines counter at Kos airport.

That’s not to say you won’t hear much English spoken, though. Kos is a popular package tour destination for the English, as well as Germans and Scandinavians.

All the shopkeepers and restauranteurs we dealt with spoke good English and many menus and signs in Kos town were written in English, too.

Cafe in Kos, Greece
There are plenty of great cafes and restaurants to choose from in Kos.

Would I recommend Kos as a holiday destination?

In a word, yes. It definitely doesn’t have the ‘sexiness’ of Santorini or Mykonos but it still offers a great Greek island experience. (Here are some more islands worth considering if you want a less-touristy Greek experience.)

We certainly didn’t explore the island anywhere near as much as we could have – the small villages and sandy beaches would be top of my sightseeing list next time.

The food was great, the locals friendly and the general feel of Kos was one of laid-back casualness.

Even though it’s not as well known as some of the other Greek islands, Kos would also be a great Greek honeymoon destination.

Blue and white alley in Kos
This little street in Kos was popular with tourists.

Need-to-know info about Kos

  • Taxis from the airport to Kos town cost around €35 and to Agios Fokas (where Michelangelo Resort and Spa is located) cost €42.
  • Kos International Airport (KGS) can be reached by direct flights from numerous European cities and also via Athens.
  • You can also reach Kos island by ferry from Piraeus port in Athens (10.5 hours), Santorini (5 hours), Rhodes (2 hours) and other Dodecanese islands. View ferry schedules here

Get an overview of the island of Kos on this map

Click here to check current rates for Michelangelo Resort and Spa

Harbour in Kos, Greece
The pretty harbour in Kos town.

Have I convinced you to visit Kos?