The Greek paradise of Kos Island is most famous for being the birthplace of Hippocrates, but it’s also a beach and food lovers paradise.
A sunny beach break makes Kos Island the perfect European destination for many reasons. It is laid back, beautiful and the clubbing days are long gone so we weren’t dodging overzealous holiday reps promising a ‘good night’ and a free shot.
One thing any visitor to Kos Island doesn’t need advice on is how to relax, but with a limited amount of time, you don’t want to waste your time deciphering the packed beaches from the idyllic, or fine dining from tourist slop. After all, why would you want to spend your time sitting on top of each other, or picking through food you wouldn’t accept at home when you can simply avoid it?
The good news is you don’t need to. Here are my top five beaches and restaurants of Kos to get you in the holiday mood.
Where to stay
It really depends on the holiday you’re after. If partying features highly then book yourself any number of places in Kos Town. If I want to party I can head into town but typically, I don’t want to be anywhere near it. We stayed at Grand Blue Resort in Kardamena but this place doesn’t get my recommendation as it’s simply not worth the money. They bill themselves as five stars but I beg to differ. They are 4 star at best with a five star price tag and far too many families with young babies for my liking.
Renting a car
Kos is an island blessed with abundance of natural beauty, the sweet smell of pine and calm clear waters. It should come as no surprise that to arrive to the more remote beaches, you’re going to need a car. A local bus just isn’t going to get you there and neither is wishful thinking so just build it into your travel budget. I’ve used Avis on many occasions and find if you book in advance, pick and drop off at the airport, it’s actually pretty reasonable and makes picking up groceries easier.
Top 5 Kos Island beaches
Before arriving to the beach, the sign reads that it is a haven for naturists and nudists, so it should come as no surprise that this is a clothes optional oasis. There are approximately 22 sun umbrellas, fenced off by private wind breakers and a deserted stretch of beach beside it to stroll in peace. Typically free from couples with children (what a difference it makes), it is peaceful, clean and unspoilt. Hands down my favourite of all the Kos Island beaches. Sun loungers are €8.00 for the pair with umbrella.
The beach of Mastichari is the ultimate choice for travellers in search of a secluded slice of beach, but with an abundance of water-sports activities. The sand is soft and golden but the wind can be quite blowy depending on the day (hence all the windsurfers). You can either chill with the crowd or relax back and enjoy the pure tranquility and idyllic views that Kos perpetually delivers.
Paradise Beach (or Sunny Beach)
Located about 33 km from Kos Town, Paradise beach is one of the most popular beaches on the island due to its fine white sand and crystalline water. The beach stretches for miles along the powdery coastline and there is only one row of sun loungers so you’re not body deep in, well…bodies. Great for families and those looking to really wind down and enjoy some chill time. There is a taverna within easy walking distance and they do an awesome grilled squid starter.
Marmari Beach is located 15 km outside of the Kos Town and is all you would expect a Greek beach to be, fine white sand and clear water. You can rent sun loungers (€8.00) and an array of water based activities if (like me) you cant sit still long enough. There is a small port for private boats to pull up. In my opinion, this is the busier of the beaches and the one I would visit last on my list, but don’t get me wrong, it’s still a lovely beach.
This unique beach is different in the that it isn’t a sandy beach, but pebbles. It’s out of the way so you need a car to drive around the coast, but also means you can combine cooling off in the beach water, with warming up in the Thermes hot springs. The thermal waters come from the mountain and forms a small pool just in front of the beach. During the day, this soothing natural pool can become crowded from local and foreign tourists, but if you head up here for about 22:00-23:00, it is an experience not to be missed whilst in Kos.
Top 5 Kos Island Restaurants
Hands down my favourite in Kardamena, mainly because its by the port so there is always something happening, but the food is crazy good and service and equal match. If you want good, authentic Greek food and local produce, go to restaurant Pelagos in Kardamena. They serve meat (mix grill is phenomenal) but also have a large variety of fresh seafood, and starters such as hummus and pita, large butter beans in tomato sauce, stuffed vine leaves, chickpea and courgette fritters. I have eaten here more times than I can remember and never a bad meal or experience.
Top tip: Baby fried squid, deep-fried aubergine, moussaka and souvlaki.
Arap Taverna is a family owned restaurant and will not disappoint, nor will its homemade cooking. The taverna specialises in Greek-Turkish fusion cuisine, which represents the heritage of the Platinos neighbourhood. My advice is to find a table and order up some Greek and Turkish mezedes before you go to the main menu (which is diverse and tasty). If you’re heading to the Asklepion from Kos Town, you literally cannot miss it but it is a cash only establishment.
Top tip: Stuffed roasted peppers and mixed grill.
Taverna No Stress
High up in the mountains (Zia Village) you will find Taverna No Stress. When you think you have reached the last restaurant, walk up the stairs, behind it and continue up until you arrive to No Stress. This is the best kept secret. The food offering is minimal and service is slow I warn you now, but you will escape the tourists (of which there are many who quickly disappear after sunset), the food is home-cooked, and its a quite place to enjoy good chat and a great view. This is a great place for sunset, a lovely dose of Greek hospitality and incredible views of the Aegean Sea.
Top tip:The cake for desert will literally make you slip off your chair
Ali Restaurant, Kos Town
Located on the fringe of Kos Town, Ali Restaurant is the real deal. I’ve been coming here for years and you’ll only find it if you hit the side streets. The staff haven’t changed and neither has the menu, but when you get the perfect mix then why ruin a good thing. The starters, seafood, meat dishes and desserts have all been tasted at some stage and I’ve never had a complaint. It doesn’t look like anything flash from the outside, but it if you’re looking for good classic Greek/Turkish food or your home favourite, Ali Restaurant is the place for you.
Top tip: Try the ascender!
Agkyra Fish Restaurant
Being by the sea, it makes perfect sense to finish with a restaurant which sits right beside it and serves the best food from it. Yes, I am talking about Agkyra Fish Restaurant. They were rated as the best seafood establishment on the island so we thought we would try and guess what, it was absolutely as good as we had heard. The restaurant is located in Hora, in a stone building dating back to the interwar period.
Top tip: Try the salad. Ingredients come fresh from the garden! Also, be sure to try the range of Tinos mazes.
Finally, here is a 2 minute video synopsis of my time in Kos. You’re welcome!
If you fancy reading what else there is to do on Kos Island, check out this blog!