General Information on Kalymnos
Kalymnos is a Greek island in the southeastern Aegean. It belongs to the Dodecanese and is located west of the peninsula Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus), between the islands of Kos and Leros. Kalymnos is an attractive island with a population of about 12,000 inhabitants, who mostly live in the capital and main port, Pothia.
The island is famous for its sponge fishing industry. Kalymnos is a mountainous island with impressive rocky crags, barren, but with plenty of herbs, such as thyme, sage, thimble and oregano, to which the excellent Kalymnos honey owes its fragrance. The island is surrounded by a large number of small islets, two of which are inhabited, Pserimos and Telendos. Because of the low level of tourism, Kalymnos is still very authentic and its inhabitants are very friendly and hospitable. Along with the beautiful landscape, this gives a particularly charming atmosphere to the island.
History of Kalymnos
Kalymnos experienced a similar history with the rest of the islands that form the group of Dodecanese. The island has been inhabited since the pre-Minoan times. During the Archaic period, the islands of the Dodecanese, due to their distance from Athens were autonomous. With the rise of the Macedonian Empire, Kalymnos was annexed to it until the death of Alexander the Great. After the division of the Empire, the island passed to Ptolemy I of Egypt, one of Alexander's successors.
During the Early Byzantine times Kalymnos flourished, like all other islands of the group, but by the 7th century AD, invaders attacked again, attracted by the strategic and vulnerable position of those islands. In the 14th century, the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem ruled over the Dodecanese. Later (mainly in 1457 and 1460) the island was often attacked by the Ottomans, which conquered it in 1522.
Their occupation ended in 1912, when, during the Italian-Turkish War, Kalymnos was occupied by Italian sailors of the Regia Marina. Italy took control of the island along with other islands of the Dodecanese. When the Italians surrendered, the Germans and the British fought over control of the Dodecanese, causing great damages and suffering among the population. Kalymnos was united with Greece along with the rest of the Dodecanese in 1947.
Towns & Villages in Kalymnos
Pothia: The town of Pothia (also called Kalymnos) is the capital of the island and its main port. It is tucked in steep grey mountain slopes in the southeastern part of the island. It’s a colourful, lively and noisy town built amphitheatrically around the port. This traditional and attractive town gathers almost all of the population of Kalymnos and is a real paradise with whitewashed and bright coloured houses with colourful doors, shutters and balconies and atmospheric narrow alleys. Pothia is a particularly noisy place with narrow streets and a maze of bars, cafes, pool halls and bike shops. The town is huge, so it's easy to get lost, but in the back streets, there are some fine examples of neoclassical houses with extraordinary wrought iron balconies. Also there is an Archaeological and Folk Museum on the northern hillside and the Nautical Museum at the western end of the port with details from the lives of sponge divers.
Myrties: This lovely coastal settlement is situated on the western coast of Kalymnos, northwest of Pothia. It owns its name to the many myrtle trees of the village. It is also the main tourist area, though it is still low key. An imposing rock emerges behind the settlement, creating a unique atmosphere, along with lovely houses and narrow alleyways. A few accommodations, cafes and taverns are available in Myrties as well as a small pebble beach.
Massouri: This picturesque settlement is the most popular tourist resort of the island and lies on the western coast of Kalymnos. It is an impressive stretch of coast with steep hills, lush with vegetation and the island of Telendos still impressively visible across the sea. The settlement is built amphitheatrically and its tasteful whitewashed houses overlook the azure waters of the Aegean. The village offers various kinds of accommodations as well as bars, traditional taverns, cafes and nightclubs.
Beaches in Kalymnos
Akti Beach: This beautiful beach is situated near the road leading to the valley of Vathi, on the eastern coast of Kalymnos. The beach is quiet, with shingles and a couple of large tamarisk trees offering shade. A fine tavern stands on the beach.
Kantouni Beach: Just south of Platys Gialos is the beach of Kantouni. It is a long sandy beach at a short walking distance from Panormos. A couple of bars line the back of the beach, and an interesting small cave is located at the northern end. Accommodations, taverns and cafes surround it, while more choices can be found in the village of Panormos.
Linaria Beach: The picturesque sandy beach of Linaria is also situated close to the village of Panormos a short walk away from Kandouni and Platys Gialos. The beach is thin and narrow but much quieter and with better sand than neighbouring Kantouni. A huge rock emerges from the sea. Fine fish taverns and cafes can be found nearby and some accommodations are available at Panormos and Kandouni.
Platys Gialos: The beach of Platys Gialos is one of the most beautiful beaches of Kalymnos. It is situated near the village of Panormos, north of the beaches of Kandouni and Linaria. The beach is a long swathe of shingles, with accessible rocky coves on each end, and gets progressively sandier to the north. There are a few sunbeds outside the amazing tavern, built in a cliff at the back of the beach providing delightful food, drink and toilets. From Platys Gialos, visitors have the chance to admire the most astonishing sunset of Kalymnos.
Melitsahas Beach: This is the most beautiful beach close to Massouri on the western coast of Kalymnos. It is a long sandy beach with tamarisk trees and tourist facilities. The area offers a few accommodations, taverns and cafes.
Arginondas Beach: The sheltered inlet of Arginondas has a small pebble beach backed by olives, pines and a couple of taverns. The beach is situated about 17km north from Pothia and is coiled up in a beautiful and picturesque bay. Umbrellas and sunbeds are available to rent as well as a few accommodations.
Vlychadia Beach: There are two lovely bays in Vlychadia on each side of the small harbour. The area is ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling, because of the beauty of the underwater fauna and flora. The beach is reachable via a little road starting from the village of Vothini – southwest of Pothia.
Top Things to Do in Kalymnos
1. Kalymnos Museum: The archaeological Museum of Kalymnos is housed in the 19th century mansion of the Vouvalis family, who were sponge fishers. The dining room has been reconstructed, with the dinner service, the living room, and the office with commercial correspondence, the service rooms, the storerooms and the photographic archives, all equipped with furniture and family household objects. Because of the lack of space, the archaeological collection will soon be moved to another building. The collection consists of figurines, pottery and coins of the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods (7th – 1st centuries BC).
2. The Citadel of the Knights: This caste was built by the Crusaders called Knights of Saint John; locals also called it Kastro Chrissochera (Golden Hand Castle) because of the little chapel of the Virgin which is hidden in the ruins of the castle. It is located on a steep rock, inland and north from Pothia.
3. The Church of Christ of Jerusalem: The remains of this fine Byzantine church can be seen between Horio and Panormos and is one of the oldest sites of the island. It was built on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo. The Byzantine emperor Arcadius ordered the construction of this church in order to show his gratitude to Christ for saving him from a storm, on his way from Jerusalem, before anchoring at Kalymnos.
4. The islet of Telendos: This small island seems majestic across the sea from Myrties. The islet was formed by a massive earthquake in 500 AD that split it off from the mainland, destroying the ancient capital of the island in the process. Today, Telendos is one of the best reasons for visiting Kalymnos. The new quayside is packed with good taverns and delightful small beaches in the many coves. The island has no roads and so the beaches are accessible only along rough tracks. The nearest is at the northern end of the harbour. From there a small path that runs behind the beach can lead you to better coves further away.
5. Climbing: Kalymnos is a favourite choice among climbers, thanks to challenging climbs in the most picturesque locations. Rock formations are of excellent quality. There are about 200 single-pitch routes and many cliffs ranging from 10 to 200 metres. Climbing is always varied with overhangs and roofs with stalagmites. You can generally climb in Kalymnos all year round and you get pleasant sea breezes to keep cool in summer. Most pitches are west or southwest and are shaded in the morning. All tourist facilities –hotels, restaurants– are open until mid-October. Approaches to the climbing areas average 20 to 30 minutes.
How to Reach Kalymnos
Air: There is a service connecting Athens and Kalymnos four times a week. Another way of flying to Kalymnos is via Kos and taking the local ferry to Pothia.
Ferry: Kalymnos is on the main north-south route for ferries to and from Rhodes and Piraeus and it is served with one or more daily departures. Another ferry connects the island to Thessaloniki, via Mytilini, Chios and Samos.
Getting Around in Kalymnos
Bus: In summer there is a bus every hour from Pothia to Massouri via Myrties. Also, from Pothia there are three weekly services to Emborios and Vathi.
Taxi: Shared taxis are a feature of Kalymnos. They cost a little more than buses and run from the Pothia taxi station at Kyprou Square.
Excursion Boat: From Myrties there are daily excursion boats to Emborios and to the Kefalas Cave, impressive for its stalactites and stalagmites.
Weather in Kalymnos
The climate of Kalymnos is the same as in all other islands of the Dodecanese group. It is a mild Mediterranean climate characterised by sunny and dry summers and mild winters. Refreshing breezes and winds blow during the months of July and August, making the temperatures much more bearable. Humidity is quite high and heavy rains occur during winter months.
Top 10 Destinations in Kalymnos
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Map of Kalymnos