The island of Kálymnos is located 14 km north of Kos, has an area of 109 square km and a population of 16,4 thousand people, it is the third largest island of the Dodecanese. Most of the territory covered with rocks. The livable space is concentrated mainly in two narrow valleys. In one of them, on the southeastern coast of the island lies the town of Póthia (or Kalymnos) - one of three cities in the Dodecanese.

The islands of Kalymnos and Leros that located to the north both have also the ancient name Kalýdnes, mentioned by Homer.

Island map

Three times a day, a ferry of ANEM Company goes from Mastihari in Kos to Pothia in Kalymnos and back. Tickets can be purchased at the kiosk near the harbor Mastihari. One way ticket price is 4 euros.

This trip I spent alone. The departure from Mastihari was at 9.00, the departure back from Pothia was at 16.00. A small ferry "Olympios Zeus" at the appointed time set sail from the pier, took a course on Kalymnos, and after 50 minutes arrived at the harbor of Pothia.

Click the images to enlarge them.

The place is admirably beautiful. The valley that stretches far inland and surrounded from both sides by steep rocky hills, all filled with neat two- three-storey houses, covered with red tiles. Some of them stuck on the lower parts of the hill slopes. There are many church domes. To the left on a hill, a big church of the Monastery of Saint Sabbas overlooks the city.

Coming down to the pier, I decided to walk along the seafront at the same time taking count of rental offices, in order to take a car there for the remaining time before departure. Unfortunately, this time for the Kalymnos sightseeing was too little. I had a walk around the city and drove on some roads of the island, taking pictures of landscapes along the way. For a thorough sightseeing is necessary to spend a minimum of 2-3 days.

The port is located on the west, left if one sees from the sea, side of the harbor. Still further to the left, there is a small beach. To the right the long embankment begins. There are monuments here and there; some of them are quite interesting.

Among the shops along the waterfront there are lots of fish ones, with the stalls of fish taken into the street. There are a lot of shops that sells sponge. As well as in Symi, formerly the majority of the population of Kalymnos was engaged in extraction of marine sponges. They are still engaged in this, the city has several factories for processing of sponge.

In the central part of Pothia on the waterfront, there is the majestic Church of Christ; there are also the City Hall and the Eparchy here. The city also has archaeological and naval museums.

Oddly enough, but it was a problem to hire a car. In the embankment and close to it, I could detect only two rental offices. On the door of one of them, a notice hung that everyone had gone to a neighboring taverna. In the taverna no one knew anything. In another office, just nobody was there: the door is open, the music plays and nobody there. Eventually, I turned for help to an office that offers bikes, and I was directed from there to another car rental office in the adjoining street. There I have got what I wanted, the car "Suzuki Alto", and paid 25 euros for three and a half hours that remains before departure.

Let us go inland through a narrow valley, bounded from both sides by cliffs and is fully occupied by residential buildings. The vast majority of Kalymnos population lives here. The Pothia City changes into the suburb called Hóra (or Horió).

To the left on the hill above the place of the boundary between the two settlements, there is the fortress of the Knights of Saint John Order. Inside it, the Church of Panagía Hrysohéra (Golden Hands) located. The legend says that under the floor of the church, the treasure of gold coins was found. There is one more medieval fortress at the right high above Hora.

Let us go further, the villages replace one by one: Pánormos, Kamári, Mirtiés, and Masoúri. The latter two located already on the opposite, western shore of the island and are the beach resorts.

Here, at a distance of 1 km from the coast of Kalymnos, the island Télendos lies with a steeply rising cliff. In the lowland part of the island, the houses of a fishing village can be seen.

The road leaves the settlements and goes along the sea on the slope of the cliff. Kalymnos Island is an acknowledged place of pilgrimage for rock climbers. Passing by these places, I saw them several times when they climbed the steep slope.

Soon the coastline changes direction, forming a bay. On its coast is located Arginónda place with several houses and a beach. The road, skirting the bay, goes on the slope of the cliff again towards the village Emboriós. There are a picturesque church, a small fishing harbor and a beach. This is an extreme settlement on the island; here the normal road ends.

Further along the coast the heavy road passes, it leads to a small rocky peninsula. There are the bays with little wild beaches on both sides of the isthmus. Despite their inaccessibility and the end of the season, there were tourists. Still further to the north, the island continues with a deserted and roadless rock.

And we go back. In Arginonda we turn inland and climb the hills. The road is new and exceptionally well equipped here. Going down, we get into another valley of Kalymnos that is not urbanized this time, but covered with gardens largely of citrus trees. At the end of it, on the coasts of the narrow bay, the village Vathýs with picturesque harbor lies.

This valley, like the previous one, is surrounded from both sides by rocky hills. At the top of the left, the northern hill, inside the walls of a fortress, there is the Monastery of Panagía Kyrá Psilí. It is a great pity I had not time to look for the road there. The final part of the way, most likely, I would have to walk uphill. According to legend, the church was built by a native of Kalymnos named Rousos. He was abducted by the Turks as a child, in the foreign country he became Gul Ahmed Pasha. Arriving later at the homeland, he found his father and built a church at the highest point of Kalymnos in the memory of the years that he spent in the island.

The road climbs the south hill, opening up the great views of the Vathys and the whole valley, and further passes to Pothia along the coast on the slope of the hill.

Thus, a short tour of the island is complete. I didn't succeed to visit the southern part of it. I just reach the Monastery of Saint Sabbas (Ágios Sávvas), photographed the view of Pothia from there, the monastery itself, and without going into it, went back. Time pressed, I had to take the car to 15.30.

In the south of the island there are a couple of villages, the Monastery of Saint Catherine and the airport. And in the very south near the sea there is Kefála cave with stalactites and stalagmites. You can see at the cave here (website in Greek).



Léros is a small island north of Kalymnos. On the territory (53 square kilometres) it is slightly inferior to both Sými and Tílos, but on the population (8200 persons) it is much superior of them. In contrast to Kalymnos, the population of Leros is more dispersed; human settlements are found in all parts of the island. In the two largest settlements: Lakkí and Agía Marína, there are two equally important and interchangeable ferry ports. The coast of the island in all sides indented with bays, along which there are most of the settlements and these ports.

Island map

We arrived by ferry at the port of Lakki from Kos at ten o'clock in the evening on October 4. We had booked here a room in "Castle Villa" apartments in Vromolithos place a few kilometers from the port. We had not arrangement with the hotel to meet us at the port. Waiting a little, hoping that we were still picked up, we take a taxi that was at the port.

Hearing about the destination, a female driver was surprised, ask about the place again, and said something. Unfortunately, she did not speak English, but my knowledge of Greek did not help immediately to realize the drama of our situation. Everything clarified on arrival. All gates of fence surrounding the villa were closed by padlocks. The light does not light up anywhere, although it was late evening. It turns out that due to the end of the season the owner has closed the hotel and went to Athens in September. Although he had confirmed the reservation in our days of October by e-mails, got from me a remittance at the rate of 25% of the rental cost (thankfully the amount for two days was not great), and sent a fax of confirmation for our visas! Beware of swindlers!

Taxi driver offered us a ride back to Lakki and take a hotel there, which we did. Hotel "Miramare" is a three-story building in the heart of the village. We paid the driver; she explained the situation to the landlady and left, and we were settled in two rooms on the ground floor. Unfortunately, it is not apartments, which we are accustomed to rent. There has not a kitchenette; there were a double bed, wardrobe, TV, refrigerator, bathroom.

Laying out the luggage we went out to the street. On the waterfront rode escort of dozens of cars and motorcycles, slowly and with deafening honks. People happily shout and wave their green flags. At this time in Greece the parliamentary elections ended and the preliminary results became known. Change of power. Papandreou succeeded Karamanlis, PASOK - the New Democracy, the Left - Right, the Green - Blue.

This day, October 4, the Election Day has become for us, perhaps, the most eventful in the journey. We visited three islands, made a 3 nautical transition, bus tour of Nisyros, car moving along Kos, a ride in a taxi in Leros, move from a hotel, do not move in another, and move into a third.

The next morning I rented a car Fiat Seicento in an office that is located near the hotel. I paid 60 euros for two days, provided that I can leave it on the next evening in the port. This allowed us to have a roof over our head, a storage cave for our luggage, and a vehicle while we'll have to spend between eviction from the hotel at noon and loading onto the ferry at 21.50.

The place of our stay Lakkí is a small settlement on the shores of a long inland bay. These remarkable properties of the bay induced the Italian authorities in the 30-ies of XX century to build a naval base Portolago, which determined the unusual architecture of the settlement. The streets are wide and straight, a lot of free space. Many buildings are in the Italian style of constructivism. Some of them, though, while we were here, were under rebuilding, i.e. simply demolished, creating empty spaces in the town center.

The road from Lakki to the west along the northern shore of the bay leads to the Merikiá place. Here are a gymnasium and a military museum into the tunnel. Unfortunately, the museum works only up to 13.30, while we were there later the last day, so we satisfied only with the view of military equipment over the fence.

The place is green and shady. I remember how nice it was to just sit here in the car, hiding from the scorching rays of the October sun.

After the parking there is a staircase rising to the rock where a little chapel is.

We go from Lakki to the south; we pass Teménia village and Lepída Bay. The right turn leads to the objects on the southern shore of the Lakki bay: a naval base and an abandoned building of mental hospital. The hospital closed in 1997, before it was published materials about the inhuman conditions there. In times of the Colonels the political dissidents were sent here to "heal". Later we will see trails left by them in the island.

We continue our journey towards the south. The road leads to the village Xerókambos on the shore of the bay of the same name. Let's turn left before the village and take the hill, crowned by a small fortress Paleókastro built on the ruins of the ancient acropolis. Here at the top is the Church of Mother of God (Panagía). Beautiful views of the area open from the point: the Lepida Bay, the village and the bay Xerokambos, a little further - the rocky island Kalymnos.

The road to the south ends on the shore of the Xerokambos Bay. Let's go down the stairs to the sea. Here, pressed against the rock, there is a small chapel of Panagía Kavourádena.

According to legend, a fisherman, who once caught crabs here, was bitten by one of them. At this moment he saw the icon of Mother of God in the rock on the shore, and the wound immediately healed. They tried to move the icon several times, but it always returned to its place (it's the repetition of the history with the icon of Panagía Spilianí in Nisyros), consequently the chapel was built in here.

We go back to Lakki and drive further north to the east coast of the island. Here is another bay; and a continuous series of settlements begins.

The first of them - Vromólithos lies along the shore near the sand and pebble beach of the same name. Some of residential buildings located on a hill in front of the bay. It is here are those apartments in which we have not got.

Further along the coast lies a small harbor Pandéli. Here a narrow valley stretches between the hills; it reaches with the opposite end the coast of another bay. Dense buildings of the village Platanos occupy all the valley and the slopes of both hills. Closer to the coast Plátanos village smoothly turn into the Agia Marina village. Roads are narrow and parking is practically unavailable.

One of the barely visible turns from the main road descends steeply down to the bottom of the valley, and then ascends with serpentine up the hill. On U-turns of the serpentine there are panoramic views of the bay with two islands (Agía Kyriakí and Piganoúsa), of the neat houses and churches of the village. A series of picturesque windmills lined up along the final section of road.

The end-point of the road is a fortress on the hilltop - Kástro. The entrance fee is 1 euro. The fortress is well preserved; great views open from the walls. One of the internal structures is the Church of Panagía tou Kástrou (the Virgin of Fortress), dedicated to an icon.

The icon arrived on the island from Constantinople in a small boat, accompanied by a burning candle without human participation. Overjoyed islanders put it in the Cathedral. However, the wilful icon knew where it should be, and the next morning it was found, along with a candle, in the castle's arsenal. It happened during the Ottoman Empire, and a Turkish captain who found the icon was somewhat perplexed, as the arsenal was closed, and the only set of keys was with him. The icon was brought back to the church, but in vain, the next day the history repeated itself. After some movements, the captain had no choice as to believe in miracles and to vacate the arsenal for the icon, thus transforming the arsenal into the church.

All-round panorama from the hill near the fortress

To the north of Platanos on the shore of the bay there is the village of Agía Marína. It is the capital and one of the two main ports of the island. The local place of interest is a windmill standing directly into the sea.

Further along the shore of the bay lies the village of Kritóni, and even further - Alindá, the main beach resort in the island. There are several hotels with a swimming pool, though small, but quite suitable for a vegetable holiday. There is also a beach. A little further along the bay there are two small sandy beaches: Panagiés and Dío Liskária.

Let's move to the west of the island. Here, north of the Lakki Bay, the coast forms the Goúrna Bay. On the coast there is a village of the same name with a long pebble beach. To the south shore of the bay the village Drimónas adjoins, to the north - the village Kókali. Here, on the north shore there is one of the main attractions of Leros - a small island with a small Church of Saint Isidore (Ágios Isídoros) on it. The islet is connected to the shore with a concrete path.

We drive to the north of the island. Outside the village of Kamára the road drives out to a deserted, surrounded by hills area. Let's turn right and take on one of the hills, the highest one. Here are the telecommunication station and magnificent views.

We return to the main road and go further north. The road goes to the village of Parthéni on the shore of the bay of the same name. The bay has indented coast and is used for commercial purposes, no beaches. Here is a local small airport.

Before the airport, the turn to the left onto a dirt road leads us to an archaeological sight: the ancient tower, known as the Temple of Artemis of the IV - III centuries BC. Only a pile of stones remain of the tower, some of which form the base of the walls. A small chapel arranged in one point among the stones.

After the airport the road comes to the crossroads. The turn to the right leads to a place called Blefoútis on the shore of another bay. There are several houses and a long (by local standards) beach of sand and pebble, lined with tamarisks. Generally, these trees are often found here on the shores of the island.

Let us return to the crossroads and turn to the right (and if you go from the airport - straight). We come to a small white Church of Agía Matróna-Kiourá.

Quote: "In the old days there used to be a fierce pirate... when he died his wife settled here with his crew but she loved the local people and took care of them since her husband left so much treasure. The locals used to call her Kyra (Kioura in the Lerian dialect) which meant Lady... when she passed away the locals built this church in her memory and called it Agia Kioura which translates Saint Lady...!"

The church, though small, but has three naves, i.e. it has three rooms and three altars. The walls are covered with paintings about the Gospel stories. They were made by the political prisoners-communists in 1968-1970, who had been exiled to Leros by the regime of the Colonels. It is seen that there was a fire in the left nave, as the ceiling and walls are covered with soot and the images badly visible.

Passing a little further down the road, we find ourselves in a small cove with a small beach. We rested there for some time at the first day. There was nobody besides us, it's great! We came here the next day and saw that there was already somebody's car; but the beach is not suitable for such crowds. We turned around, went to the Blefoutis beach and found there desired peace and solitude.

Our two days at Leros came to an end. Evening of 6 October, we left the car at the port, boarded the familiar Blue Star ferry and an hour later were in Patmos.


Attribution-No Derivative Works (CC-BY-ND) by Andrey K.