Climbing mythical cliffs, diving where ancient shipwrecks fall, enchanting caves, wonderful beaches, picturesque village settlements, delicious getaways… This is Kalymnos! a fascinating destination that offers more than you imagine!
Welcome to Kalymnos, the island of the sponge-divers. Kalymnos is the fourth-largest island in the Dodecanese and is known worldwide as an international centre for processing and selling sponges with a tradition of hundreds of years. The island is an alternative vacation destination, a real paradise for lovers of climbing, diving and mountain hiking!
Pothia, the ‘downtown’ of the island
The town of Kalymnos is Pothia, a colourful settlement, which preserves remarkable architecture. In its narrow streets stand old mansions, imposing houses of captains and the plain houses of sponge-divers. Each district on the island has its own church, such as the church of the Savior Christ and the church of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicolas), but there are also a plethora of monasteries such as Panormitis. Buildings, such as the District and the Town Hall, show the architectural influences of the Italian occupation on the island.
When you’re in Pothia don’t forget to visit the Archaeological Museum, where the famous “Lady of Kalymnos” is located, and of course the Maritime Museum with objects from shipwrecks that narrate the tradition and the methods used for sponge fishing. While in the “Kalymnian House” you will learn more about the local way of life at the end of 19 century and the beginning of the 20th century.
When you finish exploring the capital and taking photos in the narrow alleys you should definitely visit the hidden sea-food tavern ”Sfouggaras”. There you will taste all the amazing sea delicacies that the island has to offer, sea-urchins, spinialo, cooked ray with onions or the catch of the day, you name it.
Best beaches to soak your feet
Around Pothia one can find many picturesque settlements amongst them Panormos, Myrties and Vathi. Vathi is like a green touch in the barren landscape of the rocks. A fertile valley with citrus that ends up to a deep bay, the port of Rina, a beautiful canal with turquoise waters, a natural fjord where you can enjoy some jumps into the crystal clear water or have for lunch some fresh fish.
It is known that Kalymnos got its name from the “beauty of the waters that wet its beaches” and on the island, you can find several beaches ideal for unforgettable dives. One of the most popular is the sandy beach of Masouri. Vlychadia consists essentially of two beaches, one sandy and one with pebbles. Another one, Linaria, is considered a family beach. Platis Gialos is famous for its black sand and is ideal for fishing, while Emporios is ideal for wind and kite surfing. If you want to be isolated or have kids choose the bay of Arginonta or the beach of Palionisos where you can stay all day as it offers also food options on the beach.
One of our favourite places for moments of relaxation is the Kalymnos Pirates located on Kalamies beach. Stavros and Maria have created a unique pirate-theme settlement with restaurant, bar and amazing accommodation options on the spot. If you look where to stay in Kalymnos then one of their 3 lodges (Villa Hispaniola, The Endeavor, Black Pearl) will amaze you. Plus all the guests can use the hammocks, sun lounges and the canoes for free. Book one of their unique pirate-villas on Airbnb.
Climbing for the view
Steep, imposing rocks are a blessing for lovers of climbing but also for tourism. The whole island is a unique natural track with more than 1300 engraved climbing routes of every degree of difficulty. The island’s suitability for climbing was accidentally determined in 1997 by Italian climbers, who inaugurated 40 routes. These routes were further developed with the assistance of all local agencies and so the island is now considered one of the top climbing destination. The result of these efforts was the establishment of the Climbing Festival in 2000, which every year attracts top climbers from all over the world on the island.
Diving for the shipwrecks
Kalymnos is not only an island of “height”, but also of “depth”! Its beautiful seabed with its shipwrecks, colorful reefs and mysterious sea caves is a pole of attraction for diving enthusiasts. There are organized diving centers on the island, offering diving in selected places of unparalleled underwater beauty with rich colors and life. Also, the School of Diving of Kalymnos operates on the island. Every year, the “Diving Festival and Skandalopetra Games” is also organized, which offers participants a unique experience of underwater, acquaintance with the island.
Trails and caves
Discover the natural beauties of the island by walking on wonderful paths. Some indicative hiking routes are from the Chorio to the Castle of Chrysocheria or to the top of Profitis Ilias (total length 5 km around 2 hours) and from Pothia to Vathi from the old Italian paved path. More than 50 caves have been recorded on the island. associated with fascinating legends and traditions. Indicatively you can tour the cave of the Seven Virgins, the cave of Kefala (accessible by boat from Pothia or Myrties) and Daskaleio (accessible only by sea from the port of Rina).
Tiny and romantic Telendos
Do not forget that next to Kalymnos are the beautiful small islands of Pserimos and Telendos, an ideal choice for those looking for a quiet and peaceful vacation. In Telendos, the only settlement on the island is built opposite the Kalymnos-Telendos strait. In the southern part of the island, there is a beautiful pine forest, with the remains of Byzantine houses (Tholoi). Don’t skip to visit the church of Ai-Giorgis (St. George) and to stay to enjoy the sunset.
Shopping in Turkey
Did you know that Kalymnos is just a couple of hours away from Turkey? Yes, and you can reach it just by boarding a ferry, daily routes available from the main harbour of Pothia. It’s a really fun way to spend a few hours in Bodrum and explore a whole different country or even a different continent, that of Asia. There are many interesting things to do while you are there. Discover the open-air markets with local products and shop some spices or taste delicious and cheap Turkish street food. Buy good quality Gucci replica bags, Armani t-shirts or grab a sweet Baklava and cup of black tea. Return same day or stay there for the weekend in some of the most luxurious and affordable hotels.
If you are inspired to visit Kalymnos then you should know that the island is connected by air with the airport of Athens and by ferry with the port of Piraeus and Rhodes, but also with the other islands of the Dodecanese, with frequent domestic routes. Also, one more recommended way to reach Kalymnos is flying to Kos island and then getting a ferry. It is what we did and we are glad that we had the chance to explore two beautiful islands in one week trip.
And don’t forget before leaving Kalymnos that the best souvenir, of course, is a Kalymnian sponge!