As one of my friends is originally Kalymnian and still has a family home there, we stayed with him and spent the majority of our time in the greek islands on Kalymnos. To get there we had to fly to Kos and then catch the 40 minute ferry to the main port of Kalymnos. This hidden gem is predominantly known for its rock climbing with its gigantic cliff faces attracting people from all over the world. In saying that, I’m deathly afraid of heights and I still loved this island so don’t let that stop you from coming here. In close proximity to other beautiful islands in the Dodecanese as well as Bodrum in Turkey, there are a ton of options you can add onto your trip after seeing this beautiful island.
Things to do
Explore the islands churches
While there is an ongoing joke that Greece has more churches than people, the two main churches to see on this island are Agios Savvas and the cave church of Agios Pandeleimon (Agios meaning Saint in Greek).
Agios Savvas – Agios Savvas is a saint that was said to have performed many miracles during his lifetime. The main story that you will hear from the people of kalymnos is that he cured a man of cancer and that in the brain scan images after the cancer was cured you can see the face of Agios Savvas. These brain scan images are still displayed at the church today for visitors to see. Agios Savvas also rests in a tomb at the church with many people visiting to give their blessings and pray for healing and good health. Whether or not you believe in miracles this church has an absolutely spectacular view of the city and in my opinion is one of the most beautiful parts of kalymnos.
Agios Pandeleimon – this monastery has several churches but the star of the show has been built into the cave around it. Legend has it that several attempts were made to put a door on the church however it kept falling down or disappearing. It is believed that Agios Pandeleimon destroyed the door each time as he wanted a clear view of his mothers grave on one of the nearby islands. Every year on the 27th of July there is a big festival at the church however I recommend purposefully avoiding the church at this time as you will have to walk up the MASSIVE hill as you will not find any parking. Trust me… The hill is MASSIVE.
The Folk Museum
This family run museum explains the life of the Kalymians up until as recently as 1986. The museum explains how the people lived, the culture and the extremes they went to in order to harvest sea sponges – one of their main sources of income throughout the years.
Take the boat to Telendos
There are many boats down at the harbour to Telendos so if you ask around you should be able to get a good price (Note: This is not the main port! There is another port on the other side of the island). Telendos is a very small island and while at one point it was connected to Kalymnos, it was separated by an earthquake back in the 6th century AD. There are a few cute restaurants to dine at along the main pedestrian strip along the water, and when I say main it is VERY small. At sections along this strip at the harbour, you can also see ruins of the foundations of the old houses now submerged below the water.
Also be sure to visit the Church Holy Trinity Basilica or take a walk around the early christian necropolis (ancient cemetery). We watched the sunset from the Holy Trinity Basilica which was absolutely beautiful!
Where to Eat, Drink and Swim
Now for the star of the show because lets be honest…the main thing everyone does in the greek islands is simply eat, drink, swim and lay in the sun. While the port is full of amazing restaurants and shops overlooking the boats and the harbour we only ate there once as our friend was a local. If you have transport or are willing to venture out of the main port these are the places I can recommend:
Best Gyros – Pantelis: This is where I caved and had one of my few meat euros and the chicken here was absolutely amazing! This place is a takeaway shop down by the port so don’t go for the atmosphere but definitely get a few euros and take them to the beach. You wont regret it!
- “On the Road”: While this place is a little out of the way if you aren’t staying out near Kastelli Bay, the euros and grilled haloumi are amazing. They definitely work on greek time though so don’t try this place if you are in a rush.
Best beach, food and cocktail combos – Paradisio: This is an outdoor restaurant with great food overlooking the beach. An amazing atmosphere but very casual so you can head up for some food after the beach or even swim between meals like we did.
- Veliero Bar and Masouri Beach: Also very casual. Head down to Veliero bar and you can choose to eat and drink on the deck or on the lounges down on the sand. We only intended to go for a few hours but the beach was amazing so we spent all day there.
Something Sweet – Ronde Vu: Also known as Panteboy because thats exactly what it looks like when written in Greek. This place has an incredible view of the port and has the BEST waffles… Do it!
Something cultural – Greek Night: Zorbas restaurant is a traditional restaurant that has greek night on sundays but I’m not sure how often that changes. Greek night is where they have live music and a dance floor and anyone can join into the traditional greek dances. If you’re lucky you may also see some of the guys do a fire dance. Everyone was so welcoming and encouraged us all to join in (for the easy dances anyway) so I’m sure if you ask some of the locals they will be more than happy to tell you where to go. People were always jumping in and out of the dances at most of the restaurants we ate at so I’m not sure if this is a regular occurrence everywhere or if its simply because of the places our friend took us to. I highly recommend you find somewhere that does this though at least once during your stay.
Other amazing food and drink- Albus and Mamouzelos: If you feel like wearing something a little more than bikinis and still having good food and cocktails you can find them both in one place. While we didn’t eat at Mamouzelos as it was a little out of our budget, apparently they have some of the best seafood on the island. Right next to Mamouzelos is Albus Cocktail bar. With great views over the water I can definitely vouch for their drinks as we had quite a few there… When in greece right?
- Aegean Tavern: Such amazing food! I had their tuna dish which was absolutely incredible but also be sure to share some tapas like tzatziki, saganaki and greek salad. Situated in a prime position, if you get good seating you will get a great view of the water.
These are simply my suggestions but I guarantee you will find a few extra secret favourites scattered around the island. My friends house is also up for rent most of the year! If you are looking for accommodation options outside of the port then definitely check them out at villaatkastellibay.com.
If you’ve been to Kalymnos or have comments on any of the other islands in the Dodecanese please share them below. I’d love to hear from you!
Amberlee Jane xx