nisyros island holidays
The volcano of Nisyros and the serenity of the island will truly captivate you. Away from society life, one will not find grand resorts, or night clubs, but will definitely enjoy the traditional and picturesque way of life and the island’s wild beauty.
Nisyros has many paths for trekking lovers and a very rich fauna and flora that specialists have pronounced to be unique.
Nisyros with an area of 41,6 square kms and a coastine of 28 kms and it is situated in the centre of the Dodecanese islands. It lies between the islands of Kos and Tilos and the promontory of Knidos in Asia Minor (Turkey).
The morphology of the island is influenced by the volcano which makes the soil fertile with tall trees and vegetation; its mountains originated from volcanic activity as it is said that Nisyros was born after a series of successive eruptions of the volcano.
The island’s huge volcanic caldera, (2400 m length and 950 m width), is situated at the centre of the island and it’s the islands main atrraction.
The abundant hot springs are another special feature of Nisyros. About 1,5 kms east of the port of Mandraki is the thermal spa of Loutra. There naturally heated mineral waters coming from volcanic springs, are famed for curing arhtritis and rheumatisms.
nisyros | cultural INFORMATION
According to greek mythology, Nisyros was formed during the great war between the Gods and the Titans. Neptune helping Zeus in his battle against the Titans, chased the fearful giant Polyvotis over land and seas. When Neptune reached the island of Kos he broke off a piece of the island with his trident and throwing it at Polyvotis he buried him under it. This broken off piece of Kos became the island of Nisyros. The volcano was created over the mouth of Polyvotis and the constant rumblings are the sighs of the buried titan!
The name of the island possibly derives from pre Hellenic aegean place names. Homer refers to the cooperation of the Nysirian islanders in the Trojan expedition. The inhabitants of Nissyros worshipped Delfinios Apollo as well as the sea god Neptune, a temple to whom was once located where Pali are today. The historical fortunes of Nisyros is common with the fortunes of the other islands of the south eastern Aegean. Pirates harboured in the area until the Knights of Rhodes took over the island in 1312. In 1522 the Turks occupied Nisyros until 1912 and from then on Nisyros followed the fortune of all the Dodecanese islands during subsequent Otomman and Italian rules, until its incorporation with Greece after World War II.
- The Volcanological Museum, which represents a first in the country. Nikia town, tel. 22420 31400
- The Folkloric Museum housed in an 18th century building. Mandraki – Entrance : Free. Daily 8:00 to 15:00
What to see
- Palaiokastro and the ruins of the ancient city of the 4th century B.C., which are a little over Mandraki town. Herein have been found the ancient acropolis of the island and parts of a wall made entirely of basaltic andesite, one of the hardest rocks in the world. From the massive fortification with its seven towers only part of it survives today.
- The Castle of the Knights of the order of St. John on the hill 150m above Mandraki which dates to 1315. Entrance : Free.
- An important pilgrimage site on the island is Our Lady "Spiliani" (Lady of the Cave) which is perched magnificently of top of a precepitous rock. The Monastery celebrates on August 15th with great festivities
- The church of Our Lady Thermiani in Pali (10' from Mandraki), which has been erected over the ruins of Roman baths and near the ancient temple of Asclepius.
Nisyros is the newest of the large volcanic centers in Greece and apart from its scientific interest it is of great beauty. The volcano takes up the whole central portion of the island. It has 6 craters in total but the most impressive one is “Polyvotis” with a diameter of 260m and a depth of 30 meters. Around the volcano there is a valley (caldera) which has a length of 2.4 kms and 950 meters of width. The tour in this area with its hydrothermal craters is fantastic. When you visit the caldera of Nisyros, you will smell the odor of the craters, which is nothing other than mud bubbling and smell of sulfur escaping from the dozens of "holes" at the surface of the crater ‘Stefanos”.
Access : free
Canteen at the premises
Trip to the volcano served by bus
Wear sneakers – not rubber/plastic sandals
DO NOT MISS
- The “Ilikiomeni square” (“Old woman’s square” in Greek) which owes its name to the elderly of the island who gathered there to enjoy the shade and have a chat. Today it has many tavernas and cafes and is the all day hangout of Mandraki.
- The pebbled square of the mountainous village of Nikia. It is entirely paved with black and white pebbles – the Dodecanese islands are renowned for this kind of art. The pebble mosaics mosaics the narrow streets and squares of Mandraki, characteristic of the Nisyrian art.
- Chochlakas beach with its black volcanic pebbles.
nisyros | Villages
The capital of Nisyros is Mandraki which boasts, whitewashed houses, colourful narrow lanes and the beautiful piazza "Ilikiomeni". The town has a small folklore museum with interesting exhibitions. The small mountainous town of Emporios is found 8 kms south east of the capital and just a short distance from it is the monastery of Our Virgin Lady which is built on a hill 500m high and offers a panoramic view. To the south is Nikia in which is found the remarkable monastery of St. John. The beautiful beach side settlement of Pali is situated some 4kms north east of the capital.
MandrakiMandraki is the island’s capital and port. Built amphitheatrically on the slope shadowed by the castle and Panagia Spiliani, where ancient Nisyros once was. It is the largest village of the island, where you will see the harbour, the Popular Art Museum, the Archaeological Museum, Palaeokastro and the Venetian Castle with the church of Panagia Spiliani. Close to Mandraki is one of the most beautiful beaches of the island, Hohlaki with impressive volcanic black pebbles, which attracts many visitors.
You can swim in the small sandy beach of Agios Savvas, very close to the city.
Emborios & Nikia
The mountainous villages of Emporios and Nikia reflect their Doric origins and charm the visitor with the stopping of time which is evident wherever you look. It is worth walking the verdant slopes filled with hiking paths for the experienced but also the less experienced hikers.
Emborios : The mountainous village of Emborios, is built at an altitude of about 500 m and offers fabulous views of the volcano and the Prophet Elijah. On top of the hill there are ruins of a Venetian castle and the monastery of Panagia Kera at an altitude of 450 m. Inside the castle, on the top of the hill there is the temple of Taxiarchis Michael, built in the late 13th century, with a carved wooden chancel and interesting wall painting compositions. Also, at the entrance of the village there is a small cave whcih due to heat from volcanic activity is called natural sauna.
From the "balcony of Emborio" enjoy a splendid view of the magnificent Caldera and the Prophet Elijah, drinking coffee and tasting traditional foods.
Nikia : Not only is the settlement inhabited but it is also preserved in excellent condition. Almost all houses are white washed, whilst theirs doors and shuters are painted in a cycladic blue. The white washed narrow lanes invited the visitor to walk them in order to reach the central piazza with its impressive and much photographed pebbled square known as “Porta” (door in Greek). The place offers panoramic views of the magnificent volcanic Caldera.
The Church of the Presentation of Virgin Mary, the Monastery of St. John the Theologian (celebrated on September 26) and the Monastery of Panagia Kera (17th century and celebrated on 23 August) are located here.
The final settlement, but the most recently built, is the one of Pali which is a prefered tourist resort. Amongst others, the closest to Mandraki, a seaside fishing village with a marina where the boats and small private yachts can moor. Two of the most remarkable beaches of Nisyros, Lies and Pahis Ammos are found near Pali. In Pali you will enjoy the tavernas with fresh fish and ouzo and water sports such as canoes and water bikes!
nisyros | Beaches
Nisyros offers natural attractions and strong diversity of scenery. It is not renowned for its long or sandy beaches but they have crystal clear waters.
- White Beach – right outside Mandraki with dark sand and tamarisk trees.
- Pali – the most “cosmopolitan” of the island – fine sand and tamarisk trees.
- Chochlaki – located underneath rocks of black andesite, it is a beach with large, black pebbles – it offers a unique experience, especially at sunset.
- Lies – long beach that breaks into several smaller. It has dark sand with shingle. You will find it just after Pali.
To be discovered
- Pachia Ammos – It has black sand and clear deep waters. Located near the village of Pali where you will leave your vehicle at Lies and walk about 10’. Due to its location free campers prefer it.
- Avlaki : Located in the south tip of Nisyros, despite being so remote is easily accessible by road. Pebbles and views of the monastery of St. Panteleimon located right behind.
- No airport
- Tourist Office
- Taxi – Car/Moto rentals
- Municipality 22420 31203
- Tourist information office 22420 31204
- Harbourmaster 22420 31222
- Police 22420 31201
- Health Center 22420 31217
- Kos airport 22420 51444
- Kos Island Port 22420 26594-6
- Taxis 22420 31460, 32420, 22420
Nisyros has no airport.
By air: The best way is to fly to the nearest airport in Kos island and from there catch a boat to Nisyros (appx. 1:30 hr). On the northern coast of the island, 26 kilometers from the city of Kos lies the port of Kardamena. The port is used for local routes to Nisyros and Tilos. In this port there is also space for a limited number of tourist vessels.
By sea: From Pireaus port with Βlue Star Ferries. Duration of trip appx. 12 - 14 hrs. (depending on stop overs).
Reservation Tel 0030 210 8919800 - www.bluestarferries.gr
There are local boats that connect Nisyros to the islands of Astypalaia, Kos, Rhodes and Crete (St. Nicolas – Sitia). The boats are the local Nisyrian boat “PANAGIA SPILIANI” (tel. 22420 31459) and Dodekanisos seaways (T. 22410 70590, www.12ne.gr).
TIP! There is a municipal bus that takes visitors to the villages and beaches FREE OF CHARGE! (tel. 22420 31204)
There is a taxi (tel. 22420 31460).
Car / moto rentals available.
nisyros | SPORTS & ACTIVITIES
Sailing & Yachting
If you visit Nisyros by boat, you can moor in the new marina in Pali, which has all the required facilities. Also, you can moor in Mandraki, from 15.30 until 09.00 the next day when the tourist boats tie up. Here you will find water, fuel and electricity.
Festivals & Events
- Like most islands of the Cyclades and Dodecanese, Nisyros is famous for its traditional festivals. If you find yourself there in June, go to the feast of Agios Nikitas celebrated on June 21 and on July 27 visit the festival of St. Panteleimon. The most famous festival which attracts most visitors is on August 15th at the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani.
- If you are lucky you will attend a traditional Nisyrian wedding celebrated for 3 whole days!
Excursions & Sports
- Daily excursions to Kardamena (Kos) or to Kos city.
- There are also daily excursions to the neighboring islet of Giali!
Snorkelling : Nisyros has some of the best waters for snorkelling!
Trekking: Nisyros has numerous paths, most of them cobbled, that lead you in immediate contact with nature and history.
The mild climate is suitable for tourism all year round but the best time for hiking is spring when wildflowers in the fields and hillsides bloom.
Thermal springs : As in every volcanic region so too in Nisyros there are thermal springs. Located 1.5 kms from Mandraki are the "Loutra" known for their sodiochlorosulphuric waters which are suitable for rheumatisms, arthritis, skin diseases and circulatory problems. The baths used to operate until the ‘30’s – today the old baths have been renovated but are not ready to operate yet.
Wild fauna : Both Nisyros and the neighboring islet of Strogili belong to the Natura 2000 network. The fauna of the island is of great interest as 30 species of wild birds have been identified along with a lot of indigenous species.
There are also large populations of Mediterranean monk seals that find shelter on the west coast of the island in a place called Fokiokremara.
Kos and Tilos are two islands that can easily be combined with your holidays in Nisyros.