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Why the Greek island of Kalymnos is the cultural treasure trove you need to visit

If you are looking for a Greek island that offers you rich history, a plethora of adventures, mouth-watering food and of course stunning beaches, then pack your suitcase and get ready to experience the magic of Kalymnos!

This well-hidden jewel may not be the first island that comes to mind when planning your Greek escape however, Kalymnos (Κάλυμνος) is the fourth largest island of the Dodecanese and offers an authentic, unpretentious Greek island experience.

Not to mention it has a rich history spanning centuries, a notable mention in the Homeric epics of ‘The Iliad’, a tradition and continuous lineage of sponge divers, and nowadays, is one of the world’s most desired rock-climbing destinations. Need we mention more?

Why the Greek island of Kalymnos is the cultural treasure trove you need to visit

Here are our tips for this idyllic island:

How do I get there?

  • There is a direct Athens -> Kalymnos flight, almost everyday of the week. The journey will take approximately 50 minutes.
  • Alternatively, holidaymakers can catch a daily flight from Athens -> Kos, then a short ferry ride across to Kalymnos.
  • Ferry from Athens (Piraeus port) -> Kalymnos. This ferry route operates twice a week.
Incredible Sunset from Kastelli Blu Residences
Incredible Sunset from Kastelli Blu Residences

Accommodation

Kalymnos accommodation ranges from hotels, holiday studios and private homes and apartments available through platforms like Airbnb and Tripadvisor. Our pick of the crop are 2 very contrasted accommodation offers, the ubercool Kastelli Blu Residences and the Apxontiko hotel, a traditional hotel at Kalymnos port.

Kastelli Blu Residences as the name suggests are located at the northwest point of Kalymnos at Kastelli. The two luxury villas have their own unique personality and style. A trailblazer on the island, Kastelli Blu Residences are the ultimate private retreats. Other accommodation offers have attempted to emulate the design and style of the 2 villas however they pale in comparison, unable to capture the soul of what makes these 2 properties unique. Kastelliblu.com

Kastelli Blu SKY
Kastelli Blu SKY
Kastelli Blu SKY
Kastelli Blu SKY

Kastelli Blu SKY is set against the its dramatic mountains and skeletal crags that draw climbers from all over the world. The 2-bedroom villa set on the mountainside with a pool, yoga platform, expansive garden and incredible views across the Aegean, has been professionally interior designed and is the most well-appointed home on the island. Posturepedic mattress, pillows, high thread count linen, Nespresso machine, high speed internet, beach towels, yoga mats and a yoga platform precariously perched on the mountainside, a fully equipped kitchen and the most considered welcome pack on arrival, Kastelli Blu SKY receives 2 thumbs up.

Kastelli Blu SEA
Kastelli Blu SEA
Kastelli Blu SEA
Kastelli Blu SEA
Kastelli Blu SEA
Kastelli Blu SEA

Kastelli Blu SEA, offers a luxury waterfront villa with your own swimming platform straight into the Aegean and an amazing 34 sqm covered terrace with pointblank views of the ocean and sunset make it both an irresistible and affordable luxury accommodation. The interior design has balanced form and function making it both comfortable and a visual. Sunset drinks on the terrace are unforgettable.

The Apxontiko hotel
The Apxontiko hotel

The Apxontiko hotel at the port is a late 19th century mansion built by a prominent sponge merchant and has had several incarnations including as the governor’s residence during the Turkish occupation as well as a bakery. It has been a hotel since 1994 and contains several pieces of original furniture as well as preserved original features of the building. It’s simple, clean interiors and affordable rates make it a great base to explore the island from.

Mermizeli
Mermizeli

Kalymnian Specialties

When in Kalymnos, it is an absolute must to taste the most popular dishes of the island including:

  • Mermizeli- a local salad with tomatoes, red onion, olive oil, local cheese and a barley rusk that soaks up the salad dressing.
  • Maouri- a traditional Easter meal with goat stuffed with rice and cooked in a clay pot overnight in a wood-burning oven.
  • Grilled Octopus– seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dried oregano, fresh parsley. It goes nicely with a glass of Ouzo on ice.
  • Octapokeftedes- A must try! You will thank us later.

Why the Greek island of Kalymnos is the cultural treasure trove you need to visit

Beaches

There are many beaches around the island, some sandy, some with pebbles.

Must visit beaches include Plati Yialos for its black sand, deep waters and to mix with the locals, Massouri beach for teen fun, Kastelli beach for its pocket sized charm, Akti for its remoteness but our favourite place to bathe is off the swimming platform at Kastelli Blu SEA villa. Private and fabulous.

Massouri
Massouri

Dining/drinks

Mamouzelos: Hands down one of the best chefs on the island, with no formal training, George Mamouzelos inherited his love and knowledge of food from his mother, Katerina. After 31 successful years at Linaria beach, the restaurant uprooted and moved to the port in a contemporary space. The menu too evolved with a fabulous orzo, saffron and prawn cooked like a risotto, carpaccio of the freshest fish and grilled octopus like no other.

Prego: For Masterchef fans, make a beeline for Prego at Massouri, where Pantellis Vouros serves up his signature spaghetti with sea urchin.

Mpakalógatos
Mpakalógatos

Mpakalógatos: A must visit tsipouradiko. With fresh seafood and an excellent variety of homemade salads, appetizers and desserts, it is the perfect location for relaxing and enjoying good food.

Cielo: Located at Kalymnos port, this espresso-bar is perfect place to be seen at once the sun sets. It’s buzzy, youthful and serves up a mean drink. Our favourite order is ‘The MERLIN’. 

Albus Cocktail Bar
Albus Cocktail Bar

Albus Cocktail Bar: A lovely place to sit and watch the world go by whilst sipping one of their fantastic cocktails. It has a cycladic vibe, an outdoor lounge area, sushi on the menu and amazing views.

Il Postino: At the port is an unassuming café which pumps out coffee and could be easily missed. Best Freddo Cappucino on the island? We’ll leave it to you decide.

Anasis Bakery and Coffee: Although there are several locations, Anasis at the port will satisfy your craving for pita. Whether it’s spanakopita, tiropita or kotopita, they are all delicious.

Vouros: The baklava here would make it as a national finalist. And we can’t forget to mention the homemade ice creams and the ION chocolate waffle.

Why the Greek island of Kalymnos is the cultural treasure trove you need to visit

Activities and Adventures

  • Rock Climbing: Kalymnos has become one of the most popular rock-climbing destinations in the world, with more than 3,800 climbing routes. We recommend booking a climb with a school.
  • Sailing Trips: A great experience for everyone! Kalymnos Sailing Trips are the new kids on the block from whom you can charter a Beneteau Oceanis 393 for 6 people. With three double cabins and a full kitchen, you are able to live out your Greek Odyssey dreams.
  • Diving: The first word that comes to mind when someone says ‘Kalymnos’ is diving, thanks to its long sponge diving tradition. During your time on the island, explore underneath the water. There is plenty of marine life, underwater caves, chasms and shipwrecks to see.
Vathy
Vathy
Vathy
Vathy
  • Vathy: We recommend you strolling around the village of Vathy, taking in the beautiful surroundings.
  • Climbers Massage Kalymnos: A physiotherapist for over 20 years, Dimitrios Chalikos combines modalities in alternative therapy and massage. His knowledge and experience as a physiotherapist makes his massage style thoroughly relaxing and therapeutic. His background in sports massage makes him an indispensable contact for the climbers on the island.
  • The North Face Climbing Festival: This takes place in late September/October each year and sees more than 2,500 climbers from around the world descend on Kalymnos. Visit Rock & More for all your climbing gear and be sure to stop at La Sportiva, the almost century-old brand of mountaineering footwear and clothing, has just opened a store in Kalymnos and has a line of pants named after the island.
  • Telendos: Enjoy a day trip to the enticing, car-free islet of Telendos, once connected to the main island. It is the perfect day trip from Kalymnos. Be sure to visit the quaint church of Saint George, have lunch at To Kapsouli and take a sunset dip at Hohlakas beach.
Agios Georgios Telendos
Agios Georgios Telendos
Sponges
Sponges for sale on local fishing boat

Unique Kalymnian souvenirs

  • Sponges – You can’t miss the quintessential Kalymnian man, Andonis, selling sponges off his own fishing boat at the port. Quaint and charming, you can support a local and bring home a genuine sea sponge which will last for years.
  • Pantopoleio – a traditional Greek specialty store specializing in local and organic products. Kalymnian thyme honey is a must!
  • Argostiri – Continuing the tradition of the loom, handmade rugs, throws and bags are made on site, both traditional and contemporary designs.

*Photographs exclusive for Greek City Times (Copyright).

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