Kasos belongs to a group of islands called the Dodecanese and is one of those Greek islands that combine history, beauty and passion but fly under the radar of most visitors. A great destination for families, alternative travellers, solo females and adventure couples, Kasos will reward those that decide to make the trip with its unassuming and relaxed vibe and traditional aesthetic.
The employment opportunities on the island in past decades and until now were primarily based on shipping. Lately, Kasos has only witnessed developments in the area of tourism and a lot of young people chose to return to the island for a quieter life away from the main cities and work in hospitality or tourism.
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How to get to Kasos
Kasos is not the easiest place to reach, yet this is exactly what makes it worth the wait since it offers an experience that is hard to find elsewhere. Located in between Crete and Karpathos it can be reached by ferry or plane. In the offseason, there are less frequent routes so it pays to plan and book your tickets in advance.
Ferry to Kasos
Taking a ferry to Kasos is an amazing experience for the right kind of traveller. It offers the opportunity to sail across the southern Aegean and if you book a cabin, which is highly recommended, you will arrive refreshed and relaxed, ready to explore the island.
There are quite a few options when it comes to ferries: Athens (Piraeus) or one of the nearby islands such as Rhodes, Karpathos or Crete (Sitia).
The ferry from Piraeus takes approximately 18-22 hours and runs twice a week depending on the season. During the summer, the frequency of the routes and the duration may change.
Another option is to fly to the island of Rhodes, which boasts one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. From here, you can take the ferry to Kasos. Visitors can pick between two companies, Blue Star Ferries and Anek Lines. The latter is an overnight ferry route that takes approximately 8 hours and runs 3 times a week. Blue Star Ferries takes much less, under 4 hours, and is available once per week.
You can also grab a ferry from Karpathos to nearby Kasos, which will take you under 2 hours. Karpathos has a small airport to serve domestic and international visitors.
The island of Crete is a must-see destination for thousands of people. You may start your holiday there or choose to visit after. You can catch a ferry from its easternmost port, Sitia. The crossing runs about 3 times per week and takes approximately 5 hours.
Flights to Kasos
It is possible to fly to Kasos island directly from nearby Karpathos and Rhodes with SkyExpress.
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Weather in Kasos
Kasos belongs to the Dodecanese complex of islands found in the southern Aegean and is quite close to Crete island. For this reason, the summer season here extends to late September and October, making it an ideal off-season destination for solo travellers or families with young children. Kasos has an ideal Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers and an average of 26 degrees in the summer.
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Getting around the island
Kasos is one of the smallest Greek islands with an area of 64 square km. While getting around the island is possible by using the local bus service, you risk missing out on a ton of sights, small bays and villages. For this reason, it is best to rent a car or scooter to take advantage of all that the island offers. There are also a variety of cycling routes around the island making it an ideal destination for bicycle lovers. Kasos Tours is part of the Bike Friendly Hotels network and offers personalized cycling routes for bike lovers with all necessary equipment.
Private Transfers with Kasos Tours
For visitors that prefer the comfort and convenience of a private transfer, I highly recommend Kasos Tours. It is a boutique travel agency, run by locals, with an authentic take and an indescribable passion for their island that can take care of everything, from your accommodation to unique local experiences and transfer options.
Renting a car
Even as a solo traveller, I would recommend renting a car (prices can be affordable even during high season). This will allow you to experience the hidden treasures and be able to explore beaches and other cultural sights in your own time.
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Things to Do in Kasos
When it comes to things to do in Kasos, it is all about slowing down and experiencing the local way of living. From the moment you arrive on the island, the wild natural scenery, intimate beaches and charming harbours will welcome you and invite you to relax.
Visit the Beaches – Kasos Beaches
Kasos has more than a dozen beaches that cater to all kinds of tastes. Here are some of my favourites:
Ammoua Beach – Only a 10-minute drive from the main village of Fry, Ammoua Beach offers one of the best spots to watch the sunset. The beach bar is known for its tasty dishes and friendly staff. Due to the easy access, it can get quite busy but only during August.
Antiperatos Beach – Antiperatos beach is found right next to Ammoua with turquoise waters and a wild kind of beauty. Due to its location, it is exposed to the winds so it is best for windsurfing lovers.
Emporeio Beach – This was one of my favourite beaches in Kasos, located only 10 min away from where our group stayed and a 3-minute drive from the main town. There are two lovely taverns located nearby and the beach has all the amenities visitors will require nearby. Even in late September, the water was crystal clear and refreshing.
Helatros Beach – A narrow, charming bay with crystal clear water and soft pebbles. There are a few sunbeds and umbrellas for hire, but you may also seek shade under the nearby pine trees. You will need a car to reach the beach or a private transfer.
Kofteri Beach or Fry Beach – In previous decades, “Kofteri” was named for the sharp rocks that framed the seabed and stood next to “Vlycha”. With the construction of the new port in the capital of Fry, the two beaches are hard to separate and are simply referred to as Fry Beach.
Marmara Beach/Armathia Island – A visit to the island of Armathia was high on the list of things to do in Kasos. Unfortunately, the weather had different plans, so I didn’t get t experience it. But this is just one more reason to be back in the near future.
This video by SteMaJourneys will take you right there!
Drive around the villages
To experience the island is to experience village life! There are 6 main villages on the island: Fry, Panagia, Agia Marina, Arvanitochori, Emporeios, and Poli. Most of the main attractions on the island are located close to the capital. This is also the part that is most developed and where visitors spend their time. Having said that, the wild and undiscovered part of Kasos is just as beautiful.. just need a vehicle and a sense of adventure!
Fry – The current capital of the island with traditional houses that frame the small harbour.
Panagia – Not far from the capital, the settlement of Panagia is where our group stayed during the trip in Theoxenia apartments. Remember to check out the Six Churches of Kasos; each one is dedicated to a different saint and they were originally constructed to drive away fairies that lingered around the area.
Agia Marina – Only a 5-minute drive from Fry, Agia Marina is a great spot to watch the sunset. The site of Ellinokamara is also located nearby.
Poli – A mountainous village with lovely views of the bay and the harbour of Fry. This is one of the oldest villages on the island, with a rich past that is evident by the wealth of archaeological artefacts found here.
Arvanitochori – A lovely village and one of the largest on the island, Arvanitochori is where you will find the Folklore Museum. While the museum is hard to spot on Google Maps, it is not far from the church of Agios Dimitrios and you can always ask someone to point you in the right direction. Here you can see and learn more about the different rooms of a traditional house, clothes, objects and tools that were used in the past.
Emporios – This village has given its name to the beach Emporios which is located just a few minutes away from the capital. There is also a lovely church dedicated to Holy Mary near the beach, built in 1856. Fresh seafood tavernas and sunset views make this an excellent spot to spend the day.
Explore the Churches
As is clear by now, Kasos has a lot of monasteries and churches that are worth visiting. For an island of its size, Kasos boats almost 100 different churches, most of them hard to access and perched on top of cliffs or near the coastline, keeping watch of the seafarers and protecting the island.
Saint Spyridonas – One of the most photographed locations on the island with the characteristic blue and white bell tower. Saint Spyridonas is the patron saint of Kasos.
Agia Kyriaki – You can visit this spot on your way back from the Monastery of Agios Mammas. If possible, stay for the sunset to enjoy majestic views over the bay.
Exi Ekklisies – It is hard to miss the Six Churches near Agia Marina. Their peculiar shape and architecture draw the eyes and it is worth stopping here to walk around and take some photos. Legend has it that the churches were built to drive away unruly spirits!
Monastery of Agios Mammas – About 15-minutes away from the capital, you will find the Monastery of Agios Mammas. Most people visit on the 2nd of September, during the festival. Don’t miss the chance to taste traditional Kasiot dishes and dance all night!
Monastery of Saint George – One of the prettiest monasteries on the island, located on the southern side of the island near Helatros Beach. There is a festival that takes place here on the 23rd of April every year. Some of the buildings that belong to the monastery have been transformed into guesthouses, so it is now possible to spend the night here for a unique experience.
Sailing & Diving
Sailing and diving enthusiasts will find the island of Kasos well suited to underwater exploration. The small islet of Armathia off the coast of Kasos is a great spot away from the crowds. Helatros Beach on the southwest side of the island is also a great spot for scuba diving and spearfishing.
You may also want to book a yacht to sail around the island and explore the beaches at your leisure.
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Historical & Cultural Sights in Kasos
Learn about the Massacre & Memorial Sights
Τhe Kasos Massacre or Holocaust took place in 1824 when the Ottoman Empire turned against the island after managing to suppress revolutionary attempts in nearby Crete. The War of Greek Independence lasted from 1821 to 1832 and was a long and bloody struggle. At the time, Kasos was a wealthy island with a population of more than 7,000 people (this number is closer to 1,000 now). The island was bombarded for days before a surprise landing during the night led to more than 500 Kasiot men being slain. Most women and children were captured and sold as slaves. The Destruction of Kasos is remembered on June 7th. There is a monument commemorating the events near Ammoua Beach, in Antiperatos and in the main square of Fry.
Ancient Site Ellinokamara
The Ancient Site of Ellinokamara is a cave that was discovered near the settlement of Agia Marina. To reach the area, you will want to walk through a quiet village and navigate the path to the top of the hill. The area has probably been a place of religious worship, since the Mycenean era but it also offered refuge to the locals from pirate raids. The path to the top was still under construction when we visited. This is an easy hike but make sure to bring a lot of water and stay to admire the view. Lots of fig trees in the area!
Traditional Cooking Night
As part of our tour, we spend one evening getting to taste – and try our hand at making – traditional Kasian dishes. Organized by our hosts, Kasos Tours, this was one of my favourite moments, where we got to talk to locals and share stories while the goat and orzo pasta dish was cooking in the wooden oven.
Museums in Kasos
The Archaeological Collection of Kasos – A small museum found in Fry with an interesting collection of pottery, coins and inscriptions.
Folklore Museum – This is a small museum run by locals that showcases household items of past periods, found in Arvanitochori.
Traditional House of Ioulia Daskalaki – If you get a chance, don’t miss the chance to see the inside of a traditional house as it would have been in decades past.
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Festivals in Kasos
Just in case you needed an excuse to visit Kasos – the all-night-long festivals that take place here during the month of August should be able to convince you.
Some of the most well-known festivals are:
- Holy Trinity – Poli village – June (movable)
- St. Marina – Agia Marina village – 17th July
- The celebration of Christ 6th – Agia Marina village – August (movable)
- Pera Panagias – Panagia village – 15th August
- St. Fanourios – Agia Marina village – 27th August
- St. Mammas – at the monastery – 2nd September
- Panagia Elerou – 8th September
- The celebration of the Holy Cross – Agia Marina village – 14th September
- St. Dimitrios – Arvanitochori village – 26th October
- St. George at Hadies – Hadies village – 3rd November and 23 April (movable)
- St. Spyridon – Fry village – 12th December
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What to eat in Kasos
When it comes to food, Kasos has a unique blend of Greek cuisine and Egyptian flavours, mostly influenced by the diaspora that forced many islanders to find better work conditions. While going around the villages, you will come across traditional kafeneia (coffee houses) and small restaurants that cater to locals above everybody else, so you are guaranteed a good meal!
While the landscape may appear barren and rugged it is full of herbs that the goats and sheep so readily feast on. This has contributed to the speciality of the island, dairy!
Kasos is a foodie’s paradise. Don’t skip trying sitaka, a thick and creamy cheese made from local producers and other varieties such as almyrotyri and myzithra.
Sitaka is the main ingredient in one of the most popular dishes, makarounes (hand-shaped pasta, in a rich sauce of sitaka cheese and caramelized onions) often served in the festivals (or panigyria) during the summer.
The second most popular dish is “dolmadakia” but with a twist! Much smaller than the original version and almost cone-shaped, these hand-rolled bite-sized pieces are bursting with flavour and are consumed by the dozens. I may or may not have eaten two of these plates pictured here!
The Egyptian influences come through in other areas as well, like the rich chicken pilaf we had at Pizza di Kasos, served with a generous dusting of cinnamon to accentuate the flavour.
Pizza di Kasos – A lovely pizza place in the centre of Fry where locals and visitors come to enjoy pizza, pasta and local dishes with an emphasis on local ingredients.
Meltemi – Traditional dishes, fresh seafood, fast service and lovely atmosphere. Without a doubt one of the best restaurants on the island, that focuses on quality ingredients above everything else. It can be quite popular during the summer!
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Where to stay in Kasos
One of the ways in which Kasos has retained the traditional and untouched dynamic is the hotel situation. Simply put, there aren’t a lot of them and tracking down a place to stay has a more intimate and local feel to it than some visitors may be used to. In total, there are less than 300 “beds” available with August being the busiest month. This is when most locals and tourists choose to visit to combine their beach holidays with the festivals and huge celebrations that take place during the night in the villages. Overall, options are limited so it pays to book ahead!
Our group stayed near the capital of the island, in Theoxenia Apartments – part of the Kasos Tour family of experiences. In addition to being centrally located, only a 5-minute walk from the village, the rooms are spacious, modern, renovated and stocked full of local goodies for an early morning breakfast before full days of exploring!
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Nearby Escapes from Kasos
From Kasos, you can easily do a day trip to the nearby island of Armathia that is only 15 minutes away. The second closest island is Karpathos that can be reached in under 2 hours.
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Souvenirs & Things to Bring Home from Kasos
Cheese & Dairy in general
Kasos has a long and proud tradition when it comes to cheese making. If you pay attention or have a keen eye for the details you may notice small stone houses while driving around. These are the “mitata” and are the traditional dairy huts where the people of Kasos have been practising their craft.
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Trivia & Interesting Facts
- Kasos was a major shipbuilding centre during the 19th century
- Many Kasiots emigrated to Egypt to work on the Suez Canal
- Port Said was almost named New Kassos to acknowledge the contribution of the islanders to the development of the project
- There was a cigarette brand called “Kasos” during the construction of the Suez Canal
- There are very limited accommodation options in Kasos especially during August so make sure to book ahead
- The name Kasos is said to come from mythology and has been linked to the son of Inachos, the first king of Argos.
- The meaning of Kasos may also be linked to the Phoenician word “kas” which translates to “sea-spray”.
- There are more than half a dozen festivals that take place on the island each summer, mostly in August and draw large crowds.
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Summary & Highlights
- Sunset from the Church of Agia Kyriaki
- Walking around Fry
- Getting chased by sheep (can’t plan this one)
- Kasos Tour Farm to Table experience
- Learning about Model Ship Building Techniques from Mr Manolis
Like my friend Elena says on the video, “Seriously, get on a plane and come to Kasos!”
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To our host, George Mastromanolis who flew from overseas to be there during our trip, George Kambouris, for his insightful commentary on all things Kasos and his dishes that we got to enjoy daily at Pizza di Kaso, Mr Manolis, who once toured the seas and know makes model ships that we got to learn about and everyone else that made sure we had the most wonderful experience.
*I was invited to experience Kasos together with Travel Bloggers Greece in collaboration with Kasos Tours. All views and opinions expressed are always my own.