There’s a 13km cycle lane stretching right along the waterfront
EXPERIENCE

A bespoke bicycle tour of Kos town

With generous cycle lanes in the main town and a culture of getting around on two wheels, there’s no better way to discover Kos’ cultural and historical highlights than jumping on a bike
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Duration
Half or Full day
Season
All year round

OVERVIEW

Of all the Greek islands, Kos has a reputation for being the best suited to cycling. It’s how many of the locals head to work and how many visitors choose to get about once they’ve seen the cycle lanes in the main town. And elsewhere, you’ll find families and couples on two wheels heading to the beach or between villages. 

Exploring Kos’s main town by bike couldn’t be easier. There’s a 13km cycle lane stretching right along the waterfront, all the way from Faros Beach in the east to Psalidi Beach in the west. A branch also heads inland, down Hippocratous and Vasileos Pavlou avenues, linking some of the key archaeological sites. 

Feel the healing energy of the Asclepion of Kos
You can nip into any of the sidestreets to visit the shops, grab a coffee or a meal, or explore other sights – such as Hippocrates’ Old Plane Tree. The father of modern medicine understood the importance of balance in every part of life to achieve optimal health some 2,500 years ago. There’s no question what style of transport he would choose to get about his hometown today. 

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DON'T MISS

Eleftherias Square

Freedom Square (as the name translates) is the ideal place to start your tour, not only because it’s at the heart of Kos town but because you will literally be surrounded by the historical and cultural influences of the island. The neoclassical mansion housing the Archaeological Museum was built during the 1930’s Italian occupation and the museum gathers artefacts from Kos’ archaeological and historical sites, from ancient to post-Roman and Hellenistic times. Meanwhile, the Nefterdar Mosque will introduce you to the 18th century Islamic architecture of the Ottomans. 

The Ancient Gymnasium

Part of a wider complex of Hellenistic and Roman remains, the Gymnasium is where athletes competed in ancient times, slathering themselves in olive oil and scraping it off after their event – hence the gymnasium’s other name, Xisto, or ‘scraped’. To understand the full scale of this Doric structure, imagine that it had a further 64 columns, in addition to the 17 that have been restored, and an enormous white marble roof.

The Ancient Agora

Kos’ Ancient Agora was not just a marketplace but also contained temples, baths and houses. The remains go back to the 5th century BC, but also contain more recent structures, such as a Christian basilica. A shrine to Aphrodite has been excavated, as well as parts of mosaic floors found in houses. With the harbour right next door, you can picture the agora alive with trading and noise. Fittingly, the area around here is one of the liveliest for nightlife, with numerous bars and restaurants.

The Roman Odeon

No Roman occupation was complete without its public entertainment area and the Odeon of Kos would have been particularly atmospheric in ancient times. Dating from the 2nd century AD, the outer five rows are the original granite seats and there are a further nine restored rows above an intimate stage used for musical performances and other events. The once roofed cultural space also includes workshops and other buildings. 

Neratzia Castle 

You fast forward to the 14th and 15th centuries and the time of the Knights of St John as you reach Kos’ medieval castle. Cycling down the aptly named Finikon (Palm Tree) Avenue, you pass through one of the arches of a bridge leading to the castle, built on an area of land that used to be an island. The castle consists of two precincts divided by a moat and drawbridge. The first, larger area is made up of towers, battlements and bastions, whilst the second, older precinct is from the time of the Grand Masters.

The Plane Tree of Hippocrates 

Just past the castle, you reach the spot where Hippocrates lectured to his students two-and-half millennia ago, under the shade of a plane tree that he planted. The tree you see today is around 500 years old, giving you the perfect ambience to contemplate the extraordinary influence of the man who understood the health benefits of herbs and plants, at a time when people believed that illnesses were governed by the gods. The perfect accompaniment is to also visit the Asclepion of Kos, a 4km cycle-ride out of town. 

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From the airport to Kos town: 

  • By car/taxi: 24.5km (35mins)
  • By bus: More info
  • Kos town can be visited all year round, with plenty of bike rental shops open throughout the year. 
  • Because June-August are very busy and hot months, a cycle tour is best in April-May and September-October.
  • The town is flat and perfectly suited to cycling.
  • Opening hours of cultural sights:

Archaeological Museum 

  • Summer: Open daily 8:00-20:00 (closed Tuesday) 
  • Winter: Open daily 8:30-15:30 (closed Tuesday)
  • Tickets: €6 (€3 reduced) 
  • Not suitable for visitors with disabilities. 

More info

Ancient Agora

  • Summer: Open daily 8:00-20:00 (closed Tuesday) 
  • Winter: Open daily 8:30-15:30 (closed Tuesday)
  • Free entry
  • Suitable for visitors with disabilities

Roman Odeon

  • Open all year round
  • Free entry

Neratzia Castle 

  • Autumn
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Winter

It’s up to you how long your bicycle tour lasts, but the highlights mentioned here can be covered in a half or full day

TRAVEL RESPONSIBLY

Let’s all try to keep the magic of Greece’s villages, towns and cities alive for future generations.

Keep the streets as clean as possible by using the bins provided or, if necessary, keeping your rubbish with you until you find one.
Use a refillable water bottle to try to minimise your use of plastic.
Take care to follow all the road signs and cycle safely, always wearing a helmet.
Respect the cultural monuments and relics and don’t use flash photography if there’s a sign forbidding it. It’s to protect the relics.
Do your best to support small, independent family-owned stores and local producers, taking home something handmade and local.
Respect the plants and animals.
Respect your fellow visitors and the locals.
Be inquisitive and definitely ask the locals for tips.
YOU NEED TO KNOW ·

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