Nisyros island in Greece.

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Nisyros in Greece

Nisyros in Swedish.

Nisyros is a volcanic island situated between Kos and Tilos in the Dodecanese archipelago. It is quite a small island to the area and number of residents, here lives 1,010 people spread over one larger village, and three small communities.The capital is Mandraki (660 inhabitants), the surface is 41 km2 and the highest peak - Profitis Elias - measuring 698 meters above sea level.

 

Mandraki on Nisyros in Greece.

Mandraki as seen from Paleokastro.

 

Nisyros is an island that unfortunately very few people know about, or have been to. After all, those who visit Nisyros only stay for the day, to see the famous volcano. It's a shame because during one day you don't have time to get to know this fantastic island. Because here you have everything you could wish for, with one small exception, there are few good beaches.

Here is everything you could wish for, with one exception, there are no good beaches. But here are sights other islands only could dream of - what says about a volcano. Beyond that there are fabulous villages and people who are curious, friendly and helpful. You feel as an honorary citizen after a few days. And here is wonderful natural scenery and a landscape that makes one amazed. If you like hiking, Nisyros is an ideal destination.

 

Nisyros is a genuine Greek island near Kos and Kalymnos in the Dodecanese.

Nisyros is a genuinely Greek island. The volcano is visible straight ahead.

 

Nisyros, on the other hand, is not an island for those who like to lie under a parasol and relax. It is not a tourist-friendly island, which is easy to believe if you only come for the day, but if you stay overnight, you notice that Nisyros is a genuinely Greek island. Greek everyday life is everywhere, you become a part of it yourself. After a day or two, you recognize most of the people on the island and most certainly you've already started rooting for several of them.

 

The village of Mandraki on Nisyros is car-free and full of surprises and good restaurants.

One of many alleys in car-free Mandraki.

 

Nisyros is also not an island for those who like to party. You don't hear thump-thump music here, the only thing that thump is your own heart when you have to go home. For those who enjoy long quiet evenings with good Greek food, however, Nisyros is a perfect island. In Mandraki, you can choose to eat in taverns by the water, in alleys, on the square or maybe even at my favorite tavern, Panorama, just above the square.




TRAVEL TO NISYROS

The easiest way is to take a seat to Kos. Between Kos and Nisyros you can go by excursion boats every day, its no problem to go on a one-way ticket with excursion boats. Nisyros also regular boat to Kos and Tilos, and with other islands in the Dodecanese, and the Athens port of Piraeus.

Ferry timetable for Nisyros »

Book ferry tickets online here »

 

The port of Mandraki on Nisyros.

The port of Mandraki on Nisyros.

 

GETTING AROUND ON NISYROS

The roads are in good condition and the traffic is minimal, this together with the island's unique landscape makes Nisyros a fantastic island to discover on your own. Moped and car rentals are available in Mandraki and in Pali. Bus departs from the port of Mandraki and serves all villages and the volcano. During high season, excursion boats go to the neighbouring island of Giali.

VILLAGES ON NISYROS

I really like the villages of Nisyros, they have a very special atmosphere; they are beautifully worn and genuinely picturesque. The first village you get to know is Mandraki, and it is not without reason that you wonder where you have ended up. The feeling of having landed on the "wrong" island is immediate. There is no charm in the port and when you walk along the water towards the village itself you start to get worried. What is this?

The road between the port of Mandraki and the center of Mandraki is lined with tourist taverns and souvenir shops. "I who thought Nisyros was a genuine Greek island!" One thinks. But take it easy, this particular stretch is adapted to attract day-trippers from Kos, once you reach Mandraki itself, Greek life reveals itself quite soon.

 

Good tavernas and restaurants in the village of Mandraki on the island of Nisyros in Greece.

Tavernas in Mandraki.

 

It is in the narrow car-free alleys that Mandraki shows its true face. The village is made up of a jumble of alleys and it is easy to get lost. The houses are mainly of an older model and some are in ruins. There doesn't seem to be any urban architect who decided what the houses should look like, instead it's a blissful architectural mess: narrow houses, wide houses, tall houses, low houses, ugly houses, beautiful houses, new houses, old houses, houses in ruins and houses that were never completed.

 

The monastery of Moni Panagias Spilianis in Mandraki on Nisyros.

The monastery Moni Panagias Spilianis im Mandraki.

 

No regulations regarding color selection seem to exist either, although turquoise, green and blue dominate, here all the colors of the rainbow are used as a palette. And if the paint on a house starts to peel, it doesn't seem to matter much, you just paint over it, maybe in a completely different shade. Several squares and alleys are decorated with mosaics made of stones from the island. Beautiful as works of art, not least in the square in front of the stately town hall.


Mandraki's great meeting place - and pulsating heart - is the fantastic square Plateia Elikiomini, which is so prominently shaded by giant fig trees. In the square there are several taverns, ouzerias and kafenións. Basically everyone who lives in Mandraki passes here at some point during the day. Mandraki's older, mainly male, population seems to live their lives in the square, here they have found their own little paradise. And I understand them.

 

In the cozy square of Mandraki on the island of Nisyros, there are many good restaurants and bars.

Plateia Elikiomini square in Mandraki.

 

When I get old, I don't want to be locked up in a retirement home, I want to be released on the square in Mandraki. Here I want to play cards and backgammon, lie, sleep, drink coffee and ouzo. Here I want to eat my breakfast, greet my friends and swear by my enemies. Here, I want to stare at day-trippers, listen to small birds, get bird droppings on my cap, watch TV and think about how long the trees will remain. Here I want to summarize life and smile at my memories. This is where I want to be!

 

Pali is the next largest village and port on Nisyros.

The cozy little village of Pali east of Mandraki.

 

Pali (240 inhabitants) is a peaceful little fishing village 4 kilometers east of Mandraki. Pali is small and cosy, the village is built along the water, the port promenade is pleasant and there are a couple of nice fish taverns here. People like to go here to have lunch, look at the boats in the guest port, or maybe just have a coffee along the water. Or maybe take a swim at the beach, if it's not windy.

Just after Pali is a long beach. This is where most people go when they want to swim and sunbathe. The advantage of Pali beach is that there is plenty of shade and that it is close to the lunch restaurants in Pali. The best is the beach at the far end, there is a small strip of sandy beach where the water is often still and where the sand is fine.

 

The village of Emborio on the island of Nisyros in Greece.

One of the alleys in Emborio.

 

South of Pali, along the road towards the volcano, lies the almost completely abandoned village of Emborio. Emborio was once the most important village on the island, today almost the entire village lies in ruins and only about 30 people live here. The picture with the Greek flag higher up was taken in Emborio. Just before the parking lot in the small village of Emborio, there is a natural sauna in a rock.


A visit to Emborio can be likened to a tour of a ghost town, most of the houses are abandoned and many are in ruins, you meet few or no people. Many houses have been taken over by goats and it is not unusual to find them sleeping on the old wooden balconies.

Despite the fact that many houses are worn, deserted and threatened with demolition, they are incredibly beautiful, the paint has faded from the houses, but here and there you can make out the clear blue color that was used before. Especially beautiful are the houses in the upper part of the village, to the right of the square, create a frame with your hands and you have a work of art in front of you.

 

Taverna To Balkoni in Emborio is not to be missed when traveling to Nisyros.

View of the volcano from Taverna To Balkoni in Emborio.

 

In the middle of the village there is a small square with a beautiful church, here are also the village tavernas. Two Balkoni has the best location. It is small, one room and a large balcony from which you have such a spectacular view of the volcano that you forget all hunger. A lunch at To Balkoni should be included as therapy for all stressed people, here there is an unusually quiet silence, which together with the extraordinary view makes you forget time and space.

Opposite Emborio is the village of Nikia, which is my favorite village on Nisyros. If you only want to see one village on the island, it's Nikia.

 

Taverna Andriotis in Nikia on Nisyros.

One of the tavernas in Nikia.

 

The square in Nikia on Nisyros.

The square in Nikia.

 

Read more about the fantastic village of Nikia here


BEACHES ON NISYROS

If you go to Greece just because of the beaches, you have nothing to get on Nisyros. Of course the water is just as lovely as to all other islands, but the beaches are nothing to write home about. Since the whole island is volcanic most of the beaches consists of black sand or large black stones. There is a small sandy beach in Mandraki, and one pebble beach close to Mandraki.

 

Read about the 5 best beaches on Nisyros here »

 

Almost all the beaches consist of grey-black sand as a result of several volcanic eruptions. One of the island's beaches is indeed called White Beach (just before the village of Pali), but this is false advertising, the sand is anything but white. There is also a small beach in Mandraki

 

The town beach in Mandraki on Nisyros.

The town beach in Mandraki.

 

Lies beach is about 10 km from Mandraki. Before you reach the beach, you pass a number of smaller beaches, some of which are quite decent. Lies is a long and wide beach mixed with pebbles and sand.

 

Lies beach on the island of Nisyros in Greece.

Lies beach.

 

A few kilometers from Lies is Pachia Amos beach, Nisyros's only beach that is something to text home about. The sand is dark brown and of a completely different quality than the island's other beaches. The long and wide beach is bordered by sand dunes, here it is clean and fresh and there is as much space as possible.

At the far end of the beach, nature has created strange rock formations, the rocks provide shade and put the imagination to work. I have seen both rhinos and camels among the rocks. In the imagination, that is. It's a long way to the nearest tavern, so you have to bring your own food and drink. Nudism is common.

 

Pachia Amos beach on Nisyros in the Dodecanese is the island's best beach.

Pachia Amos beach.

 

To get to Pachia Amos, drive past Lies beach and continue as far as you can on the same road. The road ends at a less good beach (not Pachia Amos), where you park and continue on foot along the shore. When you have reached the end of the beach, follow the path that runs along the side of the mountain, when you have rounded the mountain you will see Pachia Amos in front of you.

 

Hohlaki beach in Mandraki on Nisyros is one of the coolest beaches in the Dodecanese.

Hohlaki beach close to Mandraki.

 

The pebble beach Hohlaki beach is located under the monastery Moni Panagia Spiliani in Mandraki. The advantage of Hohlaki is that you can never get sand in your eyes, the disadvantage is that you can get a lot of back pain if you lie down for too long. I have not seen bigger pebbles than this on any other beach in Greece. They are big like melons. The stones are very beautiful when the water washes over them, they get a brilliant blue shimmer over them, not least when the sun goes down into the sea.

 

Your find more pictures from Hohlaki beach here »

 


SIGHTS ON NISYROS

The reason that Nisyros is frequented by day tourists from Kos is, of course, the volcano. But we start with a lesser-known attraction.

Paleokastro is a very strange place located above Mandraki. You get here via a path that starts from the main street in Mandraki, you can also drive here if you rent a moped. Paleokastro is an old fortress, hence the name: Paleo means old, and Kastro means fortress or castle. No one knows how old it is, but probably from the 5th century BC.

 

Paleokastro above Mandraki on Nisyros in the Dodecanese is a very strange sight from the 5th century BC.

Paleokastro above Mandraki.

 

The fortress is built of gigantic stones and one wonders how on earth they got the stones in place. Here you can wander around for a long time with your thoughts and at the same time enjoy the nice view of Mandraki (see picture at the top of the page).

The monastery of Moni Panagias Spilianis in Mandraki is also interesting. The monastery is originally from the 14th century, but has been rebuilt and renovated over the years. The location could hardly be more strategic, perched on a cliff above the sea and Mandraki's delightful main street. The rock bears clear traces from the volcano's many eruptions. From the monastery you have a splendid view of Mandraki. The icons in the monastery are impressive.

To get up to the monastery, take the stairs leading from the main street. Sign available. As in all Greek monasteries and churches, one must be respectably dressed when visiting; arms and legs must be covered for both women and men.

 

Nisyros and the volcano seen from an airplane between Rhodes and Athens.

Nisyros and the volcano seen from an airplane.

 

And then there was that volcano. According to Greek mythology, Nisyros was created during a duel between the titan Polyvotis and the sea god Poseidon. During the fight, Poseidon broke off a piece of Kos and threw it at Polyvotis. The island of Nisyros was created from the rock block that Polyvotis got in the skull. He still stands there today with Nisyros on his head and is angry, sometimes so angry that the volcano erupts.

 

The famous volcano seen from the village of Nikia on Nisyros.

The volcano seen from the beautiful village of Nikia.

 

As it is, it has been a long time since Polyvotis was this angry, the last major eruption was in the 15th century when parts of inner Nisyros collapsed. A really long time ago, roughly 30,000 years ago, half the island collapsed during a gigantic volcanic eruption. This is when the great caldera was formed.

Over the years, the volcano has had several minor eruptions, the last eruption was in 1888, these minor eruptions have mainly consisted of gases and smoke, there have not been any real eruptions with flowing lava for many years. In the caldera there are five craters that you can go down into, the largest crater, Stefanos, is 350 m in diameter and 25 m deep. It bubbles out of the ground and the smell of sulfur is pungent.

 

The giant crater and caldera Stefanos in the volcano of Nisyros in Greece.

The crater Stefanos in Nisyros.

 

Bring appropriate shoes because it can be very hot on the ground. You get here by tour bus from the port or with your own vehicle. The latter is preferable if you want to have the volcano for yourself, come as early as you can in the morning, before the tour buses arrive.

During one of the volcanic eruptions of Nisyros also hit the neighbouring island of Tilos. In the water outside Agios Antonios beach on Tilos are residues from the two petrified fishermen. Read more about that here »


ACCOMODATION ON NISYROS

In the port of Nisyros you hardly ever meet people with rooms for rent. Here you have to look for rooms by yourself or make a reservation ahead. The selection is poor. Personally I think it's best to stay in the centre of Mandraki; it's smooth to be close to tavernas, shops, travel agencies and the lovely square.

 

Hotel Porfyris is the best hotel in Mandraki on Nisyros.

We always stay at Hotel Porfyris in Mandraki.

 

We always stay at Hotel Porfyris when we visit Nisyros. It is the best place in Mandraki. But there are also some other accommodation that is good.

Book Hotel Porfyris here »

Book other hotels on Nisyros here »





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