Getting around Kos Island
With generous bike lanes and streets in Kos island, there’s no better way to discover the cultural and historical highlights than jumping on a bike, motorbike, quad, buggy or a car from ALWAYSBEST RENTALS.
Highlights in Kos Town
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.
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.
Thermal Springs - Therme Beach Kos
Highlights in Kos Island