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8 Reasons to Visit the Greek Volcanic Island of Nisyros

Nysiros Island
Harbour of Nisyros. Crédit: Dreizung / CC BY 3.0

Nisyros is one of the most beautiful Aegean islands still untouched by tourism growth. It is part of the Dodecanese group of islands, situated between Kos and Tilos. The island extends over a surface of 41 km and its coastline is 28 km long.

According to mythology, it was created during the war between Gods and Giants. Poseidon chased the Giant Polyvotis down to Kos, cut a part of it, and threw it to his enemy, sinking him forever in the bottom of the Aegean Sea.

The legendary rock is the modern Nisyros, and it is said that the volcano’s explosions are the angry breathing of the defeated Giant. These explosions shaped the island, which is considered to be the youngest volcanic center in Greece still active—along with the volcanoes of Milos, Santorini, and Methana.

These are the top eight reasons to visit the island.

Amazing Villages, Mandraki largest one in Nisyros

Mandraki Nysiros
Mandraki, Nisyros Village. Crédit: Mike1979 Russia / CC BY-SA 3.0

There are several quaint villages on the island, and the largest is Mandraki. It looks like it is straight from a picture book with traditional architecture and great views.

In the narrow pebble streets and squares around the village you can take a stroll and feel as though you have traveled back to an ancient time. Homes are made of volcano rocks, insulated with pumice stone, and boast wooden balconies.

Night life on Nisyros has nothing like the hectic pace of party islands in Greece. You will find quaint local tavernas and bars where you can enjoy your lazy summer nights.

Nisyros’ ancient volcano

Nysiros Volcano
Nisyros Volcano. Crédit: S.Nikolakakos / CC BY-SA 4.0

You can actually go to the center of the island, walk along the volcano rim, and watch the boiling holes. The volcano hasn’t erupted since 1888 and is spectacular.

The Volcanological Museum in Nikia

Located at the edge of the caldera, the view is breathtaking and you can learn a thing or two about your surroundings. 3D animated images illustrating various aspects of volcanos and their activity are available, so be sure to check them out.

Paleokastro, Nisyros’s Acropolis

Nisyros Paleokastro
Paleokastro, Nisyros. Crédit: Mike1979 Russia / CC BY-SA 3.0

Dating back to the classical period and ruins of the ancient city, the Paleokastro is constructed from one of the hardest rocks in all the world, basaltic andesite, which is volcanic rock. This has helped preserve the acropolis throughout the passage of time.

A Monastery Built in a Cave

Nisyros Monastery
Monastery Panagia Spiliani over small town Mandraki . Crédit: Karelj, Public Domain

The Monastery of Panagia Spiliani sits at the top of a hill in northwest Mandraki, the largest portion of it being located inside a cave. A truly unique experience, the cave is divided into two churches and is definitely worth a visit.

Nisyros’ Thermal Spas

At several points along the coast of Nisyros, you will find spouting hot water springs at temperatures varying from 30 to 60 degrees Celsius. The springs are known for being therapeutic for muscular and skin issues.

Around 1.5 km east from the port of Mandraki, you will find the thermal spa of Loutra with hot spring waters at 37 degrees Celsius.

Nisyros’s beautiful beaches and low traffic

Pachia Ammos Beach
Pachia Ammos Beach. Crédit: DocWoKav / CC BY-SA 4.0,

Due to the low traffic on the island, the beaches of Nisyros are super clean and relaxing.

You can go to a different beach everyday, as there are many to choose from. Some favorites are Lefki beach or Gialiskari, Lyés, Páloi, Pachia Ammos, Katsouni, Aghios Savas, Aghia Irini, and Chochlakia.

Must Try Local Cuisine

There are many traditional dishes that you will encounter on Nisyros. Some typical “spitiko” or homemade flavors are pita, chickpea nuggets, and kapamas, which is stuffed goat. Of course, as you are on an island, there is always fresh seafood available, too!

Getting There

You can get to Nisyros from Kos or as part of a tour of other islands of the Dodecanese, as well as from Piraeus port.

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