Kasos is a small, unassuming island tucked at the southern tip of the Dodecanese islands. It’s enough off the beaten tourist track that many skip it in favour of neighbouring Crete or Karpathos. Kasos reminds one of the early days of Greek tourism – quiet streets with local charm, warm and welcoming residents, authentic tavernas and cafes, an overwhelming sense of place, and a rich history.
There are five main villages of Kasos – Fry, Agia Marina, Panagia, Poli, and Arvanitochori – and the island is very mountainous. It measures just 17km long and 6km wide at its widest point.
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Kasos Island Greece Travel Guide
History of Kasos
It is said in mythology that Kasos was founded by Kasos, son of Inahos, and his wife, the daughter of King Salaminos of Cyprus.
Like so much of Greece, it was inhabited in the ancient times, with the earliest settlements dating to the Minoan era. Homer’s Iliad indicated that Kasos contributed ships to the Trojan War. Kasos fell under the Venetians in the 14th and 15th centuries, then the Ottoman Empire. During the Greek Revolution in 1821, the Kasiots provided ships; three years later the Egyptian army massacred over 500 Kasian inhabitants (and enslaved over 2000) for their role.
It fell under Italian rule in 1912 and remained an Italian territory until 1947, when it was ceded to Greece under the Paris Treaty. In 1948 Kasos was formally annexed into Greece.
How to Get to Kasos
The easiest way to get to Kasos is by air, though it is also the most expensive. Flights arrive on Kasos from Heraklion, Rhodes, and Karpathos. Sometimes there are nonstop flights from Athens.
There are ferries to Kasos as well. In the summer, the ferries run more regularly than in the winter, when there are only two ferries per week. The boat from Piraeus takes 21 hours, although there are also ferries from other islands like Crete, Rhodes, Milos, or Karpathos.
How to Get Around Kasos
Like so many other of the Greek islands, in order to appreciate the many tiny villages and off-the-beaten-track paths and beaches of Kasos, you really need a car. You can rent a car or moped on the island in Fry, the main town, or take one with you by the ferry, though that is more expensive.
If you don’t want to rent a car, you can take advantage of the municipal bus that connects the port with the island towns.
Alternatively, you can book some of the excursions of Kasos Tours that include boat trips, beach hopping, and much more. For more information check Kasos Tours.
Things to do in Kasos
1. Explore the Main Town of Fry
Fry, pronounced “free” is the main town and port of Kasos, with a population of around 350. The name “fry” means eyebrow in Greek and is named for the shape of the town. Fry has narrow alleys and traditional architecture, and the port of Bouka is a great example of an old pirate base.
2. Boukas Square
Boukas Square is located at the port of Bouka, right on the harbor front. Its mosaiced terraces show off images of the island, and the anchors and cannons remind visitors of the town’s former piratical history. You can sit at one of the cafes that line the square and watch the activity around the port.
3. Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Kasos is located in a traditional 19th-century house in Fry, which highlights the traditional architecture of the island’s homes. The collection includes findings from the prehistoric period of Kasos, coins and inscriptions from the cave in Ellinokamara, and more.
The most important piece in the collection is the inscribed Hellenistic disk stones found at the acropolis of Poli.
4. Visit the Ellinokamara Cave
The Cave of Ellinokamara is located on the southwest corner of the island in the town of Agia Marina. There is a paved path that takes you from the town to the cave entrance. While the cave is natural, it was manually fortified with large limestone blocks.
From the Mycenaean period to the Hellenistic period, the cave was likely used as a religious place of worship. In later years the cave served as a shelter for townspeople during pirate invasions.
5. See a Traditional Flour Mill
In the village of Arvanitochori is the folklore museum, housed in a traditional flour mill, which displays traditional tools used by local tradesmen and farmers in their everyday life. These include things like carpentry tools, tagari for the farmers, and looms from the weavers. Items in the museum were donated by island residents.
6. Visit a Traditional Kasiot House
There is a traditional Kasiot house in the town of Fry, known as the House of Ioulia Daskalaki. It’s open for visitors and is an excellent example of Kasiot architecture as well as interior furnishings and design.
You can see handmade furniture like beds, dressers, and shelvings along with kitchen utensils, porcelain, textiles, and more. If you are interested in seeing any others, Kasos Tours can arrange entry into private homes.
7. Explore the Churches of Kasos
Kasos has many beautiful, traditional churches and monasteries. You can see a lot of these in the small villages, but across the island, there are also plenty of chapels in remote areas. A lot of these churches were built on the ruins of early Christian temples with the spoils of these temples.
The Six Churches of Kasos
Don’t miss the six churches of Kasos, which are located in the settlement of Panagia. According to the legends, the churches were built to drive away the fairies that once lived in the area. Each time a church was completed and dedicated to a saint, a fairy left. The churches are, in order from north to south, dedicated to Agios Charalambos, Antonios the Great, Apotomi tou Timios Prodromos, Agia Varvara, Agios Ioannis, and Agios Nikolaos. The churches here are a unique sampling of local Byzantine architecture.
Pera Panagia, or the Church of Dormition of Virgin Mary
Pera Panagia is where the biggest religious festival takes place. This church is near the six churches but dedicated to the Virgin. It is a large church with a mosaic floor and woodcut iconostasis.
In Fry, just above the port of Bouka, you will find Agios Spyridon. This is the largest church on the island and it is dedicated to the patron saint of Kasos. His feast day is December 12, when the island holds a large festival in his honor.
Holy Triad, Agios Mamas, and Agia Kyriaki
Holy Triad is located in the ancient capital of Kasos, Poli. Poli is inland from Fry and also boasts ruins of the ancient citadel.
Near Poli is the monastery of Agios Mamas, located on a hill overlooking the Libyan Sea. It is known for its traditional pebble floor and wood-carved iconostasis. The monastery has a small guest house for visitors. Agios Mamas feast day is September 2, when all shepherds celebrate and honor him as the protector and guardian of their flocks.
Uphill from Agios Mamas is Agia Kyriaki, a small chapel at the highest point of the island. The views from here are sensational.
Monastery of Agios Georgios
The Monastery of Agios Georgios is located near the town of Agia Marina, in the island’s southwest corner at Chadies. It has a long and rich history dating back to the 17th century, when legend says that some islanders found an icon of Agios Georgios floating in the sea, probably from a shipwreck. They took the icon with them, planning to build a church dedicated to the saint.
However, they could not find the best place for the church, so they tied the icon to a donkey and built the church where the donkey stopped. The monastery is known for its ecclesiastical icons and woodcut iconostasis. There are some guesthouses around the monastery for guests to stay overnight in, since visiting the monastery is an important experience for Kasiots.
8. Explore the Beaches of Kasos
Kasos has many beautiful beaches with crystal clear water. Some are near Fry or accessible by a car while others are located on the neighboring tiny islands and are only accessible by boat. You can hire a boat for a day, or join a tour that will take you around the islands to the beaches.
Kofteri is next to the port of Fry and very accessible from town on foot. If you have a short amount of time, this is the place to go.
Emporio is an organised beach near Fry, meaning that it has sunbeds and umbrellas as well as a taverna.
The bay at Antiperatos consists of four consecutive beaches. These are isolated and unorganized so bring any provisions with you and take them when you leave.
Ammoua is a totally secluded beach on the north side of the island, perfect for those seeking total peace and quiet. It is isolated and unorganized, so bring what you need with you.
Helatros is located on the south side of Kasos. The beach is secluded but popular with windsurfers. Be sure to bring all provisions with you as Helatros is isolated and unorganized.
Marmaria is one of the most beautiful beaches in all the Mediterranean. It is located on the nearby island of Armathia and only accessible by boat!
9. Revel in the Festivals of Kasos
Kasos is well known for its festivals, which take place all throughout the year. Some of these are religious festivals while others celebrate local anniversaries and historic events. You’ll also find that the traditional feasts are held for marriages, baptisms, and birthdays. There is no lack of flair at these events, with traditional musical instruments and dancing.
The Festival of Agios Georgios
The Festival of Agios Georgios takes place on April 23rd, at the monastery in Chadies. The feast is accompanied by traditional foods, dancing, and music.
Anniversary of the Holocaust of Kasos
On June 7th, the island commemorates the holocaust of Kasos, which was the massacre and abduction that took place in June 1824 during the Greek War of Independence. The Egyptians who invaded slaughtered 500 men, and took over 2,000 women and children to the slave markets in Crete and Egypt. The remaining men were recruited into the admiral’s fleet or taken to Egypt as hostages. This festival takes place over three days.
Festival of Pera Panagia
The August 15th Festival of Pera Panagia is the island’s largest traditional festival at the Church of Pera Panagia. It celebrates the Virgin Mary.
Where and What to Eat in Kasos
Kasos is notable for its lack of tourism infrastructure, and as such the foods and dining options in Kasos are authentic and homely. The island is known for its fresh fish and locally made cheeses like almyrotyri, mizithra, sitaka, and elaiki.
Because of Kasos’s location near Turkey and Crete, the influences on the island’s food are extensive. Some of the best foods to try are dolma (grape leaves stuffed with minced meat) or homemade spaghetti.
You will find plenty of great dining options in Fry and the other villages. Some of my favorites include:
- Pizza di Kasos in Fry for pizza and other dishes made from local ingredients.
- Meltemi in Fry, for delicious fish and meat dishes.
- Blue Mare in Fry, for traditional breakfast, coffee, waffles, and more
- Kasos tours offer cooking classes. Click here for more information.
Where to Stay in Kasos
Theoxenia Kasos is a charming little boutique apartment-style accommodation in the heart of Panagia. It is about a 15-minute walk from the port of Bouka. Theoxenia offers spacious rooms with fully equipped kitchens and living spaces. It is perfect for a couple or a family. The hotel provides daily cleaning services as well as a hamper of local goodies like jam and honey.
Kasos is a wonderful alternative to some of Greece’s more populated islands. With little villages and plenty of welcoming locals, Kasos offers guests a peek into an untouched-by-tourism island. Don’t miss the flavourful festivals, the beautiful churches, or the panoramic views across the nearby islands. Explore the island’s beaches by car or hire a boat to visit some neighboring islands. Kasos allows visitors to slow down and take in the unhurried pace of life in the Dodecanese.
I would like to thank George Mastromanoli from Kasos Tours for their hospitality and for showing us around the island.