Nestled between Patmos and Kalymnos in the Dodecanese island group, Leros offers an authentic and tranquil getaway for travellers eager to bask in the beauty and tradition of the Greek islands.
While it might be lesser-known compared to its neighbours, Leros boasts a rich history and numerous monuments that showcase its colourful past.
According to Greek mythology, the island was frequented by the huntress goddess Artemis for deer hunting.
Leros is an ideal destination for those looking to escape the usual tourist crowds as it exudes a genuine charm and calmness, giving visitors a taste of the true essence of Greece.
With a population of around 8500 inhabitants, the island stands distinct from other destinations while offering fantastic island-hopping opportunities to nearby Patmos, Kalymnos, and Lipsi.
From exploring the Castle of the Virgin atop Pityki Hill to immersing oneself in the island’s stunning architecture and natural beauty, there’s no shortage of unforgettable experiences waiting for you on this Greek island paradise.
With so much to discover, Leros awaits intrepid travellers seeking a blissful, yet culturally rich adventure.
Getting to Leros
Leros is a remote island in the Dodecanese, close to Kalymnos. It is known as a quiet Greek island with wild beauty, untouched nature, and quaint little villages. Visitors can enjoy laid-back holidays and swim at its amazing beaches. To reach Leros, there are two primary modes of transportation: by air and by sea.
Leros has its own airport, which offers domestic flights. If you are starting your journey from outside Greece or on a different island, you can fly into a larger airport in Greece, such as Athens International Airport, and then book a connecting flight to Leros. Be aware that flight schedules and availability may vary depending on the season and demand.
Another way to get to Leros is by ferry. The Athens to Leros ferry route originates from the Port of Piraeus and takes approximately 8 to 10 hours. The main carrier operating this route is Blue Star Ferries, which runs around 3 to 4 times per week. Be sure to confirm their schedule online. A ferry is a great option for those who prefer a more leisurely journey, as it provides an opportunity to take in the beautiful scenery of the Greek coastline and neighbouring islands.
When visiting Leros, various accommodation options are available to suit different budgets and preferences. This section will discuss some of the options, including hotels, apartments and villas, and camping facilities.
Leros offers a range of hotels in popular areas such as Alinda, Agia Marina, Panteli, and Lakkíon. Many hotels in Laki are also open all year round. Some popular places to stay in Leros include:
- Alinda: With 26 hotels to choose from, Alinda is a popular location for tourists.
- Agia Marina: This area boasts 16 hotels, catering to different tastes and budgets.
- Panteli: Panteli has 15 hotels, offering a variety of accommodation options.
- Lakkíon: With 10 hotels, Lakkíon provides a good choice for travellers looking for year-round options.
Apartments and Villas
In addition to hotels, Leros also has a variety of apartments and villas available for rent. These can be found in holiday resorts across the island, with a majority located in areas like Alinda, Panteli, and Vromolithos. Apartments and villas are a great option for travellers seeking more space and privacy, as well as the opportunity to self-cater during their stay.
Some popular areas for apartments and villas include:
- Alinda: Numerous options for those seeking apartment or villa accommodation.
- Panteli: A good choice for travellers looking for apartments or villas near the beach.
- Vromolithos: This area has a smaller selection of apartments and villas but remains a popular choice for visitors.
For travellers looking for a more budget-friendly and adventurous accommodation option, Leros offers camping facilities. However, it is essential to be aware that camping facilities on the island are limited, so researching and booking ahead of time is advised. Camping allows visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of Leros while experiencing a different side of island life.
In summary, Leros offers a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences, from hotels to apartments and villas, as well as camping options. It is essential to research and book ahead of time, especially during peak travel periods, to secure the best options for your stay.
Historic and Cultural Attractions
Castle of Leros
The Castle of Leros, also known as the Castle of Panagia, is situated on Apitiki hill and dates back to the 11th century. This Byzantine fortress was occupied by various powers throughout history, including the Saint John’s Knights, the Ottomans, and the Venetians. Within the castle grounds is the small ecclesiastical Museum of Panagia, where visitors can appreciate fascinating icons, manuscripts, and a small collection of historical books.
Another important historic attraction on Leros is the War Museum, located in Lakki. The museum is housed within a World War II tunnel and offers a unique insight into the island’s military history. Exhibits include various wartime memorabilia, photographs, uniforms, and weaponry, making this site a must-visit for history enthusiasts.
Leros boasts several archaeological sites that showcase its ancient past. Some noteworthy locations include:
- Ancient Leros: Located in the area of Partheni, remnants of ancient Leros can be found, including parts of walls, sanctuaries, and other structures, which provide a glimpse into the island’s rich history.
- Byzantine Church: In Xirokampos, visitors can find a Byzantine church that dates back to the early Christian period. The church features lovely frescoes and allows travellers to journey back in time through its well-preserved architecture.
By exploring these historic and cultural attractions, visitors to Leros can gain an appreciation for the island’s rich past and vibrant heritage.
Beaches and Swimming Spots
Leros island offers both frequented and secluded places for travellers to enjoy beautiful beaches and swimming spots. This section will focus on three popular beaches: Alinda Beach, Agia Marina Beach, and Vromolithos Beach.
Alinda Beach is one of the largest beaches in Leros. This organised beach features stunning blue waters and a variety of shops and tavernas nearby. Visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming and participating in water sports at this popular destination. The beach also offers facilities like sunbeds, umbrellas, and refreshments for added convenience, making it a perfect spot for families and friends.
Agia Marina Beach
Agia Marina Beach is a well-known beach located close to the island’s capital. As one of the most organised Leros beaches, it offers a range of amenities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience for visitors. It is an ideal destination for relaxation, offering sunbeds, umbrellas and access to a variety of shops and restaurants. The clear waters make it a perfect spot for swimming and snorkelling.
Vromolithos Beach is a picturesque beach that stands out for its beautiful natural setting. Sheltered by hills and surrounded by lush greenery, this beach is an excellent choice for those looking for a relaxing and quiet retreat. With easy access to nearby facilities, visitors can enjoy a hassle-free experience while soaking up the sun and taking a dip in the turquoise waters. Vromolithos Beach is also ideal for those interested in exploring the underwater scenery through snorkelling or diving.
In conclusion, Leros island offers visitors an abundance of beautiful beaches and swimming spots to choose from, each with their unique characteristics and charm. Whether seeking relaxation or adventure, travellers will surely find the perfect beach experience in Leros.
Leros offers picturesque landscapes and charming villages that make it ideal for hiking enthusiasts. With numerous trails traversing the island’s beautiful terrain, visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls or more challenging hikes through lush greenery, olive groves, and traditional windmills. Exploring the island on foot allows travellers to witness the rich history and culture of Leros while appreciating its stunning natural beauty.
For those who enjoy underwater adventures, Leros is a fantastic destination for scuba diving. The island boasts numerous reefs, little islets, and shipwrecks, providing abundant opportunities to explore its vibrant marine life. As one of the top wreck diving destinations in the world, divers in Leros can expect unique and thrilling experiences while navigating through historic vessels.
Diving schools and centres across the island offer lessons and guided dives, catering to both beginners and experienced divers. Visiting Leros provides divers with a fantastic chance to explore the rich underwater world that lies beneath its alluring azure waters.
Leros’ cuisine offers a rich culinary tradition that includes delicious seafood dishes, unique local ingredients, and mouthwatering sweets. Some of the must-try dishes on the island are:
- Fish and seafood: Leros is known for its fresh fish, marinated with rosemary, and delicious seafood such as sea urchins.
- Mizithra cheese: A soft, white cheese made from cow, goat or sheep milk, popular among locals and visitors.
- Almond sweets: These tasty treats are made with almonds, sugar, and other ingredients, offering a delightful experience for sweet lovers.
- Gavafes: A rare fruit found only on Leros island, often used in local recipes.
- Pittakie: A traditional dish made with beans and usually served as a side dish.
- Salted mackerel: This flavoursome fish dish is marinated with an assortment of herbs, making it a popular choice among locals.
When visiting Leros, it’s crucial to experience the island’s dining scene at its best. Here are some highly recommended restaurants serving authentic Leros cuisine:
- Mylos Fish Restaurant: A top spot in the island, known for its fresh fish and seafood options, as well as its panoramic sea view.
- To Kastro: Located near the Castle of Leros, this charming taverna offers traditional Greek dishes and a beautiful atmosphere.
- Skipper’s All Day Restaurant & Cocktail Bar: A trendy venue where visitors can enjoy a variety of delicious dishes and unique cocktails.
- Christina Taverna: A family-run establishment in the heart of Leros, offering local specialties and traditional recipes.
- Prima & Aneplora: A modern seafood restaurant serving mouthwatering selections from Leros’ sea bounty.
No matter where you dine in Leros island, you will undoubtedly be impressed by the unique flavours and cultural richness of their local cuisine.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Leros, a beautiful island in the Aegean Sea, offers a range of nightlife and entertainment options. While you may not find the bustling crowds common on larger islands, the island’s subdued and relaxed atmosphere makes for a perfect escape.
Bars and Clubs
Leros has a selection of bars and clubs catering to different preferences. The island’s nightlife spots are primarily located in Agia Marina and Lakki, such as Paradisos Cafe, Seven Gates Music Cafe, and Thalassa Cocktail Bar. These venues offer a variety of entertainment options, from cocktails and conversation to live music and dancing. The nightlife in Leros is more laid-back, which sets the perfect mood for unwinding after a day of exploration.
Festivals and Events
In addition to its nightlife scene, Leros hosts various festivals and events throughout the year. These are mainly centred around music, cultural celebrations, and religious traditions. Visitors can attend local events that showcase the island’s vibrant culture and heritage. Participating in these festivities is a fantastic way to interact with the local community and gain a deeper understanding of Leros’ rich history and way of life.
Eleni Vasiliadis, a native of the picturesque island of Corfu and co-founder of Greek Island, is a seasoned traveller, accomplished writer, and passionate advocate for Greek culture and cuisine.