Nisyros: A trip to the Aegean’s hidden diamond (guide)
Every now and then, you might have heard of a lot of Greek islands being characterized as hidden treasures. But the truth is “hidden” somewhere in the Dodecanese. We are talking, of course, about Nisyros, a place full of surprises, a peaceful place of relaxation, a real…volcano of an island! We can adorn Nisyros with dozens of wonderful words, but we believe it doesn’t need it. Even if it had a voice, it would prefer to maintain the humble character it has been showing for years now.
We would say that it is a revelation/discovery of an island! For now, and lucky for us, it remains unspoiled by human intervention and impresses everyone that visits it, as it maintains its pristine beauty. For those who are unaware of it, the entire island of Nisyros is a volcano(!), while its center hosts the well-formed, active crater that goes by the name Stephanos.A trip to Nisyros is the best gift you can offer yourself. Surrender yourself to the quiet and peacefulness of the island, wander the beautiful, colorful alleys with the cobbled squares, feel the energy of the volcano and.. Read the rest below!
Nisyros is closely correlated with Diakomihalis Travel, the island’s biggest tourism life source. Diakomihalis Travel is your “ticket” in order to reach, as well as leave the island, while it offers a fleet of cars and motorcycles for you to get to know Nisyros’ every nook and cranny. Also, it organizes trips and activities, pertaining to the island’s history, agriculture, the trails and the delicious local food, while it participates and helps with festivals, dances and many more events that take place on the island. In a few words, they are everywhere in Nisyros and make the traveler’s life simpler and easier.
Organize your trip to Nisyros with Diakomihalis Travel ✈️
info Nisyrosa) Nisyros’ volcano is the youngest active volcano in Greece! b) The central crater “Stephanos” is one of the most spectacular, hydrothermal craters in the world! c) At Avlaki bay, there is a thermal spring where the hot water emerges from the sea, while it reaches 59°C!
What to do in Nisyros / Sights of Nisyros
1) Nisyros Volcano
The biggest attraction in Nisyros is, of course, the volcano. It is the most well-formed volcano in Greece and welcomes thousands of visitors every season. At the site you will see three craters with the most well-known one being Stephanos, which has a 300-meter diameter. The more we approach, the more the temperature is rising, as well as the sulfur levels. Close your noses!
Mini tip: Make sure you also visit the other two craters, Polyvotis and Alexandros. You will find many tips about the volcano below! 👇.
2) Mandraki (town) Mandraki, Nisyros’ main town, the heart of the island, is a place that combines quiet, island beauty and vibrant life. You simply must wander around every small street, sit at Ilikiomeni (Old Woman) Square and take a look at the cobbled yards of the houses that are dressed with bougainvilleas and smells from the housemakers’ kitchens. Finally, make your way to the coastal road, with the dozens of shops, for some coffee, beer or a meal.
3) Volcanological Museum of Nisyros
It is the sole volcanological museum in Greece! It is located at the entrance of Nikia village and it presents a pretty interesting interior, with volcanic rocks and useful information concerning the island’s birth, as well as its newest form.
4) Scuba diving
A volcanic island could only have interesting seabeds! But, in Nisyros’ seabeds we come across the rare phenomenon of air bubbles (due to the volcano), which is accompanied by beautiful fish species and rich plankton. The experience is unique…Do not let it go undiscovered!
5) Chapel of Prophet Elias, Nikia
Prophet Elias in Nikia is –probably- the most beautiful chapel in the Aegean! It is located on a hill a bit outside the village of Nikia, and offers endless quiet, and a wonderful view of the volcano and the Aegean Sea. Plain in appearance, with a beautiful interior space, the chapel of Prophet Elias will become a good reason to spend most of your sunsets on the island.
6) The Red Sunset of Nisyros
The surprise is coming from Nisyros’ sunset. The red sun dives into the sea and offers an image of rare beauty. It may not be advertised (like Santorini’s sunset), but under no circumstances should you miss this magical picture! You will find the best spot HERE.
The amphitheatrical village of Emporios is built on the edge of the caldera, at an altitude of 330 meters. It could be characterized as abandoned, but lately it has started to find new life, as a lot of the stone-built houses are being reconstructed. At its entrance you will find the famous “Emporios Natural Sauna”. It is a tiny cave, in which hot air masses stream that have health-beneficial properties.Check out the Tips for its location.
8) The Porta of Nikia
At a higher altitude than Emporios (400m) we find another picturesque village, Nikia. It is built on the edge of the caldera, offering a wonderful view of the volcano, while it is more vibrant than Emporios. All the roads in the village lead to the cobbled square that goes by the name “Porta of Nikia”. The oval square, after all, is one of the most important attractions on the island.
9) Monastery of Panagia Spiliani (Virgin Mary of the Cave)
The monastery of Panagia Spiliani is pinned on Oxos, as is the name of the 30-meter tall rock in Mandraki. Its main characteristics are the cobbled steps, the view of the village and the main part of the church, which is located inside a cave in the rock (hence the name)!
10) Hiking Trails Nisyros
Nisyros is the joy of walkers/hikers, as well as of those who love nature. You can reach the top of the mountain at 698m or places unknown even to the locals (Drakospilia). With more than 40 trails, of all levels of difficulty, you will have the chance to get to know the island from another perspective!
11) Paleokastro of Nisyros
Paleokastro of Nisyros is one of the most well-preserved fortresses in the whole Greece. The island’s most significant historical piece dates back to the 4th century BC and has been standing as a sleepless guard, above Mandraki. A notable fact is that it is built with black volcanic megaliths, which is rare for that era!
12) Alternative holidays in Nisyros
When you hear alternative holidays in Nisyros, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? But of course, organized excursions that have to do with Nisyros’ History, Gastronomy and Local Cuisine, its Nature and Agricultural Life, Hiking excursions and Exploration in unknown and known parts of the island.
13) Nisyros beaches
Are you looking for organized beaches, beach bars and water sports? If the answer is yes, you are on the wrong island! Here, the ‘only’ thing you can do is enjoy, without any noise and fuss, the blue waters of the Aegean Sea (no introductions needed). The most well-known beaches of Nisyros are Pahia Ammos and Hohlakoi with the characteristic black pebbles. You will also find beaches at Palloi, Lyes, Avlaki and Agia Irene.
14) Little Venice Nisyros
The town of Nisyros, Mandraki, has many beautiful little streets! One of these is Nisyros’ Little Venice. A narrow, cobbled street with colorful balconies that will transport you, be it temporarily, somewhere in Venice. Check out its location in the tips section.
15) Gyali island
The small island between Kos and Nisyros is known as the island of pumice stone, due to the vast amounts that its mountains produce. On the island you will find a beautiful beach with turquoise waters, while you should not leave without having tried a fast food meal from the workers’ canteen!
Accommodation NisyrosAccommodation in Nisyros is, probably, the island’s biggest problem. A limited number of rooms, due to the very few hotels and apartments offered, is expected to host the plenty of interested visitors, who ultimately settle on the option of a daily trip. The prices for an overnight stay are reasonable, while the quality of accommodation sites is at low levels.
These are the best hotels and apartments for accommodation in Nisyros
Polyvotis Hotel (Mandraki): The gem of the port is the first building you see when you arrive at the island. It offers quality stay and a beautiful view of the port of Nisyros.
MELANOPETRA boutique apartments (Emporios): It is –probably- the most high-quality option for accommodation in Nisyros. It is located in the amphitheatrical village of Emporios, just 12 minutes away from the island’s town.
Stone house at a private field with sea view (Mandraki): An excellent discovery for accommodation in Nisyros. The all-white, stone-built house has minimal, traditional decoration, quiet and exquisite view.
Kafka Stone House (Emporios): The stone-built cottage by the name Kafka Stone House combines quiet, quality of accommodation and can host up to 4 people!
Food Nisyros Do you believe that the main dish in Nisyros is fish? You are mistaken! The island’s seas are especially poor, due to the volcanic action, this is why the cuisine mainly consists of meat and vegetables. The exception to this rule is the small port at Paloi, where they serve fresh sea appetizers daily.
The Nisyrian cuisine relies on an unusual plant…caper. In fact, the locals mainly eat the leaves, and not the nut. You will find caper in most of the dishes and, of course, the salads of Nisyros. Along with the salads, on the table come the cheeses with the krasotyri (“wine-cheese”), the kopanisti and sakouliasti in honorary positions, while gefsati (as they call it in Cyprus) garlic dip with almond is also present!
Then, the stoves are on and the ladies prepare traditional dishes such as pities (fried zucchini balls), kapamas (goat meat filled with rice and spices) and “mpoukounies” (pork cooked in its fat)!For a two-person meal in Nisyros you will pay 30 to 45€ a pair, together with house wine or beer. If you are in search for something quick, then the pizzerias and grill restaurants will also cover this wish, but without having the benefit of a range of option!
The best restaurants for food in Nisyro
The Balcony of Emporios (Emporios): This restaurant manages to combine the quality of the Nisyrian cuisine with the incredible view of the volcano. It only uses local products and meats, offering top-notch taste in every dish!
📅 Reservations necessary (Book HERE) Aphrodite (Paloi): When it comes to fish in Nisyros, the option is a one-way street. The restaurant Aphrodite serves the freshest and most delicious fish on the island. But the menu does not stop there, as the golden hands of Ms. Tsampika also prepare plenty of cooked meals.
Check it out HERE!Oxos (Mandraki): In the shadow of Panagia Spiliani you will find the small gem called Oxos. It has a beautiful view, limited options of dishes/drinks and very good prices.
To Kafeneio tou Nikola (Nikola’s traditional coffee place – Nikia): It is located at the famous Porta of Nikia and makes for a necessary stop for some tsipouro, with a few mezedes, while gazing at the passers-by and hearing about the news of the village.
Bacareto Margarita (Mandraki): It is located on the coastal part of the town and serves quality pizza, with rich ingredients and large in size. Prices are pretty reasonable.
Kaligas Bakery (Mandraki): The best way to start your day is to pass by Kaligas’ bakery. Inside you will find a wide variety of breakfast delicacies at very good quality and reasonable prices.
Aposperi (Emporios): Beautiful exterior space, wonderful view and cocktails! What else could one ask for to have one (or some) great night in Nisyros?
Liotridia (Mandraki): It is right by the sea and combines the modern with the old. Ideal for coffee as well as drinks, it will keep you company all hours of the day.
Transportation Nisyros Transportation in Nisyros is something that should not bother you a great deal, as long as you rent a car or motorbike. Local bus routes are scarce, they are not on time, while they only connect villages and not points of high interest, such as the volcano, the castle and more.
With distances being short and the weather as your ally, we believe a scooter is the easiest, quickest and most economical solution for you to get to know the entire island.
How to reach Nisyros
Travel to Kos by airplane or boat and from there a) By catamaran, Time: 45 minutes, Frequency: Once per day and Cost: 16€/person or b) By Launch boat, Time: 1.5 hours, Frequency: 2-4 times per day and Cost: 8€/person.
💡 Note: With strong enough winds, launch boats do not travel, so access is only achieved via catamaran.
- The best season to visit the island is 1-20 September, when the visitors’ numbers have decreased, the weather is nice and the seas are warm.
- The period with the highest interest is the week after Easter. The dozens of customs, festivities and events keep the visitor’s interest at top levels!
- The only gas station of the island is open every day 09:00-14:00 & 16:00-20:30 (in August continuously from 9 in the morning to 9 in the evening).
- The paved streets that are painted with white lines lead to the central street, the rest lead to some house’s yard!
- Often in August, ATMs on the island run out of cash, due to the increased tourist traffic (there are Alpha Bank & Eurobank machines).
- At many spots on the island, there is no good cell service (it depends on the company).
- On Sundays, bakeries and (most) stores remain open.
- On the island there is a health center and pharmacy.
- The famous hot cave, in the village of Emporios, is located HERE .
- The biggest events on the island are the festivals! At most of them, there is free food, while the dancing with the traditional island songs lasts until the early hours of the morning. Check out here the festivals and their dates.
- In August, every Wednesday and Sunday there is a small boat that can take you to Gyali island.
- Nisyros’ “Little Venice” is located HERE.
- Entrance to the Spiliani Monastery is free for Greeks and in the afternoons for everybody.
- The thermal baths in Mandraki are open every day 07:30-11:00 & 17:00-19:30, Cost 5€
- Look at the volcano from the most beautiful yard/balcony in Emporios.
- The hundreds of tourists that come en masse from Kos, stay on the island from 10 in the morning until 15:30 in the afternoon. Avoid the tourist spots during those hours.
- Take a walk along the Bougainvillea path, which is dressed with the pink plant.
Tips for Nisyros’ Volcano
- In Nikia you will find the only volcanological museum in Greece. It is open in high season, Cost 4€, Open 08:30-19:30, except Sunday.
- In the summer months, the afternoon heat and sulfur emissions may become unbearable and dangerous. Visit it later in the afternoon or early in the morning.
- Make sure to wear closed shoes, as the ground, on some areas (fenced but accessible), is pretty hot!
- Visit also the other two craters, Polyvotis and Alexandros, which are located a bit upwards from Stephanos.
- On the volcano, there is a dirt road that leads to Mandraki (easy by car, average to difficult by motorbike).
Nisyros: A trip to the Aegean’s hidden diamond (guide)
* Travelen was hosted by Diakomihalis Travel (Visit Nisiros.gr), but all texts and opinions are completely personal and objective.
MandrakiEmporiosSeafront Mandraki Traditional coffee place (Mandraki)The village of EmporiosChapel of Prophet Elias (Nikia)The narrow streets of EmporiosThe way to the Hohlaki Beach (Mandraki)Sun-dried Octopuses (Mandraki)The Bougainvillea trail (Mandraki)A trip to Nisyros