My name is Ioanna and welcome to my travel guide on the best things to do in Kasos. I was born and raised in Piraeus, the main port of Athens. I love my city due to the beautiful sea views and easy access to the ocean.
I started travelling with my parents as a child. It was something that I loved from the beginning. Travelling to me is the synonym to freedom. Photography grew as a passion in my twenties when I purchased my first camera. I started taking photos and couldn’t stop. It was like an addiction!
One amazing place I visited recently was the small and authentic Greek island of Kasos. I went to Kasos for 4 days after my visit to Karpathos. It was a special trip and I would love to share my experience with you.
Why Kasos should be on your Bucket-List
Kasos is the southernmost island in the Aegean Sea. For that reason it is exceedingly difficult to visit. I have been trying to travel to Kasos for a long time and finally made it there this summer. Kasos is an island where time seems to be stuck in the past, rhythms are slow and the living is easy.
This year was a great opportunity to visit Kasos because of COVID-19. There were less tourists than other years and it was more enjoyable to see Kasos without the crowds that usually fill up the island during summer.
The capital of the island and also the main port is called Fri (pronounced ‘free’). However, the name has nothing to do with freedom even though that would be quite a befitting name. It comes from the Greek word ‘frydi’ which means eyebrow. Fri is shaped like an eyebrow, hence the name.
There are four other main villages on the island: Agia Marina, Poli, Panagia and Arvanitochori. These places are all unique, traditional and totally worth a walk around. One interesting fact about Kasos is that on the 6th of December, 2018 the island was declared a ‘heroic island’ by parliament.
This recognised the struggles and sacrifices of the Kasiots in the successful War of Independence from 1821-1832 waged against the Ottoman Empire.
4 Wonderful Days on Kasos Island
As mentioned before, I visited Kasos for 4 days after being in Karpathos island. Having already reached Karpathos by aeroplane (which made things a lot easier for me), all I had to do was take a 1 ½ hour boat journey to Kasos.
This gave me enough time to visit all the villages on the island. However, I would’ve loved more time so I could relax more and do some longer hikes. If you are the type of person who loves small places then you could spend a week in Kasos. Two or three days tends to be enough time for most people.
Favourite Place in Kasos: Helatros Beach
Helatros Beach was my favourite place in Kasos. First of all, it’s the most beautiful beach on the island. I loved its calmness and enjoyed the silence. Reading a book while listening to the sound of the sea was just lovely.
There is an amazing canteen on the beach which has tables and chairs. You can sit down and enjoy a cold drink, have some lunch or play backgammon in the shade by the trees. In that canteen you will also meet locals who love this spot. It’s a great opportunity to meet and chat away with the locals.
The waters of Helatros Beach are crystal-clear and refreshing. It’s a secluded beach which is sheltered from the wind by the surrounding hills. Despite being an organised beach with sunbeds and umbrellas, it still maintains its character as the sunbeds are wooden and cheap to hire out.
A large part of the beach and coastline remains unorganised with no amenities at all. On this beach you will find two small handmade huts that look like teepees. They are built totally in accordance with nature.
At the moment you can’t stay in the teepees but maybe in the future you will be able to. The two ladies who run the canteen might create more and who knows it might be used for glamping! Hopefully the next time I visit Kasos I will be able to spend a night in a hut at Helatros Beach.
10 Best Things To Do in Kasos
1. Taste the Delicious Local Cuisine of Kasos
The food in Kasos just like most Greek Islands is amazing. If you are a foodie then this small and authentic island will be paradise for you. The local cuisine has strong influences from Crete island and also from Egypt.
In Kasos there is a saying that people cook whatever they produce and that’s so true. You will enjoy fresh fish (if you find “skaros” order it immediately), cuttlefish with rice, stuffed vine leaves called kasiotic dolmadakia and makarounes pasta with sitaka (buttery cheese).
My top recommendations for restaurants/cafes in Kasos are:
- Emporio Taverna (Emporio Beach): this place on Emporio Beach is simply the best! Fresh fish, well cooked dishes and a lovely family who owns the tavern. The service of the staff is impeccable. Book a table in advance and reserve the fish of your preference before it runs out!
- Maroukla Cafe (Arvanitochori): Located in the main square of the village surrounded by locals, Maroukla Cafe is the place to be and to eat! Try the many delicacies on offer and also try their souvlaki dishes, roasted liver or just have a glass of raki along with a mezze platter.
- Meltemi Restaurant (Fri): A combination of traditional and modern cuisine, Meltemi Restaurant is the place to go in Fri where you can try delicious seafood mezze in a wide variety of styles. The skate with skordalia was quite impressive and so too was the grilled squid.
2. Get to Know the Locals and Culture of Kasos
This is such an easy thing to do as the locals of Kasos are really extroverted and hospitable people. They are always willing to help and open their houses and hearts to tourists. Locals love their island and it’s obvious to see.
If you have a chat with the locals you will start to notice their passion and love of Kasos. There are only around a 1000 permanent inhabitants on the island and so it’s a tight-knit community. Usually they speak loudly – especially the older folks. It’s not aggressive but it’s just the way they talk.
Kasos is also well known for its culture as a lot of festivals and feasts take place here during the summer months. Traditional music (mostly in the rhythms of the lute and lyre), dances, food and huge amounts of drinks make these festivals a unique experience for anyone attending them.
Tourists are normally more than welcome to take part in these festivities, however this year most of the festivals were cancelled due to COVID-19. Therefore I didn’t get the chance to experience them myself. I would love to visit Kasos again to be part of the great feast on the 15th of August.
3. Enjoy an Afternoon Stroll in the Streets of Fri
Fri is the capital of Kasos and home to a harbour with traditional fishing boats and yachts. Most of the population live in Kasos while others are spread out across the other villages. Fri is a great place to go for a stroll enjoying the old stone mansions and walking down the narrow alleys.
4. Take a Boat Trip to the Small Island of Armathia
Armathia is the largest uninhabited island surrounding Kasos. The beaches here include Maramara, Karavostasi and Apopantoula. Marmara is possibly the most amazing beach you could ever dream of! You can get in touch with the company that organises trips to the island called Kasos Princess.
5. Spend the Day at the Beautiful Helatros Beach
As mentioned above, Helatros Beach was my favourite place in Kasos. The beach is located 13 km from Fri. I recommend spending an entire day here soaking up the sun and swimming in the sea. The canteen offers some great food too including homemade burgers, hotdogs, salads and more!
6. Walk to Panagia and See the Famous Churches
Take a walk to the village of Panagia where you will find the six famous churches. It’s a unique kind of religious architecture. According to legend, these churches were built for conjuring up six fairies that once appeared in the area. These six churches form a single row right next to each other.
7. Stop for a Coffee or Raki in Bouka
Bouka is an old pirate harbour and it’s such a picturesque place to visit for the afternoon. Sit down at one of the cafes or tavernas and enjoy a coffee or even better have a raki. This alcoholic drink is a popular beverage in the Greek Islands and is often served with seafood or mezze.
8. Visit the Gorgeous St George Monastery in Hadies
This stunning blue and white monastery in Hadies is one of those typical monasteries that you find in Greece. I recommend visiting if you’re interested in architecture, history and religion. It’s also a great place for photographers to capture some gorgeous Greek architecture.
9. Swim and Have Lunch at Emporio Beach
Emporio Beach is a great spot to cool off on a summer’s day plus enjoy the fresh seafood of the taverna. You can walk all the way to the beach from Fri. Stop off at the bars that you will find on the way for a cooling refreshment. When you get to the beach enjoy swimming in the lovely waters.
10. Watch the Sunset from the Church of Agia Kyriaki
For a stunning sunset panoramic view of the island I recommend going to the church of Agia Kyriaki. The sunset view here would be one of the best in all of the Greek Islands. Agia Kyriaki is located one kilometer away from the village of Poli towards the road to the monastery of Agios Mammas.
Best Accommodation Options in Kasos
I think the best place to stay in Kasos is by the port of Fri or the village of Arvanitochori. There are no resorts on the island but there are plenty of hotels, rooms to let or guesthouses. I stayed at a place called Aeriko Hotel in Arvanitochori and found it comfortable with great views.
The owner was nice, the balcony views were fantastic and the location was ideal. I totally recommend it. Of course there are plenty of other options for accommodation in Kasos – do some research and you will find a good spot.
Favourite Memory of Kasos: Stuck in Poli Village
My favorite memory from my trip to Kasos took place in the village of Poli. We got stuck with the car in an uphill dead-end (unfortunately there was no signposting) and we could not get out even though we tried.
So, we had to ask for help from the people of the village. I had seen a house close to the place where we got stuck and knocked on the door asking for help. A woman came out of the house who had serious foot injuries from a car accident that took place a month ago. She could barely walk.
She immediately invited us into her yard and started calling her neighbours to find a man who could help. When she realised no one could help, she called the town hall to let them know about the incident. Then her and her mother offered us orange juice and pears from their garden.
They let us stay in their yard until the deputy mayor showed up with two policemen who ended up helping us take the car out of the narrow street. I will never forget this moment as the hospitality and kindness of these sweet ladies in Poli was just an overwhelmingly wonderful experience.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Travelers planning a trip to Greece (including the Greek Islands and places like Kasos) must fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before they arrive in the country. The form is available on Natvisa.
Kasos is a small island but you will still need your own transport. I heard that there are two taxis on the entire island. Of course, you shouldn’t need to use them if you rent a car or motorbike. Most places you can walk to but other places are a bit further and so a car helps to get you there.
Believe it or not – there is an airport on the island. You might find it cheaper to travel by ferry from Karpathos or Crete. The boat from the Port of Piraeus in Athens to Kasos can take up to 22 hours. Kasos is a great place to visit in addition to other Greek Islands like Karpathos or Crete.
Thanks for reading my travel guide on the best things to do in Kasos. I hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions or would like further information on Kasos. Happy and safe travels!