Arriving in Kimolos you will find yourself in a little harbour with a few tavernas and chic souvenir stores. As you will quickly come to realise according to most locals there is only one main road on the island — which does not necessarily hold true in all cases. Another phrase you will commonly hear is — it’s only a 30 minute walk. Well, the 30 minutes will slowly roll into an hour or so. The island evokes a sense of stillness, its raw beauty is nothing like you would experience on the other well known Greek islands. Unpretentious, natural and inviting — it is everything you would ask for from a secluded holiday retreat. A well curated 6-day itinerary on Kimolos left us with memories that warmed our hearts forever. At Passion for Greece we are on a mission to deliver the best Greece has to offer and the treasures you wouldn’t want to miss. Here are our 16 reasons to visit Kimolos and what to do during your stay.
16 Reasons to Visit Kimolos
A small gem of the Cyclades, Kimolos has a compelling island scene which is ideal for those who seek to experience everything beyond “trendy”. Kimolos is not like her island group companions — Mykonos or Santorini, here you will not find luxury villas and champagne parties, but you will discover the essence of true luxury which money cannot buy. The luxury of simplicity, the allure of the dazzling blue sea and the essence of a hassle-free holiday.
Kimolos is the ideal destination for lovers of wild beauty, for those whose heart beats for the raw and real.
1. Chorio not Chora
In Kimolos there is “one” for everything — one road and one village. Unlike the other Greek islands where the main village is usually called Chora, in Kimolos it is the Chorio — please do not get confused. It is typical of the Greek islands to have one main square — in Kimolos you will rather find yourself lost in the maze of alleys that all end up in a different square.
My friend Callie (Anthomeli) concluded that after 6 days on this tiny island she still didn’t manage to learn how to navigate through the Chorio. Don’t be surprised. There is the square called Giorgila where there is a well, Kambos — with a children’s playground, and of course the one with the church of Odigitria and the Archaeological Museum.
2. The Medieval Castle of Kimolos
The Medieval Castle dominates the Chorio, in fact it is one of the main attractions of the village. The exterior part is a series of houses which have been modernised and many operate as stores.
The inner castle is still left in ruins, which reminds of its historical past. The Castle has two gates, one from the South and one from the eastern side that leads to the Folklore and Maritime Museum.
In 1638 the Castle suffered a pirate attack and set on fire, following which more towers were erected. Today you can tell the age of a house by how close it is to the castle.
3. The Impressive Orthodox Churches
Walking through the Chorio with every turn you take, you will find yourself in front of a church. Despite it’s small size there are in total 80 churches dotting the rugged landscape of the island.
Some are magnificent and others will charm you with their humble complexities. Many of the churches are private and belong to local families, passing on from one generation to the next.
The grandiose Metropolitan Church of Panagia Odigitria is the main jewel of the island. Completed in 1874 it is an exact copy of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens.
It is the focal point of the Chorio and is home to a collection of important icons. Inside you can admire the two famous icons of Saint Eugenia and Saint George completed by the legendary author, painter and hagiographer Fotis Kontoglou.
Another highlight of the church is the icon of Panagia Odigitria which dates back to the Palaeologan era, sometime around the 15th century.
Eight of the churches of Kimolos hold archaeological and historical importance — and are protected by the Ministry of Culture. The oldest church on the island dates back to 1596 and is dedicated to the Birth of Christ. It can be found in the heart of the Castle.
The 17th century Church of Chrisostomos, the former Metropolis, is located on the north side of the Castle and is made out of millstone used in gristmills.
Orthodox Easter is a particularly wonderful time of the year to soak in the beauty and uniqueness of the post Byzantine churches. As our guide, Dimitris Vendouris described the lit churches create a sense of magic as you find yourself walking along the alleys of Chorio during the epitaph.
4. The Museums of Kimolos
Although Kimolos can be well describes as an open-air museum, there are two worth visiting. The Archaeological Museum of Kimolos is located at the Chorio across from the Metropolitan Church of Panagia Odigitria and showcases the history of Kimolos which prove that traces of human presence and activity have been recorded on the island since Prehistoric times. Visitors can also watch a short movie dedicated to the highlights of Kimolos.
The Folklore Museum of Kimolos is located inside the walls of the Castle — a two-storey historical building houses a collection of artefacts dedicated to the old heritage and popular culture of Kimolos.
Here you will find exhibits such as ornate embroideries, pottery and items used in the local daily life.
5. The Pristine Beaches
Kimolos is home to some of the most breathtaking pristine beaches. Whether you are looking to spend the day lounging on a sunbed or diving in the crystal clear waters, there is plenty of choice for all types of swimmers.
A gorgeous postcard-worthy stretch of beach with white sand and crystal clear blue waters. The beach is organized with sunbeds and umrellas. There is a canteen serving coffees, beverages and cocktails. Great for families with kids.
A long sandy beach with shallow water. There are a few beach canteens, we sat at the Ammos Beach which has very comfortable beach pillow loungers. Here you can enjoy a selection of beverages and snacks such as club sandwiches.
For those who would like to enjoy the raw beauty of the island, follow the dirt road which leads to Mavrospilia Beach.
The beach is unorganised however here you will witness some of the best sunsets. If you enjoy snorkelling bring your gear and swim out to discover the little caves and rocks, the scenery is absolutely stunning.
Put your hiking shoes on and start walking. Although access to this beach will be made easier this summer, some psychical activity is definitely required to get here.
The first beach you will come across is Monastiria and if you are brave enough to walk further you will have to cross some rocks to get to the next beach with is Soufi.
Both are unorganised beaches but are known for their natural beauty. Lined with trees where you can escape from the sun and swim in the refreshing waters. We came here in the afternoon which made hiking slightly easier.
Located on the way to Prasa Beach this unorganised pebbly beach is lined with trees offering plenty of shade.
6. Hiking on Kimolos
Kimolos is blessed with some of the most remarkable hiking routes and thanks to the Kimolistes- Kimolos Volunteer Team who began the initiative of marking certain traditional paths in 2011 — we were able to witness some of the breathtaking beauty of Kimolos on foot.
There are seven marked routes in the Kimolos hiking routes network which you can see here. Some of the hiking routes are rewarded with a swim at the end and others lead to wonderful natural phenomenons such as the Skiadi, a huge stone mushroom which was created by nature as a result of strong winds.
To get to Skiadi you have to follow a road through the Chorio, it is a bit challenging to drive up the dirt road at some point so make sure that your car is suitable for this kind of road. I was driving a VW Polo and got stuck, thus I would recommend renting a 4×4 just to be on the safe side.
There is a spot marked with a white sign on the rock Kapelo where you can leave your car and follow the marked route for about 30-35 minutes. The difficulty of the path is moderate. The view from Skiadi opens up to the southwestern and western coasts of Kimolos from where you can see Ellinika, Mavrospilia and Athinia as well as the neighbouring island Milos.
7. Local Crafts and Artisan Creations
The shops you will find on Kimolos are not your typical souvenir stores but rather chic boutiques selling unique creations. Here you will find everything from pretty fridge magnets, to jewellery and decorative objects. At Arzantiera boutique — which is the name given to Kimolos by pirates and sailors during the Venetian occupation, the owner Flora Ramfou and her family have assembled a delightful selection of unique creation which reflect the island spirit.
At the store you will also find a small toy boat which is made out of a tin and is a traditional game that small children used to play on the island. The tiny boat has been officially registered as a trademark of Kimolos. It has been exhibited at numerous Toy exhibitions in Greece and abroad.
Flora’s boutique is housed inside the renovated part of the Castle just at the south entrance, it was once operated as a local groceries store for over 70 years.
One evening over some cocktails at the Agora — a bar in the centre of the Chorio right across from Arzantiera — Flora explained the sad story of how her father and his parents were forced to flee the island when they were kids. It was her mission to bring back a piece of her father’s childhood memories from the place where he was born. Only the wealthy could afford to live inside the walls of the castle — and when she did get to buying the old demolished store which took some time and effort to restore — she gave her dad the keys to this castle house that once cost millions to buy.
Today they run three stores on the island which are hard to miss because of the beautiful exterior decorations. Flora also makes her own liquor which is infused with rose geranium — giving it a sweet floral and citrus flavour.
A local craft which you will find on Kimolos are material sack type of bags called dourvades. We visited Theano in her store called Sousta Vista as she explained a little bit more about the craft which she inherited from her grandmother.
She also showed us the material which was once made on the island and used to make clothings such as men’s shirts, women’s skirts and tablecloths.
8. Local Kimolian Flavours
It doesn’t get more traditionally Kimolian than starting your morning with savouring a freshly baked ladenia. Something like an Italian focaccia this dough product is made with fresh tomatoes, onions and olive oil. Make sure to get up early and make your way to the local bakery before they run out.
Kimolos is also famous for its cheeses such as manoura, a dry cheese wrapped with grape must and the xino which is a sour skim-milk cheese which is usually served on top of a tomato salad or plain.
A typical traditional wedding dessert is a koulouri (a bread roll) which is weaved into various shapes — made by the grandma at the Paradosiakos bakery. A piece of art as you can see from the photos below.
9. Enjoy a homemade Ice-cream
The Kimolians love their island and this is evident once you get to meet them. A young family moved to Kimolos from Athens to pursue their passions — and to contribute to their island.
Stavros runs his cocktail bar Stavento where we enjoyed our coffees every morning, he also makes fantastic fresh fruit juices while his wife Smaragda makes delicious homemade ice cream at the Gelato store Stavento.
One evening we savoured some of her staple flavours. We also tried these sweet rolls, something like the Italian cannoli, one was filled with fresh ricotta cheese and the other had a mastic flavour filling.
10. Watch a movie in an open-air cinema
Among the ancient ruins inside the castle of Kimolos overlooking the Metropolitan Church of Panagia Odigitria — under the starry sky, one evening we watched a French comedy in an open-air cinema. An initiative started by the Kimolistes — Kimolos Volunteer Team, the open-air cinema is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a relaxing evening watching some of the best all time classics.
11. Dive in the Crystal Clear Waters around Polyaigos
One of the most wonderful experiences you can gift yourself with is a boat trip around Polyaigos and Kimolos. Starting around 10 am join Vaggelis on his motorboat which will take you on a day trip to the island of the many goats “Polyaigos” where you can hike up to an old Monastery, swim in the most beautiful crystal-clear blue water — and witness the magic of the Galazia Nera (Blue Waters).
Due to its remarkable geological and ecological value, Polyaigos is included in the European Network of Natura 2000. It is also home to the largest population of Mediterranean Monk Seal.
Once we docked at the Polyaigos we met a man called Petros who spends most of the year living on this uninhabited island alone, taking care of his goats. In the evening Petros headed back to Kilomos where he invited us to his house for a glass of raki and to purchase some of his homemade cheese.
On board we also enjoyed a light lunch — which comprised of manoura cheese, freshly cut cucumbers and tomatoes, the famous ladenia and tsikoudia (a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy from Crete).
In the afternoon we passed by the beach of Soufi and sailed through the Caldera of Kimolos. The beautiful grey-white rock formations which are a unique characteristic of Kimolos. Most of the island formation is the result of volcanic activity which is evident everywhere. From the large impressive rocks rising from the Aegean Sea surrounding the island to the tuffs and tuffites dotting the rugged landscape.
12. The Land of Kimolos Chalk
Kimolos is well-known for its Kimolos chalk. In fact the name Kimolos comes from Kimolia, translating as chalk — a type of argil which was used as detergent and in medicinal baths. Athletes would use this chalk to clean themselves from oil.
13. Witness the Magical Sunsets
Are you a sunset chaser? Either way you will fall in love with the natural beauty of Kimolos. One of the famous sunset spots on the island is the beach of Mavrospilia. Although the clouds slightly interfered on the day we came here, the sight was still magical.
14. An open-air Library
Walking around Chorio you will come across a display of hanging books, yes that’s a library from where you can borrow, return or leave some books — a beautiful way to pass on your knowledge to others.
15. Greet the Animals
The cute cats and donkeys always make a great postcard shot. When holidaying on Kimolos you will be tempted to capture these four-legged friends.
16. Fall in Love
Fall in love with the island’s incredible architectural wealth, authenticity, the timeless atmosphere, the little cobblestone alleys painted with shapes and hearts, the welcoming people, the gorgeous lunar rock formations and the emerald waters!
Fall in love with life, the precious moments and the people that make each day count. Unveil a special paradise in the Cyclades, let it capture your heart.
Where to Stay on Kimolos?
During our trip to Kimolos we stayed at the Kimolos Blue a small traditional hotel set amidst trees which stand out against the clear blue skies. Read my review here.
Blue and white dominate the overall decor — a staple element of the Cyclades architecture. Stripy blue umbrellas and a few colourful accents decorate the outdoor space of this island hotel. The hotel is located a few steps from Aliki beach.
Our friends stayed at Kimolia Gi featuring four spacious studios which share six acres of land with a small family farm. The accommodation is at close proximity from the Prasa Beach.
How to get to Kimolos?
Kimolos does not have an airport, only a heliport. We traveled here with Zante Ferries and the journey took us approximately 8 hours.
Another way you can get to Kimolos is to fly from Athens Airport to Milos and then get a small ferry boat to cross to Kimolos.
Travel Bloggers Greece were invited on this trip by Afentakeion a non-profit organization which was set up by the Great Benefactor George Oikonomou Afentakis who was born in Kimolos in 1820 with the scope to offer financial support to his birthplace Kimolos and especially to the poor and elderly people of the island. We would like to thank all the people of Kimolos for their generous and heartfelt hospitality and a special thanks to Mania Tsavlidou and Dimitris Papadimitriou for being the best team leaders.
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Hi Elena, I am just back from Kimolos and only today found your blog which I like very much. The only thing that gives me a hard time are the four-legged friends. A lot of donkeys are lonely in their yard. Tied to a rope and with nothing else to do than to eat (if there is any gras at all). In Switzerland donkeys are not allowed to be hold alone and have to have the possibility to keep busy. As for the cats, this is really bad. The situation during the summer month is a lot better than on other islands. A lot of people feed the cats and provide water. In October most people leave the islands and the cats are left back without any food. A lot of them die of starvation during the winter month. The only solution would be to castrate the cats, but there does not seem to be an official program. It is not only a problem on Kimolos but on a lot of the islands.
I wish people would be more aware of the situation of the animals and tell the government that semething needs to be done about it.
Hi Andrea, thank you for sharing your concerns about the animals. It is, unfortunately, a problem in many areas but generally from what I have experienced there are many volunteers who take care of animals and do their best to help out. I’m sure that Kimolos also has kind-hearted people that try their best to take care of the four-legged friends even during the winter. Sometimes it is just too difficult as they multiply quite fast, but it is slowly starting to happen in different areas of Greece that municipalities and individual vets try to address this issue.