Nisyros in Greece
Nisyros is a volcanic island situated between Kos and Tilos in the Dodecanese archipelago. It is quite a small island to the area and number of residents, here lives 1,010 people spread over one larger village, and three small communities.The capital is Mandraki (660 inhabitants), the surface is 41 km2 and the highest peak - Profitis Elias - measuring 698 meters above sea level.
Mandraki as seen from Paleokastro.
Here is everything you could wish for, with one exception, there are no good beaches. But here are sights other islands only could dream of - what says about a volcano. Beyond that there are fabulous villages and people who are curious, friendly and helpful. You feel as an honorary citizen after a few days. And here is wonderful natural scenery and a landscape that makes one amazed. If you like hiking, Nisyros is an ideal destination.
One of the many alleys in the pedestrian Mandraki.
The easiest way is to take a seat to Kos. Between Kos and Nisyros you can go by excursion boats every day, its no problem to go on a one-way ticket with excursion boats. Nisyros also regular boat to Kos and Tilos, and with other islands in the Dodecanese, and the Athens port of Piraeus.
There are local buses that are operating to all villages and to the volcano. You'll find moped hire service in Mandraki and in Pali. Rent a car, you can do at the travel agency Diakomihailis in Mandraki. During high season, excursion boats go to the neighbouring island of Giali.
I really like the villages of Nisyros. They have a very special attraction; they are usually pretty worn out and truly picturesque and you find yourself in the middle of the Greek everyday life.
The meeting-place in Mandraki is the main square, so privileged shaded by large Ficus trees. On the square there are a number of tavernas and kafenións. Here you can sit down for a long time and look at people and read books.
The town beach and tavernas in Mandraki.
During the day, Mandraki is filled to the brim with visitors from Kos. After their visit in the volcano they end the day with a tour and some lunch in the village. When they go back to Kos the streets get empty and everything returns to a normal Greek life again.
Emborio lies on the steep edge of the volcano, and from here, there is a stunning view over the whole show. Today there are not many people living here, maybe thirty. In the middle of the village there is a small square with a beautiful church, this is also where the village's only taverna, To Balkoni, is situated.
One of the alleys in Emborio.
Opposite Emborio is Nikia. The village balances, just as Emborio, on the steep edge of the volcano, and in this balancing act there are living around fifty people.
Nikia is a small village with few houses, like a little dollhouse. At first glance it is easy to believe that Nikia only is a single street, but if you follow the winding streets down, you'll discover more houses and small alleys. Some houses are abandoned, others are for sale. There is more than one good taverna here.
The square in Nikia.
If you go to Greece just because of the beaches, you have nothing to get on Nisyros. Of course the water is just as lovely as to all other islands, but the beaches are nothing to write home about. Since the whole island is volcanic most of the beaches consists of black sand or large black stones. There is a small sandy beach in Mandraki, and one pebble beach close to Mandraki.
Pachia Amos beach.
Pali beach is perhaps the most popular of the beaches, but it does not say much. The only really good beach on Nisyros is called Pahi Ammos, and you get there by your own transport, for example by moped.
The reason that Nisyros is frequented by day tourists from Kos is, of course, the volcano. According to Greek mythology Nisyros was created during a duel between the titan Polyvotis and the sea god Poseidon. During the quarrel Poseidon broke off a piece of Kos and threw it on Polyvotis. The cutting block that Polyvotis got in his skull created the island Nisyros.
There he stands today with Nisyros on the head and is very angry, sometimes so angry that the volcano erupt. Fortunately, it is a long time ago since Polyvotis was so angry; the last major eruption was in the 1 500 century when parts of the inner island collapsed.
The volcano seen from the village of Nika.
For quite a long time ago - more than 30 000 years - half of the island collapsed in a giant volcanic eruption. It was then that the large amphitheatre-like caldera was formed.
Over the years, the volcano has had several minor eruptions, the latest eruption was in 1888, and these small eruptions have mainly consisted of gas and smoke. It has not been any real eruption of running lava for many years. I'm not sure if the volcano is active from a geological point of view today. It does not matter; the volcano is one of the Greek islands most interesting sights anyway.
The caldera has five craters that you can visit. The largest and most visited crater, Stefanos, is 350 m in diameter and 25 m deep. It simmers from holes in the ground and the sulphur smell is biting.
The crater Stefanos on Nisyros.
During one of the volcanic eruptions of Nisyros also hit the neighbouring island of Tilos. In the water outside Agios Antonios beach on Tilos are residues from the two petrified fishermen. Read more about that here »
Bring appropriate shoes because it can be very hot on the ground. You get here by tour bus from the port or with your own vehicle. The latter is preferable if you want to have the volcano for yourself, come as early as you can in the morning, before the tour buses arrive.
Other popular sights are Paleokastro above Mandraki, and Moni Panagias Spilianis in Mandraki. from where there is a magnificent view over the island and over Mandraki.
In the port of Nisyros you hardly ever meet people with rooms for rent. Here you have to look for rooms by yourself or make a reservation ahead. The selection is poor. Personally I think it's best to stay in the centre of Mandraki; it's smooth to be close to tavernas, shops, travel agencies and the lovely square.
We always stay at Hotel Porfyris when we visit Nisyros. It is the best place in Mandraki. But there are also some other accommodation that is good.
Nisyros belongs to the Dodecanese islands. You find other islands in the Dodecanese here »