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Kalymnos:
The Capital of Greek Sponge Fishing

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Discover Kalymnos

Kalymnos is the fourth largest island in the Dodecanese and one of the most popular destinations for lovers of alternative holidays.

Known for centuries as the capital of Greek sponge fishing, it is renowned for its brave sponge divers and is a magical place for exploration and discovery.

Its dazzling seabed, with ancient shipwrecks and impressive underwater grottoes, has made it a world-class diving resort. With its fifty or more caves, a timeless source of legends and traditions, it is also an emerging paradise for potholers.

In recent years, this welcoming island has gained a reputation as a top rock-climbing site in Europe, commended by some of the sport’s international elite.

All this, together with idyllic beaches and wonderful hiking trails that criss-cross the local countryside, make Kalymnos a thrilling outdoor adventure park for intrepid nature-lovers and young people of all ages.

5 memorable experiences on Kalymnos
  1. Learning how natural sponges are processed in the traditional workshops in Pothia.
  2. If you choose one of the itineraries for Kalymnos, don’t miss the opportunity to check out the International Climbing Festival. Held every October, it is an important occasion in the rock-climbing calendar.
  3. Visiting the delightful island of Pserimos, also known as Kapari because of the capers that grow there. Just fifty minutes by boat from Pothia, it has some fantastic beaches.
  4. The wonderful views of Pothia Valley and the Aegean from the courtyard of the magnificent Saint Savvas’s Church.
  5. The 4.5-km route from Pothia to the lush Vathy valley along a path paved with small rocks, which was built by the Italians during their occupation of the island.
Beaches of Kalymnos

Famous for its crystal-clear sea, the island of the sponge divers does not disappoint visitors looking for a relaxing holiday. The beaches not to be missed are:

  • Masouri, with its limpid blue waters, long stretch of sand, and view of the charming islet of Telendos. This lovely beach has every amenity and is especially popular with climbers, who are attracted by the high rocks that surround it.
  • Kantouni, with a cosmopolitan atmosphere and unique views of the Monastery of the Holy Cross up on the mountain. Its bars are a great attraction for young people.
  • Myrties, a gorgeous family beach with grey sand and white pebbles, shallow blue waters, and a view of neighbouring Telendos.
  • Platis Yialos, which combines a pristine azure sea and black sand. It is an ideal spot from which to enjoy the sunset.
  • Emporeios, the favourite beach of water sports enthusiasts and snorkellers. It has pebbles and crystalline waters, and is shaded by impressively large trees.
  • Arginontas, a pebble beach that stretches around a bay with pristine blue-green waters and is surrounded by trees. The exotic landscape and good facilities make it a top choice among visitors to Kalymnos.
  • Gefyra, one of the smallest and most romantic beaches of Pothia, with idyllic scenery of dense vegetation, rocks, pebbles, and a turquoise sea.
  • Vlychadia, a beautiful pair of beaches, one pebbled and one sandy, with shallow emerald waters and trees for shade. It is especially favoured by families with children.

You can enjoy them by choosing one of the ferry tickets to Kalymnos.

Postcards from Kalymnos: 10 things not to miss

Pothia
The beautiful capital of Kalymnos stretches across the foothills and slopes of two hills separated by a valley of pines and cypress trees. It is well worth exploring its narrow streets and the seafront near the port, which are full of imposing captains’ houses and traditional residences embellished with Italian influences and neoclassical elements.

The Great Castle
This ruined Byzantine fortress, built in 1495, was the medieval capital of Kalymnos until 1812, and can be reached by climbing up 230 steps from Pothia. Inside, there are several houses, some water cisterns, the remains of an olive mill, and 10 little churches.

Kalymnos Maritime Museum
Divided into four rooms, the museum’s collection offers a fascinating tour of the history of Greek sponge fishing, with a spotlight on the islanders who dived for them.

Kalymnos Cathedral
Built in 1861 on the Pothia seafront, the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour has some fine religious paintings by local artists, as well as a marble icon screen carved by the great sculptor Yannoulis Chalepas.

The New Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Kalymnos contains unique exhibits from the prehistoric to the post-Byzantine era. The jewel of the collection is the famous “Lady of Kalymnos”, a superb Hellenistic bronze sculpture of a woman wearing a robe, which was brought up from the sea in 1995 in the nets of a local fisherman.

Chrysocheria Castle
Built in the 15th century by the Knights of the Order of St. John, this imposing fortress-watchtower stands at the top of a small hill west of Pothia. At the foot of the hill are three stone-built windmills dating from the 16th century. They are surrounded by walls bearing the coats of arms of eminent knights.

Telendos
Just ten minutes from Kalymnos, this enchanting island offers an unforgettable experience of outdoor and historical interest. Visit the fortified Byzantine settlement of Agios Konstantinos, built between the 6th and the 10th century, and the early Christian necropolis; wander the picturesque streets of Telendos Town with its excellent tavernas; and enjoy swimming and diving around its magical beaches.

Kefala Cave
The most stunning cave on Kalymnos is one thousand square metres in size, with six chambers. The most striking, containing huge stalagmites and stalactites, is 103 metres long. The god Zeus was once worshipped here.

Vathy Valley
The verdant Vathy valley and fjord are among the most beautiful landscapes in the Aegean. The narrow cove with calm blue-green waters flanked by tall cliffs is a remarkable setting, while the area behind Rina harbour is full of citrus groves.

The Sanctuary of Apollo
The most important place of worship on ancient Kalymnos was dedicated to Apollo, the island’s protector and patron. The sanctuary was used continuously from the 1st millennium BC to the Early Christian era. Today, visitors can tour the archaeological site and admire the temples of Apollo and Asclepius, the assembly house, and the theatre, as well as two early Christian churches dating from the 5th and 6th century.

Tastes of Kalymnos

The local cuisine is distinguished by its seafood, including delicacies such as octopus stifado (stewed with tomatoes and shallots), octopus balls, stuffed squid, grilled swordfish, Simi shrimp, lobster linguine, and sun-dried lobster tails. Also well worth sampling are karkani (a salad made with skate) and spinialo, a selection of sea urchins, skate and pinna preserved in sea water and served with onion and an oil and lemon dressing.

Other outstanding dishes are myrmizeli (a Greek salad with barley bread), mououri (goat or lamb stuffed with rice and cooked in a wood-fired oven), fylla (dolmades), chickpea fritters, and kapetanato (pork cooked in a clay pot).

Try eptazimo (bread literally “kneaded seven times”, made with aniseed and ouzo), gyristes (doughnuts) with honey, as well as the famous local galaktoboureko (milk pie).

Don’t forget to try Anama, the sweet wine of Kalymnos.

MAP OF KALYMNOS