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Nisyros: The mysterious volcanic beauty

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Nisyros: The mysterious volcanic beauty

The small island of the Dodecanese with its volcanic landscape and wild beauty, is located northwest of Rhodes, between Tilos, Kos and Astypalaia and is ideal for moments of relaxation and isolation.

Renowned for its active volcano, that gave the island’s beaches their particular black color, Nisyros is characterized by its picturesque villages with whitewashed houses and mansions, its bohemian air and alternative profile.

A place of inspiration for artists who choose to live there, an ideal choice for hikers and explorers, Nisyros has been evolving into an emerging film setting for European and American productions. Discover the island and indulge in its mysterious charm!

Routes & Attractions

The most important sight on the island is the famous crater "Stefanos", the active volcano that emerged from two large underwater eruptions 25,000 and 15,000 years ago. Discover this mysterious landscape, with the strong smell of sulfur, as you walk around and inside the crater with its white and yellow colors and the bubbling holes under your feet.

Visit the picturesque Mandraki, the capital of the island, with its cobbled streets, pebbled squares and white houses with colorful windows. Spend some time at the Ilikiomeni square (‘Square of the Elderly’) with its characteristic ficus trees, and admire the two-storey neoclassical building of the Town Hall, built in 1931 by craftsmen who came from neighboring Symi.

Nisyros is famous for its thermal springs, which are ideal for therapeutic hydrotherapy. 1.5 km away from the island’s capital you’ll find the renovated Municipal Baths of Mandraki, where the waters of the hot spring reach a temperature of 46° C.

Walk up to the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani (17th century), which stands on a 30-meter-high  rock of the Venetian Castle of the Knights in Mandraki. The 270 steps leading to the sacred Cave of the church will reward you, as this is where you’ll see the ornate wood-carved iconostasis dating back to 1725 and the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.

In the village of Nikia, admire the Porta Square, known for its ellipsoid shape, with ornate pebbled decorations dating back to 1923 (built by the famous local craftsman Paschalis Paschalakis). A few meters above the square stands the impressive church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. Nikia is also home to the only Volcanological Museum in Greece.

Don’t miss a visit to the picturesque mountain village of Emporio, distinctively built with houses made of volcanic stone, as well as two-storey neoclassical buildings with impressive lintels. From here you can visit the medieval Castle of Pantoniki with the church of Taxiarches (13th century) to admire the Aegean Sea and the caldera of the volcano.

In Paleokastro you’ll find the exceptionally well-preserved, 2,600-years old acropolis of Nisyros, one of the most magnificent fortifications in the Aegean, built of robust black trachyte.

Nisyros is ideal for hiking trails that will guide you through the island’s natural landscapes, walking along dry-stone walls (vastadia), cottages (spiladia), old distilleries and chapels. An easy, one-hour walk that will reward you with a unique view of the Aegean Sea, starts from the monastery of Evangelistria and reaches the highest point of the island (698 meters), at Prophitis Elias.

Beaches & Activities

One of the most impressive beaches of the island is Pachia Ammos, with its characteristic vast and dark sandy beach with fine pebbles and suddenly deepening waters. The large sand dunes and green marshes make this location particularly popular for free camping. The beach does not offer special amenities and is not organized. To come here, you must drive down a dirt road to Lyes and then walk for fifteen-minute on a rough path.

On the eastern side of Nisyros is the large beach of Lyes, more than one kilometer long, with pebbles entangled with gray sand. The beach is accessible by a dirt road.

Large black volcanic pebbles characterize Chochlakoi beach, which is accessible on foot from Mandraki. Enjoy a wonderful sunset by the sea, on this coast surrounded by huge rocks of black andesite, under Panagia Spiliani.

On the long beach of Pali you will find natural shade from the tamarisk trees, dark fine sand and shallow waters. Get all necessary supplies from the nearby village that goes by the same name, as the beach is not organized.

Visit the volcanic island of Gyali, an open-air geological park just opposite Nisyros and enjoy a swim in the blue waters in its two beaches. For centuries, a pumice stone quarry has been operating on the island, giving the characteristic white color to the northern beach. Looking towards the south, the impressive red beach took its colour from the red volcanic rocks.

To the south of Nisyros is Avlaki beach, the old port of Nikia village, where the hot water from the hot springs gushes into the sea, with temperatures reaching 59° C and forming unique natural pools.

Tastes of the island

Try local cheeses, such as krasotyri (cheese baked in red wine) and sakouliasti (local mizithra), as well as local specialties such as boukounies (pork cooked with fat), kapama (goat stuffed with rice) and pithia (chickpea balls), garlic sauce with almonds and caper salad.

Refresh yourself with a traditional soumada drink (bitter almond juice) and kanelada (cinnamon refreshment). In Nisyros, be sure to taste some koukouzina, a local distillate made of grapes or figs that has a similar taste to raki).

In the bakeries and pastry shops you’ll find local sweets, such as xerotigana and diples (syrup-soaked pastries), loukoumades (fluffy sweet honey balls), foinikia (syrupy cookies), kourabiedes (traditional almond snowballs), moustalevria (grape must pudding), pastellaria (figs opened and stuffed with almonds and sesame), but also spoon sweets (bitter orange, quince, cherry tomato).

Traditions & Events

Join in the island’s festivals to discover the folk culture of Nisyros, with its traditional costumes, dancing and singing.

In the summer, a traditional wedding is organized as an open event for all visitors with a three-day feast.

Don't miss...

Take a tour of the island to dive into astonishing sea caves and hidden beaches, and visit the nearby islets of Agios Antonios, Strongyli, Pachia, Passousa and Kandeleousa (Faros).

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