A volcanic land rising from the luminous blue waters of the Aegean, Nisyros is a cinematic feast for the eyes. The creation of the island of Nisyros is told in the pages of Greek mythology: the sea god Poseidon was giving chase to the giant Polyvotis when he decided to snap a piece off the island of Kos to trap Polyvotis underneath — this rock, having landed on top of its target, became the island we know as Nisyros today.
It is a tale fit for a landscape as dramatic as this. On Nisyros, visitors will find green valleys leading to otherworldly terrains that surround the volcanic craters, tiny houses dotting hillsides under endlessly expansive skies, and stretches of beach next to sparkling waters. Yet, for all its striking panoramas, Nisyros is only home to around 1,000 residents, meaning this destination offers just the right amount of calm to let you really appreciate all it has to offer. Join us today as we explore our top 5 reasons to visit the volcanic island of Nisyros. And, if we leave you feeling inspired, be sure to check out our range of Accommodation in Nisyros.
As much as we love Nisyros’s mythological origin story, involving the god Poseidon and his unfortunate foe Polyvotis, modern science tells us that the island was formed about 150,000 years ago, the result of lava erupting from the seabed (though Polyvotis lends his name to one of the craters). For over 100,000 years thereafter, volcanic eruptions continued on the island giving it the shape and characteristics we see today. What makes the volcanic craters of the island so special today is how visitors are able to walk right into these sites. Although the volcano is still active under the earth’s surface, the calderas of Nisyros are safe to walk on, and the last volcanic eruption was around 25,000 years ago. There is almost nowhere else on the planet where you will be able to descend into the crater of a volcano — a once in a lifetime experience!
Villages of Nisyros
Across the whole Dodecanese archipelago (containing about 165 islands) you will find few islands with quite so joyously harmonious an atmosphere as Nisyros! With just around 1,000 permanent inhabitants, the island can offer guests both quiet time in the valleys and beaches and opportunities to socialise with others in the island’s villages. There are four villages found across Nisyros and they retain plenty of old-world charm, showcasing traditional Greek architecture and unspoilt by modern development. Explore the villages of the island and enjoy a pace of life miles apart from bustling big city life. Mandraki is the capital town of Nisyros and many visitors will base themselves here; enjoy a traditional glass of soumada (a sweet, almond-based drink) by the harbour after a day out exploring and be sure to walk up to Paleokastro, the ancient acropolis of Nisyros. Elsewhere on the island, the village of Nikia is a mountain village with beautiful views of the volcano and is home to the fascinating Volcanological Museum of Nisyros; Pali is a seaside village known for magnificent beaches; finally, Emporios boasts some fascinating historical sites.
Nisyros’s Extraordinary Coastlines
Unlike other sun-soaked coastal regions in Europe, in Nisyros you won’t have to fight your way through crowds to enjoy your time by the sea. The waters of the Aegean calmly lap at the shores of Nisyros, where you will find pristine stretches of sandy beaches for taking in some rays with a book and calming pebble beaches that allow you to enjoy the natural environment without any interference. This is not an island of famous beaches that crop up in every tourist brochure, but here the coastlines are completely unspoilt. For sandy beaches, we recommend Katsouni, the island’s largest beach, Pachia Ammos (a wonderfully secluded spot) or the Lies beach, which is surrounded by idyllic hillsides and coves. Elsewhere, Avlaki is a pebble beach excellent for swimming.
Hiking on Nisyros
Hikers are sure to love every minute of their time on Nisyros! For a small island, the terrain here is wonderfully diverse, from green hills populated with grazing animals to the moon-like landscape around the volcano’s craters. There are over 40 trails on Nisyros, so walkers can explore the island in its entirety — bring your camera to capture the extraordinary views of the mountains and hills under those neverending skies so characteristic of the Aegean. The Evangelistria to Profitis Ilias trail is a highlight, this route taking you from the historic Monastery of Evangelistria to Nifios, the highest point on the island. More information on hiking trails in Nisyros can be found on our blog, Walking in Nisyros.
Food and Drink in Nisyros
Even though the island’s villages are small, there is a fabulous sense of community on Nisyros, with the cafes, bars, and restaurants offering a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Many of the island’s eateries are family-run and prepare their food to home recipes that let local produce and classic Greek flavours shine. Mandraki’s ‘Little Venice’ is a grouping of bars and restaurants that sit next to the old monastery and a fine spot to spend the evening socialising over tables of delicious food. Meanwhile, in Pali, you can enjoy wonderful fresh seafood. Those wishing to try something traditional from Nisyros could indulge in local varieties of Greek cheeses, such as mizithra and kopanisti.
This brings to a close our 5 reasons why you should visit the marvellous, volcanic island of Nisyros. If you have any questions about this blog or our services, please do not hesitate to contact us.