Nisyros has long been one of the most popular islands in the Dodecanese … for a day trip. But have you ever considered staying here?
Once the day-trippers have departed, you can really appreciate the charm of this petite island. Wild beaches, quaint villages, stunning views, a crackling volcanic energy and hip, artistic vibe.
Here are nine reasons to visit Nisyros in 2019.
The entire island of Nisyros is a volcano, and the views of the caldera from Nikia and Emborio are nothing short of stunning.
But descend into the crater of Stefanos. Inhale the smell of sulphur. Feel the heat beneath your feet. See the lunaresque landscape spread before you, dotted with steaming, bubbling fumaroles and splattered in neon-yellow. And you know you’re experiencing something really special.
2. Volcanic Energy
The volcanic energy permeates the island. There are hot spots in the sea and thermal springs around the land, said to promote good health and ease the symptoms of muscular and skin disorders. Most famous are the municipal baths at Loutra.
A cave at the entrance to Emborio has a natural sauna within. And then there’s the dramatic volcanic colours – black stone against whitewashed houses, verdant fertile valleys and the deep blue of the Aegean.
3. Quaint Villages
The villages of Nisyros have a quaint, traditional charm. Wander the streets of Mandraki to find pretty squares with mosaic floors and traditional houses adorned with wooden, flower-filled balconies. Lose yourself amid the winding cobblestone streets of Nikia in search of the ‘round’ square of Porta and bird’s eye views of the volcano. Marvel at the tumbledown beauty of Emborio, a village once destroyed by an earthquake that’s slowly gaining a new lease of life.
Don’t come here expecting beach bars and rows of sun-loungers. A handful of beaches fringe the coastline, a mixture of small pebbles and black and red sand, while tamarisk trees provide occasional shade. With hardly a soul in sight, your main source of entertainment is the hush of water lapping the shore, fish swimming in crystal-clear waters, and the occasional tinkle of a passing goat bell.
If you love wandering around archaeological ruins, a trip to Paleokastro is a must. Dating from the Classical period, this ancient acropolis presides over Mandraki from its hilltop location. But it’s the huge cyclopean walls constructed from massive blocks of black volcanic stone that elicit a sense of wonder. How did they lift and place those gigantic blocks of dense volcanic rock?
Note: if you love a good sunset, this is your spot!
6. Monastery of Panagia Spiliani
One of Greece’s most important monasteries, the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani is an intriguing building. Partially built in a cave at the side of a steep rock face, it’s divided into two churches, the largest of which is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and houses the icon of Panagia Spiliani, Virgin of the Caves and protectress of the island.
Visit in August to experience one of the island’s biggest festivals.
7. Hiking Trails
Nisyros is a magnet for hikers, especially in the cooler seasons of early spring and late autumn. There are over 40 hiking trails criss-crossing the island. Suitable for all levels of walkers, they highlight the island’s nature, culture and unique geology, with many leading to the rim of the volcano and down into the caldera.
Along the way, expect wildflower meadows, soaring mountain views, fields dotted with beehives, and lots of goats!
8. Local Cuisine
Like all Greek islands, Nisyros has its own variations on classic Greek dishes. Tuck into kapamas (stuffed goat), boukounies (pork cooked in fat), pithia (chickpea balls), and succulent, fresh seafood.
Cheese is an important local product, with specialities including myzithra, sakouliasti and trigias (cheese in wine). If you have a sweet tooth, try the local pastries, halva and island honey.
Traditional drinks include soumada, a bitter, non-alcoholic almond drink, as well as koukouzina, a raki-style drink made from grapes or figs.
9. Artistic vibe
Finally, the unique energy of Nisyros provides rich inspiration for artists, with the island gaining a reputation as a centre for the arts. Located in the castle at Emborio, the Sterna Art Project holds annual residencies for artists. Photographers and filmmakers see the island, specifically Stefanos, as their muse, while in 2016 musicians gathered in the crater at the light of a full moon to improvise a performance inspired by their surroundings that lasted for 10 hours and 34 minutes, from sunset to sunrise.
Book Your Visit to Nisyros in 2019
If this has inspired you to pack your bags and visit Nisyros in 2019, contact Nissia Holidays or check out our selection of Nisyros accommodation. We’d love to introduce you to the newest destination in our portfolio of Greece’s tiny, unspoilt islands.