Information and travel guide to Kastelorizo

Kastelorizo, a charming island nestled in the Dodecanese group at the Aegean Sea’s south-eastern tip, serves as a Mediterranean sentinel and a crossroads of Europe and Asia. Its proximity to the coast of Anatolia underscores its geographical and cultural significance.

kastelorizo-islandKastelorizo is a growing tourist destination and its infrastructure so far meets the needs of its visitors. There are hotels, studios and rooms for rent, all located in the two natural bays, the main port and Mantraki bay.

This smallest and most remote of the Dodecanese islands is nestled at the crossroads of continents, lying just a stone’s throw from the Turkish coast. Despite its diminutive size, Kastelorizo boasts a grandeur that belies its physical dimensions, with a past woven from threads of mythology, ancient civilizations, and the ebb and flow of empires.

The island’s landscape is made of rugged cliffs, serene coves, and the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea. Its colourful harbour town, characterized by neoclassical houses painted in a palette of pastel hues, greets visitors with a warmth and hospitality that captures the essence of Greek island life.

For travellers seeking solace away from the hustle and bustle of mainstream tourist destinations, Kastelorizo offers a unique opportunity to immerse in the tranquillity of island life, where the pace slows down, and the beauty of nature and human kindness takes centre stage. Whether you’re drawn to explore its historical depths, revel in its natural beauty, or simply soak up the serene atmosphere.

History and Mythology

Historically, Kastelorizo has been inhabited since antiquity, with evidence of Neolithic habitation. Its name is thought to have been derived from the medieval castle built by the Knights of Saint John on the red rocks above the harbour.  

The island has a tumultuous history, having been under the control of various empires, including the Byzantine Empire, the Knights of Saint John, the Ottoman Empire, and Italy, before being integrated into Greece after World War II.

Mythologically, Kastelorizo does not have as prominent a role as other Greek islands, but its strategic location and natural resources have always made it a coveted possession throughout history.

Known historically as Megisti since prehistoric times, this island boasts a settlement history that stretches back to the Neolithic Era, revealing a rich tapestry of human activity and historical upheaval throughout the ages.

The island witnessed the flourish of both Mycenaean and Minoan civilizations, emerging as a crucial trading hub. By the late 19th century, it reached its peak prosperity, thanks to the maritime and commercial ventures of its residents.

Kastelorizo’s strategic location made it an attractive target for conquerors and pirates alike, leading to a history marked by invasions, bombings, fires, lootings, and evacuations.

Attractions and things to Do

kastelorizo-greeceKastelorizo is also renowned for its wealth of Byzantine and post-Byzantine historical sites. Among these, the ancient acropolis of Megisti, perched on Palaiokastro hill, stands out as the island’s most ancient and significant monument, featuring ancient structures and water reservoirs.

Other historical marvels include the Cyclopean Walls scattered across the island and the medieval Castle of the Knights of Saint John, which offers breath taking views extending from the harbor to the Asian Minor shores.

Cultural exploration on the island extends to the Archaeological and Folk Art Museum located in the Mosque, where visitors can delve into the island’s rich history and traditions, spanning from ancient times to modernity, through archaeological finds and folk art items, including a showcase on traditional sponge fishing.

Architectural wonders abound, such as the Santrapia Urban School, a neoclassical edifice inspired by the University of Athens. Nowadays, it houses educational institutions including the Municipality, Gymnasium, and Lyceum of Kastelorizo. Additionally, the meticulously preserved Lycian Tomb, with its temple-like façade at the harbour’s entrance, beckons visitors.

Religious heritage on the island encompasses two monasteries and numerous chapels. Notably, the Metropolitan Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, an 1835 architectural gem with Gothic elements, and the historic church of Saint George of the Santrape, enrich the spiritual landscape. The abandoned monastery of Saint George of the Mountain, accessible after ascending 400 steps, offers spectacular views alongside the underground catacomb of Saint Charalambos.

Kastelorizo, together with the islets of Ro and Strongyli, forms a unique ecosystem with rare flora and fauna. The “Blue Cave,” Greece’s largest sea cave and a stunning natural wonder of the Mediterranean, is particularly noteworthy for its stalactite formations and the vibrant hues reflected on its walls, earning it the nickname Parasta’s Cave  or “Seal Cave.”

Hidden Gems and Local Favorites

Stroll through the charming alleys of Megisti, lined with colourful houses adorned with bougainvillea. Stop by the Blue Grotto for a magical experience as sunlight dances on the crystal-clear waters.

Head to Mandraki Bay for a tranquil escape surrounded by nature’s beauty. Explore the ancient ruins of Paleokastro and feel the history come alive under your feet. Don’t miss out on sampling fresh seafood at one of the seaside tavernas, where you can savor traditional Greek dishes while soaking in breathtaking views.

For a unique adventure, hike up to Profitis Ilias for panoramic vistas that will take your breath away. Immerse yourself in local culture by attending festivals like Panagia Festival or Independence Day celebrations. Embrace the serenity of this picturesque island and uncover its best-kept secrets at every turn.

The capital of the island

kastelorizoThe capital Kastelorizo, which gathers all the inhabitants of the island, consists of the districts of Pigadia and Horafia and continues to Mandraki.In Kastelorizo you will do all your movements on foot as there are no cars, motorbikes, buses – there is only one taxi.

The picturesqueness of the landscape upon reaching Kastelorizo is hard to describe. The brightly painted two- and three-story townhouses with their wooden staircases and balconies, the picturesque harbor and the cobbled streets make for a wonderful sight.

The whole settlement is considered preserved and offers the visitor the beauty of a landscape and the feeling of a past glory.
In the past, the city, which is also the port of the island, was its main geophysical advadage as it is located at the maritime crossroads between Europe, the Middle East and Egypt and it was natural for it to generate significant commercial and maritime traffic, which explains the glorious and rich past of Kastelorizos.

The two-story houses gaze out at the sea perched amphitheatrically on the rock slopes, while their colourful shutters and red tiles contrast with the blue sea, composing an image that will win you over immediately.


Despite its lack of beaches, Kastelorizo is famed for its exquisite coves, with Mandraki being home to the island’s sole sandy beach. The island’s singular settlement, serving as both the port and capital, is amphitheatrically built around the sea, showcasing colourful neoclassical mansions, impressive churches, and quaint alleyways, making it one of Greece’s most picturesque preserved settlements.

You will swim in the crystal clear, but deep waters in front of the Port Authority and the small port, Mandraki, with its beautiful sandy beach. Around it there are many small islets with the most famous of all being Ro, known by the lady of Ro, whose bust is located at Xorafia of Kastelorizo.

With a chartered boat, you will also pass by the small island of Strogyli, with its beautiful shores, ideal for swimming and with its unique inhabitants, the lighthouse keepers.

Local Cuisine and Gastronomy

Kastelorizo offers a delightful journey through Greek and Mediterranean culinary traditions, emphasizing fresh seafood, locally grown produce, and recipes passed down through generations. The island’s cuisine reflects its rich cultural heritage and the bounty of the Aegean Sea.

Seafood lovers can indulge in grilled octopus and squid, seasoned with olive oil and lemon, or savor the island’s signature dish, lobster pasta, which combines freshly caught lobster with a savory tomato sauce over pasta. Fish soup, made with local fish and seasoned with herbs and lemon, offers a lighter, comforting option.

Meat and vegetable dishes are also prominent, including the classic Greek moussaka, a baked layering of eggplant, potatoes, minced meat, and béchamel sauce, and gemista, tomatoes and peppers stuffed with a flavorful rice and herb mixture. Traditional Greek cheeses like feta and mizithra are essential, either served with meze or in salads and cooked dishes.

For those with a sweet tooth, baklava and kataifi provide syrupy satisfaction with their nut and honey fillings. Greek yogurt with honey is a simpler, yet equally delicious treat, often topped with nuts or fruits for added texture and flavor. Beverages such as ouzo and tsipouro offer a glimpse into Greek drinking culture, perfect as an aperitif or with small dishes, while Greek coffee presents a strong, aromatic option.

Accommodation Options

When it comes to staying on this charming island, Kastelorizo offers a variety of accommodation options ranging from cosy guesthouses to upscale boutique hotels. Whether you prefer a room with a view overlooking the crystal-clear waters or a traditional stone house in the heart of the town, there is something for every type of traveller.

Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak season, to ensure you secure your preferred choice of accommodation. With its warm hospitality and scenic beauty, Kastelorizo promises an unforgettable stay that will leave you yearning to return. So pack your bags and embark on an adventure to this hidden gem waiting to be discovered!

When to Go

The best time to visit Kastelorizo is during the late spring to early autumn months, specifically from May to October. During these months, the weather is generally warm and sunny, making it ideal for various outdoor activities such as swimming, exploring, and enjoying boat trips around the island and its neighbouring islets.

Late Spring (May to June): This period is perfect for visitors who prefer milder temperatures and fewer crowds. The island’s natural beauty is at its peak, with wildflowers in bloom and the landscape lush and green. The sea temperature starts to warm up, making it comfortable for swimming.

Summer (July to August): These are the hottest and busiest months on Kastelorizo. The island comes alive with visitors, and the weather is typically hot and sunny, with clear blue skies. The sea temperature is very warm, ideal for spending extended periods in the water. If you don’t mind the crowd and enjoy a vibrant atmosphere, this is the time to go. Also, several local festivals and events happen in summer, offering a glimpse into the island’s culture and traditions.

Early Autumn (September to October): The temperatures begin to cool down slightly, making it a pleasant time for exploring the island without the intense heat of summer. The water remains warm well into September and even October, allowing for comfortable swimming. The tourist crowd starts to thin out, providing a more relaxed and intimate experience of the island.

Visiting Kastelorizo during these months ensures that you’ll experience the island’s beauty and attractions under the best possible conditions. However, it’s always a good idea to check the local weather forecast and any event schedules before planning your trip to make the most out of your visit.

Getting Around

kastelorizo-megistiGetting around Kastelorizo is an easy and enjoyable part of experiencing the island due to its small size. Most of the exploration within the main village and harbor area can be done on foot, allowing visitors to take in the picturesque streets, colorful houses, and waterfront views at a leisurely pace. Walking is not only practical but also offers the chance to discover hidden gems, such as secluded spots for swimming or charming cafes tucked away in quiet corners.

For those interested in visiting more remote areas of the island or exploring its natural attractions like the Blue Cave, boat tours are readily available. These tours provide access to otherwise inaccessible parts of Kastelorizo, including beautiful swimming spots and interesting geological formations along the coastline. Hiring a private boat is also an option for a more personalized adventure, giving visitors the freedom to explore the island’s surroundings at their own pace.

Since Kastelorizo is relatively compact, there’s no need for public transportation, and the absence of cars in many parts of the island adds to its tranquil atmosphere. Whether you’re meandering through the village streets, taking a boat to explore the coast, or simply enjoying the serenity of this remote Greek island, getting around Kastelorizo is a seamless part of the overall experience.

How to get to Kastelorizo

By Air

Flying to Kastelorizo is a convenient and time-saving option for travelers looking to reach this enchanting Greek island. The small airport on the island receives flights from Athens, making it accessible to visitors from around the world.

When booking your flight, consider checking various airlines for competitive prices and flexible schedules. Keep in mind that flight availability may vary depending on the season, so plan ahead to secure your seat.

The short flight from Athens offers wonderful views of the Aegean Sea, adding an extra touch of magic to your journey. Once you land on Kastelorizo, you’ll be greeted by stunning landscapes and charming architecture waiting to be explored.

Whether you’re a solo adventurer or traveling with family and friends, flying into Kastelorizo is a seamless way to kickstart your unforgettable Mediterranean getaway.

By ferry

For those who prefer traveling by sea, taking a ferry is the second option. The journey by ferry offers a different kind of adventure, with routes typically originating from Rhodes, one of the larger Dodecanese islands.

The ferry ride can take several hours, providing a scenic voyage across the Aegean Sea, allowing travelers to soak in the expansive blue waters and possibly spot other islands along the way.

This option is particularly appealing to those who enjoy the romance of sea travel or wish to bring their own vehicle to the island, though it’s worth noting that Kastelorizo’s compact nature makes vehicular transport largely unnecessary.

Private Boats and Charters

For those seeking a more exclusive and personalized experience getting to Kastelorizo, private boats and charters offer a luxurious option. By opting for a private boat or charter, you can enjoy the flexibility of creating your own itinerary and exploring hidden coves along the way..

Private boats and charters provide not only convenience but also privacy for those looking to escape the crowds and immerse themselves in tranquility. Whether traveling with family or friends, booking a private boat ensures an unforgettable voyage to Kastelorizo that is tailored to your preferences. So why not elevate your travel experience by considering this exclusive mode of transportation?