leros

Leros Greece a hidden gem in the Aegean

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Apart from the physical beauty that Leros offers the visitor, there are also plenty of things to do and see. There are museums that one can visit , such as the archaeological museum, the folklore museum and the Virgin of the Castle museum.

There are also many archaeological sights which are of interest, such as the castle above Agia Marina, the old castle with its cyclopean walls, Lakki with its unique architecture and the Italian fortifications. At Gourna the picturesque little church of Agios Isidoros can be found.

At Platanos and Agia Marina there are many neoclassical two storied houses, at Alinta there is the Patriarheio and the Belenis Tower which now houses the museum of Manolis Isihos, Churches also worthy of note are Agia Paraskevi and Evagelistria.

 

lerosLeros is one of the new frontiers of tourism in the Aegean sea. Used as a naval base by the Germans and Italians during the Second World War and, more recently, as a prison for political dissidents during the colonels’ dictatorship, the Greek island has only recently been opened to tourism.

This explains its relative lack of tourist facilities, but allows you to experience a holiday in an island that is still genuine and rich in traditions, a dip in the Greece of the past, an image of a distant Greece, which in other islands of the Dodecanese is slowly disappearing.

Leros is an island of Greece in the Dodecanese archipelago, it is located between Lipsi, Kalymnos and Patmos and it is not yet a too popular tourist destination, and it is precisely for this reason that it preserves its characteristics at its best, peace and unspoiled nature. Its cities are located between bays and cliffs, offering unique landscapes. Since ancient times, Leros, the island of Artemis, has been a place for lovers of tranquility and culture.

The calm island of Leros in Greece does not yet have a lively or particularly intense nightlife, however some clubs and bars are available in the port of Agia Marina and also in the tourist resort of the beach of Alinda. All the bars and clubs are open until dawn and offer various types of music, something for all tastes.

Discover the villages of Leros

Leros has picturesque villages that are very attractive to see, and is surrounded by a beautiful coast. Most of these villages have remarkable examples of traditional island architecture, preserved by the island’s delayed tourist development.

Their beauty is enhanced by the fact that they have kept their traditions and their traditional pastel colors.
Despite the lack of large hotels, lodgings and taverns are available in all the villages of the island of Leros.

The town of Platanos

leros villagesPlatanos is the oldest city of the island and it is still the center that holds the historical and cultural record of Leros. It is a town with very picturesque architecture and which has maintained its traditional appearance and its pastel colors, which make the view of the rest of the island and the sea even more poignant.

It is the place to stroll and take unforgettable photos of glimpses of houses adorned with flowers, and to take excellent views of the Venetian castle and the various palaces. There are also excellent restaurants and accommodation options in Platanos.

Spreading south up the hill from Agia Marina, and now almost indistinguishable from it, is the island’s commercial and political capital at the village of Platanos.

A chaotic spread of whitewashed houses lies between two barren hillsides, flanking a busy main road designed more for donkeys than the motor traffic that now streams along it.

Attractive houses line the main road and the narrow alleys that branch off left and right. Platanos houses the Leros island council and library and there are many shops, cafes and supermarkets.

Platanos lerosExtensively bombed by the British in World War Two, much has survived or been restored. At the top of the hill is the main square which holds one of the biggest markets on Leros.

The Venetian castle dominates and you can drive up to it or walk, although the walk involves about 300 steps, for extensive views of Leros and a chance to see the beautiful 10th century Church of Our Lady which stands inside the castle.

As well as a small museum in the castle church there is a good archeological museum on the main road, housed in the renovated Astiki Sholi built in 1882.

Lakki the main port of Leros

lakki lerosIf you arrive by sea on the island of Leros, you will most likely disembark at the port of Lakki. This city of the Dodecanese is absolutely worth a visit, especially if you are a lover of rationalist architecture.

A visit to the city of Lakki, in fact, represents a real journey through time in the Italian 1920s. This city shows many traces of the Fascist settlements, perfectly mixed with Byzantine art and art deco influences.

Do not miss the wonderful market in the central square, the clock tower and the particular architecture of its buildings. Do not miss this city on the island of Leros, the result of the Italian utopia of the twentieth century.

Alinda the tourist resort of Leros

alindaIf you love the sea and nightlife, in Leros you cannot miss the Alinda resort. Here you will find a large number of accommodations for all budgets and needs, all a stone’s throw from the beach to fully enjoy the wonders of the Aegean Sea.

Furthermore, being the most touristic place on this Greek island, you will find everything you need to make the most of your holiday: bars, typical taverns, small supermarkets and offices to rent a vehicle.

Alinda is a beautiful village of Leros with traditional white houses and narrow alleys full of flowers and perfumes. In Alinda we find the first historic hotel on the island, which has now been transformed into a guesthouse, but also the beautiful Belenis Castle which contains the town library, and a museum.

In the courtyard of the castle, various cultural events are held which alternate throughout the year. Various churches and monasteries remain scattered around the area and it is worth giving them a visit. Accommodation, taverns and cafes can also be found easily in the Alinda area.

But not only! Alinda, in fact, is the longest beach on the island of Leros, ideal, thanks to the sand and small pebbles, for families and children, but also for lovers of water sports who can find here all the necessary equipment for hire to explore the backdrops.

Agia Marina the capital of Leros

agia marina lerosAgia Marina is the capital of the island of Leros, dominated by a wonderful castle from the Byzantine era.

Here is the second port of the island, from which ferries depart for excursions to the island or to nearby places, ideal for day trips. Lose yourself in its typically Greek alleys and explore this labyrinthine city built into the hills.

Near the port you can admire the Bourtzi fortress, also do not miss its collection of archaeological finds, its churches and the Panagia Castle overlooking the Apitiki hill, from here the view is wonderful! 

Panteli, the top destination in Leros

panteliTo the south, down the hillside from Platanos is the small seaside resort of Panteli or Pandeli. The road drops steeply down to the beach where there is limited parking.

Cafes and tavernas embrace an attractive strip of sand and shingle in the deep bay with a couple of tavernas encroaching onto the shore.

The sea is shallow here with a few stones that give way to sand further out so this is a good beach for families with children.Tamarisk trees behind provide natural shade while the small harbour is usually packed with fishing boats and yachts.

panteli lerosA cafe overlooks the sands from the southern headland and a newly paved walk beyond has views of the beach at Vromolithos.

Also overlooking Panteli on a ridge below the ruins of the Venetian castle is a line of six ancient windmills.

Panteli is a pleasant, mild seaside resort that makes for good base for exploring Leros, with plenty of places to eat and easy access to the busier villages of Platanos and Agia Marina. 

Xirokampos on the south tip of Leros

Xirokambos LerosIn the extreme south of the island Xirokampos is an old seaside village at the end of a small inlet. It’s only about four kilometres from Lakki and well signposted but those who miss the beach road turnoff end up in a large quarry and sharing the narrow and unfenced road with giant lorries.

The village, although tiny, has an impressive football stadium among the olive groves, with almond and cypress trees spread along the valley. There are plenty of rooms to rent in the area and there is a campsite based here.

Above the village is an ancient castle, Paliokastro, built on the site of an even older Acropolis, thought to date from around 2,500BC.

The beach is coarse sand with a few trees and bisected by a small jetty from which local schoolchildren like to dive. For the more adventurous there is also a diving school based here.

Shady tavernas are parked behind the beach and out to sea sits the tiny islets of Glaronisa and beyond them the very northernmost tip of the island of Kalymnos. 

Vromolithos the best beach of Leros

vromolithos-lerosAround the headland from Panteli and down a hill off the Platanos road is a long beach at Vromolithos.Often touted as the biggest and best beach on the island it turns out to be only the biggest. There is shingle and coarse sand, a couple of tavernas and a few sunbeds.

Coarse sand turns to shingle and stone in the middle with dense vegetation all around and some trees on the beach to provide shade. The straight beach runs the length of a large open bay.

The biggest problem is the slabs of rock just under the surface of the sea along the length of the beach. The slabs are large, flat and extend well offshore, many with deep crevices and a slippery seaweed coating on top.

The slabs are extensive enough to make swimming a problem unless bathers are prepared to venture some way offshore.

Apartments dot the low hill behind and there are shops, minimarkets and cafes within easy walking distance. There is plenty of good parking near the Taverna Paradisos.

The resort is also close to both Platanos and Panteli so there is plenty of variety for those who base a holiday here.

Things to do in Leros

 

Swim at Agia Kioura beach

To the north-east, on the island of Leros, or Lero, surrounded by wild nature you can find the small beach of Agia Kioura. The place takes its name from the church that dominates it from above, reach it with a short walk to enjoy a wonderful view. This beach is not equipped, but it is a favorite of the locals for its beauty and tranquility, as well as for the cleanliness of the sea.

agia-kioura-leros

Dining out at Panteli

Panteli, near Platanos, is one of the main cities of Leros, is located in the east of the island and its beach is very popular, especially because it retains the typical and charming aspects of an ancient fishing village. The equipped beach can often be very crowded and is also an ideal mooring point for many small private boats who want to enjoy the beauty of the place. You cannot organize a holiday in Leros without visiting Pantelis and eating in one of its typical taverns.

Panteli is a beautiful village of Leros with white houses and a population made up largely of fishermen. It has few accommodations but some excellent tavernas serving fresh fish and seafood, which every tourist should try at least one evening during their vacation

Pandeli leros

See the Panagia Kavouradena Church

If you love to explore the religious buildings of which the Greek islands are rich, in Leros do not miss the Panagia Kavouradena church, for the virgin of the Crabs, unique for its location built into the rock on the beach near the village of Xirokambos in the south of the island. To reach it, simply walk along the coast up to a bell tower, and then go down to the beach. Enjoy this wonderful walk to reach a place full of charm and uniqueness.

kavouradena leros

Visit Drymonas

To the south of the island of Leros, inland, is Drymonas, a small settlement where you can see a 14th-century church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, rich in frescoes and built using cyclopean stones. In addition, its beach is also very popular, but it gets crowded easily due to its size. In this small town, you can also find a large number of hotels and accommodations, as well as lovely typical restaurants.

drymonas-leros

The water mill of Agia Marina

If you are in the city of Agia Marina, on the Greek island of Leros, you cannot fail to notice the picturesque windmills of which it is rich, especially along the road that leads uphill towards its picturesque castle.

In addition, the mill is truly a distinctive symbol for this island and are found in many places, even in the water, giving unique shots and memories not only for your photos. Many mills in Leros have now been converted to lodgings, bars or typical taverns, thus creating magical atmospheres.

leros-water-mill-agia-marin

Try the local food

To conclude our guide of things to do and see in Leros, we could not miss an “excursion” through the local gastronomy. The food that you will taste in the local bars and taverns is simple and based on fresh fish, typical cakes and honey-based desserts.

But in addition to fish, also meat-based recipes, especially veal and chicken, can never be missing, especially during the holidays, as well as many vegetarian dishes of which Greek cuisine is rich. Do not miss the amigdalotà and cucuvades, the typical sweets, and the laghites flan, the patsavuropita sheep cheese and the pugachia sfogliatelle, ending the meal with a good glass of sumada.

Climp up the Castle of Leros

From Platanos we go up the steps towards the castle which dominates high on the hill. Crowds of people follow the same route every 15th August to go up and pay their respects to the Panagia tou Kastrou (The Virgin Mary of The Castle).

During the Knighthood, in the 15th century, parts of the Byzantine fortifications were strengthened and the outer precinct of the castle was built (the two inner precincts date back to the Middle Byzantine Period). From the churches of the castle, in the Middle Byzantine Age, the Holy Trinity may have been founded (it bears frescoes of the 15th century), while the rest were built during the Knighthood. The Virgin of the Castle was built around the end of the 17th century.

castle-of-panagia-leros

Explore the ancient Paliokastro

The oldest castle in the history of Leros is the castle of the Lepida (Paliokastro) which is located on the top of the hill above Xirokampos. The church of Panagia, which is found in its interior, was built in the 4th Century A.D. and was later renovated. In its forecourt there is a half destroyed mosaic which has lasted till today. The walls to the north east are cyclopean, according to archaeologists, because the stones are square and each one weighs about 500 kilos.

paleokastro-leros

Agia Kioura a church with unique icons

The church of Agia Kioura is located behind the bay of Partheni in a wonderful totally blue, small bay. The idea of painting the icons in it came from Manolis Glezos, Kyriakos Tsakiris and Andonis Karagiannis who were political prisoners at the Army base of Partheni in Leros during the seven year dictatorship of Greece.The Ministry of Culture declared Agia Kioura a monument for preservation and a work of art.

agia-kioura

The Painting of Icons in Agia Kioura

The idea to paint icons in St Kioura came from Manolis Glezos, Kyriakos Tsakiris and Andonis Karagiannis who were political prisoners in the Army base at Partheni on Leros during the period of 1967 – 1972. The idea was made known to the commander of the base, Mr. Panagiotis Spirakis, who along with his approval of the idea, gained the permission of the Bishop Isidoros. In turn father Meletios suggested the renovation and painting of icons in the country chapel of Agia Kioura or Matrona which were near the army base.

agia-kioura-icons

The artistic value of the works

agia-kioura As models for the icons simple men and women were used from Leros, priests and even policemen were used. In this way twenty small and large works of art were created.

These icons break away from the traditional Byzantine artistic style. From the start of the work, the Lerians warmly embraced the work of the inmates, trying to support them with material and moral support. The Lerians stance on this was of great significance if we take into account the hard years of dictatorship. In the end the responsibility for the icon painting was given to the artists Kyriakos Tsakiris, Andonis Karagiannis and Takis Tzaneteas.

The works lasted eight months ( they were completed in 1970 ), consisting of exhausting work, up to twelve hours a day, constantly under the eye of the three prison guards who supervised the inmates, all under terrible working conditions. The conclusion of the work revealed a true masterpiece of contemporary art. The works distinguish themselves through both their distinct style and unique energy where contemporary man is reflected through the faces of the saints, his pain and his steadfastness, his greatness and his grandeur, as K. Tsakiris himself says. This work of Art has been commended from time to time by intellectual circles in Greece and abroad.

Visit the Belenis Tower

In Alinda is the Belleni tower, which houses the Historical – Folklore Museum “Manolis Isychos”.

A preserved monument with elements of medieval architecture, the tower was built by the wealthy expatriate and benefactor of Leros Parisi Belleni (1871-1957) during the years 1925-1927.

Here is housed as well  the Historical & Folklore Museum of the island, with works by the political prisoner, artist Kyriakos Tsakiris, the same one who painted together with the other inmates, Agia Kioura. You will also see some items by the pianist George Themelis, the cover from the Treaty of Sevres, the watch from the legendary destroyer “Queen Olga”

belenis-tower

Visit the church on the rock Panagia Kavouradena

LEROS, PANAGIA KAVOURADENAPanagia Kavouradaina located in the settlement of Xirokampos, 3.5 km from Lakki, there will be a very small church, inside the rocks. Access is by many steps. You will see an image of the Virgin Mary in which a crab is depicted holding the Virgin Mary in its calipers.

According to tradition, a fisherman when he was bitten by a crab saw an image of the Virgin Mary opposite him, on the rocks and took it with him. He took her to the village church, but the icon, the next day, returned to the rocks. A small church was then built on this site.

A second version of how the church was built is the following: many years ago two fishermen from Kalymnos set out one day to go fishing. The bad weather however did not allow them to fish for long. When the wind started blowing and the weather got worse they decided to moor at Diapori. So that they would not waste a night’s fishing they decided to fish near the beach with a harpoon to catch an octopus or anything they found in by the light of their fishing lamp.

PANAGIA KAVOURADENA leros

As they looked down to the seabed they discerned a big group of crabs. When they filled their fishing baskets with crabs, and they had prepared to leave, a miracle happened: A piece of wood rose to the surface at the exact spot where they were fishing, although the currents were pushing it behind their boat.

They stopped, full of curiosity, and took it out of the water. When they cleaned it, they saw that it was the icon of “Panagia”. They kissed the icon and crossed themselves. In the morning, when they arrived in Kalymnos, they both went home. One taking the basket with the crabs and the other the icon of “Panagia”. He hung it in a corner of his house and left a small olive oil lamp alight next to it. On the third night while the fisherman was sleeping, he saw the “Panagia” in his sleep and she said to him: “Take me to Leros and build me a little church, where you found me. Don’t forget to do it!” When he woke up, the fisherman told his friend and they set off for Leros.

LEROS, PANAGIA KAVOURADENA ICONThey arrived at the rocks of Diapori. They tied up their boat and they went to find Lerian builders to build a church. When it was built they placed the icon of “Panagia” on the wooden iconostasis. A few days later, they returned to Kalymnos satisfied that they had realized the “Panagia’s ” wish. However, three days later the fisherman saw “Panagia” in his sleep, whose eyes were full of pain and with an angry look on her face, saying to him: “My child, you set me up well in my corner. Go back again and build me the church where you found me. I’m waiting for you”.

The Kalymnian was at a loss when he arrived in Leros and saw the church demolished. He tried to find the icon of the “Panagia”, unsuccessfully. Disappointed he took the road to Xirokampos. To his great surprise he saw the icon against the rocks a little further away from the demolished church. The fisherman thought that as the “Panagia” wanted that spot to be where her church was, there it must be built. This is how it happened and is still located there, up until today. We celebrate her greatness every year on the 8th of September.

Romantic walk to Agios Isidoros

The most picturesque small church of Leros. On the top of a rock connected to the coast by a small bridge over the water, is one of the most photographed places of the island. Whitewashed with a red dome and a small yard outside the church.

Built on the ruins of an ancient temple on a rock formation in the middle of the sea, in the Isidoros area on the island of Leros, there is a small church connected to the mainland only by a small concrete bridge. Thanks to its location in the middle of wild nature, the church of Agios Isidoros offers visitors a unique spectacle at all hours of the day, especially at night!

Located at the area of Kokkali in the west part of the island. You can get there by taxi, car or a bike. Head to the road from the Alinda crossing to the Airport, after Kamara you will see a sign to Agios Isidoros. Folllow the road that passes through a nice landscape and turn to the left.

The church is dedicated to Saint Isidoros and the locals use it for marriages and babtism celebrations. It is remarcable that many Lerian have the name Isidoros or Sideris and Isidora.

agios isidoros

 

Visit the war museums

There are two war museums on the island today, which attract the interest of visitors. The first, which belongs to the municipality of Leros, is housed in the Tunnel of Merkia and the private Museum of War Finds of the collector Ioannis Paraponiaris.

Both exhibits in their showcases starter material and other objects that were found scattered on the island or retrieved from its seas and are related to the Battle of Leros and beyond.

leros-the-war-museum

Discover the beaches of Leros

The 60 kilometers of coastline on the island of Leros are full of large secluded bays and inlets, with picturesque golden or dark sand beaches always accompanied by crystal clear waters. Some of these beaches are tourist resorts made up solely of deserted sands, others are very organized and complete with restaurants, bars and other facilities. Some of them offer water sports and wind-surfing, as well as scuba diving schools

On the east coast of Leros we point out the pebble beaches of Vromolithos, famous for its colored pebbles and the ideal waters for snorkeling, the beach of Panteli with sand and pebbles, while for those looking for the sandy shores, perhaps a little crowded, we remember the beaches of Alinda and that of Agia Marina.
On the north coast, you can spend a nice day at the beach on the sheltered Blefouti beach.

Here the coast is lined with tamarisk trees and there are outlets to the sea with magnificent views of the gulf. The waters are crystal clear and possess incredible hues of various shades of blue and azure.
The longest beach of Leros is instead that of Gourna which is located on the west coast, and is characteristic for its dark sand and green waters.
Other beaches worth mentioning are those of Partheni, Dioliskaria and the small but nice beach of Merikia.

leros-beaches

Where is Leros ?

The island of Leros in Greece is located between Kalymnos and Patmos in the Dodecanese archipelago. The capital of the island is the city of Platanos and the natural port of Lakki is the main one.

Given its proximity to the other islands of the Dodecanese, it is really easy to get to Leros from Kos or Rhodes, for example, but we will see below in detail how to get to Leros, in addition to the main attractions of the island.

where is leros ?

How to get to Leros ?

Thanks to its airport, you can arrive on the island comfortably by plane. From Athens, the capital of Greece, you will reach Leros in just an hour. In addition, you can arrive on the island by ferry departing from Athens, from the nearby islands of the Dodecanese and, finally, also from the Cyclades.

How to get to Leros by plane

The plane is certainly the fastest and most comfortable way to reach Leros. From Athens, with Aegean Airlines or Olympic Air it only takes an hour to get to the island. In addition, we recommend that you book a flight from Italy to Athens and then the connecting flight from Athens to the island. We recommend that you book flights in advance, the planes arriving on the island are small and fill up quickly, especially in high season.

How to get to Leros by Ferry

You can choose between two companies to make these routes, Blue Star Ferries and Dodekanisos Seaways. With Blue Star Ferries you can get to Leros from Athens, Rhodes, Kos and Kalymnos, as well as from Symi, Patmos and Naxos. Being routes that require several hours of navigation, especially from Athens, it is preferable to travel at night and book a cabin for an even more comfortable journey.

All ferries to and from the island depart from Lakki, a port located 3 km south of Platanos.