Laid back Kefalos on the island of Kos

The trip started with a 9 hour flight from Toronto to Athens. A few hours after arriving at Athens airport, we took a quick flight to Kos airport. Kefalos was closer to the airport than the main town of Kos, and we arrived in the town after a 30 minute taxi ride. Home to just over 2000 people, Kefalos was a relaxing start to our trip. We decided not to rent a car in Kos as we wanted to start slow and just enjoy the environs around the western end of the island. It ended up being more than enough to keep up occupied for most of our stay on Kos.

The island of Kos. We stayed in Kefalos in the southwest, about 30 minutes drive from the airport located near the centre of the island

The town of Kefalos is interesting, as it is close to the ancient capitol of the island. However, an earthquake long ago led to Kos Town replacing it as the main economic hub. It’s distance from the main town gives Kefalos a slower pace, and reminded us of Paros and Naxos. The local bus came through a few times a day, and other than a few taxis and the occasional tour bus it was nice and quiet. There was a resort built close to the ruins that breaks some of the illusion of quiet, but it’s the exception right now. For how much longer, we’re not sure.

We are here

Nowadays the town of Kefalos is the gateway to beaches all along western coast of Kos. We didn’t need to travel far to enjoy them, as our hotel was a short walk from the main beach of the town (Paralia Kefalos). It was calm, clean and not too crowded, with the water being pleasant though not too warm. The water was shallow for quite a distance, and it almost looked like you could walk to the island. But swimming was required unless you rented one of the pedal-boats that were available. In the background was the Kastri, the remains of an old castle that used to guard against invaders and pirates. All that is left is a picturesque blue and white church in front.

Near the main beach (Paralia Kefalos) with the Kastri in the background

Just a little north was Agios Stefanos beach. This beach was busier because it included some ruins along with the views of the small island close by This beach had the unique backdrop of a large ruin. It had the remains of the Basilica of St. Stefanos built between 496 and 554 AD. The basilica survived one great earthquake of Byzantine times but not a later one, and fell into ruin. With calm, shallow waters and a resort close by, this section of the beach was popular.

The ruins of the Basilica Àgios Stéfanos (St. Stefanos) in the background
Surviving mosaic on the ground

We enjoyed swimming along this section of the beach before heading back. Later, we walked along the main road that hugged the harbour. There were a variety of restaurants along the way, giving us a chance to choose one for later. Approaching the mountain overlooking the harbour, it was clear there was more to the town up above. We’d be seeing it from another perspective soon enough.

Near the harbour. We would get a view from the top of the mountain a few days later
View from the harbour
Restaurant near the harbour. From fried cheese to calamari, everything was delicious

The flat area below the mountain is largely Kamari Bay, as the old town of Kefelos is located mostly above the harbour. We learned this when we rented an ATV from a local agency and drove up through the old town on the way to the beaches at the bottom of the mountains. Our ATV had a weak engine and climbing was a chore for it, as we discovered when getting up to the overlook above the town.

View of the town and Kamari Bay

We went to a few beaches using the ATV. The first was Paradise Beach, located about 15 minutes north-east of Kefalos. It was well known with tourists and locals alike–buses regularly visited and the beach was covered in sunbeds. The water was calm so it was popular with families. However, it was too crowded for us so we didn’t stay long.

We moved on and went to a beach not far from Paradise Beach. This one was called Kohilari Beach and it was on the north side, which mean stronger winds. It was a simpler beach with rougher water but worth a short swim. I had read that beaches on the northern side of the island have stronger winds and waves and this seemed to be true.

Finally we went to a beach on the western side called Agios Theologos Beach. This one was a longer drive but it included a stop at a local church.

The beach itself was completely different from the first two, with wild rock formations matching the waves coming in. Although it had more basic facilities we were able to rent an umbrella and a couple sunbeds and enjoyed the wilder side of the Aegean.

There was a restaurant near the beach
Sunbeds in the distance
The swimming area

Although the water was stronger we enjoyed this beach the most. It was quiet and not crowded at all.

Our favourite beach so far

We spent four nights in Kefalos and could easily have done a few more. It was a relaxing start to the trip.

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