kastellorizo greeces best kept secret

Kastellorizo is the perfect place to get away from the world for a couple of days, a romantic backdrop to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It’s a place that few people of heard of and even fewer go to. If you want to escape from the crowds and really get away from the world this is the place to go.

We left home early in the morning and arrived at the airport in Rhodes just as the sun came up. It’s a very short flight from Rhodes to Kastellorizo. 30 minutes after take off, with a drinks service on board, the little Dash-8 aircraft landed and we found ourselves in the very small and relaxed Kastellorizo airport.

heading to a Dash 8 Olympic air at Rhodes airport

the sun was just coming up

collecting baggage at Kastellorizo airport

baggage collection cart at Kastellorizo

getting on a Dash 8 Olympic air

there’s something extra exciting about a small plane

waiting for the taxi Kastellorizo airport

arrivals and departures at one of the cutest airports I’ve seen…

A little bit of history:

Kastellorizo is a very small island on the edge of Greece. Just 2km from the southern Turkish coastal town of Kas. It’s officially called Megisti but known by it’s later name Kastellorizo said to mean the red castle.

The history of this small island is enough to make most people dizzy. In the twentieth century alone it’s been controlled by the Turkish, French, Italians, British. Finally in 1947 along with the rest of the Dodecanese it became Greek once more. There’s been bombardments in both world wars, they suffered a major earthquake in 1927, and major fire in 1944 when most of the buildings on the harbour were gutted.

At the end of the 19th century there was a population of about 10,000 on the island, today it has a permanent population of around 500. Most of the islands 3 story houses with their narrow alleys were destroyed and there are more “Kazzies” in Australia today than in Kastellorizo.

The buildings now standing on the island are dotted around the 2 harbours and the hillside between. Many have been lovingly restored and painted in soft shades to create a really beautiful guest houses and hotels. Some of the restorations have been funded by the Greek migrants to Australia. Many of them can be found swapping the Aussie winter for a Greek summer each year. Dotted around are still lots of restoration projects.

For those of you interested this is an inside into the Kazzie’s and life in Kastellorizo 20 years ago.

At the airport the only taxi and mini bus on the island were waiting to transport all the passengers down to the main harbour. At €5 each, the journey of 2.5km took about 10 minutes and dropped us off at the entrance to the port where a couple of the kafenions were just opening up.

The visitors all drifted off in different directions, a young couple with a baby were greeted very excitedly by what appeared to be the γιαγιά (grandmother) and one couple were waiting for the Olive Garden to open up to get a room. The majority of those arriving were either Greek, Italian or Australian speaking.

Kastellorizo ferry booking shop early morning

Taxi drop off point you can also book your ferry tickets here

Kastellorizo harbour kafenion early morning

early customers and our first glimpse of the harbour

We’d booked The Agnanti Studios which are between the two harbours on the coast. Unsure of the distances we took the only island taxi, €5 seemed to be the going rate for any journey.

The drive took us over the top and around to the other harbour then to the guest house. It gave us good views, an idea of the size of the settlement and other places to visit including an interesting looking church.

This early in the morning we expected to be dropping off our bag and heading into the harbour. We were met outside the beautiful neoclassical style building with a warm greeting from the owners Vassilis and Kleopatra.

Despite the hour our room was ready, the pictures on their website do not do it justice. The building had been restored with care and attention to detail, the kitchenette was well equipped and fridge already had fresh fruit and water inside. A comfortable and relaxing haven from the world.

Then there was the view, the building stands right on the edge of the ocean. Our door was on the side of the building with a couple of stools and a table, it was in the shade and overlooked a little quayside with a few umbrellas and sun beds, then steps leading into the clear blue waters. Out the front we had a small furnished terrace with comfortable chairs and a stunning view of the small island opposite with a couple of ruined buildings.  There were a variety of small ships sailing and some anchored near by and in the distance we could make out the buildings of Kas and the mountains of Turkey.

Looking at the view it was only a few moments before we saw our first turtle. A small head appeared just in front of us now I knew this was going to be an amazing trip.

Agnanti studios

Our first view of the studios

view from our room at Agnanti Studios

a room with a view…

Agnanti Studios view from the balcony

early morning view from the balcony

We decided the waters were so inviting a swim was the only way to start. After all we were on holiday. The water was refreshing and yet warm enough to swim, paddle, snorkel or just float for hours. No-one else was up yet so we had the water to ourselves. Eventually a few people did come down to the quay, but it was still a tranquil place.

A small boat with a friendly captain Kostas came around and while floating in the sea we arranged to go on a trip to the blue cave with him the next morning at 9am.

swimming deck at Agnanti Studios

great spot to swim from

swimming in Kastellorizo

we could have stayed in the clear warm water all day

After cooling off in the water it was time to head round into the main harbour for breakfast. The walk took us along an old and uneven stone pathway, up and down steps, along the cliff side and between houses. There were stunning views around every corner.

5-10 minutes later having stopped to take lots of pictures we were at the mosque end of the harbour. There’s a rooftop at the end for the all important selfie with the harbour behind you.

 

kastellorizo harbour entrance

our walk brought us in behind those buildings to the mosque

kastellorizo view from the walkway

view on our walk to the harbour

morning on the harbour Kastellorizo

a morning coffee on the harbour

view from the mosque end of the harbour Kastellorizo

our first view of the whole harbour

We took a walk around the harbour before deciding on having breakfast at The Radio Cafe, the food was delicious and the coffee good, but the view was stunning.

We were right next to the water, a fisherman was cleaning his nets near and attracting two large turtles to swim right next to us. I had heard about and seen pictures of the giant turtles in the harbour to see them was amazing.

Kastellorizo harbour early morning

The harbour was quiet when we arrived

breakfast omlette goats cheese tomato and basil

delicious breakfast

kastellorizo harbor view from breakfast

a fishing boat arrives

kastellorizo harbour cat waiting for fish

the cats are also hoping for some scraps

kastellorizo harbour turtle

The turtles are so close you could reach out and touch them

We could have spent all day watching those turtles, but wanted to see a little more of the village. We went on a gentle walk round the harbour and back streets, nothing is rushed, there are no crowds, no loud music and no vehicles.

Wandering around alleys and in small boutique shops we found a mixture of good quality Greek, Turkish and hand made items on sale, all very different from things we’ve seen on other islands.

We stopped for frappé and watched the world slowly go by. A ferry arrived with a few day trippers across from Turkey. There were a few people in each taverna, a few people swimming in the harbour. Overall it was a beautifully quiet and relaxed place.

Kastellorizo wandering around

It’s hot to wander in August

Kastellorizo colourful chairs on the harbour

a view around every corner

kastellorizo pink house

colourful houses with hints of the past glory

Kastellorizo an alley way

wandering cool alley ways

Kastellorizo a taverna on the harbour

lots of places to stop for a drink

katellorizo hidden taverna

lots of quiet spots to while away the day

It was soon afternoon and we headed up the white painted stairway near the ferry drop off and found ourselves at the archeological museum around 2.30 which just gave us time to have a look around before it closed at 3pm

A small museum it was spread across several rooms and two floors of an old ottoman style building and had some really interesting pieces. It gave a glimpse into the ancient past with pottery found on wrecks nearby alongside some more recent history of the island.

beetles in a row

we found these on the way up

kastellorizo museum view from the top

view from the top

kastellorizo entrance to the museum

entrance to the museum

kastellorizo museum courtyard

looking into the museum courtyard

The rest of the afternoon we spent swimming and relaxing at the guest house.

That evening a small cruise ship was in harbour the tavernas and bars were buzzing with activity. There was a cool breeze blowing and it was great place to sit and have a drink. There were lots of places to eat and we had a delicious dinner of fresh grilled fish.

kastellorizo harbour evening

the small cruise ship looks huge…

kastellorizo harbour night

night falls on the harbour

Next morning the only sound was the gentle lapping of the water outside our room. We had a very filling breakfast provided at the guest house with a generous spread of fresh bread, Greek yoghurt, honey, fruit and an omelette. We were set for the day and our trip to the blue cave.

The cave was a short boat ride around the island, I’d seen the pictures but was still amazed by the colour of the water. Caused by a trick of the light in the mornings it’s definitely worth seeing. We arrived and the tide was quite high so had to transfer into another boat, there were 7 of us plus the captain. The weight of us all was needed to lower the boat in the water and allow it to pass under the rocks and the very small entrance. Everyone had a lay completely flat in the boat to keep our heads safe from the rocks above.

Once inside it opens into a church like space with a vaulted ceiling, it’s 75 metres long, 40 metres wide and 35 metres high.

blue cave trip heading out from Agnanti

Leaving the Agnanti…

blue cave entrance

the cave entrance

inside the blue cave Kastellorizo

everyone was very quiet

blue cave trip heading out

the water was calm

inside the blue cave

the colour is amazing

blue cave boat trip

heading back at speed on the calm water

blue cave kostas boat

Kostas dropped us off at the Agnanti about 40 minutes later

The rest of the day was spent swimming and relaxing by the guest house. We left our belongings with the owner, who also offered us the use of a shower and gave us a ride to the port ready to get the ferry home to Rhodes.

We went a little early to sit with a frappe and watch the turtles a little more. All too soon the Blue Star ferry arrived and it was time for us to leave. A short visit and certainly one that we will do again. Kastellorizo a great place for a short visit, though I think it would also be really good to relax here for a week or more if we could.

The ferry back took around 4 hours, we enjoyed the cool breeze blowing on deck in the shade, relaxed reading our books, watched the coast of Turkey, had some refreshments and even managed a short snooze. Just over 36 hours after leaving home we were back to feed the animals by 7pm.

Kastellorizo 2 turtles in the harbour

great to see the turtles again

leaving kastellorizo harbour

leaving the harbour

leaving Kastellorizo

but we will return to this haven on relaxation

Getting there:

Flights: Aegean Air flies from Rhodes daily during the summer months in a 37 seat Dash-8 leaving Rhodes at 6.50am, the returning flight leaves Kastellorizo at 7.50am. Tickets as of August 2016 are €48.50 one way.

Ferries: All ferries to Kastellorizo go via Rhodes.You can book online or at ticket offices around Greece. We bought our ferry ticket in Kastellorizo.

  • Blue Star Ferries run on Monday’s and Friday’s from as little as €20 per person check their site for times.
  • The Dodekanisos Pride a catamaran runs every Wednesday during the tourist season check their site for prices and times.

 Places to stay:

We booked this trip on line using booking.com, and stayed at Agnati Studios, you can check out reviews of other places to stay on Trip Advisor. We would also recommend contacting the property owners directly, you may find more availability and better rates. If things appear to be booked up they may be able to recommend somewhere that isn’t available on line.

 

Have you been to Kastellorizo or are you planning trip? Which is your favourite Greek island? If you enjoyed this and found it useful please comment and share. Thank you