Known to be the ancient Greek goddess Artemis’ favourite island for hunting (thanks to the island’s large deer population) Leros is not only a mythical island, but a place full of enduring history which is reflected in monuments such as the impressive Medieval castle and hidden inside the island’s museums. But this tiny island of the Dodecanese of course also boasts magnificent beaches, which are known for their crystal clear water and fascinating seabed. So follow us along on a tour of this island rich in charm, mystery and history.
How to get to Leros? One can fly to Athens and take a small plane to Leros or land on Kos and reach the island by ferry. We suggest booking one of the marvellous houses or bed and breakfasts present on the island, namely either Villa Clara (which also has an output in Beirut) a hotel located in Agia Marina and housed in a neoclassical villa, or Casa Leros, a white vacation rental house nestled on a hill, located 80 meters from the sea.
On the first day in Leros, take a trip to Xirokampos. The most southern part of the island, opposite Kalimnos, Xirokampos is full of taverns by the sea where you can stop to eat and swim. In the surrounding area, a visit to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Crabs is a must. Nearby, you can also visit the famous Leros asylum, which can however be visited only on reservation.
Next up, a stop in Lakki, is a must, especially for history buffs. The city of Portolago (today known as Lakki) is located on the Greek island of Leros, in the Dodecanese. It was founded in 1932 by the Italian administration (the Dodecanese was an Italian territory from 1912 until the end of the Second World War) and represents a perfect example of a foundation city of the fascist era in colonial Italy. The name Portolago was given in honour of Mario Lago, Governor of the Italian Aegean Islands from 1922 to 1936. The main characteristic of Portolago with respect to the other founding cities is its architectural language: while the architecture in other cases is mainly classicist and monumental, in this city of the Dodecanese prevails a rationalist style, which makes it a model city in this architectural style.
However, history buffs must eat too, so these are the places in Lakki where we’d suggest stopping by for a bite: Petrinos for meat and the tastiest moussaka on the island and Lime beach bar, a few kilometres from the centre of Lakki, is a spot on the sea perfect both for aperitif or dinner (it also has sunbeds and direct descent to the sea if you want to go for a swim).
Our second day in Leros takes us to Vromolithos, a beach located on the southeast of Pandeli. Vromolithos is a beach known for its crystal clear waters and two beautiful
taverns where you can stop for lunch: Taverna Paradisos (typical Greek tavern) that is prepped with sunbeds and umbrellas just below the tavern or Cafè del Mar a little more international, and is connected by a small road to the bay of Pandeli.
If you want to stay in the same area for dinner, we’d suggest having dinner at either Dimitri o Karaflas, a tavern which offers traditional cuisine located on beautiful terraces overlooking the sea.
If instead, you don’t want to spend all day beachside, then a visit to the neighbouring small fishing harbour of Pandeli will be a nice break from baking all day in the sun. Pandeli is located at the foot of the iconic windmills of Leros. On the bay, there are several very characteristic Greek taverns with small tables overlooking the sea.
From here by car or Vespa you can reach the famous mills of Leros, Unesco heritage, and the fortress/castle from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of Agia Marina and Alinda.
We’d suggest to visit at sunset and stop for an aperitif at the View Restaurant, built on the terraces of the mills.
Where to eat? Taverna El Greco is one of the best restaurants on the island, known for its typical Greek cuisine and freshly caught fish (we advise ordering the octopus with favas and tuna carpaccio). Alternatively, Pirofani is also fantastic and is located next to El Greco (they make very good feta in kataifi pastry!).
The third day takes us to Agia Marina. Agia Marina is the second largest port on the island, dotted by colourful traditional houses and characteristic narrow streets. From here, you reach Christos by foot, a very characteristic village with a street that leads to the castle.
On the way to Alinda is Mylos, one of our favourite places on Leros, a small restaurant with local gourmet cuisine, with a view overlooking the mill.
Nearby you can also find Alinda, a tongue of sand divided by the sea on the right and inns on the left. It is necessary to go through it and climb over it to get to one of our favourite beaches, Dyo Liskaria. This beach, in particular, is recommended for a bath and lunch at Zefyros.
On the road from Alinda to the airport, in Gourna, you’ll find Agios Isidoros, a small church that stands on an islet connected to the land by a narrow footbridge that passes through the sea. It is one of the most evocative places on the island, and must be visited at sunset.
There are many legends surrounding this beautiful sea-chapel. One of them has it that the miraculous icon of Saint Isidore, now kept in the church, was caught in the net of a one-handed fisherman. From her rescue from the sea, the icon was so glad that she promised to fulfill the fisherman's wish. He wanted to have a second hand, which she magically grew promptly. To show his gratitude, he built the beautiful chapel of Saint Isidore in the place he luckily caught the icon.
To the north of the island, in the direction of the airport you’ll also find one of the most beautiful beaches: Blefoutis. A long tongue of sand and pebbles in the shade of ancient olive trees. Here you will find a small inn, known for its very good typical cuisine. This beach is also equipped with umbrellas and deck chairs.
Scuba diving enthusiasts will love exploring the surrounding area as it is full of wrecks underwater dating back to the second world war.
For a sea excursion near Leros, you can reach the small island of Arkangelos with its family-run lavender tavern. The beach is not equipped and can only be reached by sea so it is often deserted, a real paradise with turquoise waters.
To book you must call the tavern and the owner with his fishing boat makes two trips to the beach, per day. The fishing boat makes two round trips only for guests of the tavern.
If you can rent a gulet or a boat for two days we’d also recommend you to see Leros by sea and particularly Aspronissi, which owes its name to its white pebbles, making it the Maldives of the Dodecanese with its turquoise waters, or Arki.
Last but not least, one must end the trip with a night in Marathi, reachable only by private boat (no ferries arrive). It is the best-kept secret of the area, with only two inns on the sea! Here the real luxury is to be away from it all and to wake up and go to sleep with the sound of the sea.