If you’re interested in exploring Leros, there are several attractions to visit. Among them is the Panagia Kavouradena church. This church is unique for the fact that it’s built into a rock.
The island is also known for its gastronomy. You can enjoy various types of fresh fish at local taverns.
1. Climb the Tower
Leros is a place made for walking, with gentle curves in the roads and lush natural landscapes. It is also a great island to explore by bicycle. Its intimate population – about 8000 people – means that everyone knows each other and they know the history of the buildings they pass by. They have picked up derelict neoclassical houses and restored them as their fabulous summer homes, creating a town that would not be out of place in Positano.
The top attraction is the imposing castle that sits formidably on the hill above Agia Marina, dominating the skyline like an ancient painting come to life. Built in the 11th century and later occupied by the Knights of Saint John, it has been reinforced and restored many times since then.
It offers a great view of the sea and the two towns that flank it, as well as many other islands in the Aegean. The castle’s rocky structure is also home to a museum, with a collection of folklore items, including costumes and household goods. It also has artifacts from the various naval battles that took place on Leros, from antiquity to WWII.
The church of Aghia Kioura is not your typical Greek church; its dazzling icons and murals were painted by dissidents that were exiled to the island during the military junta of 1967-1974. Their depictions of the saints have a modern, humanistic air that will move you.
2. Visit the Museum
Located inside the castle, the Museum of Leros offers a glimpse into the island’s rich history. The exhibits here feature a wide array of items that tell the story of the region from pre-historic times until the mid-Byzantine period. The museum also houses a collection of inscriptions, coins, mosaics and vessels.
The museum is a must-see for history buffs. However, be aware that the facility is closed during winter months and only opens in the summer. The Belenis Tower Historic and Folk Museum in Alinda is another great place to visit on the island. It is housed in the former home of Parisis Belenis, a wealthy Lerian immigrant to Egypt, and contains an amazing array of embroideries, traditional clothes and musical instruments, domestic utensils, portraits and ecclesiastical vessels.
You should also check out the War Museum of Leros. It is located in the area of Merikia and features a restored war tunnel that was used as a shelter during WWII bombings and also doubled as a surgery. Inside the museum you’ll see decommissioned military vehicles, a fighter aircraft and various other items related to the battle of Leros.
The most important thing to remember is that a trip to Leros is not only about its natural beauty, it’s also about its rich culture and history. A trip to the castle is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the island’s past and how it helped shape its present.
3. Take a Tour of the Castle
The castle stretches along the steep hilltop, and from its top you can see all around. A visit to Leros is not complete without a tour of this strong medieval fortress.
The star-shaped citadel is one of the most impressive buildings built during Venetian rule. It was able to house and protect the entire population of the town. The inner courtyard reveals the remains of an ancient temple and a mosque as well as the governor’s residence. The single-aisled church of Panagia, built in the 18th century, is of great religious significance and a cultural symbol for the islanders. It has a magnificent gilded iconostasis and a Despotic throne.
A museum inside the tower is also worth a look. It has many exhibits relating to the history of Leros and the island, such as costumes and religious artifacts.
This unique structure is an absolute must-see for history buffs and those interested in architecture. The combination of Modernist, Bauhaus, Renaissance and Venetian elements is particularly interesting. In addition, the castle has a circular market hall and a restored Art Deco cinema. You can either walk up from Platanos or drive your car to the base of the castle. If you choose to walk, be sure to leave plenty of time, as the road can be a bit challenging and there are several steps up.
4. Enjoy the View
One of the best reasons to visit Leros is its stunning scenery and panoramic views. Whether you are looking to stroll around Platanos, where most accommodation options are located, or enjoy the view from one of the many beautiful village churches, there is plenty to see and photograph on this wonderful Greek island.
Leros is a paradise for nature lovers, hikers, and history buffs. Aside from its beaches, which are among the cleanest in the Aegean, Leros is home to a number of interesting sites that offer a glimpse into an ancient civilization. The islands’ medieval and Ottoman-era castles showcase the different influences of these centuries, while their church interiors are also a testament to Leros’s rich religious history.
The best way to reach Leros is by ferry from Athens or other nearby ports. To book your transport, we recommend using Direct Ferries, which offers a range of providers, times, and prices under one search. Leros has a large ferry port in Lakki, where most ferries disembark. From here, you can drive or walk up to the castle for an impressive view of the town below. You can also visit the smaller church inside the castle, which is well worth a visit, especially for its rare examples of rationalist architecture. This unique style combines elements of Modernism, Bauhaus, Renaissance, and Venetian styles to create a unique look for the island.