From the squares of Platanos and Pandeli to a row of whitewashed windmills above the medieval castle in Gourna, Leros is an island where time seems to have stopped. Yet the emerald coast is alive with traditions and beauty that meld in surprising ways.
An interior designer might call it shabby chic, a tour operator would call it authentic, and for the island’s 8,000 residents it’s just home.
The island of Leros is the perfect choice if you want to get active on holiday and explore its culture while soaking up all that summer sunshine. With its beautiful seaside locations, a vibrant local scene and incredible cuisine, this hidden Greek gem has something for everyone!
The port of Lakki is a true surprise and one of the best places to start your exploration of the island. Originally built by the Italians in the 1930s when they occupied the Dodecanese Islands, this gorgeous harbour has been preserved and has a real Italo-Mediterranean feel to it!
From here you can catch a boat to visit some of the most beautiful beaches on the island including Alinda Bay, where you will find soft golden sand and crystal clear waters. You can also spend the day hiking up to the Castle of Pandeli, an ancient fortress with stunning panoramic views, or visiting the Cave of Kuklakia which is a natural wonderland full of impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
The iconic Bellenis Tower is another site that you must see during your stay on the island. This fascinating building features neogothic and Italian eclecticism elements and hosts the Folklore Museum of Leros. Here you can find costumes and religious artefacts from the past that are all interconnected with the island’s history.
Leros has a fascinating history having held essential ports and bays since the Peloponnesian War. Today Lakki Harbor is home to a large marina and hosts numerous yachts during the summer months. The island is also a sailor’s paradise with stunning beaches, hidden coves and clear seas. You can find great snorkeling and diving spots around Gourna, Vromolithos and Blefoutis Beaches. Leros is also a great place to learn about Greece’s rich wartime history! There are several historic castles and structures throughout the island. You can also read books like Four’s Destiny by Michael Powell and Cheese and Chalk by Alistair MacLean which are well written, enlightening and will give you a good insight into the wartime history of the island.
In Platanos you will find award winning butchers who are passionate about their food and will be a wealth of information on the local foods, places and events. Many of the restaurants will also serve meat dishes including lamb, goat and beef. The island is full of organic produce and many tavernas grow their own herbs in the courtyard. The island is known for its traditional songs and music and the nisiotika dance is performed during weddings, births, and for special occasions like the ’Feast Day of the Virgin Mary’ on 14 August. Thousands of pilgrims climb the hillside to the castle to pay homage to the Virgin.
Leros is a small island that is filled with a rich history and culture. From its beautiful beaches and charming villages to its delicious food, there is something for everyone on this underrated Greek treasure!
Unlike the sterile package resorts of Kos and Rhodes, this tiny island is filled with traditional Greek charm. Waterfront tavernas on pebbly Panteli are abuzz with local families, and fishermen untangle their nets at the dock. Stout ladies gossip knee-deep in the sea, and children chase after their dogs on the sandy beach. This is the antithesis of the frantic pace that typifies the other Dodecanese islands, and it’s one reason why Leros remains so much more authentic than its larger cousins.
Many of the island’s tavernas have been lovingly restored from derelict neoclassical buildings. The island’s folklore museum is also located in a historic building, Bellenis Tower, an impressive example of medieval fortification architecture with neoclassical elements. It displays photographs, relics and objects of everyday life from Leros as well as a remarkable collection of war relics.
Leros’s intimate population means that everyone goes to school together, are neighbors or relatives, and know each other well. In the past, tourism was kept to a trickle so that locals could earn their living from the island. Today, however, the island is too beautiful, the food is too delicious and the history too fascinating to keep quiet about it.
4. Agia Marina
A far cry from the overcrowded beaches and glitzy hotels on its Dodecanese neighbours, Leros is home to a unique culture forged by generations of islanders who have always relied on the sea. This is a place where waterfront tavernas on pebbly Panteli are abuzz with local families, fishermen untangle their nets at the dock and stout ladies in frilly hats gossip knee-deep in the water.
Whether it’s the awe-inspiring Castle of Pandeli, the monastery of Aghia Kioura or the head-spinning warren of back streets in Platanos, this underrated paradise has plenty to offer sailors. Whether you want to soak up the stunning landscapes and crystal-clear waters or immerse yourself in the charming villages and rich history, Leros is sure to leave you with a lasting impression.
Leros is a hidden gem that exudes authentic Greek charm. The island offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. From exploring historic landmarks to relaxing on its picturesque beaches, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The island’s quaint villages and pristine natural beauty are perfect for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. Moreover, its picturesque beaches and crystal-clear waters are perfect for those who want to relax and unwind. So if you’re looking for a hidden treasure, look no further than Leros! You’ll be glad you did.