Reasons to visit Kimolos in Greece

If you’ve never heard of Kimolos island in Greece, you are not alone. The lesser known neighbour of Milos largely remains under the radar. Here are some reasons to visit Kimolos in Greece.

The Greek island of Kimolos in the Cyclades

Greece, my country, has over 200 inhabited islands. Some of them, like Mykonos or Santorini, are world-famous. Others, like Andros or Tinos, are less popular.

Many visitors travel here in search for what I like to call a “Real Greek Experience”. They are looking for places to visit that haven’t been affected by tourism. Or at least not massively affected.

View of the main town in Kimolos Greece

Kimolos definitely fits this description. The small, rugged Cycladic island has mostly kept its authentic character. You won’t find tons of beach bars, night clubs and posh restaurants. Instead, you will find friendly people, fantastic Greek food and wild, unspoilt landscapes.

Vanessa from Real Greek Experiences standing on a wild beach in Kimolos Greece

When you walk around Chorio, the main town, or really anywhere on the island, you will feel like time has stopped. You will see all the white-washed houses and churches you ever hoped for!

Church on the mountain in Kimolos

If this sounds like your style, read on for some reasons to visit Kimolos in Greece.

My personal experience in Kimolos

I first visited Kimolos back in 1997, with a company of five friends. We spent about ten days freecamping on one of the wild, sandy beaches.

Our aim was to spend some time in nature, relax, swim, and do nothing much. We woke up with sunrise and spent all our day and night on the beach. We met the few other freecampers and hung out together.

Beautiful beach in Kimolos Greece

The island had no gas station then, so the few times we needed to move we were all crammed in my tiny, tiny car. We ate freshly caught fish and didn’t really care about restaurants – though I do vaguely remember going to one taverna. We didn’t really do much in terms of sightseeing, as it didn’t seem important.

And this completes my short trip down memory lane!

Somehow I never returned to Kimolos since then. I hesitated, as I didn’t want to spoil those old, and probably slightly romanticized, memories.

Real Greek Experiences - Our car by the beach in Kimolos Greece

Until September 2020, when I visited again with my partner Dave. It was a little different this time! We stayed in a room, did a lot of sightseeing, and tried quite a few tavernas. We still spent a lot of time on the beach though, even on a couple of cloudy days.

After a week on the island, here are the reasons why I fell in love with Kimolos again!

Kimolos has kept its authentic character

It’s no secret that Greece attracts a lot of visitors. The development of tourism infrastructure has affected many areas of the country, which is more obvious on certain islands. This is why I suggest visiting Santorini in winter – but that’s another discussion.

Church in Chorio Kimolos

Kimolos is definitely not one of these affected places. Sure, there may be more tavernas and rooms to let than 10 or 20 years ago, but the island is still relatively unspoilt. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that many of the customers at the tavernas were actually locals!

In addition, Kimolos has some of the friendliest people I’ve met. They say that Greeks are welcoming and chatty, and I can’t disagree! However, the Kimolians take that to a completely different level.

I had some very long talks with random people I met around Kimolos. They were all happy to talk about their little paradise on earth and what life is like in winter.

Kimolos, my paradise, written on an alleyway

They all seemed to be proud of their island, and how it’s kept its authenticity. In fact, some of the people in their 50s and 60s mentioned that they often spent time with the freecampers a couple of decades ago… who knows, maybe we had met back then!

Kimolos is the perfect Greek island to relax

There’s nothing I love more than travelling, exploring and having new adventures. At the same time, there are also these times that I just want to take it easy!

Kimolos Greece is a relaxing island - Vanessa from Real Greek Experiences relaxing on a lounger!

In my experience, Kimolos is one of the most relaxed Greek islands I’ve visited. There is plenty to do and see, yet there isn’t the sense of urgency that I’ve felt in other places.

You can comfortably drive around all of Kimolos in a day, and visit the main villages and beaches. At the same time, you can easily spend a week here without getting bored. Or maybe two weeks. It really depends on what you are after.

Vanessa and Dave from Real Greek Experiences near a fishing village in Kimolos Greece

If you visit Kimolos, enjoy its slow-paced life. Go for a relaxed swim, read a book, and maybe get a siesta on the beach. Then head to one of the inexpensive local tavernas, order some delicious food, talk to the other customers, and watch the world go by.

There are some pretty unique landscapes in Kimolos

Kimolos is a volcanic island, just like Milos, its famous neighbour. You will see strange rock formations and colourful rocks everywhere you go.

Reasons to visit Kimolos Greece - White volcanic rocks

Some of the most recognizable minerals on the island are caoline, bentonite and perlite. Even if you are not a geology expert, you will still be impressed by the wild landscapes.

There are many hiking paths on the island, that you can use to get around. If you have a few days, it’s worth exploring some of the unusual scenery.

Unique street art in Kimolos Greece

Who knows, you might come across some cool street art too! This is a work by Sonke, an instantly recognizable street artist in Athens.

Visit Skiadi rock in Kimolos

One of the most famous places to visit in Kimolos is a large, mushroom-shaped rock, called Skiadi. This cool landmark has been sculpted naturally, over thousands of years.

Skiadi rock, a highlight in Kimolos Greece

The giant rock formation is made of several types of different materials. The softer ones, at the bottom of the rock, have slowly been corroded by the winds. The top part is made up of harder materials, that have been less affected.

You can either hike to Skiadi from the main town, or drive up the mountain, and then hike for 20-30 minutes. There are clear signs everywhere so it’s very easy to find it.

Signs to Skiadi rock in Kimolos

The location is just lovely, with beautiful views of the western beaches. Note – the winds in the area are really strong! Bring sunglasses to protect your eyes, and hold on to your hat.

Vanessa and Dave from Real Greek Experiences in front of Skiadi rock, Kimolos Greece

The path to Skiadi is really easy, so you can comfortably do it in sandals. Generally speaking though, other hiking paths in Kimolos are better done with closed shoes.

Kimolos has wild, unspoilt beaches

People who like rough, natural beaches will love Kimolos. You will find a mix of long stretches of sand, along with pebbly areas. Often, there are numerous cedar trees, providing some much needed natural shade.

The unspoilt Aliki beach in Kimolos Greece

Most of the beaches in Kimolos have no facilities such as loungers and umbrellas. If these are important to you, your best bet is the port beach, Psathi. It’s a small sandy beach, and it’s quite popular as it’s an easy walk from the main town.

The pretty port beach in Kimolos Greece

Alternatively, you can visit the picturesque white sandy beach of Prassa, to the north east of the island. I personally found it too busy, but it’s really photogenic!

The beautiful Prassa beach in Kimolos

On the south coast, you will find three adjacent, shallow beaches, Aliki, Bonatsa and Kalamitsi. These are the most meltemi-protected beaches in Kimolos, and can get quite popular. There are a few tavernas nearby, serving delicious Greek food.

Beautiful Kalamitsi beach, Kimolos

There’s normally a bus service to some of the beaches in Kimolos – check out the timetables when you arrive. However, if you want to be independent, it’s best to either rent a vehicle, or to hike.

Alternatively, you can take a boat trip around Kimolos. These tours often include a tour of the nearby island of Polyegos. Rumour has it that two people live there on a permanent basis!

{For what it’s worth, here are my own favourite beaches in Kimolos}

As we had our own car, we went to all the beaches in Kimolos, apart from a couple that are not easily accessible by land. I wanted to take a boat tour, but as it was an unusually windy week most of the boat trips were cancelled. Still, it was possible to spend time on most of the beaches on the island.

Vanessa from Real Greek Experiences on a wild, unspoilt beach in Kimolos Greece

My favourite beach in Kimolos was Mavrospilia. My suggestion is to head here in the afternoon, and stay for the best sunset in Kimolos, with a wild, rugged setting.

Snorkeling around the impressive rock formations is quite an experience.

Sunset from Mavrospilia beach in Kimolos Greece

From Mavrospilia, you can also walk or swim to the next beach, Ellinika, which is famous for the ancient city that lies underwater.

One of the reasons to visit Kimolos are its lovely beaches

I have to say, I spent a long time looking for any remains, but I am not sure I saw any! Ellinika beach itself isn’t so special as there are many pebbles.

You could also swim to Agios Andreas islet, where many ancient ruins have been found. Don’t try it on a day with strong winds, as the currents can get very dangerous. Back in 1997, one of my friends got seriously swept away!

Another couple of beaches I really liked were Monastiria and Soufli, to the north of Kimolos. If you have a car, you will need to leave it on the hill before Monastiria and continue on foot.

To get to Soufli, you will need to hike for an extra 20 minutes. Parts of that path are a little steep, but you will end up on a quiet, unspoilt beach with plenty of natural shade.

The remote beach of Soufli in Kimolos

Finally, I really liked Klima, a sandy beach close to Chorio, the main town. This would probably be my everyday beach if I stayed in Chorio.

The sandy Klima beach in Kimolos Greece

Chorio, the main town in Kimolos, is just lovely

I won’t lie – at first sight, I thought that Chorio was rather ugly. A couple of the buildings on the outskirts of the town seemed to have been built rather in haste, with no attention to style. Believe it or not, a couple of the buildings reminded me of the block of flats in Athens!

A church in Chorio Kimolos

How wrong was I! Yes, certain buildings didn’t fit the famous Cycladic style, but they were very few. I guess they just caught my eye.

As you are walking inside the small town, you will see all of the reasons that make the so-called Cycladic architecture so distinctive and famous.

"Everything will be alright" in Kimolos Greece

The white-washed alleys, the bougainvillea trees, the colourful windows and pots and the dozens of blue-domed churches are all there.

As for its name? “Chorio” means “village”, which I found a super-affectionate way to describe an island’s capital. Most of the other Cycladic capitals are named “Chora”, which means “country”, and in my ears has a very different connotation.

A flower pot in Chorio, the main town in Kimolos

Chorio is where many of the island’s accommodation and tavernas are based. At the time we were in Kimolos, none of the places we saw stuck out as “touristy”.

In fact, all of the taverna owners I spoke to live on the island year-round. I found that rather surprising, comparing to destinations like, for example, Mykonos.

The fishing villages of Kimolos are really cool

If you have been to Milos, you will probably remember the colourful fishing villages. Every fisherman used to keep his boat in a garage with a colourful door, while the family lived in a small house on top.

Reasons to visit Kimolos - Visit the quaint villages

Many of those boat garages in Milos have now been transformed to rooms to let. While you can still see fishermen living there, it is obvious that they are not the only residents these days! In all fairness though, the villages have kept their character, and are still one of the highlights in Milos.

Cool fishing village in Kimolos

In contrast, the fishing settlements in Kimolos, Goupa – Karra and Rema, have mostly kept their character so far. Granted, there are a couple of rooms to let as well, but they are not the majority. It was also very easy to strike a conversation with a couple of fishermen!

Rocks and boat garages in Kimolos Greece

These villages are walking distance from Chorio. Bring your swimsuit as well!

Kimolos has tons of history

As you will probably know, Greece has a very long history. Wherever you travel to, chances are that there will be an archaeological site nearby.

It is estimated that certain Cyclades islands have been inhabited since the 5th – 4th millennium BC. Ancient Delos and Ancient Akrotiri in Santorini are the most famous archaeological sites in the region.

Although Kimolos was often overshadowed by its larger neighbour, Milos, excavations on the island have revealed plenty of ancient artefacts.

The archaeological museum in Kimolos Greece

The small archaeological museum in Chorio, across the street from imposing Panagia Odigitria church, houses several objects from the 8th – 7th century BC. Most of them were found on Agios Andreas island and the areas around Ellinika beach, where the sunken city still exists.

Kimolos has its own Venetian Castle

One of my favourite places in Kimolos were the ruins of the Venetian Castle, referred to as “kastro” in Greek. Just a word of warning though – it doesn’t resemble the medieval castle you may have in mind!

The Castle is among the reasons to visit Kimolos in Greece

The castle was originally built somewhere between the 14th and 16th centuries. Between the 15th and the early 19th centuries, the Venetians, the Ottomans and the Russians all passed by Kimolos. Frequent pirate attacks also occurred.

In 1830, Kimolos became part of the newly established Greek State, along with the rest of the Cyclades. In the next decades, it mostly remained an unimportant, under-the-radar island, especially compared to Milos. Still, people continued to live here over the centuries.

Explore the Castle in Kimolos Greece

Which brings us to today. While the castle seems absolutely deserted at first, you will soon notice that there is more life than you think.

While the inside of the castle is ruined, you will see a few houses, rooms to let and also a bar all around the walls.

Vanessa from Real Greek Experiences inside the Venetian Castle in Kimolos Greece

During summer, you may even catch a movie projection up in the castle. These shows are organized by a voluntary group, Kimolistes. Ask around, or watch out for any posters set up in the village.

Reasons to visit Kimolos - The Castle by night

Inside the castle, there’s also a small Folk and Maritime museum. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open when we visited. I guess this gives me a good reason to visit Kimolos again!

Kimolos has some of the best food I’ve had in the Cyclades

I’ve been to almost all of the Cyclades – still only a couple to go – so I feel confident enough to make this statement!

Enjoy delicious food in Kimolos Greece

I am always surprised by the quality of the food in the smaller, lesser known islands. In all honesty, I’ve had some of the best Greek food in my life in Schinoussa and Iraklia. So I was looking forward to trying a few tavernas in Kimolos.

Every meal we had in Kimolos ranged from very good to absolutely memorable. We didn’t eat in all of the tavernas, as a couple of them that I wanted to try had just closed for the season.

My favourite place was probably the small taverna on Kalamitsi beach, with some incredible stuffed vegetables. However, I would go back to every single taverna where we ate.

Amazing stuffed tomatoes in Kimolos Greece

I also enjoyed overhearing some very heated conversations among locals – which is not surprising, as tavernas are among the few places to socialize.

I can’t say I personally fell for the local specialties of ladenia and tirenia, that are kind of similar to a pizza. However, I loved the white soft cheese called “xino”, literally meaning “sour”, and all local meats and vegetables we tried. They just taste different, fresh and full of flavour! Here’s some more info on local Kimolos delicacies.

Finally, if you are one of these people who can’t spend a single day without ice-cream, Kimolos has you covered. Stavento have great home-made ice cream, as well as coffees and other desserts. Whether it fits in with the “authentic Greek” description I’m not really sure, but, well, does it really matter?!

Are these reasons to visit Kimolos enough for you?

I know, I know. I haven’t mentioned things like nightlife, clubbing, parties, gourmet restaurants, guided tours. If this is what you are after (and there’s nothing wrong with this!), Kimolos is probably not the ideal place for you. You’ve been warned.

Kimolos has plenty of cats

If, however, you are looking to unwind, relax, and “reconnect with nature”, give it a go. I am sure that you will enjoy your time.

No camping allowed in Kimolos... at least in theory

And if you were / are into freecamping, I can guarantee you will love every single minute of a holiday in Kimolos… the signs aren’t always to be trusted 🙂

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