After the articles on Kos and Nisyros it's time to tell you about another island of the Dodecanese that I visited on the same trip and that, probably, I liked most of all, that is the island of Leros. Famous in antiquity for the cult to the goddess Artemis (the goddess of the hunt), the history of Leros is intertwined. In fact, I discovered that Leros (together with other Dodecanese islands such as Patmos, Symi, Nisyros, etc.) belonged from 18 October 1912 to 10 February 1947, as booty of the Italian-Turkish war (which then culminated in the occupation of Libya). Although it lasted a few years, the Italian occupation has left its mark on the island where many infrastructures built by the Italians remain, as well as several (beautiful) rationalist architectures that will remind you of places like Sabaudia or Latina. Today Leros is an island with a tourist vocation, very popular with Greeks and loyal tourists (mainly French and Italians). It is a sought after island, with beautiful beaches, nice restaurants, shops and clubs, and for this it reminded me a little Hydra. Having no direct air connections from Spain or other countries, Leros has not been "discovered" by mass tourism (which is instead found in Kos and Rhodes), and this is undoubtedly an absolute plus. In the surroundings there are also some wonderful islets that are definitely worth seeing, such as Aspronisi, the ArchangelSW Telendhos.
How to reach Leros
- Flight on Kos + hydrofoil. The cheapest and fastest way to reach Leros from Spain is to fly to Kos (from many airports there are direct flights with Ryanair ed Easyjet during the summer) and then take thehydrofoil to Leros (1h30 'travel, 19 euros one way).
- Stop on Athens. A more expensive alternative is to make a stopover in Athens and then fly to Leros; from Athens there is one flight a day (2 in summer, it is a 50-seater plane), but this solution must be booked well in advance and is not cheap at all.
- Flight to Athens + ferry. From the port of Athens (Piraeus) there are also ships (more or less fast) that arrive in Leros in about 8 hours (40-50 euros per person, one way). However, ferries are not there every day; to see the operation and costs I suggest you look at sites like Directferries.
How to get around Leros
If you want to explore the island and reach all the beaches you will necessarily have to rent a car / quad / moped (normally from Agia Marina / Alinda). My advice is always to book the car before leaving online in advance (I usually use the place at RentalCars) because you save money. To avoid scams, however, remember to always check the votes and reviews that users give to the various car rental companies. You can find them on the Rentalcars website itself, but you can also double check on Trustpilot. Some companies offer bargain prices but the service is bad. The indicative cost for a car is 50 euros / day.
Where sleeping in Leros
My advice is to sleep in Agia Marina or in the immediate vicinity such as Krithoni o Platanos / Panteli. Agia Marina is the liveliest town on the island (if you arrive by hydrofoil you will disembark here), with many bars, restaurants and shops. Platanos can also be a good choice, it is a nice area located just above Agia Maria (5 'walk), but also Pandeli, the most beautiful beach in Leros, 15' walk from Agia, with many bars and restaurants. right on the beach. Among the places that I recommend:
- Utopia Hotel Aparments (Krithoni): nice apartments 200 meters from Krithoni beach
- Leros Windmills (Panteli): if you want to try the experience of sleeping in a renovated mill
- Crithoni Paradise Hotel (Krithoni): the only 5-star hotel in Leros, full comfort with swimming pool
- Asterias (Panteli): nice apartments overlooking the sea
- Villa Clara (Agia Marina): boutique hotel in an ancient villa in Agia Marina
What to see in Leros: all the places not to be missed
Agia Marina is the most important and lively town of Leros, the one populated even in winter, where there are several restaurants, bars and shops. Agia Marina is located within a large inlet on the east coast of the island and is dominated by castle of the Panagias, which dates back to the time of the Knights of Rhodes. The castle is definitely worth a visit, especially for the beautiful view but also for the small church inside, one of the most important on the island.The best time to visit it is undoubtedly the sunset. In Agia Marina there is also a small tourist port where the hydrofoils arriving from Kos also dock and where, every morning there is a fish market. Immediately outside the town there are some beautiful beaches very popular especially by locals like alinda e Krithoni.
With a few minutes walk (uphill) from Agia Marina you can reach the characteristic square of Bananas, very lively at all hours of the day, with some shops and several bars. From the alleys behind the square the stairway to reach the castle starts, but also the road to get to the mills which are located near the castle. The latter have all been renovated and are very spectacular. One of these is also occupied by a beautiful lounge bar called Harris, perfect for enjoying the sunset.
Then descending from Platanos towards the bay which is located south of Agia Marina you will reach the bay of Panteli, with the most beautiful beach (in my opinion) in Leros. The beach is made of white pebbles and the color of the water is incredible! On the beach there are several bars and restaurants that also manage umbrellas and deck chairs, but they are not paid, you just have to take a drink (just like us, eh?). Among the various restaurants (mainly all of fish) there is Psaropoula which is one of the oldest in Leros (it is also very good). On the days when the Meltemi (the typical wind of the Aegean Sea that blows from the north, especially in summer) blows Pandeli beach is usually protected.
Moving to the bay opposite that of Agia Marina we find the bay of Gourna with the church of Agios Isidoros. It is a small but charming church (also very popular for weddings!) Built on a rock joined to the mainland by a long stone pier that is sometimes submerged by water. Here, too, the best time to come is certainly late in the afternoon, to see the sunset.
Lakki is located in an almost closed bay in the southwest of the island, a natural harbor where ferries and ships arrive from Athens. During the Italian occupation it was an important naval base known as Portolago and a real city "ex novo" was built according to the canons of the Fascist era. Arriving here you will feel like you have landed in Sabaudia! After decades of neglect, its urban structure with lictorian-style architecture has regained its splendor and has a certain charm.
Il mount Klidi it is the highest in Leros (321 meters) and from its “top” you can see practically the whole island. The mountain is located in the north of the island and to get there you will have to take a stretch of road that is not beautiful that passes near a military zone (Leros has several military zones, being very close to the Turkish coast). The view from here at sunset, however, is wonderful and sweeps across the island, at 360 °.
Leros: the most beautiful beaches
- Panteli: the most beautiful beach of Leros, reachable on foot from Agia Marina, is a white pebble beach with crystal clear water. Equipped
- Xirokambos: beautiful equipped beach in the southernmost bay of Leros, in front of Kalymnos. At 15 'walk there is also this cute little church right on the sea.
- Liskaria: nice pebble beach in the bay of Agia Marina, but on the opposite side.
- alinda: the urban beach of Agia Marina, very nice, with small pebbles and shallow water
- Blefoutis: beautiful equipped beach in the north of the island, near the airport. Part of it is pebbles and part of sand.
- Agia Kioura: not far from Blefoutis, it is not equipped but it is very beautiful and scenic.
Boat trips around Leros
The beauty of these Aegean islands in my opinion also lies in the fact that they are many and close so, based on one island, you can visit several by taking one-day boat trips. Starting from Leros, I definitely recommend you to visit these other islands as well:
In the case of Aspronisi there is talk of two uninhabited islets located near the coasts of Lipsi, north of Leros. This tour is a must as the water is simply amazing! At the closest point between the two islets the water is shallow and takes on Caribbean colors. The only flaw is that you will have to be lucky to avoid meeting the boats full of people who come here to swim. Luckily they come and go quickly, so with a little patience, you can have this paradise all to yourself (clearly if you have hired a private boat).
The island of Lipsi can be visited together with Aspronisi, because they are very close. Moving by boat, you should dock at this beach and eventually reach the main village on foot (it takes about 20-25 '). On the beach there is a very popular and very nice hipster restaurant, the dilaila (too pretentious and expensive for my taste). A curiosity: Lispi has always been an island much loved by the radical chic Milanese, so ... you knew it!
The island of Archangelos it is very close to the north coast of Leros, and is right in front of the Partheni bay, where the Leros airport is also located. It is a wild island, inhabited only by the family who run it Taverna Stigma, open all year for fishermen and sailors. The beach below the tavern is very beautiful and very sheltered, being in the channel that separates Archangelos from Leros. If you don't have a boat and want to come and spend a few hours on the island and have lunch at Stigma's, the tavern organizes transfers from Partheni.
The island of Telendhos it is a real gem and I would also consider it to spend a few days in total relaxation. Unlike the previous ones, Telendhos is located south of Leros, in the stretch of sea between Leros and Kalymnos, and broke away from the latter during a catastrophic earthquake in 500 AD. In Telendhos there are no cars, only a few houses, bars. and restaurants on the coast overlooking Kalymnos. Walking for 10 'you reach the ridge of the island and from there you can go down to a beautiful pebble beach (as well as having a nice view over the whole island).
Where to eat in Leros
- Mylos: the most beautiful and evocative restaurant in Leros, excellent for raw fish (but also for everything else)
- Taverna Paradisos: here you eat a bit of everything, and it's all very good. Terrace overlooking the sea
- Sotos Ouzeri: famous for shells and fresh fish, very varied. From here you can see the sunset
- Psaropoula : beautiful tavern on the beach of Panteli. Among the oldest in Leros
- Taverna To Steki : fresh fish to eat on the terrace or on the tables by the sea
- Harry's : it used to be called View. Magnificent place with a terrace near the castle to have an aperitif at sunset.
- Lime Beach Bar : perfect for lunch or an aperitif by the sea
- Pharos : at the end of the Agia Marina pier, it is the meeting place of the young people of the island (later on)
- Stigma (Archangelos): see paragraph on Archangelos
You may also be interested in these other articles on Greece:
- Kos: what to see on the island of Hippocrates
- Nisyros (Greece): the volcano and all the beaches not to be missed
- Mykonos (Greece): what to see and where to sleep
- Mykonos: the 10 most beautiful beaches
- What to see in Amorgos, the gem of the Cyclades
- What to see in Hydra, the car-free island of the Peloponnese
- A weekend in Athens: all the places not to be missed
- The 8 least touristy and most beautiful Greek islands
- Santorini: what to see in the most romantic island of the Cyclades