Kálymnos is located between Kos and Leros in the southeastern Aegean Sea and belongs to the Dodecanese Island group and is close to the Turkish coast. The island used to be called Kalynda, then Kalymna and finally changed to Kalymnos. It is also known as the island of the sponge divers.
What characterizes the island are the sponges. Sponge fishing brought great prosperity and economic development. Even today one can find sponge divers who go underwater to collect sponges by the traditional method. Traditions are maintained and celebrated on this beautiful island. Do not miss to visit a sponge processing laboratory and the exhibits of the Archaeological-Ethnographic Museum. Until a few decades ago, Dodecanesian divers used to skin-dive for the sponges, meaning no protective gear, nowadays they use modern diving equipment. The divers here are famous in the entire Mediterranean Sea not only for their sponge fishery skills but also for any diving related operation.
Pothia is the capital and main port of Kalymnos where most of its inhabitants live and is located on the southern side of the island. It is a densely populated town that stretches around a bay and is surrounded by wild mountainsides.
Chora is located 3 kilometers northwest of Pothia and for many centuries was the capital of the island. Today Chora or Chorio is an extension of Pothia. It is built in a valley away from the sea due to pirate attacks. It is a place where they still keep traditions alive. The main attractions of the island are located here.
Panormos is located in an extremely green background and today is a major attraction for tourists. It is located in the western part of Pothia valley with great agricultural areas. According to ancient pottery workshop findings in the area of Tsoukalaria, it appears to have been inhabited since ancient times. Most people visit Panormos because of its beautiful beaches. The steep mountain slopes with their appropriately tailored routes are ideal for mountaineering and climbing.
Vlichadia Village is located in the southern part of Kálymnos 5 kilometers from Pothia. Vlichada has a magnificent coastal view with two wonderful beaches and many traditional taverns. There is also the private Museum of Maritime Findings. Vlichadia has taverns, café shops and a diving center with lessons for people of all ages.
Myrties Village is 8 kilometers northwest of Pothia and is a picturesque seaside village that becomes quite busy in summer. From Myrties, excursion boats depart for the neighbouring island of Telendos.
Vathay is 13 kilometers northeast of Pothia and has lovely houses which are scattered all over a fertile valley up to the cove of the natural gulf that looks like a fiord.
Massouri Village is 9 kilometers northwest of Pothia. Its beach is one of the most popular beaches on Kálymnos. Part of this long beach is organized with sunbeds and umbrellas.
Kantouni Village is 5 kilometers northwest of Pothia. It is a calm tourist resort that stretches around a sandy bay. Some hotels and fish taverns line the beach.
Emporio is 24 kilometers northwest of Pothia. Emporios is a nice and quiet village on the northern side of Kálymnos. Its few inhabitants deal with fishing and agriculture.
Kálymnos has many archaeological sites and monuments, the most famous being the Monastery of Agios Savas, where Agios Savvas (St. Savvas) became a monk (1862 – 1948). It is located at the top of the hill above Pothia.
In the northeast of the coastal settlement Emporios, there is a fortress from the Hellenistic age, Kastri which has strong walls, two defense towers, and a gate.
The Sanctuary of Dilio Apollo is one of the most important areas of Kalymnos, it flourished until Roman times. There were churches, a theatre, a gymnasium, and a parliament, statues, and figurines. The temple was destroyed by the Christians during the Paleo-Christian age and two churches were built on the site. The Temple of Dilio Apollo is located between Chorio and Panormos.
The Castle of Chora is located northeast of town and was built in the 11th century AD.
The Museum of Marine Life and Findings is located in the seaside village of Vlichada, where exhibits of sponge fishery are displayed. Also, a large variety of marine plants and animals and numerous objects from old shipwrecks are also displayed. Part of the museum is dedicated to the sponge fishery profession and includes diving equipment used by divers from 1872 until today. Another section shows finding from World War I and II, such as torpedoes and parts of airplanes.
The Cave of Kefalas or Cave of Dios covers an area of 1000 square meters, and it is the most beautiful cave on Kálymnos and has six chambers and huge stalactites. Small boats go to the cave daily from the port of Pothia or through a path by the church of Agia Ekaterini (St. Catherine).
Therma – Therma beach is the closest beach to Pothia village (2 kilometers away). It is a pebbly beach with rocks around. There is also a dock for diving because the water there is deep. There is a restaurant with good food on the dock. At Therma beach, you will find umbrellas and sun-beds.
Arginonda – Arginonda beach is located 16.5 kilometers from Pothia at the northwest side of Kálymnos. It has turquoise waters and pebbles, it’s very clean and there are many trees around. There are rooms to rent and umbrellas and sun beds are available.
Masouri – Masouri beach is located 9 kilometers from Pothia. It is one of the most popular beaches of Kálymnos and is considered one of the best beaches on the island because it is sandy with clean crystal waters and a view to Telendos. It is very well organized with umbrellas, sun-beds, restaurants, and taverns.
Vlichadia – Vlichadia beach is located 5 kilometers from Pothia and has two beautiful separate beaches, one is pebbly and the other sandy, but both have shallow waters suitable for kids as well as plenty of trees for shade. There are rooms to rent, taverns and cafés. There is also a Diving Centre, providing diving lessons to all ages.
Kantouni – Kantouni beach is 8.5 kilometers from Pothia and is located in the Panormou area just after Olive Square. It’s a sandy beach popular with teenagers and young people. It has become a hang-out place for young people and the shops are open almost 24 hours a day. There are beach bars as well as rooms for rent for those who want to spend the night. If you are looking for a quieter beach, Linaria beach is only a short distance from Kantouni. It is a sandy beach perfect for families. There are several taverns where one can enjoy fresh fish and other seafood dishes.
Myrties – Myrties beach is a pebbly beach 700 meters long and located 8 kilometers from Pothia, across from Telendos. The water is shallow and suitable for children. On the beach, there are umbrellas and sun beds for rent as well as restaurants, cafeterias and rooms to rent.
Emporiou – Emporiou beach is located on the northwest side of Kálymnos, 19.5 kilometers from Pothia. It is a pebbly beach with trees (Platanus trees) and many restaurants. Strong and calm winds of the area are ideal for many water sports such as windsurfing, kayaking, water skiing, diving, and fishing. At the top, there is a highway leading to the western nightlife resorts of Kálymnos Island.
- Visiting a sponge store – Kalymnos has a long tradition of sponge diving, with only a few men remaining who sponge dive in the traditional manner.
- Rock Climbing – Since Kalymnos offers such great wild rocky mountains, it has developed into a popular rock-climbing destination and hosts an International Climbing Festival in September. Very popular are the mountains on the northern side of the island and on the neighboring island of Telendos. “Climb Kalymnos” at http://climbkalymnos.com/ is the main resource for climbing updates on the island.
- Diving for century-old shipwrecks.
- Spelunking – More than 50 caves have been recorded, linked to fascinating myths and traditions.
- Dining – There are many taverns and cafe houses on the island where you can taste local food. The Mirmitzelli and the Mitzithra (a Greek skim-milk cheese) are local specialties that are worth trying. Fresh fish can be found in all the restaurants and one should try grilled octopus, sea urchins, pine fish, oysters that have been gathered by local fishermen. For dessert, many sweets like baklava and galaktoboureko are offered.
- Nightlife – Nightlife in Kálymnos is unique and diverse. Beach bars are present in many locations and one can enjoy a night full of promise and memories no matter where you are located on the island. For those who want to party until the morning, there are streets filled with bars and clubs in Kálymnos Town, busting with life and energy until sunrise.
- June 24th – The feast of Agios Ioannis is celebrated with small bonfires lit on the beaches and harbors on the island. People jump over the bonfires.
- July 27th – Honors Saint Panteleimon, the healing saint.
- August 15th – The feast of the Holy Virgin is one of the highest celebrations in the Christian Calendar.
- October – The Kálymnos Climbing Festival, exact dates vary from year to year. Kálymnos has established itself as one of the world’s top climbing destinations. Instructors offer climbing lessons and guidance.