Food aside, you'll want some culture when you're on this pretty Greek Island. These are the best things to do in Kos.
More interested in the nightlife than eating your way through the island? Here's our pick of the best bars and nightlife in Kos.
Set in the island’s central highlands, close to the crumbling millenia-old Pyli Castle, this hard-to-reach taverna comfortably rewards the schlep up the hill from the car park (it's foot access only) with astounding views, unpretentious comfort food (steak, grilled fish, souvlaki and so on) and a cold glass of wine. Opened in 1900, it’s still pretty rustic and the cooking is so-so, but the sweeping castle vista more than compensates – especially at sunset.
Agios Theologos Restaurant
Huge, largely crowd-free Agios Theologos Beach on the far west of the island offers easily the best sunset views in Kos. Luckily, the delightful summer-opening taverna that takes its name (around 5km from Kefalos) is also well worth the road trip. Don't expect anything too fancy, but the seafood dishes (the grilled octopus is seriously good) and local, home-made cheese salads are all excellent. The crunchy courgette fritters, dipped in fresh taramasalata, are another hit. Whatever you order, you'll get a generous feed so come hungry.
Kefalos 853 01
The gorgeous, bougainvillea-covered courtyard at this family-run taverna (est 1902) in Kardamena has date-night vibes and excels in elevated – but unpretentious – classic Greek, clay-pot cooking like lamb stamnas (slow-cooked with cheese and potato) or stifado (a red-wine beef stew with onions). There’s souvlaki if you’re after something familiar and a warm embrace for non-carnivores in the shape of an extensive vegetarian menu. Either way, expect a fine feed with super friendly service.
Central square, Kardamena
Kyriaki Tin Kryaki
Meaning 'Never on Sunday', locals absolutely love this late-opening, old-timey ouzerie in Kos Town, and for good reason. With charm to spare, the small outdoor patio-restaurant has a no-frills feel with a changing roster of small, dependably delicious local dishes and cheap beer and wine. It’s not easy to find but the crispy kolokytha loukoumades (deep-fried zucchini flowers) and saganaki (fried feta) with sesame and honey is well worth the hustle. It's open until 2am daily (except Sundays), so ideal for a buzzy after-hours bite.
Pisandrou 9, Kos Town
Oromedon Traditional Tastes
If Oria Taverna feels a little rustic, then this family-run, hilltop taverna not far away is the fancified alternative. You get similarly epic, rural views towards the coast but the whole thing is far more polished. It's a see-and-be-seen crowd and there's a serious wine list, as well as a very well done roster of pretty, Insta-baiting Greek dishes that might include a superb lamb stew, classic moussaka or saganaki (deep-fried cheese). Call ahead for the sunset service.
Epar.Od. Zipariou-Asfendiou, Lagoudi, Zia
Another restaurant upping the island’s off-grid, eating-out allure, this small but stylish (and solar-powered) kafeneio is based in Haihoutes, an abandoned 'ghost village' between Kos and Zia, last occupied in the 1960s. It’s now home to a small set of busted-up old houses and a very atmospheric, alfresco restaurant known for its simple but satisfying local fare and evenings of live rembetika blues music. Or, hey, a quick coffee stop works, too. Either way, the rave reviews are justified.
Kos Aktis Art Hotel is probably the splashiest stay on the island, but its swanky seaside restaurant is open to anyone and it's not as pricey as you might think. Plus, the plush, Aegean-view terrace, switched-on service and dependably delicious cooking feels well worth the five-star premium (the octopus carpaccio is divine). Plus, it’s an all-day affair so it works for a quick coffee-and-croissant or that big, end-of-holiday blowout. It's pretty hot with the local in-crowd, so definitely book ahead at weekends.
Vasileos Georgiou V, Kos Town
Easily your best bet in Mastichari – a resort village on the island’s north coast – this deservedly popular, fuss-free taverna isn’t much to look at, but who cares when the cooking is this consistently good. Expect towering platters of sharable, fresh-as-it-gets seafood at crowd-pleasing prices. Staff are friendly, the menu is easy to navigate and just about everything scores full marks here. The nicely charred, grilled whole octopus is a winner but, really, you can’t go wrong.
The best restaurant in Kos Town? Well, it’s a hot contest but this lovely, trad throwback taverna on the Old Town’s Apellou 27 is definitely up there. This is the place to come for the traditional, un-touristy Greek mezze experience – though the large menu covers pretty much all bases, including a delicious roster of appetisers and a long list of deep-fried cheese dishes. The well-curated wine list skews lovingly to local Greek producers, too. Popular with locals; book ahead in peak season.
Apellou 27, Kos Town
Set on the island’s north shore with views of Turkey in the distance, this largely unsung seafood specialist has a cute, outdoor terrace on the chill end of Vangelis Beach and does homey Greek cooking for the very few tourists that find it (some come for lunch by bike from Kos Town). It’s nothing splashy but that’s the whole point. It’s the kind of simple, rustic, reliably efficient Mediterranean fare of your dreams.