Kalymnos

Dodecanese Islands

Known throughout Greece as the island of the sponge-fishers – although Symi also built up a good reputation for this – Kalymnos has had to diversify in order to survive. 

Many of the best sponge fields were wiped out by blight, others were simply overfished, some such as Libya’s went off-limits for political reasons, and then there was also the introduction of synthetic sponges. These aren't as good as the real thing but are much cheaper. Kalymnos did diversify, into shipping and also a modest amount of tourism, but there are still a few of the old sponge-fishing fleets around, which set sail for a few months in the late spring and early summer.

Kalymnos Town

There is no doubt when you are in Pothia, the main town and also known simply as Kalymnos Town, that you are in a sponge-fishing centre. Souvenir shops have sponges by the hundred, and many shopkeepers will offer to show you how to tell the best sponges… which of course they naturally all sell. Others go a little further and will demonstrate the entire process, showing how sponges are turned from black, odorous objects to clean and pleasant ones that you are happy to share your bathtub with.

Away from the very busy harbour, the back streets of Pothia remain truly Greek, and life goes on pretty much as it has for centuries. The main sights in town are the 19th-century cathedral of Agios Christos, with its distinctive silver dome, the Archaeological Museum and the Nautical and Folklore Museum, which you'll find on the waterfront.

Holiday Spots

The main holiday spots are on the west coast, at Myrties and Masouri, which have good beaches and where you can also catch boats across to the offshore island of Telendos, where there are quieter beaches and a few places to eat and to stay. East of Pothia is Vathi, often called the Fjord of Kalymnos, a deep inlet of the Aegean that leads into a lush valley with several beautiful old-fashioned villages. It is one of the loveliest places on the island.

Kalymnos Town

Photo by Milan Gonda (see more of his photos on our page Photos of Greece).

Pserimos
Little more than a speck in the sea, with one small town and less than 100 permanent inhabitants, Pserimos is swamped with visitors in midsummer, who come across on day trips from the nearby larger islands of Kos and Kalymnos. After they depart, the one village with its good beach returns to normal, with just a handful of visitors enjoying its peaceful charm and good, simple accommodation and tavernas.

Sponge Fishing
The Greeks have been sponge fishers for several thousand years, as ancient pots and painting show, with the islands of Kalymnos and Symi being the two best-known centres. On either you may still see men with twisted legs, the result of being brought to the surface too quickly. Local sponge fields no longer provide the rich harvests they once did, having been badly affected by a blight, and the few remaining sponge-fishers today must make their way to the North African coast. If you want to buy sponges, make sure you get good ones. The best sponges have the greatest concentration of holes, and you should also try pulling a little bit off the sponge (out of view of the shopkeeper) as poor sponges come apart very easily.

Getting to Kalymnos

Flights to Kalymnos
Kalymnos has its own small airport, which connects it to other parts of Greece although there are no international flights. Olympic Air flights link Kalymnos with Athens, Astypalaia, Kos, Leros and Rhodes. To get to Kalymnos by air from overseas, you need to fly to the neighbouring island of Kos and take a ferry from there, or get a connection in Athens.

Ferries to Kalymnos
Kalymnos is well-served by ferries with links to Piraeus, Samos, Tilos, Kos and most of the other Dodecanese islands.

Ferries in Greece

Ferries in Greece has an excellent and very thorough website where, in addition to checking ferry schedules and times, you can also book tickets and get lots of useful information about travelling by ferry in Greece.

More Information
Visit the official Kalymnos website

Where to Stay on Kalymnos

Try our other Dodecanese pages...

  • Wild Abandon

    Wild Abandon by Jennifer Barclay and published by Bradt Guides is A Journey to Deserted Places of the Dodecanese islands in Greece, including Rhodes and Kos.

  • Karpathos in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Karpathos in the Dodecanese islands of Greece is noted for its traditions, its music, and mountain villages like Olympos.

  • Patmos in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Patmos in the Dodecanese islands is famous for the monasteries of St John and the Apocalypse and on this page you can also read about flights and ferries

  • Tilos in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Tilos is a small island in the Dodecanese between Rhodes and Kos with regular ferry connections, hotels, rooms to rent, beaches, tavernas and ancient remains.

  • Rhodes

    Travel advice, information on Rhodes in the Dodecanese, with ferries from Piraeus for Athens, Symi, Crete, Kos, Patmos, Santorini, and flights from Europe

  • Leros in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Leros is a sizeable island in the Dodecanese with flights from Athens, ferries from Rhodes and Piraeus, good beaches, restaurants and hotels.

  • Kos in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Kos in the Dodecanese islands of Greece has good beaches and night-life, and archaeological remains.

  • Kasos

    Travel information on Kasos in the Dodecanese group of Greek islands, including flight and ferry information from Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Astypalaia in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Astypalaia in the Dodecanese islands of Greece is a largely unspoilt island with good beaches.

  • Symi in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece

    Symi (or Simi) is a small island in the Dodecanese near Rhodes with regular ferry connections, hotels, rooms to rent, beaches, tavernas.

  • Nisyros

    Nisyros is a unique volcanic island in the Dodecanese and easily reached on day trips from Kos Town and Kardamena.

  • Lipsi

    Travel information on Lipsi in the Dodecanese group of Greek islands, including flight and ferry information from Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Kastellorizo

    Travel information on Kastellorizo in the Dodecanese group of Greek islands, including flight and ferry information from Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Halki

    Travel information on Halki in the Dodecanese group of Greek islands, including flight and ferry information from Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Arki

    Arki is a small island in the Dodecanese close to Lipsi, with beaches and tavernas with rooms to rent and ferry connections with Patmos, Samos and Marathi.

  • Agathonisi in the Dodecanese islands of Greece

    Agathonisi is a small island in the Dodecanese with quiet beaches, a few hotels, pensions and rooms to rent.

  • A Walk in the Old Town of Rhodes

    This walk through the Old Town of Rhodes takes you through this World Heritage Site and along the main streets and past the city walls, palaces and mosques.

  • Dodecanese

    Travel and vacation information about the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes, Symi, Kos, Patmos, Halki, Tilos, Karpathos, Leros, Lipsi, Astipalea.

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