Nisiros is a small island, off the beaten track. It is one of the
most beautiful of the Dodecanese.
Nisiros lied 200 nautical
miles from Piraeus, with a population is 920. It has a dormant volcano which
imploded in 1442, leaving the flat fertile plain of Lakki. The islands land
mass is 41 sq. km and it has 28 km of coastline.
Pumice is mined here. The island is known for its millstones, which are often called stones of Nisiros.
Nisiros is lush, green, full of olives, figs, and almonds. A visit to the volcano crater is a must.
Beaches are varied, some
sandy, some with pebbles. Its rich soil makes the island very green with dramatic
lava formations. Even though fertile there is little drinking water. The soil
retains the moisture enabling the cultivation of almond and olive trees, figs
Towns and Sights
The main port and town is Mandraki on the northwest side. Its white-washed houses contrast with the dark somberness
of the volcanic rock. There are rooms to let and small hotels, and the bus hub. Many day trippers from Kos alight here.
Mandraki has a 14th Century kastro and monastery. The former castle is of the Knights of St John, high on the cliff face. Moni Panagias Spilianis (Our Lady of the Cave) is within the kastro. Inside the monastery is a Russian-style icon and icons that were used to hide the silver treasures of the church in plain sight.
You pass the Historical and Folk Museum on the way up to the kastro. The museum contains a reconstructed traditional kitchen.
Almost round, Nisiros'
center contains the volcano's still active crater called Stephanos. Stephanos Crater (or Stefanos Crater) has hot springs, boiling mud pots, and gas vents. Buses leave for the volcano regularly, although you can walk down from Nikia and enjoy wonderful views on the way.
The main crater is 260
meters in diameter and smells of sulfur with hot vapors issuing from the soft
ground. Steps lead down into the crater 30 meters deep. There is an occasional sulphur crystal.
Tours of the crater
are very popular and care should be exercised not to step off the marked paths
as the ground is brittle is some spots. The huge caldera contains several mini-craters.
There are beaches at Chochlaki and Miramare, which has better food than swimming. Gialiskari, or White Beach, is good swimming. Its near the thermal spa of Loutra, open June to October only.
The fishing village of Pali has shady, dark volcanic beaches and some rudimentary catacombs. The island's best beach is at Lyes. The white sand and great snorkelling make this a good choice.
Drinking and Dining
There are limited tavernas and bars, but the food is good. Mandraki is the best spot to search for a good eatery.
Nisiros is on a volcanic line that passes through Aigina, Poros, Milos, Kos, and Santorini. In 1422 a huge eruption created the caldera that gives Nisiros its character and fertile volcanic soil.
According to legend, Nisiros was formed when Poseidon threw a chunk of Kos in a fit of anger. It landed atop fiery Titan Polyvotis and pinned him under the sea at Nisiros.