The island of Leros in Greece is one of the lesser-know islands this beautiful country is rich. Not such a popular destination, so mass tourism is unheard of. It is located in the Aegean sea, above Kos and Kalymnos and near Turkey. This makes it a Dodecanese island. The island however is very interesting to visit once. Of course, plenty of authentic island life can be found here. But it also definitely has its own peculiar energy and character, which completely has to do with its very interesting history. In this guide, I’ll share some of those stories, spots and experiences that stand out on Leros and should definitely be considered its highlights and must-visits. So get ready for the best things to do while in Leros!
Remember to check out my other Greece blogs as well!
Most people get to Leros by boat. It is connected to Athens, the surrounding Cycladic islands (such as Syros) and to the North Aegean islands and Dodecanese islands (all the way till Rhodes there is a direct ferry)! You can easily search and find ferry routes with the different ferry companies on the search engine of Ferryhopper and easily find a date and time of your convenience.
Or check my elaborate blogs on ferry travel in Greece for in-depth info.
Now, let’s dive in to the highlights of Leros:
You’d think that Agia Marina is the capital of Leros, but it is not. The capital lies right behind Agia Marina and is called Platanos. Nevertheless, Agia Marina is the place to be. It has a relaxed vibe with white-washed streets full of traditional houses that wind up the hill. It’s a good spot to grab lunch or a drink by the seafront. Ta Kroupia serves amazing gyros. If you’re into fine dining, there’s a restaurant called O Milos (the mill) on the seafront that’s worth a visit. If you have the time, I highly recommend taking a full day boat trip from Agia Marina to the waters around Lipsi island, such as Aspronisia. These are amongst the most beautiful I have seen in Greece.
More traditional, neoclassical style houses can be found while driving from Agia Marina through the capital of the island (Platanos) towards Penteli, which brings us to the next highlight:
A short drive from Agia Marina will take you through Penteli. The windmills and castle here are worth a visit, for history’s sake and for the 360 view over the island. During the summer, the first windmill turns into a bar: Harris Bar, which offers a stunning view of Penteli, Penteli beach and Vromolithos beach.
Near the port of Lakki, there are some old Italian-style buildings. One of them was once a psychiatric hospital, which has a bit of a controversial history. The hospital was known for housing individuals that other institutions didn’t know how to treat. Over the years, there were concerns about the conditions and treatment of the patients. Later these buildings were used for more controversial purposes, such as to ‘reeducate’ communist children, and as a prison during the Greek Junta. I highly recommend reading up about Leros’ history before you go. There’s also a building that was supposed to be Mussolini’s Villa, but he never visited during his rule. If you’d like to have lunch or dinner in Lakki, try out Marietta’s bistro!
Leros played an important strategic role during World War II due to its location in the Aegean and its natural harbor with deep waters. The Tunnel War Museum provides some insights into this period. It’s called the Tunnel War Museum because it is located inside the war tunnels, which makes it a spectacular location on itself. It’s open from 9 am to 5 pm daily, with an entrance fee of €5.
Leros has several beaches, but Duo Liskaria and Agia Kioura were the ones I particularly liked. Duo Liskaria is more organized, with some nice beach bars that you are able to rent a sun bed from and a view of Agia Marina across the bay. Agia Kioura is a sandy beach in the north. More off the beaten track and has the most stunning, crystal clear waters! Both offer a relaxing atmosphere.
The Church of Agios Isidoros is located on a small peninsula and is connected by a bridge. You could describe it as the baby sister of the famous Mamma Mia church (the church of Agios Ioannis, used in the movie) on the cliff of Skopelos Island. It’s a simple yet interesting spot. The Church of Kavouradaina on the south side of the island is built against a cliff and is also worth a visit.
Leros Island offers a mix of history, local spots, and natural sites. If you’re thinking about a trip to Greece, Leros might be a place to consider if you like small islands that still offer a mix of interesting activities. Leros will give you the opportunity to relax and to explore at the same time.
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