Secluded volcanic beaches, hilltop villages where time stood still and charming tavernas are just some of the reasons to visit this stunning Dodecanese island. Often overlooked by tourists in favor of Kos or Zakynthos, Nisyros has an allure of its own and is going through a renaissance of sorts lately. Once forgotten, the narrow whitewashed streets of its towns are now becoming a bustling art scene, full of ex-pat painters and musicians who, after being seduced by the island’s beauty, have decided to call it home.
If you’re looking for the nature of Sicily and the aura of Santorini, but prefer to avoid the crowds, this is the perfect island for you. Home of the youngest and still active volcano in Greece, Nisyros is adorned with black sand beaches without as much as a foot trace on them.
Although the volcano has been dozing off for over a century, it’s always under the watchful eye of researchers and scientists - this is one of the few volcanoes you can actually visit, with hydrothermal craters that are an endless source of inspiration for artists and nature worshippers. Ancient Historians interpreted the eruptions as with the following story - god Posseidon was giving chase to the giant by the name of Polyvotis, and tore his trident into the east coast of Kos, cutting a piece of land that he then threw onto the giant whose tantrums and efforts to break free caused the volcanic reactions. The piece of land Poseidon tore became the island of Nisyros, known in antiquity as Porphyria. The gushing lava springs are a sight to be seen and are responsible for the out worldly landscape and distinct genealogy.
The food is simply beyond, and you’ll be stunned by the traditional and unique architecture that graces the lovely towns. Untouched by mass tourism, the island preserved its own unique character and an unhurried Mediterranean tempo throughout the ages. Located in the South Aegean, Nisyros is shaped like an almost perfect circle, surrounded by a pristine coast that will enchant you during your next luxury charter cruise.
Best places to visit in Nisyros
The mesmerizing island flaunts so many natural phenomena, mysterious landmarks, and endearing villages it can be hard to keep count. Moor in the sleepy towns and surrender to the awe-inspiring lures of this Aegean jewel.
The lively Nisyrian mountain village will leave you spellbound with its traditional architecture, whitewashed houses with deep-blue shutters. But the polished Nikia has a secret to tell - it’s just an hour away from the youngest Greek volcano with prehistoric rock formations that spread to the entire island.
The scenic village is 400 meters above sea level and provides stunning vistas of the caldera and azure indescribable, trapping the attention of artists who formed their colonies here.
Enjoy an afternoon stroll through the gorgeous village and stop by the famous square, with a mosaic made of local black “hochlakia” pebbles to enjoy some strong coffee and baklava. The Volcanological Museum is worth your time as well, housed in an old school that was renovated with the purpose of exhibiting photos, volcanic processes, maps, and drafts that tell the story of the sleepy giant of Nisyros.
If you make the effort to walk to the blue and white Church of Agios Theologos you’ll be able to see rare icons and ancient frescoes, as well as a panoramic vista of the volcano and the seas.
The main town and capital of Nisyros, Mandraki is a picturesque village that resembles Nikia in many ways but offers more shops and restaurants thanks to a slightly more developed tourist industry. Roam around the town freely to explore the charming harbor and relax with some ouzo in one of the bars overlooking the glittery seas, dotted with yachts and bobby fisherman boats bringing their daily catch to traditional restaurants. If you enjoy sightseeing, you’ll have your hands full in Mandraki. Start by visiting the Paleokastro castle, where you can still find the fortified walls and remnants of the ancient city that date to the 4th century BC.
The island was ruled by Knights Hospitaller in medieval times, who built another fortress on a strategic location, the Castle Of Spiliani, from where you’ll have the best panoramic vistas of the town. The monastery of Panagia Spiliani, being among the oldest places of worship on Nisyros, is also worth your time. Here, you’ll find fantastic iconostasis, relics, and rare books, and a mysterious church that is hidden in a cave. If you can, try to visit Mandraki in June, since the celebration of the patron Saint Nikitas turns this serene town into a festival full of music, street food, and theatre.
The Folklore Museum is located in the heart of Mandraki and has a wonderful exhibition devoted to the island’s customs and traditions.
At night, the town comes alive in bustling bars near the monastery, in the neighborhood known as Little Venice. Listen to jazz in Proveza, or hop from one place to the other all open almost until breakfast.
Just 8 kilometers east of Mandraki, you’ll find this mesmerizing mountainous village tucked built amphitheatrical on verdant valleys. Completely unbothered by new fads and fashions, the charming town doesn’t look too different than it did centuries ago. With whitewashed houses and flat roofs, charming squares, olive groves, and wine grapes, and stunning taverna terraces that overlook the volcano, Emporio is one of the most picturesque villages in Greece. If you have some time, visit the Monastery of Panagia Kyra, with a church built 400 meters above the sea, where you’ll have the best views of the island and the remains of an old fortress. Near the city's entrance, you’ll find a cave that serves as a natural sauna with medical properties that have attracted seniors in the past decades but are now mainly a hotspot for trendy hipsters in love with the peculiarities of the island.
Best Beaches In Nisyros
Hop on board your luxury charter yacht to explore the many hidden gems this island has to offer. Your captain will inform you on superb secret coves, but a few organized bays have plenty to offer as well.
The endless stretches of sand hide several coves formed through the years by the sea. There are no touristy bars or shops here, just completely unspoiled nature and very few visitors. The ideal place for those that want to enjoy nature without distractions, Lies is located less than 15 kilometers from the main town and has pristine seas and the softest sand.
A lovely beach with soft white sand and the occasional black pebble, Pali Beach is located just 4 kilometers from Mandraki and is adored by yachties who come to enjoy the beautiful environment. With calm, limpid seas and fine-grained sand, it’s perfect both for young singles and families traveling with kids.
The longest beach on the island is almost completely empty - come to spend time swimming, diving, and sunbathing without any distractions. Nearby, there’s a cave that sparks and interest in some, while the cape Katsouni is a marvelous place to spend an afternoon fishing and relaxing by the sea.
The list wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Pachia Ammos, a volcanic beach with black sand and dunes where you’ll be able to enjoy the ethereal beauty almost completely alone. Attracting mainly nature lovers, the beach is a spectacular place for those who enjoy seclusion and tranquility.
Best Restaurants in Nisyros
Everywhere you drop your anchor during your luxury charter cruise in Nisyros, you’ll be greeted by friendly locals who own traditional tavernas with meals that feel home-cooked. A trip to Nisyros is a culinary journey definitely worth exploring.
A fabulous main town restaurant with an incredible menu full of innovative and creative dishes, Geusea offers art pieces on a plate that never cease to amaze. Seaside dining at its best - make sure to book a table in advance, since the word about the superstar meals definitely got out a while ago.
The menu truly tops some Michelin-star venues in Paris or London, and the chic garden is a great environment for both a family night or a romantic dinner with your significant other.
Apololi Kori, Mandraki
Tucked away in a picturesque garden in Mandraki, Apololi Kori is one of the best places to enjoy traditional dishes prepared with the freshest local ingredients and seafood cooked to perfection.
To Kafeneio tou Nicola, Nikia
One of the most iconic eateries is Nisyros, To Kafeneio tou Nicola is located in the main square of the scenic village of Nikia and offers a wide range of local culinary delicacies, as well as an authentic atmosphere that makes it a bucket-list spot when visiting this Aegean island.
Shopping in Nisyros
If you wish to buy a few gifts for your family and friends back home, you’ll find many street shops with olive oil, local delicacies, and handmade jewelry, but the best product of the island is definitely the art. Walk around the Madraki port for the best ceramics, painting and sculptures in Greece, made by the hip young crowds who moved to the island in search of inspiration.