Kos – a safe place to travel to this autumn

Boats moored in Kos Town harbour
Boats moored in Kos Town harbour. Photo: Morozova Oxana/Shutterstock

Kos spent much of 2015 in the media spotlight as the destination of some of the 200,000 migrants who arrived in Greece by sea through September. At one point there were 7,500 refugees – mostly Syrian but also Iraqi and Afghan – on Kos, some housed in disused hotels but otherwise sleeping rough.

Each summer day, up to another thousand landed on rubber rafts, abandoned (along with life-vests) on assorted beaches. Greece overall, and Kos in particular, is unable to cope; mid-crisis, the country simply hasn’t the resources to house and feed so many unexpected guests, and has received scant assistance from the EU.

On Kos (and other islands), sympathetic foreigners have brought in supplies or taken up local collections to feed and clothe the refugees, many of them women and children.

According to Insight Guides’ expert on all things Greek, Marc Dubin, who lives on the nearby island of Sámos for part of the year: “The migrants, neither aggressive nor importunate towards tourists, shouldn’t affect your holiday plans; all efforts are made to transfer them to Piraeus and the Lávrio refugee camp as soon as possible."

Money matters

Also in the news in 2015 was the lack of currency available from ATMs throughout Greece. Again, Marc Dubin, explains: "After the first panic around 29-30 June, when some machines ran out of notes, no real problems. Holders of foreign bank cards are exempt from the 60-euro-a-day/420-euro-a-week limits imposed on Greek bank card holders".

Kos is one of the most popular islands with package holidaymakers, thanks to its many fine beaches, castles, and nightlife, as well as strong air links to northern Europe. With no university faculty and no industry to speak of, tourism is the linchpin of the local economy.This is even more critical now given the country’s economic tailspin in other respects, and you will be welcomed with open arms.

Here are our top 5 recommendations for a fantastic trip to Kos:

1. Bros Thermá hot springs : seaside magic by moonlight. 

2. ‘Magic’ Beach: the best of many on the island’s south coast.

3. Italian architecture: Italian rule left a significant architectural heritage, long neglected but recently appreciated and restored.

4. Casa Romana: zoological floor mosaics and other late-Roman treasures.

5. Climb Hristós peak to enjoy the Dodecanese’s best views. 

Read more: Greece travel guide

Find a book: Insight Guides: Greece