Riddle: It has a volcano but it’s not Santorini. Its nearest neighbour is long, green Kos but it doesn’t resemble it in the slightest. What is it? One of the hidden treasures of the Aegean; the small, round island of Nisyros. Well off the beaten track, it has kept a retro atmosphere but in recent years more and more people, drawn to its natural phenomena, have discovered it has other charms as well.
You, like them, will be rewarded by untouched villages, quiet spots to enjoy ouzo with mezedes, ancient walls of black volcanic stone, and the excitement of venturing into the moonscape and hiking along the rim of an active volcano.
You don’t get to visit a volcano every day. What’s more, this one has three craters. The locals feel so proud of them, they’ve even baptised them: Stephanos, Alexandros and Polyvotis. Or maybe they hoped doing so would pacify them! Two eruptions, 25,000 and 15,000 years ago, gave birth to today’s caldera. As you descend into the enormous crater, you could be entering an unknown yellow-streaked, ashen planet, with bubbling pits, enormous cracks, and a powerful stench of sulphur. Only Mephistopheles is missing.
This sleepy port is just the right antidote to a hectic schedule or reassurance that you really are on an authentic Greek holiday. Sit down with the locals for a coffee in one of the town squares, or browse the alleys lined by vintage grocery stores and simple white houses with brightly coloured doors and windows. Take a stroll along the jetty and onto the beach, which features not sand but glistening smooth black stones.
An architectural gem of a village, topped by the fortress of Pantoniki – ‘Always Victorious’. Don’t miss the beautiful Aegean view.
The paths of Nisyros attract hikers from all over, some returning year after year. They wind along dry-stone walls, past stone farmhouses, rustic distilleries and tiny churches.