Travel guide to Leros

leros-island-greeceLeros located in the Dodecanese archipelago between Patmos, Lipsi and Kalymnos. Those who disembark or land on Leros are rarely tourists who have stumbled upon a random corner of the Dodecanese. Leros is an island for connoisseurs. An island with its own precise identity, even more interesting for us Italians, who will find the architecture of our streets in the minimal buildings of the fascist era, when the whole archipelago was under our jurisdiction.

Leros is considered the island of Artemis, as evidenced by the remains of the temple dedicated to her in the north of the island at Partheni beach, near the airport runway from which Leros can be reached. If it is true that, according to tradition, the Goddess of hunting was born on the island of Delos, however it was her brother Apollo who took over the cults practiced there; thus leaving Leros to become the adoptive homeland of the Huntress daughter of Zeus.

This geographical position was moreover more favorable to radiate the cult of the Goddess on the nearby Anatolian coast, where she was venerated in that wonder of the ancient world constituted by the not too distant Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.

Compared to other islands of the Dodecanese, the undulating landscape of Leros arouses a sense of surprise, with low hills that alternate with green and fertile plains. This territory of about fifty square kilometers is never too far from the sea, for it is often conspicuously wedged by a bizarre coastline that draws wide bays around calm blue waters.

What to see in Leros

The medieval castle of Pandeli

leros castleThe medieval castle of Pandeli is a medieval fortress overlooking the capital of Leros. Probably built in the 10th century where the acropolis once stood, most of the walls and the church of the Panagia have survived to this day. The Castle offers a splendid view of the sea and the villages of the island and can be reached either by a path or by climbing 400 steps from Pandeli.

Agia Marina is one of the most beautiful settlements of Leros characterized by traditional houses that follow each other from the port to the foot of the hill. At the entrance to the port you can admire the Byzantine fortress of Bourtzi. Just outside Partheni, before the airport, are the remains of a temple of Artemis. Near the village of Lakki there is a War Museum housed in a tunnel dating back to the Second World War and which houses weapons, uniforms and many other objects


laki-lerosThe locality of Lakki stands on the edge of a deep inlet on the western coast, and boasts the distinction of being the largest natural port in the whole Mediterranean.During the Italian occupation of the Dodecanese, from 1912 to 1943, the Regia Marina understood that this exceptionally protected bay and with a narrow mouth between two points of land that huddle like pincers, would have been the most suitable site for the creation of a port fortified military; which was in fact built there to be a naval base like a real “Pearl Harbor” of the Mediterranean.

Right here stands the monument in memory of the Italian, Greek and English soldiers who fell in November 1943 on the occasion of the Battle of Leros: a bitter battle against the Germans, which was central to the development of the military campaign of the Dodecanese.

Just outside Lakki is the interesting War Depot, set around a scenario of war remnants that immediately create a strident climate of intense historical reflection: a tank, an aircraft, off-road and transport vehicles; and then the damaged remains of other vehicles hit by grenades or bombs.

In the rooms of this otherwise defined “War Material Storage” or war museum, one can observe a great harvest of weapons, uniforms and various accessories of the mainly Italian but also English and German departments involved in those furious battles of 1943.

The whole island is also crossed by tunnels that were excavated by order of Mussolini, some of which are now set up as museums. There is also the opportunity to watch historical videos on the military events of Leros and to observe original prints of press releases, edicts and period newspapers, to recover through touching moments that have left their mark and are now largely lost. Currently Lakki is the largest port on the island, and is certainly a crucial transit point; but its attraction does not stop at military memoirs.


In addition to its historical-wartime importance, urban planning and architecture enthusiasts would also have more than one reason to visit and closely observe the many details of Portolago, the name that Lakki had starting from 1932 as a city refounded in the context of colonial Italy fascist.

The urban layout is still recognizable today, and is characterized by two squares – one on the seafront, the other inside – connected by a large artery along the north-south axis. The east-west axis instead crosses the internal square, which therefore represents the ideal city centre.

Following the principles of rationalist “zoning”, the various urban functions were thus identified through office and commercial areas, residential districts and other intended uses. The streets of the city are wide and tree-lined, while the blocks are asymmetrical and characterized by rounded corners.

Among the public buildings dating back to the foundation of Portolago, the Central Market by the architect Petracco is worthy of note which and the Tower with the Clock..

The Chapel of Agios Isidoros

agios isidorosIf what you have seen so far is not enough for you and you wonder what else there is to see on Leros you must go to the charming little chapel of Agios Isidoros which is the most picturesque church on Leros. It is located in Gourna Bay, half a kilometer from the small village of Kokkali.

It is built on a cliff connected to the rest of the island by a narrow passage, making it easily accessible on foot. The pass can be wet and slippery in places.Once across the causeway there are still a few more steps to climb up to the church. In the main part of the church, around the walls, there are religious icons and decorations. The most ornate part is the golden lamp that hangs from the ceiling.

Agios Isidoros is built on the site of an ancient temple, the ruins of which can still be seen behind the altar. It is one of the most photographed churches on Leros and a romantic place with beautiful views and one of the best places to watch the sunset and take romantic photos. Many couples choose to celebrate their wedding or the baptism of their children here.


platanos-leros4 km from Lakki is the town of Platanos, where the medieval castle of Panteli offers important medieval memories of the dominion over the island by the Knights of St. John, as well as a wonderful panorama from the top of the Apitiki hill on which it is located .

Platanos is also closely connected to the worldly town of Agia Marina, whose Archaeological Museum collects finds dating from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages,  with the two towns together forming a sort of small conurbation between two opposing bays around a promontory on the east coast.

The windmills

Don’t miss the picturesque windmills dotted along the uphill road that leads up to its castle. If you love photography, mills are an ideal subject precisely because they are found almost everywhere on the island and therefore with very different contexts.
Many of these have now been used as lodgings, bars and typical taverns, which create a suggestive atmosphere.

Towns and villages

The most important city is Agia Marina, the capital, practically united with two other villages, Platanos and Pandeli. White houses, neoclassical buildings, narrow alleys and the remains of a Byzantine castle on the hill make this town a little gem not to be missed. Lakki, 3 kilometers south of Agia Marina, is the port of the island while Krithoni and Alinta, also near the island’s capital, are the most popular tourist resorts with splendid hotels and excellent facilities.The port of Leros,  Lakki is a modernist and slightly decadent town by day, which knows how to become lively and with a good number of bars and clubs at night


xirokambos-beachAmong the most fascinating beaches of Leros we point out those of Agia Marina, Pandeli, Vromolithos, Alinda, Agios Isidoros, Mplefoutis, Laki, Merikia, Koulouki, Merikia, Gourna, Dyo Liskaria, Drymonas and Xirokambos. Compared to the neighboring islands, the very green nature of Leros is striking, therefore ideal not only for lazy days on the beach but also for long walks in a kind and generous environment.

In the wider gulf not far from the hotels, the popular pebble and sandy beach of Alinda opens up with transparent and inviting waters, also appreciated for its tamarisk trees that touch the shore and for the good presence of services.

Much sought after for snorkelling is the beach of Panteli, located in the Platanos area. Especially loved by families, the graceful bay ends on the left side with a small tourist port. Overcoming a slight promontory on its right side, the beach of Vromolithos opens up, overlooked by the village of the same name. From the slight hills behind, oaks and tamarisks give greenery and shade. Against the background of its clear waters, a few sailing ships stand out, and the islet of Aghia Kyriaki punctuates the horizon.

At the other end of the large gulf overlooked by the hotel you reach the beautiful beach of Dio Liskaria, where the gilding of the sand produces singular chromatic effects on the water near the shore; which, however, recovers, a little further out, green-blue tones before falling into a deep blue. Green, shade and aromatic fragrances are the gifts brought by the eucalyptus trees that loom over the shore.

Leros the ideal island for families and couples

Leros is a destination that can be ideal for both couples and families with children. There’s a lot to explore, and there’s a lot to slow down. It can be good for total relaxation on the beach, or for some adventure, even by boat, to the nearby islands. Whatever our inclination to experience a holiday in Greece, Leros will have its answer. Moped couples without helmets and flip flops on their feet will have their dose of freedom, and the little ones will be able to stop in Pandeli to play in the surf. For a destination as small as it is, you can’t ask for more..

What to eat on Leros

what-to-eat-in-lerosTasting its local specialties directly on the territory of Leros Greece is perhaps the best way to meet the local cuisine. The fish can here be fried, sautéed, marinated or smoked. The clams that come from the coast are often cooked in the oven with a special lemon sauce.

The octopus is treated with a recipe that combines it with fried eggs, and the cuttlefish is served with rice and spinach. Boiled shrimp is delicious paired with feta cheese.

Even the meat dishes on the island of Leros have their particularity, and the local recipes favor the use of herbs, slices of orange or lemon, butter, vinegar, yoghurt and vegetables. Worth trying is the local version of souvlaki: skewers of meat, fish – or even in a vegetarian version – here served and garnished in the setting of abundant and colorful dishes.

How to get to Leros

Leros has its own airport in the north of the island, served by daily flights from and to Athens. To reach Leros you can embark on one of the ferries or hydrofoils that connect the port of Piraeus with the Dodecanese islands or on the boats that serve it from the islands of Patmos, Lipsi, Samos, Kos, Rhodes, Symi and Nissiros, as well as from Siros, Mykonos , Tinos, Ios, Paros, Naxos, Santorini and Amorgos in the Cyclades islands.