There's a bit of Kos coast with its name on it for your family holiday
When you land at Kos Airport after just over four hours in the air, your transfer will be as little as 25 minutes to the resorts of Marmari and Kefalos, or 40 minutes to Kos Town and Mastichari.
The capital, Kos Town is a great base for families as it mixes city beaches, and quieter options, with historical sights including an ancient castle. At the other end of the island, Kefalos is ready to welcome visitors to its watersports and activity-laden beach. There’s also a pretty old town in the hills to look around.
Peaceful Marmari is only 15 minutes by bus or car from the attractions of Kos Town. It has one of the longest beaches on the island where wind-based watersports are rife, you can go on horse-back adventures from the riding stables or walk around the protected wetland area of Aliki Tigaki.
Best family friendly beaches
Along Kos’ 290-kilometre coast are a fair few beaches that families will love. One of the most popular on the island is Paradise Beach near Kefalos, which has watersports hire, several tavernas and a small inflatable waterpark for the kids. Something sure to amuse the kids is the volcanic air bubbles that come up through the clear water.
Other family beach options include Kos Town’s central Zouroudi Beach, which sits in front of the castle’s Medieval walls, or the kilometre-long Lambi Beach, which is 10 minutes out of town and primed for watersports. Mastichari has a long, peaceful stretch of white sand backed by trees for shade and Marmari’s two kilometres of sand gently shelve into the sea so are ideal for paddling.
Best family activities in Kos
Kos is an island that mixes history with water-based activities for all the family. The capital Kos Town’s ancient artefacts are the 15th-century castle of Neratzia overlooking the harbour area, and the ruins of a Roman Villa, which you can learn about at Casa Romana museum. Another history option is Mastichari, where the Hippocrates Garden Cultural Center has a replica of a 15th-century BCE ancient Greek settlement complete with stone-built theatre.
And on the other side of the coin, you can splash about at one of the island’s waterparks, Lido Waterpark in Mastichari and Aquatica Water Park in Kardamena. For more water fun, hop on a boat from the harbours in Kos Town or Mastichari to visit nearby islands like Kalymnos, where divers search for natural sponge. Other boat trips provide watersports opportunities, or a stay on one of the sporty beaches like Kefalos and Mastichari.
Step back in time at the Neratzia Castle
Construction on the Neratzia Castle began in the late 14th century and was occupied by the Knights of Saint John. While it’s mostly in ruins now, visiting this stony piece of history is a great way to inject a little education into your family holiday.
The castle itself is stashed up along the coast in Kos Town, and consists of four main towers and a spacious moat. Within, you’ll find original statues and columns, while outside is the Tree of Hippocrates, which is where the ancient teacher was rumoured to teach his pupils about medicine.
What science says causes the Northern Lights
Just off the coast of Kos is Nisyros Island, a little speck of land that’s one part traditional Greek village and four parts volcano.
Hiking up this caldera along the craggy coastline, past holes of boiling mud and gas, is a real treat for little imaginations. You can catch the ferry to Nisyros from Kos Town – it takes about an hour and a half.
Once here, there are tours you can join to help you scale the craters, plus a museum on the volcano and the sweet little whitewashed towns below.
Explore Kos by horseback
Kos is a horseback-riding hotspot, flecked with stables across the island. It’s one thing to see Kos’ beaches and countryside by foot, but quite another to do it on horseback – it’s also a great activity for kids, as they’ll have the help of able guides at riding centres to show them the ropes.
From there it’s all scenery, with a twinge of adventure in the form of swimming rides, moonlight rides or sunset treks.
Have a picnic in Plaka Forest
The Plaka Forest is just outside Kos’ airport, but you wouldn’t know it from this spot’s peaceful atmosphere. With ample shady spots, picnic tables and walking trails, it’s a great place to let kids run loose.
Plaka Forest is also renowned for its famous peacock population, members of which freely roam the grounds and take shelter up in the trees.
Other popular holidays in Greece
For family holidays elsewhere in Greece, find out more about Rhodes,
Crete or Corfu. Or to decide if Kos has it all for you and your family, take a look at our Kos travel guide and check out the five excellent family hotels below.
This 4* First Choice Premier hotel centres around the huge lagoon pool, with separate kids' pool and aqua park boasting a lazy river, slides and a play boat. The kids' clubs are for three to 11 year olds and offer day and evening sessions. You can catch the bus from outside the hotel and be in Kos Town in 10 minutes, but you needn't go too far with a beach across the road and a big list of on-site sports like football and tennis, plus five restaurants.
Right by a sandy beach, the Marmari Palace Atlantica is a sprawling village-style hotel. Of its six pools, totalling 5,000 square metres, four are for kids, and the family focus continues with kids' clubs, a playground, a special buffet and dining area just for the little ones. There's a huge amphitheatre stage for outdoor entertainment and sports courts for more activities, plus 10 minutes' walk away is a waterpark.
In a quiet spot three kilometres from Kardamena, this hotel has saltwater pools in its charming grounds. What sets it apart is the brand-new waterpark with loads of fast and tame slides and a lazy river, plus it's right by the beach, which has a kids' playground and pedalos for hire. The Mediterranean buffet restaurants have options especially for the kids, then after dinner there's a mini disco and entertainment six nights a week.
Opposite the beach and a 15-minute stroll to Marmari village, Holiday Village Kos is literally made for families. Proof of this is in the three pools, kids' splash park, double-decker aerial adventure course and a full repertoire of kids' clubs suitable from newborn to 15, even offering football academies. You'll stay in family-size rooms and get the pick of four restaurants including an American diner, with the evening entertainment line-up covering pop shows and party nights.
For a 5* stay that revolves around families, it has to be Blue Lagoon Deluxe, in a secluded bay three kilometres from the Paradise Beach. Family rooms and suites provide lots of space or spread out to the pool with separate activities pool for kids, Adventure Land play area or the rope course. For organised fun, the creche and soft play is for newborn to three year olds and the kids' clubs suit up to 11, then in the evenings shows include live musicals. Eating options are vast, with seven restaurants plus a children's buffet and gelateria.