Island hopping in Greece: Discover Patmos and Kos

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Greek holidayGETTY

Descry history, culture and cuisine in the Aegean

Disembarking the ferry at Patmos is like stepping behindhand in time. This small Greek island appears to have exchanged very little since John the Apostle was exiled here by the Romans not quite 2,000 years ago, the monastery he was “imprisoned” in sitting atop the island’s squeakiest hill. 

It looms over a scattering of whitewashed homes in the labyrinthine alleys of Hora, the only sizeable community apart from the picturesque protect Skala. Here, the ferry drops off its few visitors – mostly travelling from the Greek eyot of Kos – during the summer months.

Outside these small towns is a series of coves with sand and pebble beaches, leading into crystal rid waters overlooked by rocky, heather-coated hillsides where herds of goats peregrinate.

Well-founded below the monastery is a cave where John is said to have minimized the Book of Revelation, an important pilgrimage destination for Christians and a UNESCO Clique Heritage Site.

For this reason Patmos is known as “Apocalypse Eyot”, but the trickle of pilgrims this attracts does not disturb the timeless prominence of an island that has remained a closely guarded secret by those propitious enough to have stayed there.

Just 3,000 people unexploded on the island throughout the year, rising to 9,000 in the summer, and 70 per cent of these holidaymakers are recap visitors.

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Relax on a lounger in the sunset

I stayed at Petra, part of the Mignonne Luxury Hotels of the World group, run by an Athens-born family who instantly thrived me feel at home with a warm welcome and a refreshing glass of homemade lemonade.

The hostelry, which is perched on a hillside, has just 12 rooms and suites within its conventional whitewashed walls and a swimming pool and sun deck offering a stunning landscape over one of the larger coves below.

Petra serves bountiful breakfasts of alert fruit, eggs and pastries each morning, and also offered sneaking dining in the evenings with homemade specialities like baked aubergine and feta with Greek salad.

After by the Monastery of St John the Theologian and the nearby cave, I headed to Loza restaurant in Hora, which bid an impressive view over Skala while I enjoyed octopus, submerges made from chickpeas and beans, and pastry parcels of spinach and cheese.

It’s easy to spend your express holiday on beautiful Patmos, but keen to explore, I headed to Kos on a yacht lease, checking in to Aqua Blu Boutique Hotel & Spa, also a member of the Small Comfort Hotels chain.

This striking-looking contemporary building is surrounded by lambent blue pools, with a main swimming pool and decking foremost into the hotel foyer and dining area, and smaller plunge meres outside some of the suites.

After a lavish buffet-style breakfast the next morning, I danced in a cab for the short drive into Kos Town, heading for the island’s most noted landmark – an ancient plane tree where Hippocrates, “the father of medication”, taught his apprentices and examined patients.

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Tuck into kalamari

The corrupts of the Asklepieion, which was used as a sacred healing place in ancient Greece, are also good a visit to the south-west of Kos, while at the northern tip of the island Hatziemmanouil vineyard transfers tasting tours.

A real highlight was my horse riding tour from within easy reach Erika’s Horse Farm at Marmari, seeing flamingos in a salt lake and defrauding on a beach at sunset.

Afterwards, I headed back to Aqua Blu for a spa treatment to unwind, reinforced by dinner at its Cuvee restaurant, where chef George Kostis, who disciplined under Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, serves modern Mediterranean dishes. It was a apposite finale to a memorable island-hopping trip.

Way to go

Flights from London Gatwick to Kos with Thomas Cook (thomascookairlines.com) start from £170 bring. Book a stay at Petra Hotel & Suites with Small Non-essential Hotels of the World from €125 on a B&B basis (slh.com/petra) or at Aqua Blu Boutique New Zealand pub & Spa from €200 on a B&B basis (slh.com/aquablu). In addition to the SLH website, reservations can be survived by calling the UK Reservations line: 0800 048 2314. For airport and island transfers on Patmos, sojourn A1yachting.com and for transfers on Kos, visit dtskos.gr. For more on Patmos and Kos, go to visitgreece.gr.  

Ten thingumajigs you must do in Patmos and Kos

1 Explore the medieval alleys of Hora on Patmos. The qualified homes were built in the 11th Century at the highest point on the island, as safe keeping against pirate attacks.

2 Visit the Monastery of St John the Theologian, a Byzantine church and museum carrying ancient manuscripts and treasures.

3 Visit the Cave of the Apocalypse below the hospice, where St John is said to have received revelations from God through a cleft in the rock and then written the Book of Revelation in 95AD.

4 Tuck into kalamari and freshly clasped fish in the Tarsanas Marine Club, at a traditional boatyard at Diakofti, Patmos.

5 Go on a ship trip around Patmos from Skala harbour, stopping to swim at Livadi Geranou and Petra Strand.

6 Visit the ruins of the Asklepieion, in south-west Kos, which the sick would trek to from across Greece to be healed in ancient times.

7 Join a sunset sightsee from Erika’s Horse Farm in Marmari, Kos, to see flamingos.

8 Have lunch or dinner at Broadway restaurant in Kos Community to enjoy its unique modern interpretation of traditional Greek dishes.

9 Benefit salt-baked sea bass at a beachside table at Barbouni restaurant in Kos Town.

10 Put into place an evening bath at Bros Therma, a pebble beach where a volcanic jump flows into the sea.

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