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Crusaders' castle at Mandraki, Nissyros

Crusaders’ castle at Mandraki, Nisyros – actually the weather  was way too hot for sightseeing, but the castle was still well worth a visit

If you are interested in proper sightseeing on Nissiros (it is spelled both ways, Nisyros and Nissiros), there is a fortress near Mandraki town, a medieval fortress built by the crusaders of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Supposedly, it’s only a 15 minutes’ walk from Mandraki town, but as we had rented a car, it brought us there in no time. You can’t help being a little impressed by the solidity of the construction of the castle and how big everything was. However, it was hot and we were more inclined to go swimming.

Hunting for spectacular snorkelling on Nissyros we passed another one of those beautiful white and blue villages of the Greek islands - even the churches are white and blue

Hunting for spectacular snorkelling on Nissyros we passed another one of those beautiful white and blue villages of the Greek islands – even the churches are white and blue

On our way south we passed another of these pretty villages that offered a fantastic view of the Polivotis volcano. One looks a lot like the other, white houses with blue paint, but it looks fantastic. Even all the small churches are painted the same, and if it wasn’t for the bells, you may not distinguish them from other houses.

Perfect view to the Polivotis vulcano on Nissyros, Greece

Perfect view to the Polivotis vulcano on Nissiros, Greece

I have already mentioned the black sand beach Pahia Amos where we went on our first day on Nissiros, but it didn’t quite appeal to us. We took a look at the map and figured that there had to be some kind of beach at the end of the road at the south coast of Nissiros. We were right.

It was not a beach, but a small rocky harbour with a small wooden pier at what looked like the ruins of an old seaside hotel. The water was just as clear as everywhere else we had been while island hopping in Greece, and there were so many interesting kinds of fish in there. The boys went snorkelling most of the time as they saw some fish that really caught their attention. One, in particular, that looked like something in between a fish and a squid. It would be a pretty safe place to go with children, also the younger ones, as it was a very protected mini harbour with only a couple of metres to the bottom and there is so much to look at.

Some of the best snorkelling so far in the Greek islands was on Nissyros

Some of the best snorkelling so far in the Greek islands was on Nissiros on the very south coast

Back in Mandraki we enjoyed our last night on the great terrace outside our room at the hotel Romantzo. It’s the taller white building in the back with the blue shutters. If you chose to stay there, make sure to get a room at the top floor for the view. We had not expected much from our stay in Nissiros, but we were pleasantly surprised with what it had to offer. The next day we packed up and headed back to Kos.

Hotel Romantzo, Mandraki, Nissyros, with the blue shutters

Hotel Romantzo, Mandraki, Nissiros, with the blue shutters – basic comforts, but it has a fantastic terrace and it offers the best of views of the Aegaen Sea

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The next day we went to try out the thermal baths in the old Italian spa hotel Therma Loutra. The first time we went there, we found out that it was only open for non-residential guests for a few hours in the afternoon. We came back when it opened, really looking forward to trying the baths which supposedly should be a great experience – only to find out that you have to be 18 years old to enter. What a disappointment! It meant that our children could not go and, of course, then we would not go. I wish we had known beforehand as we had wasted a great deal of time going there and waiting for it to open. However, if you are travelling without children it would probably be something to try. The hotel Therma Loutra looks like something from a different age – and it is. It must have been a very elegant and exclusive place when it was built.

In the vulcano Nisyros Greece

Walking around in the vulcano on Nissiros Greece

We went to see the volcano and it is a must. Make sure you wear solid shoes when you go. The surface is quite hot in some places, and if you want to walk around in the area, wearing sandals is definitely not a good idea. When we parked our car a guy came up to us to sell tickets to enter the area. At first, we were not quite sure whether this was someone trying to make money on ignorant tourists, but as we hadn’t really run into this kind of problem here, we trusted the guy – and he turned out to be quite legitimate. He was quite helpful in telling us where to go – and where not to go. In some places the smell of sulphur was so strong that we had to hold our noses and breathe through our mouths. Down in the crater itself, there were steam holes which you don’t want to get too close to. The walls of the crater were in all kinds of beautiful colours, and it was a truly fascinating experience. We kept having the feeling that the volcano could explode anytime….

At the top of the volcano there is a small village, Nikea – beautiful architecture, with the most stunning view of the volcano and surroundings. It’s worthwhile taking a walk around the narrow alleys where you never seem to put your camera down. Again, people are extremely friendly and put up with the tourist with a smile.

 

Pretty village of Nikea sitting at the top of the vulcano on Nissiros Greece

Pretty village of Nikea sitting at the top of the vulcano on Nissiros Greece

As I have mentioned before, in spite of our island hopping the Greek islands in the midst of the peak season July August, there was plenty of room everywhere (almost everywhere!). In Mandraki town we saw many bars and restaurants with few or no guests; especially the ones along the ‘tourist’ street going from the harbour toward the centre of town. We recommend continuing further along the road, past the post office, and a bit further yet till you come to town square in the old centre of Mandraki where we didn’t see many foreigners. However, this was where all the Greeks seemed to come for dinner, drink coffee or whatever. We went to ‘Taverna Irene’ where we felt welcome, had great food and Greek coffee. The atmosphere was so different from the restaurants along the ‘tourist’ street.