A salty breeze off the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea ushered our magical arrival to the most eastern inhabited island of Greece. Quaint whitewashed buildings with pastel accents glistened in the sunlight as our morning ferry approached the rocky coast of Kastellorizo.
Towering limestone cliffs cradled the residents below in a protective embrace. At first glance, the beautiful town evoked a sense of tranquility with its charming verandas, inviting lounge chairs, and anchored sailboats.
Greek flags fluttered in the wind as we passed by Mandraki bay and remnants of the Old Fortress. My giddiness intensified as Brad and I were about to explore Greece for the first time!
Cruising into the main harbor was a sight for sore eyes! Two and three story houses built in the Dodecanetian architectural style reminded me of bite-sized petit fours. Most of the buildings featured decorative shutters and adorable balconies with bistro tables above central entryways.
Visiting Kastellorizo was an easy day trip from Kas, Turkey, and the voyage took approximately 20 minutes. Brad and I booked round trip tickets online via Meis Ferry Lines for $36 USD per person. The ferry departed Kas at 10:00 AM and Kastellorizo at 4:30 PM.
Even though only two companies operate daily ferries out of Kas, we had to wait nearly an hour to receive our Greek entry passport stamps. Standing in line during the middle of summer with the sun beaming above us was a bit sweaty, but worth the minor inconvenience. Opa!
To rehydrate and recharge, we ate a light breakfast at Meltemi Café along the gorgeous waterfront. The fresh fruit plate with ripe plums, peaches, and grapes paired perfectly with my mint lemonade. Brad needed a stronger jolt and opted for a creamy Greek iced coffee.
By midday, the al fresco restaurants and cafés were in full swing. Smiling owners enticed us to sit and enjoy a meal as we walked around the pristine harbor. The cheerful and easygoing Greek vibes instantly made us fall in love!
Our favorite part about Kastellorizo was the traditional architecture. Many structures have undergone extensive renovations with vibrant coats of paint. An explosion of color was all around us as we wandered cobblestone alleyways and narrow steps. Our camera eventually overheated from all of the snapshots!
To fully appreciate the essence of Kastellorizo, we threw any semblance of a plan out the window. Even though we simply practiced the art of doing nothing, we saw other travelers joining a small boat tour to visit the Blue Cave, reading books beside the turquoise ocean, and learning a few Greek phrases.
As Brad and I strolled hand in hand, we encountered a few hungry goats and mellow cats. Time seemed to stop once we tried a piece of galaktoboureko (semolina custard baked in filo) at Remezzo Café & Snack Bar. The classic dessert was heavenly and difficult to share!
While Brad took a break in the shade, I followed the path beginning at the east end of the harbor to admire the only Lycian rock tomb in Greece. Carved during the 4th Century BC, the ancient tomb features a symmetrical façade with Doric order characteristics. Along the way I noticed a staircase leading to a picturesque cove ideal for a refreshing dip. I felt a pang of regret for mistakenly leaving my swimsuit behind!
Perhaps our only quest in Kastellorizo was finding a souvenir to add to our collection. After bypassing magnets, coffee mugs, and racks of clothes in the boutiques, we finally found our treasure in a no-frills convenient store for $1 USD. The tiny ceramic house matched the scenery to a tee!
Our last few hours in Kastellorizo were spent drinking carafes of chilled white wine and eating authentic cuisine at Athina Seafood Tavern. We shared a Greek salad and indulged in a plate of sautéed garlic prawns. A couple of curious sea turtles made the seaside dining experience unforgettable!
Making our way back to the ferry was delightfully bittersweet. I didn't want to bid farewell to the happy atmosphere and friendly locals who welcomed us with open arms. Our first trip to Greece felt wholeheartedly authentic and off the beaten path. The island of Kastellorizo was a mini romantic getaway full of wide smiles and cherished memories.
If you are planning to visit Rhodes or Kas, consider adding Kastellorizo to your itinerary. Six hours is enough time to get a taste of the unique island, but two days would be more relaxing. Discovering a different side of Greece is just a ferry ride away!