Discover Kos: A Guide to Local History, Customs, and Festivals

Discover Kos: A Guide to Local History, Customs, and Festivals

Local History

Kos, an enchanting island in the Dodecanese archipelago of Greece, is a gem rich in history that spans millennia. The island's documented history dates back to the Mycenaean era, a testament to its longstanding significance. Celebrated for being the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, Kos is a living museum where ancient ruins meet splendid modernity.

Over its long and colorful past, Kos has seen the influence of various civilizations including the Dorians, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans. Each of these cultures has left indelible marks on the island's architecture, culture, and traditions. From the Classical Antiquity period evident in the Asklepion, to the remnants of medieval fortresses like the Castle of the Knights, Kos is a microcosm of the Mediterranean's layered history.

Local Customs

The local customs of Kos are a fascinating amalgamation of traditional Greek practices and unique island traditions. A visitor to Kos will be charmed by the islanders' genuine hospitality, known as 'philoxenia,' that is deeply ingrained in the local culture.

One of the prominent customs on the island is the celebration of name days, which are considered more important than birthdays. On their name day, individuals celebrate with family gatherings, special meals, and visits from friends and relatives.

Another notable tradition is 'Kantades,' a form of music where groups sing 'serenades' in streets and at festivals, accompanied by guitars and mandolins. The island's cuisine is also a vital aspect of its culture. Traditional dishes like 'Pitaridia' (homemade pasta), 'Pligouri' (a bulgur wheat dish), and 'Katimeria' (a type of local cheese pie) highlight the rich culinary heritage of Kos.


Kos is renowned for its vibrant festivals, which offer a window into the island's fascinating traditions and communal spirit. Here are some festivals you won't want to miss:

  • Hippocratia Festival: Celebrated every summer, the Hippocratia Festival is the island’s most significant cultural event. It includes a series of arts and cultural activities such as concerts, theater performances, art exhibitions, and folklore dances, paying homage to Hippocrates.
  • Wine Festival in Mastichari: Held in August, this festival celebrates the island's wine-making tradition. Visitors can taste various local wines, enjoy live music, and participate in grape stomping, a traditional wine-making method.
  • Touch of Love Festival: Taking place in Kefalos, this event showcases local customs through traditional music, dances, and local gastronomy. It is an excellent opportunity to experience the island's cultural essence.
  • Religious Festivals: Kos celebrates numerous religious festivals, with Easter being the most significant. During these celebrations, the island comes alive with processions, feasts, and traditional rituals.


Kos is an island that seamlessly blends its rich past with its thriving present. Whether you are exploring ancient ruins, partaking in age-old customs, or reveling in lively festivals, the island offers a myriad of experiences that appeal to every traveler. Discover the magic of Kos, where history, culture, and hospitality converge, creating memories that last a lifetime.