Volcano Excursion and mountain village in Nisyros island
Our bus excursion starts at Mandraki (main town) first to ride to the mountain village Nika and to the church (profite Elijah) all the way up the mountain. Visit of the village Nika and small stop in the village square. There is a hike from the Nika to the volcano crater, depending on your preference. After the Nika visit, we continue to the volcano crater and mountain village Emporios. Our trip takes about 3-4 hours.
Mandraki: main town of Nisyros
In Mandraki, you set the first foot ashore. The place is a typical Greek village with white houses and colorful shutters. At each corner there is a photo subject between colorful Bougainvillea, sleeping cats and blue wooden balconies. Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque streets and often take a look at the ground.
Nisyros is known for its beautiful floor mosaics, also called "Hohlakia". From dark and light volcanic rock, various motifs are set by hand in mosaic form. Almost every house entrance in Mandraki is embellished with Hohlakia.
At the heart of Mandraki is the "Platia Ilikiomeni", the village square with its large rubber tree and numerous tavernas. Here, on the 15th of August each year, the bear quivers to the Assumption. If you leave the alley you come to the long harbor promenade, which extends from the entrance to the back of the monastery.
Numerous cafes and taverns have settled here and offer a spectacular view of the setting sun, especially in the evening. When the sea is rough, the gout hits the harbor walls here. Attached to leashes, the tavern owners "Cat Safe" hang their freshly caught octopus. A small island idyll that is rarely found in Greece.
The Monastery Panagia Spiliani
Already from the ferry you see on arrival the white monastery on a hill over Mandraki enthroned. The Monastery of Panagia Spiliani is embedded in the remains of an ancient fort and the largest part of the monastery was built in a cave. Inside is a cool rock grotto with an altar and numerous icons. A small museum also exhibits various religious finds from the last centuries.
Panagia Spiliani is an important place of pilgrimage in Greece and every year thousands of people from all parts of the world come here on August 15th to attend the procession of the Blessed Mother of God. From the monastery with its magnificent Hohlakia you have a fantastic view of the rooftops of Mandraki.
Update 2019: The monastery now charges a small entrance fee of 2 Euro per person for the maintenance of the monastery complex.
The tranquil fishing village Pali
With a rental car we leave Mandraki and drive along the coastal road along the flanks of the volcano. The fishing village of Pali or Paloi is our next stop. The boats are falling asleep here in the pier.
At the harbor there are some taverns that offer delicious freshly caught fish. The road continues along the sea past the island's oldest bakery. At Pali Bakery, bread and pastries are still traditionally made by hand. Here we are happy to bring provisions for the island exploration.
The hot springs of Nisyros
The hot springs of Nisyros were known throughout Europe until the beginning of the 20th century. Even from Egypt, people traveled to Nisyros. Today you can relax in the small village Loutra (between Pali and Mandraki) in a small thermal bath.
If you drive out of Pali, you will see from afar on the coast a large thermal building made of bricks. In the 1920s, investors from Rhodes began building a larger spa. The Second World War destroyed parts of the facility and reconstruction came to a halt in the 1970s for financial reasons. Since then, the huge building is empty.
Pachia Ammos: The most beautiful beach
At the end of the street you come to a parking lot. Here you can park your car and follow the footpath. Below the parking lot is the Lies beach, which is also recommended.
About 10 minutes you walk along a narrow path along the cliffs. Behind the last cliff, the view of one of the most beautiful beaches of the Aegean opens up. Large dark sand dunes cover the bay of Pachia Ammos.
The water is crystal clear and the chocolate brown beach covered with tiny stones. It is still quiet here until the end of June and you have the bay mostly for you alone.
From July to early September, the beach is populated by numerous wildcampers. Then it will be difficult to get a free spot between the numerous tents. Many visitors then make way for the less frequented Lies beach at the car park.
After a severe earthquake in 1933, the village was almost deserted. So slowly the place awakens from the slumber. In recent years, some of the old houses have been extensively renovated.
Directly at the entrance there is a fascinating natural sauna. In this small cave it is over 40 degrees warm and even if it smells a bit musty, the etheric volcanic vapors are good for the respiratory system
Church of the Prophet Elias
We drive back to the edge of the volcano and continue our tour towards Nikia. The road winds its way along the caldera rim and you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Aegean Sea, the village of Nikia and the neighboring island of Tilos.
Just before Nikia on the right side, a street leads up to the church Prophet Elias. The location of this blue and white beauty is gorgeous and the panorama from the front of the church is breathtaking. We could spend hours here and absorb this heavenly atmosphere in us.
The idyllic mountain village Nikia
Behind the last corner, Nikia, a picture-book village with its white houses and red roofs, shines. At the entrance you can park your car. On the right is the volcanic museum of the island of Nisyros. Here you can get lots of background information on the origins of Nisyros and the volcanic activity of the entire Aegean Sea. The museum is open every day except Sunday.
A footpath leads into the village. On the right, the lovable Mania has a small jewelry boutique. She works with materials from the island and conjures beautiful chains, accessories, earrings and icons out of shells, stones and wood. A visit to her pretty shop is definitely worth it.
The streets of Nikia are picturesque and enchant you immediately. After a few meters you come to the heart of the village. The Porta of Nikia has been voted one of the most beautiful squares in Europe and rightly so. Between the white cottages, the sky and the Aegean seem to merge into one color. As you climb the steps up to the church you have a great all-round view. Above is often an old lady. Theodora observes the hustle and bustle on the village square when the crowds of tourists arrive. She must be over 90 years old and is the good soul of the church. She collects donations and takes care of their preservation.
Time out in the village square
There are two Kafenia on Porta Nikia, where you can have a cool drink and a few meze. We like to sit in the kafenion "To Porta Nikia" with Panagiotis and his son-in-law Efthimios. The latter speaks very good German and has many tips in stock. If you follow the lanes to the end of the village, you will come to another place with an excellent view of the Stefanos crater.
We like to take time in Nikia for a long walk through the charming streets. Outside of the tourist season you can hardly meet anyone but a few cats and there is something very reassuring to walk through this silence