If you’re looking for things to do in Kos with the family, you probably won’t be looking too long. Being the third largest of the Dodecanese Islands, this dot on the map of the eastern Aegean has plenty to offer those who come a-holidaying with the whole crew, no matter if that means packs of toddlers or a group of moody teenagers.
From enthralling history sites that unravel 2,500 years of human civilization to fun-filled waterparks with corkscrewing rides and slides, there’s a whole mezze platter’s worth of stuff to get up to. And that’s not even mentioning the natural features of the isle, which include beaches with natural hot springs and forests that are populated by peacocks.
Anyway, we hope that’s gone some way to whetting the appetite for your family jaunt to this fantastic island. Be sure to save this guide as a companion – it lists 11 of the top things to do in Kos with the family and we’ve tried to offer something for all sorts of travelers…
Lido Water Park
Waterparks are often up there at the top of the list when it comes to things to do on a family vacation. Well, it’s no different in Kos. Here, the Lido Water Park offers an adrenaline-filled slice of fun for both parents and kids alike. It’s one of two waterparks on the island, sat just 25 minutes from Kos Town.
Spread over 75,000 square meters, it encompasses all manner of lopping slides and pools. Highlights include the wave pool, pitch black and multi-lane slides, and a lazy river that drifts on for something more relaxing. There are also designated areas for the little ones to splash around in – a mini water park, featuring slides, tunnels and climbing frames set in a large pool or an indoor playroom filled with games and inflatables.
And for the adults? If you’re not channeling your inner 10-year-old on the slides, you could opt to relax in the Jacuzzi, sip a refreshing cocktail at the tiki hut bar, or simply do laps in the large, no-frills pool to try and work off some of those feta salads.
The Castle of the Knights
What Greek to-do list could possibly be complete without a smattering of enthralling historic ruins? Cue the so-called Castle of the Knights. It’s definitely a top thing to do with the family in Kos because it offers a glimpse at the swashbuckling medieval past of the islands, all within easy walking distance of the buzzing core of Kos Town – it’s a short five-minute walk from the marina.
Also known as Nerantzia Castle, the site was built in the 15th century to protect against the Ottomans. But while ruins may not seem the most kid-friendly option, their imagination can run wild here. Towers gaze out onto the sea, there are unique carvings and reliefs, crenulated bulwarks, and a maze of castle pieces to explore, so boredom probably won’t be a problem.
Thankfully, the castle isn’t only for the little ones. There are also informative boards that tell the tale of the construction of the fort and its key place in the annals of Kos history. Whoever said a family holiday had to be void of culture?
Often hailed as one of the top Greek islands for cyclists, Kos is ready and waiting to be explored on two wheels. The area around Kos Town on the northwest coast has dozens of rental shops offering mountain bikes, children’s bikes, e-bikes, and even tandem bikes, so there shouldn’t be an issue getting the model that’s right for you.
Once in the saddle, you can choose from a plethora of routes. They range from challenging loops with 500 meters of altitude gain that weave through the long-lost villages of the Dikeos Mountain to simple coastal trails that connect the main beaches along from Kardamaina. The latter are better for more chilled family outings, but the former are suited to the crews that come with the lycra in tow.
There are also several companies offering guided cycling tours of Kos. They are perfect if getting a little background information on the passing scenery and towns is something you’re after. Usually, prices include everything from bike rental to helmets and the trip itself, not to mention even lunch in a local taverna.
Aquatica Water Park
We simply couldn’t miss out the island’s other water park when it comes to things to do in Kos with family. Perhaps the best option for folks staying in the resort area of Kardamaina on the south coast, Aquatica Water Park sits just back from the shoreline about 40 minutes’ drive from Kos Town.
The center boasts numerous slides and pools. You can grab a tube and journey down the lazy river or feel the adrenaline rush as you zoom down the Kamikaze and Free Fall slides – both are sure to get the heart a-pumping. And, when all that aquatic action has taken its toll, you can chill out at the onsite café, where you’ll find a menu of soft beverages, pizzas, salads, cakes, and even some traditional Greek yogurt.
With a catalog of long sandy stretches, this Dodecanese island is blessed with choices when it comes to hitting the sands as a group. However, it’s the perfect swimming conditions and a myriad of amenities at Tigaki Beach that make it one of the top options for families in our humble opinion.
Situated just 20 minutes from Kos Town on the less-busy north coast, the strand opens to views of rugged Pserimos island across the strait. It’s known for its crystalline waters, fine white sand, and panoramic views. It’s also got a smattering of water sports outfitters for those after something to get the heart pumping – check out Stavedo Water Sports in the middle of the beach, where you can organize banana boat rentals and jet ski hire.
The beach is also backed by a wide selection of cafes, shops, and restaurants. Among them, the traditional Taverne Plori offers classic Greek eating under a blue-and-white-painted terrace, while the Tigaki Beach Taverna has sunbeds and sunbed service right by the water’s edge. Just be wary of straying too far west – that’s where Tigaki’s nudist section begins!
This nature reserve and animal park, which sees peacocks, stray cats, and turtles living in harmony, is bound to be a memorable experience on the Kos family itinerary. You can easily spend a good few hours here exploring the pathways and encountering the animals. Plus, the shaded landscape is the perfect place to get some respite from that scorching Greek sun.
What’s super great is that the unique spot is totally free to visit and a fine choice for parents looking to save a little dosh by swapping a pricy taverna lunch for a homemade picnic.
The spot is conveniently close to Kardamaina, the main resort strip on Kos’s south coast, and literally right next door to the airport.
Horse riding tours
There’s a certain part of Kos that seems to have established itself as something of a horse-riding mecca among the Dodecanese chain. It’s up around the Alikes Salt Lake past Tigaki Beach and south of Mamari Beach on the north shore. Go there and you’ll find not one, not two, but three operating stables that each offer their own day packages.
There’s Salt Lake Stables Horse Riding Kos. They offer excellent bespoke riding packages for more advanced riders with guides who’ve been in the saddle their whole lives. Secondly, there’s the Horse Riding Veroutas Family Farm Kos. They’re explicitly aimed at family groups, what with easy riding outings that go around the sandy banks of the surrounding lake. Finally, you could go with Erikas Horse Riding Farm Kos, which offers riding-swimming outings and even on-saddle archery lessons.
Another beach popular with families is Paradise Beach. With warm, clear water and fine, powdery sand, it’s perfect for both a dip in the ocean and topping up the tan. And the nickname of Bubble Beach is sure to pique the interest of curious adventurers. So, get on the goggles and start the hunt for the unique sighting of bubbles rising from the seafloor (caused by volcanic activity).
An extra highlight sure to please the younger crowd is the inflatable assault course in the sea. At just €5 per person, it’s a fun-filled way to work an appetite for lunch, bouncing on pads and sliding straight into the Aegean. And for when hunger strikes? The beach has a restaurant and snack bar, serving everything from burgers to ice cream.
The only downside is that this beach does get rather crowded, so try to get in early during the peak season to claim your spot.
Kos boat trips
Our last pick of top things to do in Kos with family simply has to be a boat trip. No vacation to Kos could possibly be complete without hitting the open seas.
There are loads of options but the most popular has to be the so-called Kos Three-Island Cruise. It takes in – you guessed it! – three separate isles, not including Kos itself! You’ll start at around 10am in Kos Town and then sail northwest to the rocky bays of Pserimos, then it’s onto tiny Plati, and finally to the inhabited islands of Kalymnos for lunch. Along the way, you’ll wild swim off the side of the deck and get to spot dolphins in the water!
Other outings could take across to the volcanic island of Nisyros to the south of Kos. That’s known for its charming whitewashed towns built in the Cycladic style, with blue-painted churches poking just overhead.
A day trip to Turkey
A whole other country? In a day? You bet. There aren’t many Greek islands that this is doable from but Kos is most certainly one of them. During the summer months, three separate companies (Sky marine, Bodrum Express, and Dentur Avrasya) run at least a single daily link between the island’s main port in Kos Town and the bumping yachting mecca of Bodrum. The crossing takes about 40-50 minutes each way in all.
What awaits is an enthralling resort town set along a gorgeous bay of cobalt-blue water. Up above, the soaring Castle of St Peter keeps watch, while the Bodrum Amphitheatre reveals stories of the town’s Roman heritage. There’s also a lively promenade, a fascinating ancient archaeology museum, and more beaches along the surrounding peninsula than you could hope to get through in a day (hey, you can always stay longer!).
Remember that things will be slowed down just a little because you’ll have to go through passport control and whatnot on the Turkish side, and then some checks when coming back into Greece and the EU on the return leg. Also, you’ll have to check that the ferry times match up to allow for a day’s outing since they change year on year.
On the south coast of the island down a zigzagging shore path cut into the rocks, Therma Beach offers something truly unique. It’s not one of the isle’s long runs of white-tinged powder. Instead, it’s a little corner of a pebble beach that’s famed for one thing: Natural hot springs that gurgle up out of the ground and straight into the Aegean Sea.
Find the right spot here and you can settle in for a natural bath that maintains a constant 40-50 degrees Celsius (that’s the same as the hot tub at home!). It shouldn’t be too hard, since the locals have constructed a sort of natural pool from the beach stones around where the springs come out.
Once you’re done soothing the muscles, head to the top of the beach where there’s a panoramic taverna. It’s got snacks, cold drinks, and views going south to the volcanic stones of Nisyros island and to Turkey.
Top things to do in Kos with the family – our conclusion
Kos is actually one of the most family-friendly of all the Greek islands. It’s been catering to mixed-age groups for decades and has resorts that are just perfect if you’re traveling as a whole crew, from Tikagi to Kardamaina. The variety of activities is what strikes us. One morning you could be bathing in natural hot springs on the seafront, and then wandering peacock-filled forests by afternoon. We also love the rich history that comes with the medieval castles of Kos, and the chance to head across to Turkey for a day or two.