Castellorizo is the island seen out in the open water across from Kas. This Greek island seems close enough to swim to. Just a 20 minute ferry ride away, Castellorizo is an island perfect for a day trip with its coastal streets, two-storied pastel houses, and restaurants serving fresh seafood.
Castellorizo is also called Megisti or Meis in Turkish. It’s the smallest of the well-known ‘twelve islands’. Rhodes, 125 km away, is the closest Greek island to Castellorizo. Its distance from Kas however, is just 2.1 km.
Castellorizo Travel Guide
This is a small island, but its history is full of upheaval. The first people to settle here were the Dorians. Rhodes took control of the island during the Hellenistic Period. During the middle ages, the Byzantines and Ottomans fought to take Castellorizo. In the 14th century, the island fell under the control of the Knights of St. John out of Jerusalem. After the knights, the island was ruled by the Egyptian Sultan, the King of Naples, Sultan Suleyman, and Italy.
The island was occupied by the French and Italians during WWI and the British after the war. The 1947 Paris Agreement delegated it to Greece. Together with the rest of the ‘twelve islands’ it officially became part of Greece in 1948.
The entire island of Castellorizo is covered in rocky terrain. It’s not a flat island. Hills and steep cliffs rise up just behind the coast, so most of the settled area is found on the seaside. It measures 6 km north to south and 3.2 km east to west. Technically, this is a small island and can be visited in a single day.
After arriving in Castellorizo, you’ll go through passport control and can start exploring right away. You’ll see the town center just to the right of passport control. It takes two minutes at the most to walk there.
The coast is lined with Italian-style pastel houses and small, quaint shops. Walking from one side to the other will take you 30 minutes at the most. Most of the restaurants have their tables and chairs outside along the coast. The town center is made up of small boutique hotels, restaurants, cafes, and small souvenir shops.
Exploring the island on foot, wander through the coastal streets, each is filled with its own surprises. You’ll be able to take amazing photographs while exploring the streets. You can also swim just off the coast of Castellorizo. The water here is crystal clear; you can even see fish from the surface. Local loggerhead turtles also visit the island. These turtles swim along the shore, coming up to the foot of your restaurant table.
After visiting the town square, you should also visit the island’s other places. One place to see is the dome and the distinctive architecture of the mosque. It’s located to the right of the police station on the pier. It will be to your left as you approach the island by ferry. This mosque is from the Ottoman era.
The island was under the control of the Ottomans from the 1500s to the 1900s and it was during that time that this mosque was built. It was restored and turned into an ethnographic museum in 2007. Its displays consist of works of art and items from daily life in the 20th century.
There is a path that runs along the edge of this mosque. This part of the stone path, perched on the side of a steep and narrow cliff, is quieter and less busy. Almost too narrow for two people to pass by each other, don’t miss a walk along this path as the view is beautiful. You can also jump into the water from here.
Another place to see in Castellorizo is the Church of St. George. Follow the white-painted stairs on the edge of the pier up to the church. There is a small square and restaurant just in front of this Byzantine-style church. This restaurant was featured in many scenes in the movie Mediterraneo.
One of the best places in Castellorizo is the top of the castle. It was built in the 14th century by the Knights of St. John on top of the remains of a previous castle from the 4th century BCE. The island gets its name (castel rosso, red castle) from the way the stones of this castle appear red at sunset.
Don’t forget to visit the Blue Cave. Its small, unassuming entrance is located on the southern side of the island. The cave’s interior is about 50 meters long, 30 meters wide, and 25 meters high. There is a spectacular, florescent blue color inside. It is accessible only by boat. As soon as you get to Castellorizo, you’ll see the boats that go to the Blue Cave.
Another place to see on the island is Aya Yorgi Island. Aya Yorgi is a tiny island just off the coast of Castellorizo. Its water is turquoise, crystal clear, and calm. You can rent sunbeds and umbrellas here.
Castellorizo is famous for its fresh seafood. If you like seafood, be sure to try the fish, shrimp, or octopus here. Find a restaurant with a view and atmosphere that you like and enjoy some Greek dishes. Some restaurants also except Turkish Lira.
How to get to Castellorizo
There are ferries between Kas and Castellorizo year-round. You’ll need a Schengen visa to visit the island. Seasonally, you may also be able to obtain a visa upon entry. For this, all you’ll have to do is bring the required documents with you to Kas.
To get from Kas to Castellorizo, you have two options. The first is to take one of the ferries that depart from the Kas Harbor each morning. These ferries depart at 10 am and return at 4 pm. Your other option is to rent a boat. You can depart and return at any time you wish with one of our boats.
Our Castellorizo tour departs from Kas at 10 am. After a day of enjoying the island, our tour returns at 4 pm. For more information, see our Castellorizo boat tour page.
Other advantage to our boat tours is that you can see Castellorizo’s Blue Cave for free. If you take the ferry, you’ll have to rent a boat in Castellorizo to get to the Blue Cave. If you rent a boat from Kas, you won’t have to rent a boat to see the cave.