Kardamena is the word for Greece's greatest holiday

by Lucie Sissons

Want endless beaches and scenery, an ancient culture and history plus thrilling excursions and buzzing nightlife? Well, play your Kardamena right and you're guaranteed the best of both worlds

With sandy beaches, mountain views, superb nightlife, historic ruins and thrilling water sports, the Greek fishing resort of Kardamena has plenty of hidden gems for an action-packed budget holiday.

Visitors who spend their nights enjoying Kardamena's buzzing nightlife often spend their days recovering in bed or lazing on the main beach. The key, however, is to explore. Walk along the beach front and past the harbour and you will discover a much more pleasant beach.  Here the the pebble barrier separating the soft sands from the glistening Aegean sea no longer exist, the sun beds are free rather than over priced and the sea is perfectly calm.

This is the beach the locals use but few tourists find. The mountain view and beautiful fish in the sea makes the slightly longer walk worth every extra step.

If you are looking for a more relaxing stay, the reasonably priced three-star Cleopatra Superior is on the quieter side of town. It is a very comfortable hotel with all the necessary facilities in a perfect location.

The crazy nightlife is far away for a peaceful night’s sleep but close enough to walk to. The quieter Cleopatra Classic is another well-valued three-star. The Mamouzelous Apartments, run by a local family, are also nearby and perfect for anyone on a budget who still wants somewhere decent to stay. From 18€ a night it is definitely worth the money. English may not be the host family’s strong point but they provide great hospitality in any language.

For a more up-market stay in Kardamena visit the Aegean Village Lagas Hotel. This four-star has distinctive Aegean architecture and is just a 10-minute walk from the harbour. Built on top of a hill, you get amazing views of the Aegean sea from every corner.

Stroll around Kos Town, taking in the harbour and market stalls and the Tree of Hippocrates (where the great philosopher is said to have worked) and investigate the castle ruins.

Local busses cost just 3€ a ride. The transport may rarely be on time, but will arrive eventually. Also visit Paradise Beach for 4€, nicknamed Bubble Beach due to its volcanic activity. It makes for a lovely day out, especially as part of a boat excursion around the coast, when you can stop off for a stroll or swim at various places.

After all that exploring you’ll be ready for a good meal. I recommend Alexander’s, Loustros and Nemos, all about a two-minutes walk from the main beach. The swordfish at Nemos is excellent. For a cheaper alternative try Paradise on the seafront. This offers a perfect evening watching the sunset. The owner George is possibly the friendliest Greek on the island - and always ready to charm the ladies!

The excellent hospitality deserves a thank you in Greek: ‘Efharisto’. It will be very well received. A handy tip – befriend the locals and they may throw special deals your way, whether it’s a free drink or 10 percent off your bill.

Decorated with candles and fairy lights and situated among beautiful vegetation, The Garden is a perfect little bar run by - and visited by - locals. Often missed by tourists, it serves excellent cocktails with a large variety of local spirits. It is definitely the most attractive and relaxing bar in Kardamena and its location off the main strip makes it an undiscovered gem.

A strikingly beautiful sight in Kardamena occurs at around 6:10am during the summer months. The 24-hour Rok bar in the beach hosts a breathtaking sunrise event with an incredible atmosphere. During this hour, tourists of all ages, locals and staff join together on the rocks and watch in perfect tranquillity as another day begins. If you're lucky, you will be treated to guitar playing, gentle singing and even a sneak performance from the local comedy hypnotist as dawn breaks.

This scene is in perfect contrast to the crazy hours between 9pm and 4am when tourists are renowned for embracing the party spirit. If you make it all the way through the night - or have managed to rise for breakfast - head back to the Rok for amazing maple syrup pancakes - a special recipe from the Canadian owner that are simply perfect.

If you want thrills, screams and lots of splashes then visit Kardamena Water Sports Centre. The Ringos are a must. A word of warning to those on the outside rings - hold on tight! Just in case you have your eyes constantly closed, a DVD is available for around 5€. It is well worth the price for the giggles it provides.

So visit the hidden gems, explore the island, marvel at the glorious sunrise, befriend the locals - and then take a step back, smile and shout a big cheers, or "Yamas!", for Kardamena.