The idyllic town of Pandeli on Leros Island in the Dodecanese is exactly what you envision when you think about sailing in Greece: White buildings climbing the hillsides to spectacular vistas, seaside bars and cafes offering fresh fish and calamari, crystal clear water, and the opportunity to explore a Medieval fortress before returning to your boat for the night.
It is perfection.
When you sail from Kos, Pandeli is a great second night’s stop before heading North to Patmos or Lipsi, and you might even consider staying for a third night too as there is so much to see and do.
Here’s what you need to know:
The sheltered dock area you see on the map is mostly for small fishing boats and there isn’t room for stern to mooring of a larger sailboat. If you can find space, you might be able to dock alongside; however, we think the best choice is picking up one of the many visible mooring buoys.
Unlike other areas we’ve sailed, you will find that a helper on a small, motorized boat will come out to greet your boat and direct you to a mooring ball. He will even assist in the mooring process by lifting up the line for you. So easy! Of course, you will still want to use all of your “catching a mooring ball knowledge” including easing in slowly, heading into the wind if possible and being ready to go into neutral or reverse as needed to aid in the process. The person at the bow will have their lines ready and will safely tie the lines to the bow cleats.
The cost for our mooring buoy was 2 Euro per meter of boat, so for us, that was approximately 25 Euro. This was the most we paid for any mooring while sailing in the Dodecanese islands, but still significantly less than anywhere else we have sailed in the Mediterranean.
The person who helped us with our mooring buoy offered to let us use his “dock” for our dinghy to go ashore. This was a bit tricky because there wasn’t an easy way to get on and off the dock area, but it was doable. Once tied up, head up the path and turn right and you will head directly into the charming village of Pandeli.
Pandeli offered my favorite swimming spot of the trip! The clear water was the perfect temperature and being on a mooring buoy was perfect for access. There is a large stretch of beach that you can swim to with an even larger roped off area in the water for safe swimming. In the right weather for a swimmer seeking a bit more distance, you can easily swim over to the nearby village beaches.
Is it the journey that matters most or the destination? Doesn’t matter on Leros because both are equally spectacular.
The Medieval Castle of Pandeli, also known as the Castle of our Lady, and the stunning Leros Windmills are two of the Island’s most important attractions and can be spotted from miles and miles away. Both are perched above the Island’s capitol of Platanos and the coastal villages of Agia Marina and Pandeli. The best part? They can both be accessed by a winding road that offers breathtaking views along the way.
These must-see destinations can be reached by scooter, car, or for those wanting to stretch their legs, by foot which is the mode of transportation we are grateful we chose. You will pass directly by the windmills and then up the road and around you’ll find the tiny but magnificent Prophet Elias Church. And finally, you will make your way to the 1000-year-old fortress.
On the way back we took the long staircase that leads back to Platanos and ultimately back to Pandeli where you can finish your day’s exploring by meandering through tourist shops and admiring the gangs of feral cats who team up for looting and strength-in-numbers protection.
Seaside restaurants and cafes offering fresh fish and delicious local Greek delicacies line the well protected inlet with ocean views. We ate at Apostolis’ Psaropaula, a terrific family-owned Greek restaurant that was a romantic, delicious end to our perfect day in Pandeli. We had grilled octopus, traditional Moussaka, Mediterranean salad, and Greek wine.
With only one night on Leros, we left too much unseen. Had we gone left after leaving our dinghy instead of right into Pandeli, we would have eventually found ourselves at the Port of Leros and in Lakki, a beautiful settlement known for its Italian architecture and neoclassical buildings.
The port of Leros is also known as “Mouth of the Aegean Sea” because it is one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean. If you can’t make it on your first trip, you’ll be able to see it from the road that winds upward to the windmills and castle, so stop and at least admire it from afar.
We will definitely make this a stop on our next trip, not only for the architectural significance but to tour the famous War Museum housed in a repurposed World War II tunnel.