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Kos, Greece

With jade-carpeted valleys, vertiginous peaks and brochure-perfect beaches, the island of Kos in the Dodecanese Islands sparkles with natural splendour. It is named 'the garden of the Aegean', after all. Its superb sands, which lace more than half of Kos' fringes, are the main allure for visitors and with names like Paradise, Golden, Magic and Exotic, it's no wonder most make a beeline for the beaches.

Nature's magic has supremely cast its spell over Kos but it also overflows with ancient culture. You probably won't be surprised that a Greek island is heavily dusted with ruins but Kos' proximity to its Mediterranean neighbours (you can get a direct ferry from Kos to Bodrum in Turkey in 45 minutes) means its historic treasures are far more diverse in their origins than you'd initially think. The Byzantines, ancient Greeks and the Romans are all responsible for the crumbling colonnades, time-honoured temples and age-old castles you'll see peeking out of the wildflower meadows or rubbing shoulders with newer buildings.

Unlike its glitzier sisters in the Cyclades, Kos tries to shun the limelight and allow you to fall in love with its landscapes in a much more mellow fashion. The island has a natural wellness about it but these reinvigorating qualities shouldn't come as a shock. Kos comes with a rich history of revitalisation as it was the birthplace of Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician who's often regarded as the first great mind of medicine. You can still visit the tree he used to teach his protégés under. Dating back to 300BC, Kos is also home to the healing temples of Asclepeion, widely considered by historians to be the first hospital in the world. So, when you return from your holiday in idyllic Kos, now you'll know the reason why you feel completely refreshed. Rejuvenation is in the island's very fabric.


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