Astypalaia: A Butterfly Shaped Island - 2023 Guide
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Astypalaia, the westernmost island of the Dodecanese Group, is a treasure trove of centuries-old history, picturesque whitewashed villages, crystal-clear azure waters, and sun-kissed beaches.
Although Astypalaia is in the Dodecanese Group, its proximity to the Cyclades Group gives Astypalaia a Cycladic spirit. When viewed from above, the island reveals its unique geography, with two distinct sections connected by a narrow strip of land measuring less than 100 meters wide.
The western part, known as Mesa Nisi or the inner island, harmoniously coexists with the eastern part, Exo Nisi or the outer island.
At the heart of the island lies Chora, the capital town and port, which exudes an aura of charm and beauty. Perched on a rock that boldly extends into the sea, Chora captivates with its two enchanting bays.
As you gaze upwards, your eyes will be drawn to the majestic castle of Chora, proudly overlooking the town. Against the backdrop of the castle walls, the gleaming white domes of Evangelistria and Agios Georgios churches stand out, their allure irresistible.
The houses of Chora, adorned with whitewashed walls, doors and windows painted in shades of blue, and delicate wooden balcony rails, encircle the castle, creating an enchanting scene that is a true feast for the eyes.
Astypalaia, a hidden gem in the Aegean Sea, offers a range of activities for travelers seeking a tranquil getaway. Although the island’s tourism industry is still developing, there are ample facilities to ensure a comfortable stay.
Beyond the charming Venetian Castle in Chora, there are few notable landmarks on the island. However, Astypalaia’s true beauty lies in leisurely strolls through the town and moments of relaxation on its pristine beaches.
Whether you prefer organized beach accommodations or secluded spots for naturists, Astypalaia caters to all tastes. Hiking and embarking on a jeep safari to discover hidden beaches are popular activities here.
One must-see attraction is the Venetian Castle, majestically perched on a hill overlooking Chora. While the walls have withstood the test of time, the interiors lie in ruins.
As you make your way to the castle, eight traditional windmills create a picturesque scene, adding to the village’s charm. Take your time and enjoy the narrow streets that lead from the windmills to the castle and to the harbour.
The amazing views of the Aegean Sea, the Cycladic architecture and the Venetian Castle will relax you soul.
For nature enthusiasts, Drakos Cave, aptly named after the dragon, is a mesmerizing natural wonder. Adorned with colorful stalactites and stalagmites, this cave was once associated with notorious pirates who allegedly hid their treasures within its depths. Note that the road will be tricky on many occasions.
Saint John Monastery
Located 12 kilometers west of Chora, the Monastery of Saint John offers breathtaking views of the islets of Ktenia, Pontikoussa, and Ofidousa.
Nestled between two steep slopes, the monastery stands proudly on a hill next to an ancient castle. The serene gardens and trickling streams surrounding the church enhance the overall beauty of the landscape.
History buffs can explore the Archaeological Museum, which showcases artifacts from the Prehistoric and Medieval periods. From ancient jewelry to stone tools and ceramic pottery, the exhibits provide a glimpse into the island’s rich past.
The Church of Panagia Portaitissa, situated beneath the Castle in Chora, is a magnificent sight to behold. Its pristine white exterior stands as one of the most beautiful examples of ecclesiastical architecture in the Dodecanese. Built in the mid-18th century, the church also houses a small collection of ancient icons.
Lastly, the Church of Panagia Poulariani, located in a remote region on the eastern side of the island, holds a unique allure. Accessible only by boat or on foot, this church is nestled amidst a natural rock formation that resembles the Virgin Mary embracing a child.
Enjoy the local cuisine
The local cuisine is based on products cultivated on the island. Delicious cheeses like Chlori (χλωρη) are made by local goat milk, Beekeepers contribute their aromatic honey. Fishes and seafood from the Aegean Sea take part on your table. Food here is not just a need, it is a social activity. Many conversations in the local tavernas last till midnight accompanied with wine and meze.
Astypalaia invites you to immerse yourself in its natural beauty, rich history, and serene atmosphere. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on its pristine beaches or exploring its fascinating landmarks, this island is sure to leave an indelible impression.
Astypalea, Greece boasts pristine beaches with crystal-clear waters, offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of other islands. While some beaches are easily accessible, others require a bus journey, providing secluded havens sought after by naturists. Pera Gialos, Agios Konstantinos, and Livadia stand out as the most popular beaches in Astypalea. Below, you’ll find a curated list of the island’s finest coastal treasures.
Vatses, located on the southern coast of Astypalea, is truly a breathtaking beach. With its mixture of grey pebbles and sand, against a backdrop of rocky cliffs, it creates a stunning setting with the most mesmerizing azure waters.
Despite its remote location, Vatses offers some convenient amenities such as umbrellas, sunbeds, and a small beach bar. On the western side of the beach, natural shade can be found under the welcoming embrace of trees.
To reach Vatses, you can venture along a scenic dirt road that winds through a picturesque gorge, just a short 20-minute drive from Chora. Alternatively, you can opt for a boat excursion from Pera Gialos port, allowing you to revel in the beauty of the coastline.
While exploring this enchanting area, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby Cave of Negro, adorned with remarkable stalagmites and stalactites. Interestingly, this cave once served as a hiding place for pirates, and even today, some ancient coins discovered there can be admired at the island’s archaeological museum.
Experience the allure of Vatses and its surroundings, where natural beauty intertwines with intriguing history.
Kaminakia beach in Astypalea is renowned for its unrivaled natural beauty. With its pristine white pebbles, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and tranquil ambiance, it truly captivates the senses.
Visitors can indulge in the amenities provided by a single canteen, offering a variety of refreshments, drinks, and delectable food. For those seeking relaxation, there are sunbeds and umbrellas available, as well as plenty of trees offering ample shade.
Accessing the beach can be a bit challenging, as it requires navigating a winding dirt road, particularly if you have a private vehicle. However, the reward that awaits you at this beach makes the journey worthwhile. The beach is approximately a 30-minute drive from Chora, ensuring that you can embark on this enchanting experience with ease.
Steno beach, located on the narrow strip of Astypalea, is one of the island’s most popular coastal destinations. With its sandy shoreline and shallow waters, it offers an ideal setting for families with young children.
This charming beach provides all the necessary amenities, including sunbeds, umbrellas, and a beach bar serving refreshing drinks and delicious food. For those seeking tranquility, there is also plenty of unorganized space to spend a peaceful day.
However, it’s important to note that natural shade is scarce, so it’s advisable to come prepared. At one side of Steno Beach, you will find a cozy canteen, it is called “Kantina Steno”, and you will enjoy delicious food made from local vegetables and cheese.
To access Steno beach, you have the option to drive if you have a private vehicle or take advantage of the nearby public bus stop and hop on a bus for a convenient journey.
Tzanaki beach is located near Livadia, one of Astypalea’s most popular beaches. It is a small bay measuring less than 100 meters. This pebbled beach is not only the island’s designated nudist beach but also welcomes non-nudists who seek to bask in the crystal-clear waters.
Shielded from most northern winds, Tzanaki beach remains calm and wave-free. While there are no facilities on-site, you can find amenities in Livadia or come prepared.
You can reach the beach by road or take a public bus to Livadia and then embark on a 25-minute hike to Tzanaki.
Agios Konstantinos Beach
Agios Konstantinos beach, located approximately 7 km away from Chora, is a hidden gem awaiting discovery. With its stunning sandy cove and crystal-clear blue waters, it offers an idyllic setting for swimming and relaxation. Surrounded by majestic mountains and rugged terrain, the beach exudes a unique charm and creates a captivating contrast.
Unlike popular tourist destinations, this beach appeals to nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat. While it provides basic amenities such as sunbeds, umbrellas, and a tavern serving fresh seafood, it remains off-the-grid, attracting those who appreciate a more secluded beach experience. Natural shade can be found under the embrace of nearby trees, adding to the allure of this coastal paradise.
Accessing the beach is made easy by a 1-kilometer dirt road, ideal for those traveling by car. However, it is worth noting that Agios Konstantinos beach is often exposed to strong winds, particularly from July to August, as it lacks protection from the northern gusts.
Visit this enchanting beach and immerse yourself in its unspoiled beauty. Experience the tranquility and serenity that only a secluded coastal haven can offer.
Blue Harbour Beach
Blue Harbour Beach, situated 8 km from Chora, is a picturesque rocky cove. With its rugged cliffs and tranquil, crystal-clear waters, it offers a pristine and unspoiled landscape. This hidden gem is perfect for nature enthusiasts seeking solitude away from the bustling crowds of Astypalea’s popular beaches.
It’s important to note that Blue Harbour Beach lacks any amenities, so it’s advisable to come well-prepared. Accessing the beach requires navigating a rugged dirt path, and the sharp rocks make it a bit challenging.
However, the breathtaking views and the sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching Blue Harbour make every step worthwhile.
Pera Gialos Beach (Port)
Pera Gialos, located near Astypalea’s capital, is the closest beach. It boasts crystal-clear waters and a pebbly shoreline, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Situated within walking distance from Chora and adjacent to the port, it serves as a departure point for boat trips to other areas of the island.
Along the beach, you’ll find sunbeds, umbrellas, and charming taverns offering delectable fish dishes. Whether you’re strolling from Chora or arriving from elsewhere, both walking and road access are available.
Livadia is one of the most popular beaches in Astypalea, located near the village of Livadi, just a kilometer away from Chora. This beach offers a mix of pebbles and sand, with crystal-clear shallow waters and a stunning view of Chora.
Livadia beach provides all the necessary amenities, including sunbeds, umbrellas, bars, and restaurants where you can enjoy delicious food and refreshing drinks.
For the adventurous souls, there are also water sports facilities available. If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, there are trees offering shade on the non-organized side.
Accessing Livadia beach is convenient, especially if you have a car, as there is a road that leads directly to the shore. Alternatively, you can also take a leisurely walk from Chora to reach Livadia beach.
Situated 9 km south of Chora, the island’s capital, this beach holds a rich history, deriving its name from the pirates who once used it as an outpost.
With its elongated yet narrow stretch of sand, Maltezana is an ideal destination for families and couples seeking to bask under the sun. The beach boasts mostly golden, thick sand and clear, shallow waters.
While some parts of the beach offer sunbeds and umbrellas, you also have the option to unwind on the untouched sand. The charming village nearby provides all the necessities you may require.
Marvel at the picturesque white houses and captivating architecture, and explore various attractions, including the fascinating mosaic of the Tallaras Baths, located close to the beach.
Schoinontas beach, located approximately 10 km from Analipsi town, is a captivating sandy beach with crystal-clear waters. Situated to the west of Maltezana beach, it offers a plethora of amenities to cater to its numerous visitors.
This well-organized beach provides sunbeds, umbrellas, and a beach bar where you can indulge in refreshing beverages. With its proximity to various accommodation options and restaurants serving delectable local cuisine, Schoinontas beach is an excellent choice for families seeking an ideal getaway. Accessing the beach by car is convenient, thanks to its easily accessible road.
How to get to Astypalea?
Astypalea, a stunning island shaped like a butterfly, remains untouched by mass tourism. Whether you choose to fly from Athens or take a ferry from Athens (Piraeus) or other Aegean islands, Astypalea is easily accessible. Below, you’ll find all the necessary information for your journey to Astypalea!
Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the local transportation options available. This will ensure a smooth transfer to your hotel and allow you to explore every corner of Astypalea with ease.
Traveling by Ferry
There are regular ferry connections between Astypalea and Piraeus Port in Athens, with approximately three trips per week. The ferry journey takes around 9 hours. Additionally, you can reach Astypalea from Naxos, Amorgos, Paros, Donoussa, Rhodes, Tilos, and more. Check at FerryHopper.com for routes and prices.
Traveling by Plane
During the summer season, Astypalaia Island National Airport “Panaghia” operates and receives domestic flights from Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos.” The flight duration is approximately 50 minutes. The airport is located in the region of Maltezana.
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