Astypalaia is a small, charming Greek island in the Aegean Sea that offers visitors an authentic experience of Greece. With its whitewashed houses, pristine beaches, and picturesque landscapes, Astypalaia has become a popular tourist destination in recent years.
Interesting facts about Astypalaia:
- Astypalaia has a unique butterfly-shaped geography, which is why it is also known as “the butterfly of the Aegean.”
- The island’s name comes from the Greek word “Asty” which means city, and “palaia” which means old. It is believed that the island was named after the ancient city that was located on its shores.
- Astypalaia was a strategic location for the ancient Greeks and was used as a base for military operations against the Persians.
- The island has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and there are several ancient ruins and artifacts that attest to its rich history.
- Astypalaia has a rich maritime tradition, and fishing and boat building are important occupations on the island.
- The island is also known for its unique cuisine, which features locally sourced ingredients and traditional Greek recipes.
- Astypalaia is home to several churches and monasteries, including the Church of Panagia Portaitissa, which features unique frescoes and religious artifacts.
- The island’s capital town, Chora, is a maze of narrow alleys and whitewashed houses that is perfect for strolling and exploring.
- Astypalaia is a popular destination for windsurfing and kiteboarding enthusiasts, thanks to its ideal wind conditions and stunning scenery.
- The island is relatively undiscovered by tourists, making it a perfect destination for those who want to experience an authentic Greek island experience.
If you’re planning a trip to Astypalaia, here are the 20 best things to do on this enchanting island.
Explore Chora, the island’s capital town
Chora is a quaint town in Astypalaia that is home to a maze of narrow alleys, whitewashed houses, and charming tavernas. The town is a perfect place to start your island exploration, and it offers plenty of opportunities to take in the local culture. As you stroll around the town, you can admire the traditional architecture and stop by the shops and cafes to try the local cuisine. Chora is also home to several churches and chapels that are worth a visit, including the Church of Panagia Portaitissa, which features unique frescoes and religious artifacts.
Visit the Venetian Castle
The Venetian Castle is an impressive sight that towers over Chora and offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding sea. The castle was built in the 13th century by the Venetians and was used as a defensive stronghold against pirate attacks. Visitors can explore the castle’s walls, towers, and gates, and marvel at the stunning panoramic view of the island. The castle is also home to a small museum that displays artifacts from the island’s history.
Stroll around the Windmills
The windmills of Astypalaia are a must-see attraction that offer a glimpse into the island’s past. The windmills were used to grind wheat and other grains, and they are located just outside Chora. As you stroll around the windmills, you can admire the traditional architecture and take in the stunning view of the surrounding sea.
Discover the Beaches of Astypalaia
Astypalaia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, and there are plenty of options for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. Livadi is a popular beach that offers crystal-clear waters and soft sand, while Kaminakia is known for its stunning rock formations and turquoise waters. Agios Konstantinos is another popular beach that is famous for its stunning sunsets and panoramic views.
Swim in the crystal clear waters of Maltezana
Maltezana is a small village on the island’s west coast, and it is home to some of the most stunning beaches on Astypalaia. The crystal-clear waters and the pristine sand make Maltezana a perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing. There are also several tavernas and cafes in the village that offer delicious local cuisine.
Visit the Church of Panagia Portaitissa
The Church of Panagia Portaitissa is one of the most important religious sites on Astypalaia, and it is located in Chora. The church is famous for its unique architecture, beautiful frescoes, and religious artifacts. The church also holds a special place in the hearts of the locals, who consider it a symbol of the island’s identity and heritage.
Take a boat trip to the nearby islets
Astypalaia is surrounded by several small islets, and taking a boat trip to explore them is a must-do activity. Koutsomytis is a popular islet that is home to a small chapel and a beautiful beach, while Kounoupes is known for its stunning rock formations and crystal-clear waters. Ktenia is another popular islet that offers a glimpse into the island’s past, with ruins of a small church and other historic buildings.
Go on a Hiking Adventure
Astypalaia is a hiker’s paradise, and there are plenty of trails that lead to stunning vistas and hidden coves. The trail from Livadi to Agios Ioannis is a popular route that takes hikers through scenic hills and valleys, while the hike to the Prophet Elias Monastery offers a breathtaking view of the island and the surrounding sea. The trail that leads to the castle of Livadi is another popular route that offers a glimpse into the island’s history and culture.
Taste the local cuisine
Astypalaia is known for its delicious local cuisine, which features fresh seafood, locally sourced vegetables, and traditional Greek recipes. Fava is a popular dish made from split peas, while kalogiros is a hearty soup made from lamb or goat. Xerotigana is a sweet pastry that is popular on the island and is often served with honey and walnuts. There are plenty of restaurants and tavernas on the island that serve traditional Greek dishes, and many of them offer stunning views of the surrounding sea.
Enjoy the sunset at Agios Konstantinos
Agios Konstantinos is one of the most beautiful beaches on Astypalaia, and it is the perfect spot to watch the sunset. The colors of the sky, the sea, and the surrounding hills create a stunning panorama that is a photographer’s dream. There are also several tavernas and cafes in the area that offer drinks and snacks, making it a perfect place to spend a romantic evening or a night out with friends.
Admire the view from the Prophet Elias Monastery
The Prophet Elias Monastery is located on the highest peak of Astypalaia, and it offers a breathtaking view of the island and the surrounding sea. The monastery was built in the 18th century, and it is an important religious site on the island. Visitors can explore the monastery’s chapel and courtyard and take in the stunning panoramic view from the monastery’s terrace.
Experience the island’s nightlife
Astypalaia may be a small island, but it has a vibrant nightlife scene. Chora and Maltezana are the two main areas on the island that offer nightlife options, and they feature a range of bars and clubs that offer music and drinks. Whether you want to dance the night away or enjoy a quiet drink, there is something for everyone on Astypalaia.
Visit the Folklore Museum
The Folklore Museum in Chora is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in the island’s history and culture. The museum features a collection of traditional costumes, tools, and household items, and it provides a glimpse into the island’s past. The museum also features exhibits on the island’s folklore and traditions, including music, dance, and local festivals.
Attend a traditional Greek festival
Astypalaia is known for its lively festivals, and they are a great way to experience the island’s culture and traditions. The feast of Panagia Portaitissa is one of the most important festivals on the island and is celebrated with a series of events and religious ceremonies. The Feast of Agios Ioannis is another popular festival that is celebrated with fireworks, music, and dance, while the Fisherman’s Festival is a celebration of the island’s maritime culture.
Go on a fishing trip
Fishing is a traditional occupation on Astypalaia, and going on a fishing trip is a great way to experience the island’s maritime culture. Visitors can join local fishermen on their boats and try their hand at catching fish or simply enjoy the experience of being out at sea. Many of the local restaurants on the island serve fresh fish and seafood, making it a perfect opportunity to taste the local cuisine.
Try windsurfing and kiteboarding
Astypalaia is a popular destination for windsurfing and kiteboarding enthusiasts, and there are several spots around the island that offer ideal conditions for these sports. Livadi, Maltezana, and Agios Konstantinos are some of the best spots on the island for windsurfing and kiteboarding, and visitors can rent equipment and take lessons from local instructors.
Rent a car and explore the island
Renting a car is the best way to explore Astypalaia, as it allows visitors to visit remote beaches, traditional villages, and scenic spots. The island is relatively small, and it is easy to navigate, making it an ideal destination for a road trip. Some of the must-see places to visit on the island include the Castle of Livadi, the Windmills, and the Church of Panagia Portaitissa. Visitors can also drive to remote beaches and coves, such as Tzanakia and Vatses, and take in the stunning views of the surrounding sea.
Visit the Castle of Livadi
The Castle of Livadi is a well-preserved medieval castle that offers a glimpse into the island’s history. The castle was built in the 14th century and features imposing walls, towers, and gates. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior and take in the stunning view from its ramparts. The castle is also home to a small museum that displays artifacts from the island’s history.
Relax and enjoy the slow pace of life on the island
Astypalaia is a perfect destination for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and enjoy a slower pace of life. The island’s tranquil atmosphere, beautiful scenery, and friendly locals make it an ideal destination for a relaxing vacation. Visitors can spend their days lounging on the beach, exploring the island’s history and culture, or simply enjoying the local cuisine and hospitality.
Astypalaia is a hidden gem in the Aegean Sea that offers visitors a unique and authentic Greek experience. With its charming towns, stunning beaches, and scenic landscapes, Astypalaia has something for everyone. Whether you want to explore the island’s history and culture, relax on the beach, or enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and windsurfing, Astypalaia is a perfect destination for your next vacation.
What is the best time to visit Astypalaia?
The best time to visit Astypalaia is between May and October when the weather is warm and sunny, and the island is less crowded.
How do I get to Astypalaia?
Is Astypalaia expensive?
Astypalaia is relatively affordable compared to other Greek islands, and there are plenty of budget-friendly accommodation and dining options.
Are there any water sports activities on Astypalaia?
Yes, Astypalaia is a popular destination for windsurfing and kiteboarding, and there are several spots around the island that offer ideal conditions for these sports.
What are the most popular festivals on Astypalaia?
Some of the most popular festivals on Astypalaia include the feast of Panagia Portaitissa, the Feast of Agios Ioannis, and the Fisherman’s Festival.