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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO VISIT ASTYPALAIA AND WHAT TO DO IN THIS (STILL) SECRET GREEK ISLAND

Astypalaia is the most amazing Greek island that you will visit and still a travel secret, as the Aegean sea meets remote paradise beaches, a lovely capital town built on 3 hills and chilling Greek Summer vibes

Astypalaia, the last jewel of Greek islands, also known as Astypalea by locals , is already unique with its butterfly shape from above ! Once you set your eyes on its half moon bay that embraces the Aegean sea when arriving , going past the towering fortress, you know that you are in a stunning Greek island !

First of all is its remoteness between the touristic islands of Kos and Naxos/ Mykonos that makes Astypalea a kind of exclusive destination- you can only come here by boat/ ferry or by private jet. Secondly, there is a sense of wilderness and adventure as beyond its capital, most roads in Astypalea are still dirt narrow roads making every trip incredible. Thirdly, the touristic offer is limited meaning that only the few lucky enough to book beforehand will get a place on that dream boat trip to visit the paradise islands near Astypalea.

First of all is its remoteness between the touristic islands of Kos and Naxos/ Mykonos that makes Astypalea a kind of exclusive destination- you can only come here by boat/ ferry or by private jet. Secondly, there is a sense of wilderness and adventure as beyond its capital, most roads in Astypalea are still dirt narrow roads making every trip incredible. Thirdly, the touristic offer is limited meaning that only the few lucky enough to book beforehand will get a place on that dream boat trip to visit the paradise islands near Astypalea.

But what really attracted me more on Astypalea island is this unique Greek summer vibes without the tourist masses from Santorini, Mykonos or Kos and still the restaurants and bars where all amazing. Even more for one special reason: almost all food here is organic and local.

WHEN TO GO TO ASTYPALAIA

Astypalaia’s great location means that the best time to go is during Summer and during June to September, as here the night breeze cools off the hot days smoothly. Given the scarcity of accomodations, do take into attention the July & August periods.

Temperatures will be in the low 20s degreescelsius and will reach 34-35 degrees during the day, most of them with sunny blue skies.

Best time to swim in Astypalea is from June to October as sea temperatures will be ranging from 23 degrees in June to 28 degrees in high Summer in August. During the mornings it will be a little colder but it will warm up during the day.

HOW TO GET TO ASTYPALAIA

The best way to get to Astypalaia is by boat/ferry and its actually almost the only way, unless you are flying a private charter to the very small local airport. You will need to fly first to one of the bigger nearby islands such as Kos, Mykonos or even Santorini and then connect to Astypalea island.

Ferry services run all Summer long , starting usually in May/June and ending in September. There are only a handful of ferry companies serving Kos and not always daily:

  • Dodecanisos Seaways – the fastest jets connecting all Dodecanese islands for a quick island hopping. You can check schedules and book tickets here
  • Blue Star ferries – is a company connecting all Greek islands all the way to Athens. Slower than others but very reliable and very qualitative. Ferries schedules can be checked here: website
  • Saos ferries – usually docking overnight and leaving before sunrise, this huge ferry connects to the bigger islands like Kos and Naxos, among others . You can also travel with your (rental) car as it’s large enough. Check the operation days here in their site,

HOW TO GET AROUND ASTYPALAIA

Astypalaia is a small island with limited public transportation and taxis, so the best way to move around is by car/ scooter inland or then take the boat tours to the nearby islands or remote beaches.,

For getting that rental, either you book it in advance or you run the risk of having no vehicle as availability is also reduced. And then comes what is also brilliant about this island – a whole fleet of electric car sharing bookable via a local App for some hours or more, an App called AstyMove, whose link can be found here

This car sharing app is sponsored by Volkswagen as this island is actually an European project test pilot for sustainable allergy. So you need to submit your driver’s license and personal data, enter a payment method and then wait for the authorization of the AstyMove admins. It should take one hour but you can always call to ask for a quicker validation.

In case you prefer not to drive, the local Astypalaia bus is also bookable via this App, being called AstyBus ( a kind of taxi) that you can call anytime but it can take some time before it

My recommendation is that you get to your accommodation with the AstyBus or by foot if you are in Astypalaia main town. Then get a rental car the next day or do the car sharing App. About the rental car companies, all are located near the main Astypalaia harbor. Expect to pay 60€/ day or more.

Road conditions are good but many are dirt roads, so even if you don’t need a 4×4, expect a lot of dust on the winding hills of Astypalea.

WHERE TO STAY IN ASTYPALAIA

Hotels in Astypalaia are mostly concentrated in the main town of the island, with some properties being then on the Southern part near the beaches. And whilst you can find some bigger hotels in most Greek islands, in Astypalea the accommodation type is mainly appartments or villas. Due to limited number of hotels and the growing traveller’s demand , its advised to book at least 3 months in advance to secure your preferred property.

The island is small enough to drive in its length in a little less than 2 hours and all boat tours leave from the main Astypalea harbour, so a central location is the best option to stay in the island.

My recommendation is to stay in an apartment midway between the castle hill or then close to the windmills to see the magnificent views at sunrise (Astypalea town is oriented to the Southeast) or the orange sunset colors over the hills.

Therefore my top 3 hotel suggestions to stay overnight in Astypalaia are:

  • Marina’s deluxe studios: These studios are beautifully decorated, being spacious enough with a lovely balcony that has a harbor view. The host is super friendly . Only 5 minutes from the windmills and 7 minutes from the harbour, you can book it on AirBnB
  • Astypalaia Hotel Palace: Stunning location overviewing the whole Astypalaia harbour and castle hill, this property has a lovely pool, some private jacuzzi studios and a great breakfast. Check good rates on booking.com
  • Anatoli Luxury studios: This property combines a superb location near Astypalaia’s windmills with amazing studios design, some with outdoor hot tubs or a mini pool. Definitely a great option if you find a good deal on booking.com

If you need more recommendations , just message me.

WHERE TO EAT IN ASTYPALAIA

Greek food in Astypalaia island is unique , because the island is almost all food is locally sourced and organic . There is no other Greek island that can match it .

It means that in every corner of Astypalaia you will find organic juices , vegetables and honey that is simply the most delicious you will ever try. I really loved that local Greek feta cheese grilled with local honey , the smell of hot baked bio bread in the air every morning , like if I could still feel its scent now and that amazing fresh juice in the remote beach of Kaminakia…

Having said that , you will find here traditional Greek food, Italian and some European cuisine, no international restaurants or fast food chains.

These are for me the top 7 restaurants in Astypalaia that I can recommend you:

  1. Akti restaurant- probably the best seafood and a terrific location by the harbor , clearly my number 1!
  2. Castro Bar – right around the corner from the castle, this colorful café restaurant is a delight to the eyes and food
  3. Antikastro – the views of Astypalaia and the castle are hard to beat , food is divine
  4. Agoni Grammi- a fine Greek taverna with great serves , located by the windmills on the way to the castle. Close to it an Italian type of restaurant Ducati di Astypalea also really good !
  5. Το Steki Tou Kalafaga – a typical Greek taverna with traditional delicious food on a budget, located right after the windmills on your left with the Greek name Το Στέκι του καλοφαγα
  6. Taverna Kaminakia – with delicious organic food and beverages, it’s location in the best beach of Astypalaia is unbeatable plus a few lovely swings
  7. Marinos – the beautiful café restaurant in Maltezana village is a delight with its cakes but I also loved the Maltezos coffee bar on the left up street

Which one would you choose?!

Best dishes to order for me and taste great local food were:
🔹Marinated octopus
🔹Zucchini Balls
🔹Shrimps saganaki
🔹Feta cheese with sesame and honey
🔹Shrimp souvlaki (grilled)
🔹Stuffed aubergine (or grilled)
🔹Meat on the spite (lamb or chicken)

Hopefully you can try them all !

TOP THINGS TO DO IN ASTYPALAIA

Astypalaia offers many top things to do, from stunning beaches to spectacular Mars landscapes , from paradise islands to bucolic fishing villages and the beautiful Astypalaia capital of Chora Town with its castle, windmills and white houses in a spectacular location.

The top attractions in Astypalaia that you must see are:

  • Astypalaia Old Town , Castle & Harbour
  • Old Windmill Astypalaia viewpoint
  • Kaminakia Beach
  • Kounoupa Island
  • Koutsomitis Island
  • Maltezana Beach & fishing village
  • Livadia Beach
  • Plakes Beach
  • Red Rock point
  • Agios Konstantinos Beach

In this map of Astypalaia , all the top things to do in the island can be easily seen. Despite the small distances, consider that most roads in Astypalaia are narrow and many are still dirt roads. For example from Astypalaia Chora Town to Kaminakia beach, count with a 45 minutes drive.

ASTYPALAIA OLD TOWN

Astypalaia Chora Town is one of the most beautiful Greek islands capital that you will visit! Surrounded by 3 hills that connect its lovely harbour , you can only be fascinated from every perspective that you will have from its castle, windmills, white housing with blue domes and church towers , sprawling like dominoes on the tail of a butterfly. Plus The steep hike will add to that unforgettable experience!

Starting with the visit of Astypalaia’s castle is a must do. Built to protect Astypalaia from pirates, Byzantine , Ottoman troops and others , the incredible castle was built on the 13th century, whose location with a free 360 degrees view over the whole island, made it an almost unconquerable fortress.

The 5 key things you need to know about the castle of Astypalaia are
🔹it’s FREE of charge to entry
🔹Open all day long from sunrise to sunset
🔹there‘s only one gate to enter from the South side
🔹two churches inside were built on the 18th century and be visited sometimes
🔹best viewpoint is on the left/ eastern side of the castle

On the way to the castle , you will pass by the 8 windmills of Astypalaia. These windmills are the most iconic sight in Chora Town alongside the castle and the harbor.

The windmills of Astypala were built on the 18th century to store grains. Their roofs rotated along with their wheels depending on the direction of the wind. They used to be 9 but one got destroyed by fire, being used now for exhibitions, small shops and even a small library. The best photo spots are from the 8th mill or from 100 meters up the road. And if you have a drone, even better!

Between the windmills and the castle, Astypalaia offers an incredible streets labyrinth that seem to always bring you somewhere different. Just explore them by getting a little lost, checking the bougainvilleas, terraces, white and blue tones houses as they blend in with the colorful streets.

ASTYPALAIA OLD WINDMILL VIEWPOINT

Astypalaia is known as the butterfly Island due to its shape and you can actually see it partially from this viewpoint!

This magical viewpoint is and old lone windmill, just opposite the Astypalaia castle hill. It gives you a 360 view of the butterfly „body“ connecting western and eastern , Astypalaia, the whole Astypalaia Chora Town and the beautiful coastline . It’s by far the best scenic spot, by sunrise or sunset !

It can be reached from the Astypalaia city center in 20-25 minutes by foot or 5 minutes by car. And there‘a a café by the windmill that you can relax in! Is there any better place to see the sunset in Astypalaia?!

KAMINAKIA BEACH

The best beach in Astypalaia island accessible by car is Kaminakia beach. The journey to get there is already one of the most scenic road drives you can make in Greece, that is rewarded with one dramatic landscape that will leave you amazed.

It’s located 40-55 minutes west of Astypalaia Chora Town by car and you can only really reach it by car or if you dare with a scooter on a rough dirt road for the last 20 minutes (and its steep)

On the way there, you will drive by a beautiful stunning Mars kind of landscape, worth stopping for some great shots in (almost) another planet

The beach is absolutely great for a swim protected from the wind by two huge cliffs in a secluded bay that seems otherworldly. A few boats do come here but it’s a quiet beach , not crowded.

It also has one of the best tavernas and beach bars in Astypalaia, so you will certainly enjoy an incredible time here!

KOUTSOMITIS ISLAND

Koutsomitis island is one of the Astypalaia ‘s paradise islands just off the coast ! Accessible only by boat and in limited groups, it’s a must do experience when in Astypalaia!

What you need to know about tzhis stiunning island in Astypüalaia:
🔹Boat tours start at 11am in the harbour of Astypalaia Pera Gialos (near the ferries)
🔹Reserve at least one week in advance as there are few boat operators and limited space
🔹Tour takes circa 7 hours and includes other 2 stops : Red Rock and Kounoupa Island
🔹It costs around 50€ with lunch and beverages , it can be more depending on the operator
🔹I recommend booking with Aura cruises it’s really great service with perfect group sizes
🔹There’s also a budget option with a much larger group and no lunch for 25€ with Thalassapouli cruises

You can swim or snorkel here, have a nice hike uphill the right to and get a better panorama view of the island or just enjoy the sun (bring your own umbrella & chairs). Note that you will need to swim to the small beach if you are on a bigger boat, but waters are quiet here without big currents.

KOUNOUPA ISLAND

Kounoupa island in Astypalaia belongs to the top beaches of Greece and the Greek islands ! It’s just stunning how a small islet looks as the ultimate paradise beach that is still one of most best kept secrets .

If the boat trip wasn’t good enough already , the last stop at Kounoupa beach leaves you completely surrendered to the beauty of these islands in Astypalea/ Astypalaia !

A few travel tips for Kounoupa island:
🔹You can swim on both sides but the right side is less windy
🔹you can have a drink or a quick meal at the taverna on the beach
🔹There are a few pebbles , but you enter the sea through a huge stone platform on the right side
🔹You will be here around 3pm, it will be your last stop before returning to Astypalea main port (takes 1 hour)
🔹bring water goggles or snorkel mask and reef shoes if possible

MALTEZANA BEACH & FISHING VILLAGE

Maltezana beach is one of those places that could be a painting – a quiet bay with beautiful blue water , colorful fishing boats and a small beach that is as harmonious as the village behind it.

It’s not only perfect to wind down after a day hiking but also as a stopover on visiting the eastern part of Astypalaia island . The other magnet here is the „Cat Café“ hidden in a street behind the harbor, with the coolest interior you would ever imagine in a Greek bar! Coffee doesn’t taste much better than this , the hosts are so friendly! And you will see some cats too!

Here thetre is also a nice restaurant and a small blue dome church just opposite the road.

LIVADIA BEACH

Livadia Beach is a stone throw‘s away from the Astypalaia Chora Town capital, just a few minutes by car/ scooter or even walking down the road .

The beach is a lovely protected bay with terrific views of Astypalaia castle and part of the old town from the western side. It’s also a popular spot for boats to anchor , giving it a beautiful Greek summer vibes .

Add to it some good bars and restaurants alongside a cool beach promenade and you have found a great spot to hang out. It’s also growing its offer of properties to stay, so could be a good alternative to staying in town but yet being close enough to the capital of Astypalaia.

PLAKES BEACH

Plakes beach is the most unique beach in Astypalaia because it has no sand. After the small parking lot, you will access it via the plain rocks until they plunge into the sea.

And these “stone plaques” are precisely the reason why it’s so popular. You can plunge into the blue sea and yet swim back easily ashore!

Located in the middle of Astypalaia’s main town and Maltezana, it’s a refreshing stop before continuing east. Check out the stunning viewpoint by the church hill just before you head down to the beach

RED ROCK POINT

Making justice to its name, the Red Rock point does have reddish walls that can be spotted as you reach the coastline and find this special spot, that is result of erosion over thousands of year.

The boat can only get as near as the entry to this rocky cove entry , but it’s a fairly quick swim to a small stony beach and you can dive from the boat as it’s deep enough.

Now the secret spot here is a small narrow entry tunnel on your left (when facing the rock), that you can squeeze yourself in. Here it’s a stunning rocky pool, completely surrounded by high cliffs, that takes a few minutes to swim. You will be most likely be one of the few that finds it, so enjoy it for. while . The way out is a short underwater tunnel, that leads you to the sea , that from there is a quick swim to the Red rock cove on the left.

Of course you can only access here with your boat or then take the tour that includes also Konoupa and Koutsomitis islands mentioned above, so check those entries to know more about it.

AGIOS KONSTANTINOS BEACH

Agios Konstantinos Beach is a off Road is a secluded long sandy cove with amazing fine white sand. It’s around 15-20 minutes from Chora town, accessible via a dirt road by car / scooter.

Despite being on the road south, it’s secluded enough to enjoy a beach with less travellers but still has some sun beds and umbrellas as well as a small traditional Greek taverna , offering great sea food.

It has a particularity: on its left side, marked by a big blue buoy, there is an incredible sight: bubbles coming out of the sea floor, giving you the sensation of being in a nature jacuzzi, although the water temperature isn’t really hot as it blends with the sea immediately.

What really made for me this beach so special is the idyllic blue dome church on the right side of the beach , that makes the setting just like a Greek postcard picture! And it offers in the backdrop a view of the Astypalaia castle hill.

And there is still the terrific clear sky nights, with no air pollution, here as the houses light up after sunset and under the effect off a full moon it’s even more magical! Who wouldn’t like to see this in person?

And if you wake up around 5am and walk uphill from Astypalaia Chora Town, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking sunrise …

Stay also tuned for posts for more Greece islands and have a look to the posts already published. Send me any questions per message or comment below.

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My name is Renato Azambujo. I live currently in Hamburg, but was born and raised in sunny capital of Portugal, Lisbon. I also lived in Switzerland for some years, before settling in Germany for the last years.

I am huge passionate about travel, photographer and a global explorer, always looking to the next destination.

I have so far visited over 70 countries across the 5 continents, because I really love knowing about new places, interact with different cultures and get to know myself better after each journey.

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