Astypalea Island Guide
Astypalea is a hidden gem of the Greek islands, located in the Aegean Sea between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. It is a unique blend of Cycladic and Dodecanese architecture, with whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches dotting the landscape. Astypalea has stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a rich cultural heritage, making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking for an authentic Greek island experience.
Astypalea is quite an isolated island, situated nearly 50 miles east of Santorini and 25 miles southwest of Kos, roughly halfway between the Cyclades and Dodecanese island groups. There is a weekly ferry service from Piraeus every Sunday, but it takes over 8 hours, so it isn’t recommended if you want to get to the island quickly. The best option is to take a connecting ferry from one of the Cycladic islands (we’ve used Paros before, but the routes for 2024 have yet to be confirmed) or from the Dodecanese via Kos. Use the search box below to find ferry tickets and price details:
The island has a small airport with internal flights to and from Athens on a daily basis over the summer tourist season. Prices cost from £78 (€90) and take about an hour.
Most accommodation is close to the port in Chora, which extends from sea level uphill towards the castle south of the harbour. Some studios/rooms can be found further southwest at the beach resort of Livadi and a few more close to the airport in the resort of Analipsi. Accommodation tends to be mostly apartments, villas and studios with a few small/boutique hotels.
Proximity to the port makes sense if you’re arriving or departing by ferry, and Chora also has the highest concentration of shops and tavernas. Livadi and Analipsi make sense if you like to be on the beach. A regular bus service links all three villages and stops at several beaches.
One of the main attractions of Astypalea is its beaches, with over 100 kilometres of coastline and numerous secluded coves and bays. Livadi, a long sandy beach with crystal-clear waters, is perfect for sunbathing and swimming. Tzanakia Beach, a secluded spot accessible only by boat or on foot, is ideal for those seeking a quiet and peaceful escape. Kaminakia Beach, with its unique rock formations and turquoise waters, is a photographer’s paradise.
Astypalea is also rich in history and culture, with many ancient ruins and landmarks. The most impressive of these is the Venetian Castle, located on top of a hill overlooking the Chora (main town) of Astypalea. The castle was built in the 14th century and has a commanding view of the island and the sea. The island is also home to numerous churches and monasteries, including the Monastery of Panagia Portaitissa, which dates back to the 18th century and is a pilgrimage site for many Orthodox Christians.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Astypalea has many hiking trails and paths that wind through the hills and countryside, offering stunning views of the sea and the island’s rugged terrain. A boat tour around the island is also popular, allowing visitors to explore the secluded coves and bays inaccessible by land. Scuba diving and snorkelling are popular activities, with crystal-clear waters providing an ideal environment to discover marine life and underwater landscapes.
Astypalea’s cuisine uniquely blends traditional Greek and local Dodecanese flavours. The island is famous for its fresh seafood, with octopus being a local speciality. Traditional dishes such as moussaka and souvlaki are also widely available, as well as local specialities like Patatato (slow-cooked lamb with potatoes) and Koukouvagia (a cheese pie with local herbs). Don’t forget to try the local wines and the famous Astypalean honey made from the nectar of the island’s wildflowers.
There are many beaches to be found on Astypalea. Here is a selection of the ones we’ve personally visited:
There are other beaches on the island, but these are the ones we’ve visited and reviewed first-hand.
Astypalea is a true hidden gem of the Greek islands, offering a unique blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and authentic Greek island life. With its stunning beaches, ancient ruins, and delicious cuisine, it is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic Greek island experience.
If you’ve visited Astypalea and are looking for similar alternatives, we recommend checking out Folegandros and Amorgos. Both islands have a similar authentic and peaceful atmosphere and offer a relaxed Greek experience.
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