Astypalaia is a small island in Greece. It’s a little bit of a hidden gem among the high-profile tourist destinations that Greece has. It’s not so easy to get to this island this is why it doesn’t see the usual tourist crowds that other Greek destinations can see. Join us to explore the top things to do in Astypalaia, a wonderful island that you can visit if you are looking to get away from the crowds.
The island is also known as Astypalea sometimes. Both the spelling of Astypalaia and Astypalea is generally accepted. This small island has only around 1500 full-time residents, making it a unique visit. Due to the hard-to-reach location, it has managed to remain mostly untouched by tourism. Authentic villages, original architecture, and incredible locals await when you visit Astypalaia.
Where is Astypalea?
You can find Astypalaia in the southeastern Aegean sea. This island has a territory of only 97 square kilometers. Astypalea belongs to the group of islands known as the Dodecanese.
How to get to Astypalaia?
Getting to Astypalaia by Plane
Despite the very small local population, Astypalea has its airport. It’s quite unusual for a small island like this to have an airport, but if you want to fly here you are in luck. You can get a cheap flight to Astypalaia from Athens directly.
This means just one layover if you are flying from Europe. Many people fly into Athens, explore a few days, and then head over to Astypalaia for an epic beach vacation. During summer you have daily connections between Athens and Astypalaia.
The one-hour flight time makes it an extremely comfortable and convenient way to travel to Astypalaia. If you are not looking to take a car with the ferry or include the island in an ‘island hopping’ journey, then taking a plane during summer is your best bet.
Getting to Astypalaia by Ferry
Being an island also means ferry connection. All in all, Greece is one of the biggest ferry operators in the whole world. They have so many small islands that it’s not possible for them not to think about ferry connections. Once again, the most popular route to Astypalea by Ferry is from Athens, Piraeus port.
The quickest ferry trip from Athens to Astypalaia is around 8 hours. The cost is usually 44 EUR for one person. You can also book ferry tickets from nearby islands like Naxos, Santorini, Syros, etc. This makes Astypalaia a really great destination for island hopping.
Top Things to do in Astypalea Town
The main town on the island is also called Astypalea. Let’s explore what are the top things to do and things to see in this charming little village. With around 1000 residents, most of the people on the island live here.
Did you know? Astypalea town is also called Chora. You can use any of the two names to refer to the capital city of Astypalaia island.
1. Walk the winding streets
Did you think that Santorini is the only one with whitewashed buildings and cute local architecture? Well, if yes, then you will be very positively surprised by Astypalaia. It has many small streets that you can only access on foot.
Make sure that you will spend at least one day wandering around the whitewashed buildings, the cobblestone streets, and the authentic local architecture. Every now and again you will stop to take some awesome pictures that you can remember for the rest of your life. Enjoy the freedom from major tourism on this little piece of Greek authenticity.
When you are ready to take a break make sure to check out one of the many local tavernas and coffee houses. Most of the time it will be the owner directly serving you or cooking the meal. We think that one of the major attractiveness of Astypalaia comes from its real local feel. You’ll get to enjoy Greek food and Greek life without all the tagged on extras that you usually get in highly touristy places.
2. Astypalea Venetian Castle
Towering over Astypalaia, you will see the Venetian Castle from almost anywhere in the city. It’s an old ruin built during the Venetian rule of the island. The castle has a roman style to it meaning it has the usual dark building blocks of many fortresses of that age. It stands in stark contrast to the whitewashed look of the town.
The fortress was constructed as a defensive building against pirates and sea attacks. During the 300 hundred years of Venetian rule, it was always in use and always extended with new additions.
Hiking up to the castle will provide amazing views of Astypalea town and the sea around the island. You’ll be able to check out the ruin and what is left of the fortress today. Apart from the ruins, there are two well-maintained churches within the castle walls. The Lady of the Castle and Saint George both stand out with their white style among the dark ruins.
3. Astypalaia Mills
On the outskirts of the Chora old town, you will find the classic greek windmills. Usually, they have blue roofing, however, in Astypalaia they have a red roof. This makes them somewhat special amongst the windmills of Greece.
Many of the island’s inhabitants would transfer the island’s modest wheat harvests to Astypalaia so that they might be ground into flour. A total of eight windmills may be found here. Depending on the wind direction, their roofs rotated in tandem with their wheels.
Stop by the mills and take out your cameras. It’s one of the most perfect spots to show off that you are in Greece.
4. Archaeological Museum of Astypalaia
History lovers will be really happy to learn that there is an Archaeological museum available in the town of Astypalaia. If you are interested, then you can visit this museum to learn all about the history of the island.
You will be able to see all the historical treasures that have been uncovered on or near the island. There are items on display from a wide variety of times. Even some prehistoric relics were found in the area.
The museum is usually open from mid-May and costs 3 EUR to visit.
5. Sample the awesome local cooking
With only around 1000 people living in Astypalaia, you have tavernas that serve truly local meals. Most of the restaurants on the island will use fresh and locally prepared ingredients. The biggest exception for this is seafood, wherever you see a little asterisk (like this: *) it means that the dish is from a frozen ingredient.
Our recommendation is to ask for the daily fish. Most restaurants have some kind of a daily catch. You can be sure that it will be as fresh as it gets.
One of our favorite places is Astypalea is Turquoise Astypalaia. It’s true local street food. Yes! You heard that right. Even an island with less than 1500 inhabitants gets some amazing street food. We can honestly only admire the Greek hospitality and amazing foods.
Another great place to visit is Salis Kafeneio mezedopoleio. Tucked away in a backstreet you will find amazing meze and wonderful cooking. Just make sure you’ll pay at least one visit to this place.
The beaches of Astypalaia
Many people come to Astypalaia to enjoy some awesome beaches. It’s one of the best places if you are looking to avoid crowds. Relaxing shores and clear water is what awaits you in Astypalea. There are multiple wonderful beaches you can explore on the island.
One of the great things to do in Astypalaia is beach hopping. Select at least two beaches each day and fill your time with relaxation and swimming in the deep blue waters. Let us list the top 3 picks for beaches in Astypalea.
1. Livadi Beach
Located just next to Astypalea, the town of Livadi is where you will find Livadi beach. It’s an inviting pebbly beach with many amenities. From sun loungers to beach bars you will find anything you desire from a beach. Especially perfect for families due to the shallow waters and calm waves.
In the background, you will have the Castle of Astypalea which is assurance for amazing scenery. A great spot to spend a day relaxing, swimming around, and snorkeling in the clear waters. It’s only around 2 kilometers from Chora (Astypalea Town) so you might as well walk here. The route is easy and not demanding at all.
2. Steno Bay
Anyone who visits the island of Astypalaia must include a swim at Steno Bay. It’s one of the best beaches in Astypalaia. There are tons of sun loungers available and even some literal sunbeds where you can relax and enjoy the amazing Greek summer.
This beach is indeed a bay, so get ready to have awesome scenery and calm waters. If the inviting crystal clear water wouldn’t be enough for you, there is even a swing set up inside the water. Proudly announcing ‘Steno Bay’ on the top it’s a really popular spot to take pictures and create memories for home.
Free parking is available at the beach and there is a small shack selling food and drinks. The water is pretty shallow at the beginning making it just the perfect place to spend an afternoon relaxing.
3. Kaminakia Beach
Located on the west side of the island you can reach Kaminakia beach easily by car. It’s a beach that has wonderful views of the sea. There are sun loungers to rent and one properly equipped restaurant to eat at.
This beach is one of the favorites of people who visit Astypalaia. It is indeed very well equipped with great waters for swimming. You can get out your snorkeling gear as well and observe the marine life in the crystal clear waters of Kaminakia beach.
+1 Kounoupa Beach
There is one more honorable mention which couldn’t make the list only because it’s not technically on Astypalea island. Kounoupa beach is on the uninhabited island of Kounoupa. It’s a really unique place where you can enjoy a secluded beach day.
The only way to get here is by boat. You can get on a boat tour in the marina of Astypalaia town. They will take you to this island and you can enjoy a beach with only a few people. There is even a beach bar waiting for you here to grab some drinks and snacks for a day filled with fun and adventure.
Island Hopping in Astypalaia
The island of Astypalaia is surrounded by multiple small islets. They are mostly uninhabited or only have one small chapel or church on them. One of the great things to do in Astypalaia is to do some island exploration.
You can go to the marina in Astypalea town (or as the locals call it Chora) and book boat tours. There are multiple options to choose from ranging from few-hour tours to full-day excursions. You can venture out to explore the small island, discover secluded beaches, and have a really fun day filled with adventure.
Generally speaking, boat exploration is a must-do on Astypalaia. There are some awesome caves and beaches that are not accessible otherwise. Most of the Astypalea shoreline is made up of huge rocks with big drops. This means secluded beaches, awesome hidden caves, and a place where boat exploration is a great thing to sign up for.
Hiking in Astypalaia
Whenever you want to be a bit more active you can try your hand at some hiking. Amongst the best things to do in Astypalaia, you will find hiking the island’s many trails. As a small island, Astypalea is incredibly walkable. Many of the places don’t even have proper asphalt roads leading to them.
The geography of Astypalaia is mostly mountainous. With the harsh and sunny conditions, most of the plants that grow here are small and scattered around the ground. There aren’t many places to find lush vegetation on Astypalea. Regardless, the hilly landscape, with the small plants has its own charm. It gives out an almost otherworldly feeling.
Popular Hikes in Astypalaia
One of the most popular hiking spots in Astypalaia is a visit to Tamieftiras Livadiou. It’s a lake located within the mountains of the island. It’s a nice walk to the valley of this inland lake. On the shores of the lake is one of the few places where you can find bigger and greener plants.
Hiking the northwestern side of this butterfly-shaped island is also a popular activity. The roads get sparse and few in this part so it’s only logical to tackle the terrain on foot. Just make sure you don’t leave any of the already existing footpaths as off-trail hiking can be dangerous.
The whole east side of Astypalaia has only a couple of roads and no villages. This makes for great opportunities to walk the foot trails of the area.
Do you need a car to get around Astypalaia?
Whenever you visit Astypalaia, a car will most definitely come in handy. However, while you are renting a car keep in mind that there are many gravel roads on the island. Choosing a company that does not allow you to take the car off-road is not recommended. You can rent a car only in Astypalea town. As handy as it is to have a car of your own and the freedom it provides, you don’t necessarily need a car to get around Astypalea.
The taxi system in Astypalaia is pretty good and affordable. It is totally viable to plan to get around with taxis while you stay on the island. Public transport, on the other hand, is not that reliable. It runs only during summer, and it connects the villages, ports, and the airport.
Due to the small size of the island renting scooters or even hiking around is pretty much an acceptable way to get around the beaches and towns. Just make sure you are in a fit condition if you choose hiking. It gets really hot during summer.
FAQ about Astypalaia
Yes! Astypalaia is an absolutely charming place. With authentic villages and nice beaches, it’s a great place for a vacation.
Yes. The island of Astypalaia has an airport. You can easily book a flight to Astypalaia.
You can either book a direct flight from Athens or a nearby island or book a ferry. A flight is quicker, but you can take your car if you book a ferry.
In short, hot summers and mild winters. During the summer months, the temperature usually gets over 30 degrees Celcius and you can enjoy the beach. Meanwhile, in the winter it rarely gets below 5 degrees Celcius.
Renting a car in Astypalaia will come in really handy. However, it is perfectly fine to get around with a taxi. It’s not necessary to rent a car in Astypalaia.
Yes, mopeds are available for rent. Just make sure you are fine with riding around a moped as they can be more dangerous than a car.