Known as the “Butterfly of the Aegean” due to its distinctive shape, Astypalea effortlessly captures the essence of both the Cyclades and the Dodecanese, creating a harmonious blend of cultural traditions.
This enigmatic island, with its unassuming elegance and understated charm, leaves an indelible impression on all who visit. Its rugged and barren beauty, adorned with exotic beaches boasting crystal-clear blue-green waters, beckons to adventure seekers and those in search of unconventional vacations. Astypalea Town exudes Venetian refinement, while an artistic ambiance permeates the air, providing travelers with a genuinely authentic experience steeped in culture and history. Embark on a journey to Astypalea by ferry, and let its wonders unfold before you.
10 Compelling Reasons to Explore Astypalea
- Immerse yourself in the enchanting labyrinth of narrow streets, where Cycladic architecture prevails: white houses adorned with blue shutters, stone windmills, and churches boasting blue domes. Nestled on a rocky hill, Astypalea Town, with its picture-perfect postcard scenery, is crowned by the magnificent Querini Castle, a testament to impressive fortified architecture.
- Marvel at the Querini Castle, a grey stone stronghold constructed in 1413. Explore its grandeur and admire the beautiful St. George (1790) and Our Lady of the Castle (1853) churches, adorned with the coat of arms of the Venetian Querini family.
- Discover the whitewashed Church of Our Lady Portaitissa (Keeper of the Gate), an architectural marvel dating back to 1762. This rare gem showcases a fusion of Aegean church design and neoclassical influences. Admire its three-storey bell tower, complete with Ionic-style columns, a blue dome, decorative roof tiles (akrokerama), and a baroque iconostasis adorned with gold decorations.
- Uncover the wonders of the late-Roman Baths of Talara, located in Maltezana. Adorned with blue and terracotta mosaics depicting the zodiac signs and the four seasons, these baths offer a glimpse into the island’s rich history.
- Embark on an adventure to Negrou Cave, situated near Vatses beach. This awe-inspiring cavern showcases an impressive display of stalagmites and stalactites, captivating visitors with its natural formations. Legend has it that the cave once served as a hideout for an African pirate.
- Delight in the famous yellow cookies from Astypalea Town’s renowned bakery. Infused with local saffron, these traditional snacks represent one of the island’s culinary treasures, tantalizing the taste buds of both locals and tourists alike.
- Surrender to the allure of the uninhabited islets of Koutsomitis and Tigani, along with the small island of Kounoupa, where exotic beaches await your exploration.
- Unearth the island’s captivating history through the archaeological treasures housed in the Archaeological Museum at Pera Yialos. Admire the vaulted Mycenaean tomb pottery discovered in Armenochori, offering a glimpse into the island’s ancient past.
- Immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of the Astypalea Festival, a gathering that welcomes esteemed artists from Greece’s alternative arts scene each summer. Prepare to be captivated by their talents and inspired by their creativity.
- Experience the thrill of rock climbing in Ftera, a small paradise for enthusiasts. With its distinct terrain boasting two separate crags and 20 individual routes of varying difficulty, Astypalea’s landscape entices adrenaline junkies from far and wide.
The Top 5 Beaches to Discover
- Kaminakia: A stunning beach adorned with sand and shaded by tamarisk trees. Its deep crystal-clear blue-green waters provide a tranquil escape, shielded from the winds. Enjoy the convenience of umbrellas, sunbeds, and a local cuisine restaurant. Access is possible via a dirt road that demands cautious driving or by boat from Pera Yialos.
- Vatses: Indulge in breathtaking views of the Castle and Astypalea Town while unwinding on this pebble beach, embraced by deep and refreshing blue waters. Tamarisk trees offer natural shade, and a few umbrellas and sunbeds add a touch of comfort. Adventurers can embark on a demanding hike to the nearby Negrou Cave.
- Livadi: The most popular and cosmopolitan beach on the island, Livadi offers a complete range of amenities, including umbrellas, sun loungers, and water sports equipment. Local tavernas and cafes line the shore, providing ample options for food and entertainment. Stay until evening to witness the sunset painting magical colors across the surrounding islands and watch Astypalea Town’s lights shimmer on the sea’s surface.
- Tzanakia: Four pebble beaches unite to form one of Astypalea’s most breathtaking stretches of coastline. Lack of amenities, deep blue-green waters, and a rocky backdrop make Tzanakia a magnet for nature lovers and nudists alike. The panoramic views of the Castle from this vantage point are simply magnificent.
- Steno: This narrow strip of land connecting the two halves of Astypalea boasts one of the Aegean’s most impressive beaches. Shallow turquoise waters create an idyllic setting for families with young children. Amenities such as sunbeds and a canteen enhance the experience, while tamarisk trees provide natural shade. Convenient access is available via public transport, making Steno a must-visit beach during your Astypalea adventure.
Unforgettable Moments and Local Delicacies
Before bidding farewell to Astypalea, be sure to:
- Savor the fragrant air filled with flowers as you wander down the cobbled streets between Astypalea Town and the old port of Pera Yialos.
- Witness the awe-inspiring sunrise from the benches on the main square of Astypalea Town, accompanied by the presence of eight beautifully restored windmills adorning the “neck” of the hill above Skala port.
- Immerse yourself in the convivial atmosphere of Astypalea Town’s famous bars, where you can enjoy refreshing beverages while gazing out over the vast Aegean expanse.
- Follow the island’s unique trails to the Church of the Virgin Mary atop Mount Kastelano, the Chapel of the Prophet Elijah with its breathtaking views of Astypalea Town, and the Castle of Saint John, accessed via the path that begins at the town square.
Indulge in the Flavors of Astypalea
Astypalea Island boasts a delectable array of seafood delicacies, including traditional octopus balls, lobster linguine, chowder, lemon fish soup, sea urchin salad, and freshly grilled or saffron-baked fish. Delight in the flavors of baked parrotfish with spring onions, and experience the unique dish of lentils and trahanas, locally known as rantista or arantista, representing one of the island’s most characteristic specialties. View more Greece locations here
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