Although Astypalaia belongs to the Dodecanese, it is an island with an intense Cycladic colour. Its shape gives you the feeling that two different islands are joined at a point with narrow strip of land! So that is why you will hear the locals talk about “the inner and outer Island”. With 110 kilometres of winding coastline and being one of the most beautiful lands of the Aegean, Astypalaia is the ideal destination for those wishing to enjoy peaceful holidays in a wonderful atmosphere swimming in the beautiful beaches and good food at reasonable prices.
What to see
Climb up the Quirini Castle of, with coats of arms and shields of the of Quirini Venetian family, and enjoy the breathtaking view. Go through the castle of St. John, across the church, according to tradition, was impregnable. Do not miss the unique mosaics in the Talara baths at Analipsis and of course the famous church of the Virgin Portaitissa.
Astypalaia has approximately 1,200 permanent residents inhabiting Chora, the centre of the island and the villages of Pera Gialos, Livadi, Maltezana (Analipsis) and Vathi. Its is also surrounded by several islets, which you can visit by boat
The Quirini Castle
Built in 1207, the Venetian castle overlooking the Chora, features a sample fortified settlement where the external walls of the houses create a wall with small windows for loopholes. Until a few decades ago the houses were inhabited. In the castle you will find two all-white churches with ornate towers, the Virgin of the Castle (Evangelistria) and Saint George. The castle is one of the most beautiful architectural attractions in Astypalaia with its powerful battle tower which stands upright with its two whitewashed churches
Panagia Portaitissa (Virgin Mary Portaitissa)
The white church in Chora situated below the castle is one of the most picturesque churches in the Dodecanese. It was built in mid 18th century and has a wooden iconostasis, covered in gold foil, unique in its kind. There is the icon of Virgin Mary in the church a replica from an Icon at Iviron monastery in Mount Athos. Tradition holds it that when wood was placed on the iconostasis the icon was miraculously imprinted
The Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Astypalaia was inaugurated in 1998.It shelters important archaeological findings ranging from the prehistoric period to the medieval era. Numerous items discovered in excavations throughout the island are exhibited such as coins, bronze and stone tools, jewels, clay vessels. Some of these items were collected tombs and they witness the existence of civilization on the island from the early Stone Age. There is also a precious collection of silver coins dating back to the Classical period. In the museum there are inscriptions on display along with letters from the emperor and honorary decrees. There is also quite a large number of collections of statues of men, women, servants and ancient gods that shows the way people lived, dressed and worshiped their gods
What to do
Even if you visit Astypalaia in August will enjoy a quiet holiday and will be able to swim in crystal clear waters. Explore the beaches of the island and go on trips to nearby islands.
Many beaches on the shores of Astypalaia are accessible from or only-from-the sea, so you can organize your trips accordingly. Start from Pera Gialos, with its crystal clear waters, and around it will find Livadi, Tzanaki, Moura and Agios Konstantinos. The beaches of Pappou Aghios Ioannis are very beautiful which can only be reached only by sea or by hiking on a rough path. It is equally difficult is the access Tzanakia beach, but it is worth the visit .Still worth a visit are the beaches Vatses, Kaminakia, Marmari, Maltezanam the Schoinontas, Karekli, Vryssi, Plakes, Steno and Psili Ammos.
Trips to neighbouring islands
Trips to nearby islands for the day are available. Visit the islets Chondro, Ligno, Aghia Kyriaki, Koutsomitis with a beautiful beach and Kounoupas. Further on are the islands Afelfia, and Syrna and Trianisia. To the west the islands Ktenia, Pontikoussa, Ofidoussa, Katsagreli and to the north Fokies. Day trips can be made by boat whereas you can also rent a small boat.
Cave exploration! In the cave of the Dragon in Vathy, you will see impressive stalactites and stalagmites. You can reach Vathy by boat or by hiking for about 2 hours. You will reach the cave Negros in Vatses by boat from Chora. Tradition connects it with legends of pirates and their treasures. There are guided tours in the cave and the surrounding area.
The most important of the local feasts is the three-day celebration organised in mid-August in honour of the Virgin Mary Portaetissa, with guests all the locals and visitors to the island, offering plenty of wine and “Lambriano” (stuffed lamb)! On September 8 the real island celebration in honour of the Virgin of Thomas in Vathi takes place On 2 February is the celebration in honour of the Virgin Flevariotissa and it is the winter rendezvous of Astypalaia people and another opportunity for a feast!
In recent years a festival was established named “Astypalea for the Arts and Culture” with the two-cycle events, summer and winter, and a series of cultural events to promote and disseminate the culture and the revival of traditions like the traditional wedding of Astypalaia.The festival has gained prominence as a popular festival showcasing the local artistic culture of the Dodecanese islands.
The cuisine of Astypalaia is rich in flavours specializing in pies, local cheeses and many recipes with goat meat. Anywhere you go you’ll find fresh fish and seafood dishes. The local honey is also famous and it is used in many dishes.
Try “purses” (cheese pie with kopanisti and honey), honey pancakes “dilpes”, fried pancakes and “radista” (lentils with finely chopped dough and vinegar). It is also worth tasting grape leaves (with vine leaves or courgette blossom) and the traditional dish “Lambrianos” (goat stuffed with rice, spice and chopped liver and kidney). In the fish taverns you can eat spaghetti with lobster, octopus balls and fresh fish.
To almost every eating place in Astypalaia the food is delicious and of top quality. The prices are quite reasonable. Most restaurants offer fresh fish, casserole dishes and grilled food. In Maltezana “Almira” (+30 22430 61451) is a good place, as well as “Schoinontas’’ and Italian dishes are served in “Red Pepper” (+30 22430 61111). In Chora “Barbarossa” (+30 22430 61577) serves local specialties and at the beach Kaminakia you will taste fresh fish at “Linda’s” (+30 6972 290 088), and in “Astropelos” (+30 22430 61473), in Livadi.
The relaxed and friendly atmosphere of nightlife in the island is quite characteristic with Chora being the centre of everything. You can start early in the evening for coffee and dessert in “Archipelago”, from where the view is unique, and continue to the bars “Panorama” and “Liotrivi”.
When to go
Astypalaia is the ideal island for conscious cosmopolitans. You will be amazed by its hidden charms, especially at Easter and early summer.
Voltage: 220V AC, plugs with two short parallel rods
Area code: +30 22430
Police: 100 and +30 22430 61207
Municipal Tourist Office: +30 22430 61412
Municipal Medical Centre: +30 22430 61222
Port Authority: +30 22430 61208
Taxi: +30 22430 61204