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The island of Astypalea is the westernmost island of the Dodecanese and has always been influenced by the different cultures that dominated the island through the centuries. A quiet island with almost no people and narrow dirt roads that will lead you through romantic paths to the blue sea and golden beaches described by Homer.
Visitors are mainly Greek with the exception of a few Italians. A wild vacation perfect for those who love relaxing and camping. Ready for this adventure?
To reach Astypalea you can use a service that Olympic Airways started a few years ago and connects some of the islands of the Dodecanese. Olympic airways have a fleet of airbuses that connect Rhodes, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos and Astypalea.
This service is active during summer. Basically the plane leaves from Athens, reaches Astypalea where it lands and then leaves for Leros, Kalimnos, Kos and Rhodes.
The flight from one island to another takes about 20 minutes. If you don’t want to travel by plane Astypalea is connected through ferries to the other islands nearby. Since there aren’t many connections for reaching the island our suggestion is to visit Astypalea neither at the beginning nor at the end of your vacation as you may risk being stuck there for a day.
Why choose Astypalea?
If you are someone that loves nature Astypalea is the right island for you! You will need a bit of adventurous spirit to fully appreciate this wonderful island. Especially if you want to reach some of the most hidden nudist beaches. On Greek islands there are many camping sites (far away from the main beaches) where nudity is accepted.
Astypalea is perfect for camping as it’s almost always sunny and there is low humidity during nighttime. Astypalea is also known as “butterfly island” because of it’s shape, here you will discover the Greek myths and enjoy a special vacation that you won’t easily forget!
The beaches on Astypalea are famous for being very difficult to reach, the roads are often in bad conditions and for this reason we suggest renting an off road vehicle, there are some long walks that you can choose from that can be just as tiring as fantastic. The small boats that leave from Skala are the best way to reach these beaches. The nicest beaches are located on the easternmost part of the island. Let’s see the most famous ones:
A sandy and isolated beach with turquoise waters located on the western part of the island. It is one of Astypalea’s nicest beaches even if it can be difficult to reach as you will need to access it through a wild path. The beach can also be reached within one hour by boat.
A beach with both sand and pebbles, crystal clear waters and quietness that is ideal for someone looking for a relaxing destination. The beach is located on the south-western part of the island and it is accessible by boat. There is a small bar on the beach.
An isolated beach with crystal clear waters and fine sand, located on the south-western part of the island. The perfect beach for someone that is looking for peace and quietness. There is also a tavern near the beach and when you visit it you should also visit the nearby beach of Tzanaki
A sandy beach with turquoise waters located on the south-western part of the island, it is also Astypalea’s most famous beach, for this reason the beach offers many beach umbrellas, chaise lounges, structures where to practice water sports, bars and taverns. Remember not to lose the beautiful sunset that you can see from this beach as it is really spectacular.
Psili Ammos beach
A sandy beach with crystal clear waters located in the central part of the island. An ideal beach for someone looking for peace and quietness. You will only be able to access it after going through a long path that starts in front of Panagia Fleviarotissa church.
This beach has a tavern, a shallow seabed and a lot of shady spots, for this reason it is the perfect destination for a family day trip. In this point the island is very narrow and for this reason, on this beach, the sea is on both sides. One of the two beaches has a shallow seabed and calm waters while the other one has higher waves because of the Meltemi wind.
A long beach with pebbles and turquoise water located on the south-western part of the island. One of the nicest beaches on Astypalea that offers many beautiful landscapes. An interesting place to visit if you are in Vatses beach is Negros cave. This beach can also be accessed by boat.
On Astypalea, besides enjoying the sea and sun you can also go on excursions, long walks or discover the coasts nature and beaches with a daily trip outside. So what else can you do in Astypalea? Here is a list of some of the activities.
Nightlife in Astypalea
Besides the small bars that can mainly be found in Skala and Hora, there isn’t any nightlife on the island and most tourists enjoy the island during the day. Hidden between the narrow paths of Hora there is Castro bar, one of the best places where to sip a fresh cocktail while observing the view of the Aegean sea from the terrace. Then there is Mouggos in the Hora’s square. There are antique chairs and tables decorating the traditional cafeteria. Sit down and enjoy your Ouzo and Meze.
Trip to Astypalea’s castle
Inside the island’s Chora (which is considered one of the nicest in the Greek islands) you can visit Astypalea’s castle that was built by an architect of Italian origin. Reaching the castle is already a great experience as the surroundings are very nice. The entrance of the castle is a big gate, once inside the first thing you will find is the defensive structure. From here you will enjoy a lovely panorama of the Aegean sea and the far away islands.
A boat trip is a truly wonderful experience and one of the best things to do in Astypalea. The trips include visiting the island’s coast, reaching inaccessible points that you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. Otherwise you can visit the small islands of Kounopia and Koutsomiti where you will have the chance to go swimming in a fabulous sea. Almost all the trips include lunch, drinks and even some equipment to go snorkeling.
On the island of Astypalea you can move around by taking a taxi cab, the local bus line or by renting a vehicle. But what is the best way to move around Astypalea? This mostlòy depends on the type of vacation you are looking for. Here are some of the options:
Renting a car in Astypalea
In Astypalea you will have the chance to rent a car. In the local agencies it won’t be necessary to pay with credit cards. But be careful before you start visiting the island as many roads are in very bad conditions. If you don’t rent an off-road you will have a lot of problems travelling around. The price ranges between 30-40 €/day during high season.
Renting a taxi in Astypalea
There are two taxis on the island, so you may have problems booking them. The two taxi drivers are usually very happy about leaving their own numbers in order for you to call her. This option is very cheap and is an excellent alternative to the local bus line that doesn’t reach every point of the island.
Busses in Astypalea
During the summer there are busses that connect Skala, Hora and Livadi in the western coast and Analipsi/Maltese in the eastern coast. The bus service is offered by the company named Ktel and busses leave early in the morning and finishes around 22. The timetables are often connected to the arrivals of ferries and aeroplanes.
Renting cars and scooters in Astypalea
There are different agencies that rent scooters and sometimes even quads. Considering the size of the island the distances between one place and another aren’t usually very big (maximum 15 km for getting from the furthest village to the island’s Chora). For this reason you may want to choose a scooter or even better a quad for moving easily on the island’s barren roads.
Of course the price will be slightly higher compared to a scooter. Prizes for renting a scooter are around 23,00 €/day.
Moving around Astypalea by boat or taxi-boat
Another alternative is to move around the island by boat in order to reach the most inaccessible beaches. Of course some of these boats also organize daily trips to the nearby islands. This is certainly one of the first things to do in Astypalea.
The island of Astypalea is served by a small airport on the isthmus 8 km north-east of Skala. Air transport provides the best means of reaching the island, avoiding lengthy nocturnal sea crossings and bad weather. However there are no international flights to the island, only internal flights, so it is necessary to change planes to reach the island from outside Greece.
Ferries are less frequent than to other Greek islands and many run only at night. There are two ports on Astypalea, with most ferries arriving at Agios Andreas, usually at night. These ferries are small, as the sea there is too shallow to allow larger ferries to enter. The port is 6,5 km from Skala, to which it is connected by an irregular bus service.
There is a ferry service to the island during daylight hours but this runs only once a week, so most travellers chose to arrive by plane.
Airplane routes to Astypalea
The quickest and easiest way to reach the island. During the summer there are usually two flights to the island daily from Athens, where they connect with international flights. These flights are quite expensive due to high demand and a limited number of seats, and it is important to book well in advance. During the summer there is a bus service between Astypalea airport and the villages on the island.
Ferry to Astypalea from Piraeus
An alternative solution is to take the ferry from Piraeus. This is usually run by Blue Star Ferries and leaves at 7 am. The crossing takes 8 ½ hours and costs €38.50, although due to the early departure time, for those arriving in Athens by plane there will be the additional cost of an overnight stay in Athens, with a probable visit to the Acropolis followed by an evening in the Plaka added in.
Flights between the Dodecanese islands
During the summer Astylaea is connected by the ‘Skybus’ service, an island-hopping air route connecting Astypalea, Kos, Rhodes, Kalymnos and Leros, with an average flight time of 20 minutes between islands. Seats on the flights are inevitably limited, so it is important to book in advance.
Most apartments and hotels in Astypalea are located in the villages of Skala, Hora and Livadi where most of the bars, shops and taverns are located. It is always advised to book in advance in order to avoid not finding any place.
Where to stay in Astypalea
On the island you can also find the classic Greek studios, hotels and B&Bs spread throughout the island. In Astypalea the prices of the accommodations change according to position and the type of accommodation you are choosing. During the high season the prices go from 55€/night to over 200€/night.
Camping sites in Astypalea
The camping site is located 1,5 km east from the road that leads from the Chora to the airport. Camping is completely free but it is forbidden by law in certain areas.