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Karpathos: A Place of Unspoiled Natural Beauty

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Discover Karpathos

Karpathos is the second largest of the Dodecanese, a place of unspoiled natural beauty that is a cultural bridge between Rhodes and Crete.

This remote island is an ideal destination for lovers of authenticity. With pretty mountain villages where age-old customs are unchanged by time, as well as exotic beaches, rugged windswept crags, ancient stone-paved paths, and archaeological treasures, it promises an unforgettable travel experience.

4 memorable experiences on Karpathos
  1. Walking the ancient stone-paved paths of Northern Karpathos to enjoy the island’s stunning countryside. The trails pass through amazing scenery with unique monuments of folk architecture, such as farmhouses with threshing circles and stables, intricately built dry-stone walls, chapels, and windmills. The enchanting route from the plateau of Avlona to the natural harbour of Tristomo is particularly worth following.
  2. Going to one of the island’s famous village festivals to experience a night of unrestrained revelry.
  3. Buying your own pair of stivania, traditional boots handmade with exceptional craftsmanship in the village of Olimpos.
  4. Entering the extraordinary Church of John the Baptist, situated in a subterranean cavern near the ancient city of Vrikounta.
Beaches of Karpathos

With 160 km of coastline, Karpathos’ beaches promise an unrivalled variety of settings and experiences. Marvellous landscapes with pale golden sand and gorgeous turquoise waters, deserted rocky idylls for those seeking seclusion, tourist spots with countless opportunities for sport and recreation, and even windy beaches with constant waves for surfing, can all be found here bathed in the dazzling light of the Aegean. Don’t miss:

  • If you choose one of the itineraries to Karpathos don’t miss the opportunity to visit Apella, perhaps the loveliest beach in the Mediterranean, which has twice been named the best in Europe. Its fabulous scenery of fine white sand, deep aquamarine sea, and pine trees that come down to the shore takes the breath away. Its tourist amenities include umbrellas and a taverna, and access is via a dirt road or by excursion boat. The picturesque cave church of Saint Luke’s is located nearby.
  • Kira Panagia, dominated by the red-domed Church of Our Lady on the hill above. The alluring setting of golden sand and small pebbles, shallow turquoise waters and countless pine trees attracts both locals and visitors. Umbrellas and sunbeds are available and there are a number of restaurants here.
  • Diakoftis, the most exotic beach on Karpathos, which never fails to make an impression with its dunes, juniper bushes, white sand, and shallow green-blue sea. It has umbrellas, sunbeds, and a canteen for snacks.
  • Ahata, curving around an idyllic cove with deep turquoise waters. This magical spot on the east coast of the island is surrounded by steep cliffs and stands out for its small white pebbles. There is a taverna on the shore.
  • Ammoopi, renowned for its excellent watersports. Its shallow blue sea is safe for young swimmers, while Asprouas, the white rock that dominates one end, is perfect for diving off.
  • Lefkos, a sandy shore with calm blue-green waters and a magnificent view of the island of Sokastro. There are umbrellas here and plenty of tavernas.
  • The beaches of Afiartis, often favoured by windsurfers, as it is one of the windiest locations in the Mediterranean. Vatha (Devil’s Bay), Limni (Gun Bay) and Makris Yialos (Chicken’s Bay) offer more than 5 kilometres of sand, with different conditions and degrees of difficulty for windsurfers of all levels.
Postcards from Karpathos: 7 things not to miss

The village that is the jewel in Karpathos’ crown is spread out like a tapestry between two peaks on Mount Prophet Elijah. The medieval settlement, built between the 7th and the 9th century, is a remarkable architectural complex of painted houses, dozens of windmills, churches, and outdoor wood-fired ovens from another era. It is a living folk museum, where the women dress in brightly-coloured traditional costumes and an ancient Doric dialect is still spoken.

Standing in a verdant landscape surrounded by orchards, this small 17th-century village was created as a refuge from pirate raids. The sunset, with views of neighbouring Kasos and the Sitia mountains of Crete, is magnificent.

The splendid ruins of this ancient city, situated on the rocky peninsula of Paleokastro, are a breathtaking sight. The early-Christian (5th century) basilica of Saint Anastasia has superb mosaic floors.

This uninhabited island just off the northern tip of Karpathos is full of natural and cultural treasures waiting to be discovered. Don’t miss the dazzling “Palatia” (palaces), an 8th-9th century Arab settlement with mysterious vaulted buildings on the site of ancient Nisyros. In front of them is a small beach with clear emerald waters perfect for endless hours of swimming. Alternatively, climb the hill to Saint Zachary’s Church to gaze out over the Aegean or simply explore the location, which is a protected area in the Natura 2000 network. You can travel to Saria by excursion boat from Diafani.

Dating from the Byzantine period, this beautiful village boasts perhaps the largest and most attractive square in the Dodecanese, the impressive Skopi. However, what makes it truly unusual are its neighbourhoods of white houses and pebbled courtyards, which function something like unofficial open museums, the residents leaving the front doors wide open to reveal the richly decorated interior.

Karpathos’ largest village, nestling on the bare hillside of Mount Prophet Elijah, is particularly striking when its pastel-coloured neoclassical mansions are viewed from afar. Its centrepiece is the imposing “sacred rock” topped by the legendary Church of the Assumption (1845), whose large courtyard has a fantastic view of Pigadia.

Othos Folklore Museum
This fascinating museum is a re-creation of a traditional local home, giving an authentic picture of everyday life on the island. The collection includes period furniture, wonderful examples of textiles, and household objects.

Tastes of Karpathos

The most famous local delicacy is the handmade pasta known as makarounes, served with soft mizithra cheese or fried onion. If you choose one of the ferry tickets to Karpathos it is also worth trying ofto (stuffed lamb or goat roasted in a wood-fired oven), hondro (meat with bulgur wheat), kopeles (pies filled with wild greens), gra (vegetable pie), lahanopitia (vegetable pasties) and kolokithopoulia (courgette flowers).

If you like seafood, don’t forget to sample skaro (a kind of parrotfish found in the seas around Karpathos and served either fried or in a stew) and menoules (salted sardines in olive oil).

Favourite treats include tourtes (cheese pies filled with soft mizithra or creamy sitaka), zembilia (pies filled with raisins and covered in sesame seeds), sisameli (a dessert made with sesame seeds and honey), and baklava. Make a stop in the village of Othos to taste the regional sweet red wine.

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