Greece off the beaten path: Astypalea

Astypalea, Greece

Every time I thought of Greece, the Greek islands always came into my mind. I knew that not all islands are the same, but I always pictured them with whitewashed houses and colorful windows, tavernas by the clear waters of the Mediterranean serving delicious and fresh fried calamari, the traditional windmills, Vespas and the locals speaking English with their sweet accent.

My first and recent trip to Greece took me to a butterfly shaped island in the middle of the Aegean Sea that was everything I pictured the islands to be, and more. Astypalea is not well known among the tourists – yet – what makes it even more special. When talking to Greeks from other islands and Athens, their first comment was how traditional and authentic it is; very true.

If you are looking for that traditional and authentic Greek island, away from the tourist crowds, to indulge yourself into the local culture and experience Greece off the beaten path, then Astypalea is where you need to go. I’m not sure it can get any more authentic than this.

In Astypalea you find narrow streets of whitewashed buildings where you most probably will be exploring alone. No crowds, perfect for pictures. No noise, apart from the cats playing with each other and the occasional Vespa passing by. No tourist traps, or people begging you to enter their store or restaurant.

Astypalea, Greece

The local mouth watering food, the kindness and smile of the locals, the traditions, the clear water of the sea, the sunrise, the traditional windmills, and the history of Astypalea will conquer your heart from the start. Being on this island made me feel part of a movie, celebrating the Greek Orthodox Easter with the Astypaleans made me feel honored instead of an intruder for not being of the same religion.

Astypalea, Greece

The Castle of Astypalea

Astypalea, Greece

Astypalea, Greece

Astypalea, Greece

The Virgin Mary church

Astypalea, Greece

Astypalea, Greece

Astypalea, Greece

Astypalea smells of herbs and sea. I got to smell oregano and sage and pick almonds from the trees, tried homemade marmalades, experienced the most stunning sunrise so far, drove near cliffs to contemplate the views over the island from above, got invited by a local to try the lamb he was cooking, watched the Greek Orthodox Easter traditional fireworks over the city at night, had breakfast with a privileged view, and made local friends who I would love to see once again.

Astypalea, Greece

Almond tree

Astypalea, Greece

Analipsi (Maltezana) village

Astypalea, Greece

Where in the world

The butterfly island is located between Santorini, Amorgos and Kos. Despite its colors being very similar to the Cyclades islands (white and blue), Astypalea is part of the Dodecanese group of islands, located in the southeast of the Aegean Sea.

Astypalea, Greece

Source: Google Maps

How to get there

Getting to Astypalea won’t be the easiest trip in your life, but it certainly will be worth all the hassle. As the island is literally off the beaten path, only one airline and ferry company can take you there:

Ferry: Blue Star Ferries can take you to Astypalea every day leaving from Pireaus Port. On the way you will stop in other islands, including Paros, and the journey will last between 9 to 10 hours. It is a long way, so make sure you get a good place on the ferry to get some rest. I suggest the ‘Air seats’, business class or a cabin with a bed and private bathroom, they are all worth their prices. The economy class won’t make your trip easier though.

Plane: Olympic Air flies daily from Athens to Astypalea, however seats are very limited, so I advise you to make your reservation at least 2 months in advance.

Suggestion: if you are visiting Paros, the ferry journey from there to Astypalea takes around 4 hours, totally manageable. Therefore, combining both islands is a great idea.

Tip: even though Astypalea is near Santorini, the connection between the two islands isn’t easy. It is necessary to go to Paros and change ferries to get from one to the other.

Where to stay

Don’t expect to stay in luxury hotels and resorts. Another special detail about Astypalea is that all accommodation options are family owned hotels and apartments. We stayed at Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel and if we ever go back, it’s where we will stay again. Apart from the perfect location, they have an award winning breakfast and a super friendly staff.

Astypalea, Greece

Other great options are:

Vythos Apartments
Andromeda Resort

Where to eat

Astypalea, Greece

Seafood pasta at Agoni Grammi

Even though small, Astypalea has enough options of restaurants and cafes where you can try the delicious local food. As the accommodations, the restaurants are also owned by locals, each one special in their own way:

Zafora: great for breakfast and snacks

Astropelos: gourmet local food without losing the authenticity. Their lobster is heaven!

Barbarossa: great local food and location

Agoni Grammi: lovely owner and amazing seafood pasta

Aiolos Pizza: up for a pizza? You can also find it in Astypalea.

Extra tips

1.Whether you are staying near Chora, the capital, or not, I highly recommend to get around the island and visit other villages like Livadi and the beautiful Analipsi also called Maltezana, as well as the beaches. The best way to do that is with a car or motorcycle.

Recommended car rental company: Delis Car Rental Services

2.Wake up early and don’t miss the sunrise or you will regret it!

3.Talk to the locals whenever you can, you won’t believe how kind and friendly they are and the stories they will tell.

Sunrise in Astypalea, Greece

We were on a press trip to Astypalea organized by theΒ Municipality of Astypalea,Β Elementi Travel AgencyΒ andΒ LifeThink. As always, views and opinions are my own and I only recommend what I like and believe my readers will like too.

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Astypalea, Greece

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About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • after seeing your photos, I must add Astypalea to my list! Ugh…my country has sooo many islands!! Another way to get there is fly to Naxos (I want to believe that in the summertime there are charter flights to Naxos from European countries) and then get the said ferry to Astypalea. Probably in the summertime there are more connections to the island (we’ve been told that when we visited Amorgos, so I guess that those routes cover Astypalea as well)

    • Heey Anna,
      Ohh my, you are so lucky to have so many wonderful islands in your country!! I think we will always have one to explore!
      I hope you do go to Astypalea, I looooved that place!
      Yes, you can probably fly to Naxos, but then it would also take time as you still need the ferry, and it would also probably cost more.
      They didn’t tell me about having more ferry options during the summer though, it might be. All I heard is that there is only one ferry per day. The island is really off the beaten path (for now) πŸ˜€ let me know if you go!

  • Mabel Kwong

    Astypalea looks like a lovely place to visit. Really like that it is quiet and isn’t riddle with tourists traps. That way you can enjoy your trip in peace and take in the beauty of the town for it is. Those almonds look fuzzy. Maybe it is just the photo…didn’t know almonds were like that and that big!

    • It is a wonderful place Mabel, I loved it πŸ˜€
      hahaha to be honest I’ve never seen an almond tree in my life before, so I can’t tell much if there are different types, probably πŸ˜€

  • That’s what I am saying… you have like, 2 photos with green stuff in them! πŸ˜‰ My problem with Greece in a nutshell…
    Honestly, I probably wouldnt have been keen on Crimea ( had I just done a typical beachy vacation there, but it helped that within a 15 min drive from the coast there was a proper, wet, lush forest and rainbow meadows.

    • Astypalea is basically all green, but my favorite pics were always from the white washed buildings πŸ˜€

  • Great to know that!! I have to visit them next time… thank you for the tips too πŸ˜€

  • It is πŸ˜€

  • Soooo cool Vlad! So happy that I inspired you to visit Astypalea… you won’t regret it!!

  • Thank you so much dear Karen!! We’ve been missing this trip a lot, it was so amazing. Astypalea is such a special place!
    We must definitely come back and try all the food again πŸ˜€