Unlike other popular Greek islands, Karpathos has been mostly unspoiled by mass tourism. Pristine beaches and enchanting villages await visitors to discover.
Among the most traditional villages of Karpathos is Olympos, where locals still wear their ancient clothes and celebrate an annual festival on August 15. There’s also a museum here that displays traditional Karpathian items.
The pristine beaches and beautiful scenery of Karpathos are a major draw for visitors. It’s the kind of island where a holiday here feels like a step back in time, away from the hustle and bustle that characterizes more emblazoned islands in the Dodecanese.
A visit here means long swims in crystal clear waters and the chance to take in the stunning views of mountains, valleys, and beaches that are carved into a wild windswept landscape. It’s a place where you can relax, unwind and forget about the worries of everyday life.
Karpathos’s craggy coastline is home to four wonderful beaches. The main one, Lefkos Beach, has fine sand and deep blue waters in a sheltered bay, so it attracts its share of people. But meander across to the quieter Agios Loukas for some more seclusion, or along to Fragolimnionas for a more remote setting.
Other beautiful beaches include Poliou Patami, Agios Nikolaos, and Kato Lefkos Beach, which has shallow seabeds and exceptional sea colors. But don’t forget to explore the beaches on the northern side of the island as well – they’re often a little harder to reach and can be quite hidden gems. There are also a number of great campsites to choose from if you love to spend your nights under the stars.
With peaks that are almost unclimbed and beaches that are largely untouched, Karpathos is an island full of surprises. Here, a vacation is all about relaxing in wild windswept landscapes and enjoying the hospitable people of this magical Mediterranean island.
The best place to see how life on the island used to be is in the picturesque traditional villages. In the village of Olympus, for example, time seems to have stopped. Here, you can wander along narrow streets dotted with colorful houses and admire the views of the mountains that are a constant presence behind every home. The village is also famous for being a matriarchal society, where the mother plays the most important role. In the past, it was a tradition that properties would pass down from one daughter to the next, which is still a common practice today.
The locals spend their evenings in taverns, where you can enjoy a delicious meal and authentic music. The taverns are not loud and crowded, but rather intimate spaces where people come together to share their stories and listen to the music that is played. Many of the songs are classics that are known in Israel and include Eleanor Rigby, Words of Love, and Thank You. In addition to a great musical experience, you can also try the delicious homemade wine of Karpathos.
Karpathos is not just about beaches and mountains, the island also has a rich history that is worth exploring. It is a combination of ancient Greek culture with influences from Romans, Byzantines and Turks. It has managed to preserve its traditions and customs, which is evident during the festivals that take place in the villages.
The island is full of small picturesque villages that are a true attraction. One of the most impressive is Olympos, a unique settlement that is a real ethnographic open-air museum. Here, locals still live the same way as they did centuries ago and use their own handmade leather shoes.
Another highlight is the Art Center, which displays the paintings of Minas Vlahos. It is an amazing experience to listen to the harmonious and relaxing music while watching the beautiful paintings. The best part is that you can even meet the artist himself and ask him about his work.
It is possible to discover more about the history of Karpathos by visiting the villages of Menetes, Volada, Pyles and Arkas. These places are the real face of the island and are inhabited by people who respect their tradition and are very hospitable. They will give you a weird look when you order a pizza or burger and insist that you try their food, such as the flagship dish of the island: stuffed squash blossoms.
Karpathos is a special island, not only because of its rocky landscape and pristine beaches but also due to the fact that locals keep their traditions alive. They are incredibly hospitable and it feels like they know how to enjoy life (even though many of them are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
The capital is Pigadia, a southeastern town built next to a long and wide bay. The city offers a great variety of taverns, café bars and shops that are filled with Greek products. The town is also home to many important services and infrastructures such as a hospital, school, airport and bus station.
Every village on the island has its own church dedicated to a patron saint and once a year the celebrations for those saints take place. They feature traditional food and drinks such as kanakaris (a liqueur made from crushed grapes) and a variety of other local specialties, mantinades and dancing.
There are also plenty of walking trails that allow visitors to explore the rocky landscape of the island. For example, the trail in Volada village takes you through narrow alleys lined with whitewashed houses and blossoming bougainvillaea. The path also crosses the Lastos plateau where you can admire the ruins of ancient fortifications.