With stunning mountains, beaches, magnificent turquoise seas, and lovely villages, Greece's Karpathos Island is one of the country's best kept secrets.
Over the next few blog posts I'll take you to the ancient agriculture village of Avlona and the traditional village of Olympos, to the islet of Saria and other beautiful beaches, and share tips for where to stay and where to eat in Karpathos Island.
Like many of the other islands of Greece, Karpathos holds its own unique treasures and remarkable beauty. The warm and welcoming locals are proud of their island, with good reason: it's one of the most stunning places I have ever visited, and has so much more to offer visitors than I could have imagined.
If you've never been to Karpathos, getting around the island and figuring out where to go may seem tricky. So I'm starting with an overview of the island, including a look at some of the main villages I recommend visiting.
Karpathos is the second largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Summer is peak tourist season, when charter flights from popular Greece hot spots such as Athens and Crete fly more regularly. Outside of tourist season, there are approximately 6,000 locals who remain on the island year-round.
How to Get to Karpathos
You could take a ferry from Athens to Karpathos, but I was told that would take between 18 and 20 hours. If you're traveling here for a vacation, that's a long time to be on a ferry to get from Point A to Point B.
My suggestion would be to do what our group did: book a flight on Olympic Air from Athens to Karpathos. The flight only takes about hour, and the views flying over different Greek islands make this a breathtaking journey in itself. At press time, round-trip flights could be found in the range of $130 - $250.
Karpathos has one main airport with just two runways, located in the southern side of the island. If you choose to rent a car, your driver must be an established driver (have a license for at least a year or two) and be at least 21 years old. Cost for rental cars range from $7-10 per day.
Pigadia is the capital city and main port of Karpathos island. When traveling to Karpathos, you'll most likely stay in Pigadia and then travel on day trips to other parts of the island and surrounding islets. This beautiful village is full of hotels, restaurants, and shops.
I'll be sharing more about where to eat on Karpathos Island in a future article, but I did want to mention that Pigadia has perhaps the largest concentration of cafes and restaurants on the island.
And don't be surprised if you run into the same people who were on one of your boat tours earlier in the day at one of the restaurants or bars you go to later that night. That happened to us as we were walking up the steps of the bar pictured above. It's a small island, and you are bound to get to know the locals and other tourists while you are here. There's also so much local history and pride here, with a large emphasis on family. We visited the hilltop cemetery pictured above and I was so moved by the great care and love given to family members both living and deceased.
Be sure to check out my Instagram KARPATHOS Highlights Reel for more pics & stories from Karpathos!
After Pigadia, perhaps the most visited village on Karpathos is Olympos. Located in the Northern part of the island, the best way to reach Olympos is by boat. Until recently, by boat was the only way to access the village, but one road will now take you there. Still, I suggest going by boat.
I'll share much more about Olympos in a separate article. It's an incredible village in which many who live there retain the ancient dialect, clothing, and other traditions that have been passed down through the years.
On the Western side of Karpathos island lies the village of Mesochori. You'll want to park in one of the parking lots that surrounds the perimeter of the village and then walk into town. Most of the cobblestone streets in Mesochori are closed to foot traffic only. But, walking is the best way to experience this lovely quiet village.
Take in the traditional white houses with blue trim, the sweet patio gardens, and the awesome views.
Underneath the church Panagia Vyrsiani, there's a natural spring. Here, legend has it that if an unmarried woman drinks from the spring, she will marry soon.
A short drive from Mesochori is the seaside village of Lefkos. One of the more popular beach towns in Karpathos, Lefkos is the place to go to catch stunning sunsets.
On the mountainside, you can visit the 13th century church of Agios Georgios.
Aperi & Othos
Just north of the current capital of Karpathos island, Pigadia, is Aperi - the former capital city of Karpathos. Set high on the mountain, Aperi is one of the most inhabited villages of the island, with about 400 residents.
Near Aperi is the village of Othos. Here, you'll find the Folklore Museum. It's definitely worth a visit to learn about traditions and everyday living on the island.
Close to Othos is the village of Pyles. This mountain village is where you will find the Agriculture Museum of Karpathos. If you love learning about local agriculture and traditional food like I do (and I know many of you do!), you'll definitely want to visit this museum.
Here you will find a windmill, learn more about ancient traditional wine-making and cheese-making methods, and visit with local farm animals.
Visit Karpathos Island, Greece
Karpathos is a diverse island that offers travelers a wide variety of scenery and activities, without the crowds. I could write about Karpathos in 20 blog posts and still have more to say, and many more photos to share.
It's a magical place where locals welcome you into their lives and their families. Where you can find peace and relaxation as well as outdoor adventures. It's a place I hope to visit again with my family, and someplace I know you will all fall in love with, too.
More Karpathos adventures to come in future posts!
Be sure to check out my Instagram KARPATHOS Highlight reel for more pics and stories from Karpathos!
More Greece Travel Bliss
I traveled to Karpathos with a media tour but as always, all opinions and photos are my own. I LOVED this island and can't wait to share more with you. Many thanks to the incredible team at Holiday World Karpathos Travel (pictured above). They are the most gracious and engaging hosts, and planned an incredible time on Karpathos!