Ok, we’re going to be honest. Before we started looking into our latest Greek island ferry route we had never heard of Astypalea! However, over the years we’ve found that some of the best places in Greece are the lesser-known islands. After just one full day, it was clear that it once again would ring true in Astypalea Greece! Here’s our full guide with some of the best things to do on Astypalea island, as we share our own experiences at the castle and more.
Why Only One Day in Astypalea Greece?
So you might be wondering why we only spent one day in Astypalea Greece! Well, after the month of May in the Cyclades we decided to go over to the Dodecanese Island chain.
There are a few different routes you can use to get between the two beautiful island groupings. Since our end destination was Kos, Astypalea was actually on the way. So after doing some quick research it was an easy choice. We were going to Astypalea Greece!
The only problem was that with our schedule we would only have two nights and one full day to see the island. Knowing that we would not be able to experience all of it was disappointing. However, we figured it was more than worth the stop… And oh we’re we right!
First Impression of Astypalea Island
As our ferry pulled into the small port we were completely awestruck. The Atypelea Castle towered high over the whitewashed buildings which were stacked into the hillside. A few cafes and restaurants overlooked a pebble beach and the sparkling sea made us want to jump right in!
Due to the fact that we had a late afternoon ferry, we picked a hotel that was right in Astypalea Town. Now normally we don’t like staying in the port of any island. Yet, this was such a great location with us only having one day.
Where to Stay in Astypalea Greece
One thing that we noticed is that almost all the hotels on the island have extremely high ratings. We loved the unique design of our room and the small balcony that looked out over the harbor.
Considering we booked the night before (because we were traveling in off-season) we thought it was the perfect spot. We dropped our bags and had dinner as the sun set over the harbor and shared a craft of cold white wine.
At once we got the feeling that this was the type of island where you could really slow down and enjoy the island life. We couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning and start exploring Astypalea Greece!
Astypalea Town Accommodations
Xenios Zeus Apartments: Just steps from the port and beautiful town beach. We stayed here and enjoyed the views of the harbor.
Ihthioessa Boutique Hotel: Great location across the bay from the Astypalea Castle. Modern rooms with balcony sea views.
Aphrodite Studios: Apartment-style accommodations just minutes walking from the Chora. Host offers free transfer service from ferries and Astypalea Island Airport
Ancient Castle Above Astypalea Greece
The first thing we wanted to do was hike up to the castle above Astypalea. It is not only the iconic symbol atop the town but it tells part of the story of the island.
It was built out of necessity by the Venetians in 1413. At this time pirates ran the seas and attacks in the islands were constant and unrelenting. From the 16th to 19th centuries the Astypalea was part of the Ottoman Empire. Yet, they would still have to fight off pirates and work with them to survive during these years.
What separates the Astypalea Castle from others in the Mediterranean is that it wasn’t purely a military structure. Private residences surround the outside of the fortress forming a unique neighborhood. If you can believe it, people still live in houses around the Astypalea Castle today!
Hike to the Astypalea Castle
The hike takes about 20 minutes from the port. One of the coolest parts about it is that unlike other incredible historic monuments, there is no entrance fee. You are free to explore this incredible castle as you wish!
From town, you can take the steps and main road up from the water. There is also a dirt road that zig-zags its way up under the castle. When you are down at the beach in town you can easily both ways to the top. We took the dirt road up and then returned through the maze of streets in the main town area.
More Amazing Things to do on Astypalea
After exploring the 15th century castle we walked down to the other side of the settlement. Once again we had stunning views of Astypalea Greece from here!
The first thing that sticks out is the red-topped windmills. These were as beautiful as any we’ve seen in the Greek Islands and we spent a good while admiring them.
Beyond that is a beautiful beach, and many cafes and restaurants on the way. It was then that we realized there are so many fun things to do on Astypalea! Although we didn’t get to experience all of these, here are a few activities to check out on your own visit.
Astypalea Beach Towns
Pera Gialos: The gorgeous beach in the main port of Astypalea. Here you’ll find many restaurants, hotels, and a great local bakery. As we’ve mentioned, this is a great place to base yourself to see the rest of the island.
Livadi: Just around the corner from Pera Gialos is the stunning bay of Livadi. There are also a handful of hotels here and traditional tavernas, as well as an organized beach.
Analipsi: Also known as Maltezana, this quiet beach town is a laid-back area to relax on Astypalea Island. Further inland you’ll find local orchards and vineyards.
Vathy: About 12km further is another beautiful bay. You can reach the two tiny settlements of Vathy on a dirt road from Analipsi or by taking a boat tour.
History and Astypalea Ancient Ruins
Astypalea Churches: There are several important churches and chapels scattered around Astypalea Greece. The first you should see is Panagia Portaitissa directly under the Astypalea Castle. It began construction in 1762 and is the most important spot for worship on the island. Below are a few other churches and monasteries worth seeing!
- Church of Megali Panagia
- Monastery of Panagia Flevariotissa
- Agios Dimitrios Chapel
- Chapel of the Ascension
- Monastery of Agios Ioannis
Castle of Agios Ioannis: We told you about the main castle on Astypalea and there is another famous area to see. Just across from the Agios Ionnas Monastery are the ruins of a sacred Astypalea landmark. The actual date it was built is unknown, but historians think sometime before the Venetians arrived in the 13th century.
Archeology Museum: I’m sure by now you understand the history of Astypalea is absolutely incredible! There are numerous archeological sites around the island including ruins of a Minoan settlement from 3,000 BC. If you’d like to see more artifacts in a museum setting visit the Astypalea Archeological Museum. The collections go from pre-historic findings through the Roman era, and to the Venetians who inhabited it later on.
Local Astypalea Greece Food Specialties
The local food is so delicious in Astypalea Greece! There are a number of good restaurants right in the main port as well as a local bakery that is a must-visit in the morning. When you get off the ferry heading into town, it’s straight up the stairs on the left.
There are several things that are unique to Astypalea that you shouldn’t leave without trying. Saffron is grown and harvested on the island which is extremely unique and has a massive influence on the cooking.
Stop into the bakery and get a bag of yellow cookies. They aren’t sweet but actually have a little kick from the saffron and other spices.
Honey, olive oil, and thyme also have a large influence on the cooking here. Make sure to try the ravioli stuffed with local soft cheese and also the famous lobster spaghetti which Astypalea Greece is known for!
Outdoor Activities & More On Astypalea Island
Hiking: Astypalea Greece is filled with many hiking trails which are a great way to see the spectacular landscape. There is even rock climbing to take part in for the more adventurous travelers!
Boat Tour: A sailing trip is one of the most fun things to do on Astypalea. This way you can get to all the best beaches and swimming spots, some of which can only be reached by boat. Ask your hotel or stop at one of the stores in the main port for more information.
Mountain Biking: Ready to do some mountain biking in the Greek Islands? Astypalea has trails perfect for beginners and advanced riders.
Festivals: If you’re lucky enough to be in Astypalea Greece during a festival that’s amazing! Cultural festivals and events are held throughout the year to celebrate the island’s unique traditions and heritage.
Explore all our Greece articles to help plan your trip! We cover everything from general travel tips to amazing destinations such as Santorini, Paros, Rhodes, Karpathos, Crete, Milos & more beautiful islands!
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own favorite things to do on Astypalea Island? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
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Greece Travel Planning
For island hopping use FerriesinGreece to compare different routes, prices, and companies. The fast ferries like Sea Jets will cost more but often takes half the time of slower ferries like Blue Star.
Rental Car: You can book a rental car for as little as $20 a day in Greece! We use Discover Cars to explore the larger islands with a vehicle.
Tours: Go to Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities in Santorini. You can find everything from group sailing tours to private catamaran cruises. Go wine tasting around the island, horseback riding down the beach, or even jump on an ATV tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without insurance. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.