Set high in the mountains of Karpathos Greece is the unique village of Olympos. Bright and colorful buildings are stacked into the cliffside as the town looks out over the beautiful ocean and rugged landscape. No visit to the island of Karpathos would be complete without exploring Olympos, but there are some things to know first! Join us as we breakdown our experience in this amazing Greek village.
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Getting to Olympos Karpathos Greece
Before planning your trip to Olympos Karpathos, you should know that getting there is not easy! The drive to the far north of the island is filled with twists and turns high in the cliffs. Rent a car from the airport or the main town of Pigadia to make the 1.5 hour drive.
At the time of our visit, there were no buses available. That could be because of how new this road is, or the time of year we visited. I mean before a few years ago, the only way to get to this secluded mountain village was to take a boat to the nearby Diafani port!
When booking rentals abroad we always check with Discover Cars to find the different companies and deals. You can also contact local rental agencies on the island.
→ Planning a Trip to Greece: 10 Step Easy to Follow Travel Guide
Pigadia to Olympos Karpathos
The narrow road from Pigadia to Olympos village runs along a massive cliffside with a steep drop to the oceanside. However, that part didn’t bother us so much. What was slightly terrifying was driving underneath the towering cliffs above with no netting to protect you from falling rocks!
Honestly, the car rental office did not emphasize the difficulty of this drive enough. If you’re not used to driving on tight European roads this may not be for you! Nevertheless, as Karpathos continues to grow in popularity the infrastructure and roads should be improving every year.
Olympos Karpathos Tip: We actually don’t recommend traveling directly from the main town of Pigadia to Olympos. Check out our One Week Karpathos itinerary for the best route!
Parking in Olympos Karpathos
Don’t worry… When you turn that final corner to catch your first glimpse of Olympos, it will all be worth it! And once you’ve braved the drive it’s time to explore. Now you should know the entire town of Olympos Greece is pedestrian-only with small footpaths and steps in between the local houses.
On the map, there appears to be a second parking area. Yet, the road down to it is very worn will not be great on your rental car’s tires. Use the google map location below to find the main parking lot.
Google Map Location for Parking in Olympos Greece
Day Trip vs Overnight Visit
While many travelers make a day trip to this small Greek village, this would be a mistake! It’s such a special town to visit on Karpathos that you truly need to experience it for more than one night.
After arriving, we grabbed our bags and started the walk through the small streets of the town. At once a woman in the traditional Kolaina dress of the village stopped us and asked with a puzzled look if we were staying the night. Her face lit up when we told her we were, and she directed us to our hotel on the other side of Olympos village.
Quickly, we realized the town (which now sees its fair share of day tourists) isn’t as popular of a destination as we first anticipated. Staying overnight would be a completely unique experience than most travelers would get. Guided by the local women, we found our way to the small coffee shop which was run by the family of our hotel.
Where to Stay in Olympos Karpathos
After an adventurous walk with our bags through the winding streets of Olympos, we got into our room and couldn’t believe our eyes.
For 40 Euros a night we had one of the most beautiful views that we have EVER had from a hotel room! Yes, the accommodation was basic but the view from the balcony was absolutely stunning.
With that said, you should know there are only a handful of places to stay in Olympos Karpathos. The village is tiny and is still mostly filled by local homes. For this reason, it’s best to book in advance if you are traveling in high season.
Aphrodite Hotel – This is where we stayed in Olympos and we loved every second of it! Enjoy incredible views from the small balconies that overlook the coastline. Basic accommodations, but one of the best deals you can get for the location.
Irene’s House – Stay in a unique traditional home in the heart of town.
Olympos Archipelagos – Gorgeous apartments just below the town center and close to Milos Taverna. Stunning views of the ocean and Karpathos Island.
History of Olympos Karpathos
Now that you know how to get to Olympos and where to stay, you should have some information about the amazing history of this village! First established in 7th Century AD, people have been living Olympos Karpathos for over 1,300 years. Originally they came from a town on the water called Vrykounda, but moved up into the mountains to escape frequent pirate attacks.
The traditions and customs of this town come from the ancient Doric people and were passed down from many generations ago. Still today, the women of Olympos wear the traditional clothing of their ancestors. This dress is so unique, you will not see it anywhere else in the world but Olympos Karpathos!
Like we mentioned before, the roads have only recently been built into Olympos. So prior to recent years Olympos has been largely cut off from the outside world.
They take their traditions very seriously which brings an incredibly authentic feel to the town. Remember to be respectful of locals and always ask before taking photos.
Exploring the Village of Olympos Karpathos
Excited yet? Exploring this historic village is truly like walking through a living museum! Realistically in just a couple of hours, you could walk every street in the town.
However, your visit to Olympos Karpathos will be so much more. This is your chance to slow down and really embrace Greek island life.
Watch the goats roam through the mountains from your window. Listen to the church bells chime and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Eat a local goat dinner with artichoke hearts, and sip wine as the sun sets in the distance! Olympos in Karpathos Greece is truly an enchanting place to visit.
Aside from all that good stuff, one of our favorite things to do was simply walk up and down the steps of town. As you weave your way through the colorful homes you’ll have endless viewpoints and photo opportunities.
From one side, you’ll be looking down on the town. While at the top of the village you’ll have a view of the ocean as well.
Olympos Karpathos Tip: The weather this high up is cold even in the summer months. Make sure to pack some layers for any inclement weather or wind.
Dinner at Milos Taverna
When we arrived on the Karpathos we were connected with a local who had grown up and spent most of his life on the island. He was the one who encouraged us to spend at least two nights in Olympos. While he had many recommendations for the island, he said there was one restaurant we couldn’t miss in Karpathos!
Milos Taverna is special for several reasons. Yes, the sunset view is one of the best you’ll find on the island… And of course, it’s some of the most delicious homemade food we’ve had in all of Greece.
However, what makes Milos Taverna truly stand out is it has a working windmill! Sitting underneath the windmill with drinks at sunset was such an amazing experience.
What to Eat in Olympos Greece
When you sit down at Milos Taverna the woman will list off the dishes she has prepared fresh for the day. We’re not sure if there is an actual menu, but we much preferred it this way! Eating here both nights during our stay in Olympos village, we got to try some delicious local dishes.
Some of our favorites were the artichoke hearts, fresh tzatziki, and stewed goat. Also, make sure to try the traditional Makarounes pasta which is famous in Olympos in Karpathos Greece. Hands down, this was our favorite restaurant on the island. We were seriously disappointed when we had to leave town and bid Milos Taverna goodbye!
→ Read our Karpathos Food Guide to find all the best restaurants and island specialties!
Saria Island Boat Tour
One of the reasons that we decided to spend two nights in town was because we wanted to take the boat tour to Saria Island. Just 10 minutes down the road from Olympos village, is the charming seaside port town of Diafani. If you can time your visit to take a boat that leaves from here it’s the best option to get to Saria!
The other way to go to Saria Island is to jump on the boat from the main city of Pigadia. However, the ride is much longer from here and you won’t have as much time for sea caves and swimming.
We paid €25 Euros for a full day boat trip and added on the fresh fish lunch for €10. This wasn’t our original plan when we arrived on the island, but after talking to several locals we are so happy we made the trip!
→ Learn more about our Saria Island Boat Tour
Have any questions on Olympos Karpathos or want to share your own experience in this one of a kind Greek village? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Where to Stay in Karpathos
Pigadia – Porfyris Studios and Apartments – Located in the center of all the action, this hotel is within walking distance of everything you need in town. Oceanview balconies, a small living room, and compact kitchens.
Lefkos – Zorbas Studios – Basic studios with beautiful ocean views! Just steps from the sand and close to all the shops and restaurants.
Olympos – Aphrodite Hotel – This is where we stayed in Olympos and we loved every second. Enjoy incredible views from the small balconies that overlook the rugged coastline. Basic accommodations, but one of the best deals you can get for the location.
Olympos – Olympos Archipelagos – Gorgeous apartments just below the town center and close to Milos Taverna. Stunning views of the ocean and Karpathos Island.
Kyra Panagia – Pension Akropolis – Where we stayed on our one-week Karpathos itinerary. Wonderful family-run hotel with rooms that overlook the ocean and beach below.
Kyra Panagia – Bella Vista Suites – Cute apartment situated above Kyra Bay. Clean and stylish space with amazing views of the island.
For more places to stay in Karpathos Greece you can explore the latest prices here!
Greece Travel Planning
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!
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
When island hopping use FerriesinGreece to compare different routes, prices, and companies.
Flights: We always check Skyscanner and Kayak to search for cheap flights. That’s how we got from Crete to Athens for under $50 USD!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Rental Car: You can book a rental car for around $20 a day in Greece! We use Discover Cars to explore the larger islands with a vehicle.
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities in Greece. You can find everything from visiting the Acropolis in Athens to wine tasting in Santorini, and a boat tour in Milos.
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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You forgot to tell people about the fabulous hiking trails in the north of the island and how easy it is to walk from Diafani to Olympos and back. The air is dented with all the wild herbs and pine trees on the route.
We wrote about the hiking trails in our things to do on Karpathos article, but definitely good for travelers to know! Our friends actually did the walk from Diafani to Olympos and back, and wish they had driven. Only because they had a full day sailing trip to Saria island from there! Just was an extra long day if that’s your plan but still great to mention! Thanks for commenting.
Hello we are planning a trip to Karpathos next summer. I am reading about the difficult drive to Olympos. I wanted to ask. Would the arrival by boat be a suitable alternative? Thanks in advance.
Yes, you can take the boat from Pigadia to the small port of Diafini. From there, it’s just a quick 10 minute drive up the hill to Olympos. You’ll have to arrange a ride or find a taxi there which shouldn’t be too hard depending on the time of year you visit. Hope that helps!
You forgot anemos guest house next to Aphrodite same spectacular view prices slightly higher and a better quality room.
Next time we’ll have to stop in there! Thanks for the tip (-: