Last updated on March 2nd, 2024 at 01:53 pm

If you’re dreaming of a relaxing vacation on an unspoilt island with gorgeous architecture, mouthwatering food, and pristine beaches, reading this travel guide on what to do in Astypalaia is all you need to stop dreaming and start planning.

Situated between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese Islands, Astypalaia administratively belongs to the latter. Yet, culturally, it boasts a unique blend of characteristics from both. In terms of architecture, the island resembles the Cyclades more, but local tastes, traditions, and dialects are purely Dodecanesian.

This photo shows an alley in Chora with view of the Castle.
Chora Astypalaia

The island’s nickname is Butterfly of the Aegean Sea, and a simple look at the map of Astypalaia is enough to understand why. So, get ready for a remarkable flight on this beautiful butterfly’s wings as we unfold all the fantastic things to see in Astypalaia (also spelt Astypalea), or Astropalia as locals affectionally call it.

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How Many Days & What To Do in Astypalaia Greece

When it comes to deciding how long to stay in Astypalaia, anything from three days to two weeks will do. It all comes down to your travel style and how badly you need a break. If you’re wondering why visit Astypalaia in the first place, you should know that this well-kept secret of a Greek Island is the perfect destination for the most unforgettable, relaxed and hassle-free summer holidays.

This is a panoramic shot of Chora as seen from Agios Konstantinos beach.
Astypalaia is an unspoilt island

First time in Greece?
Check out our insiders’ guide to Athens!

10 Fantastic Things To Do in Astypalaia Greece

1. Be Enchanted By The Prettiest Castle in The Aegean Sea

Probably no other Greek Island boasts such a well-preserved, impressive, and breathtakingly beautiful castle. Built in dark stone over the dazzlingly white Old Town (Chora) of Astypalaia, the Venetian Castle is a sight for sore eyes as it shimmers under the bright sun but also in the evening when lit in golden brown hues, it dominates Chora’s skyline.

This is a panoramic shot of Chora with the Castle above the whitewashed buildings.
Chora and the Castle

Constructed by the noble Querini family after the siege of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1204, the Venetian Castle served as a refuge in the event of pirate invasions. Home to two lovely churches, Panagia tou Kastrou (Lady of The Castle) and Agios Georgios, Astypalaia Castle offers unique panoramic views that you won’t easily forget, especially at sunset.

This image shows a whitewashed church with a blue dome among the ruins of Astypalaia Castle. In the background, the sea and the orange sky. Visiting the castle at sunset is one of the best things to do in Astypalaia.
Walking around Astypalaia Castle at sunset.

2. Explore The Old Town

As mentioned earlier, Astypalaia reminds more of a Cyclades than a Dodecanese island in terms of architecture. This is more striking in Chora, the island’s Old Town, with its whitewashed buildings, alleys, and steps.

This image shows an alley in Chora lined with whitewashed buildings.
Whitewashed Chora

Wandering around Chora and getting friendly with the countless cute cats lazing around under the Greek summer sun is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Astypalaia.

This is a close up of a white and black cat sitting at the whitewashed steps of a building in Chora.
Fond of cats? You’ll love Chora!

Apart from being the ultimate meeting point on the island, the Windmills are also the most iconic landmarks in Astypalaia, second only to the gorgeous castle. They are all restored and house various services. For instance, one of them is the island’s Information Centre, while another houses the island’s Library. Another point of interest in Chora is the Ancient Infant Cemetery. Sadly, although a site of rare historical significance, the cemetery is quite neglected.

This is a close up of three of Astypalaia's restored windmills. They are whitewashed with red conical roofs.
The Windmills

Last but not least, Chora is dotted with many picturesque churches. The island’s most significant place of worship is the Church of Panagia Portaitissa.

This is a photo of the Church of Panagia Portaitissa in Chora with its beautiful bell tower.
The Church of Panagia Portaitissa in Chora

However, our favourite churches in Chora comprise the complex of the nine churches in the Karai neighbourhood. If you’re wondering what to do in Astypalaia, visiting these churches is a must.

This photo shows the facades of the nine churches complex in the Karai neighbourhood.
The nine churches in Karai

3. Drive To Kaminakia, The Best Beach in Astypalaia

There’s no shortage of remote beaches in Astypalaia. Some of them are Agios Konstantinos Beach, Vatses, and Plakes. However, the unquestionably best among them is Kaminakia Beach, a pristine piece of heaven in the southern part of the island with Caribbean-like turquoise waters and white pebbles.

This image shows Kaminakia, a beach of turquoise waters surrounded by bare mountains.
Kaminakia Beach

What we’d like to point out here, though, is that the drive to Kaminakia Beach deserves a place on our list of the best activities in Astypalaia in its own right. A dirt road leads to the beach that’s generally easy with only a couple of tricky parts. Yet, the views and the feeling you get while driving are absolutely rewarding. Suffice it to say that you may feel you’re driving on Mars at times.

This image shows a barren landscape with a dirt road winding through it.
Is there life on Mars, David?

4. Taste The Local Food

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that an island as authentic as Astypalaia could only mean one thing: unique culinary experiences. The local cuisine is simple yet delicious. All dishes are made with fresh seasonal products, according to century-old recipes that have survived to this day by word of mouth.

The first thing you should try in Astypalaia is pouggia. These are pie-like deep-fried little wonders which can either be sweet or savoury.

This is a close up of pouggia.
Traditional pouggia of Astypalaia

Moreover, Astypalaia’s cheese pies and the handmade ravioli-like pasta filled with local cheese (chlori) and saffron are not to be missed. Last but not least, Astypalaia Island is renowned for its stuffed vine leaves (dolmadakia) and exquisite seafood.

This is a close up of the local pasta.
Handmade cheese-stuffed pasta

5. Enjoy Steno Beach

One of the easiest Astypalaia beaches to get to is also one of the best. Steno Beach is situated at the island’s narrowest part, the butterfly’s body that is. Steno is the Greek word for narrow, so it makes sense. Apart from its gorgeous crystal clear waters, Steno Beach has become quite popular for yet another reason. That’s no other than the beach canteen, which serves some of the best food in Astypalaia.

This is a panoramic shot of Steno Beach from above. It's clear that this is the narrowest part of the island.
Steno Beach

6. Spend a Relaxing Day on Livadi Beach

Livadi is Astypalaia’s most popular seaside resort. There are many restaurants, cafés, bars, and hotels in the area, making Livadi one of the best places in Astypalaia for a relaxing vacation, especially for families. Although Livadi Beach is equipped with all the facilities, it is still laid-back and authentic, like the rest of the island.

This is a panoramic shot of Livadi Beach. There are sunbeds and umbrellas, while many shops line the beachfront.
Livadi Astypalaia

7. Visit The Dam of Astypalaia

The dam of Astypalaia is a site of unique natural beauty and one of the best places to visit in Astypalaia. All you can hear there is the birds singing and the bees buzzing. If you have time, it’s worth walking the path that runs along the artificial lake formed by the dam.

This image shows the road that leads to the dam and the artificial lake.
At the Astypalaia Dam

8. Chill At Pera Gialos Bay

Pera Gialos used to be Astypalaia’s main port. Now that the port has been transferred to another location (Agios Andreas), Pera Gialos is a quaint seaside town with jaw-dropping views of the Castle and Chora and a fantastic beach with tranquil waters.

This is a panoramic shot of Pera Gialos.
Pera Gialos as seen from Chora

If you ask us, Pera Gialos is also the ultimate place to have dinner. Just choose a table at a seaside restaurant, dip your toes in the cool sand and take in the beauty of the magically lit Castle and Chora.

This is a night view of Chora and the castle. If you're wondering what to do in Astypalaia Greece, having dinner at Pera Gialos should definitely top your list!
Night view of Chora from Pera Gialos on a starry night

9. Discover Maltezana And Its Surroundings

Maltezana or Analipsi is the second largest town in Astypalaia, after Chora. There are a few serene beaches within easy walking distance from one another, such as Mple Limanaki, Maltezana and Sxinontas, and some easy-going cafés and restaurants there. If you feel like exploring a bit, you can walk to the Monument to the French Admiral Bignon and learn all about it while taking in the magnificent views of Chora in the distance.

This image shows the Monument in Maltezana. In the background, Chora is visible.
At the Monument to the French Admiral Bignon in Maltezana

From Maltezana you can continue to Vathy to check out the remotest village on the island. Although the route is quite lovely, keep in mind that you must drive on a dirt road for the most part and that there’s not much to do once there. If you’re short on time, we’d suggest you skip Vathy altogether.

This image shows a quaint restaurant on a small harbour.

10. Join a Day Cruise To Koutsomitis And Kounoupes Islets

Enjoying a boat trip from Pera Gialos to the most secluded beaches and islets is high on our list of what to do in Astypalaia. Koutsomitis and Kounoupes Islets will make you feel you’ve been teleported to someplace exotic without ever leaving the warm embrace of the Mediterranean Sea.

Koutsomitis and Kounoupes Islets are waiting for you!
Book the best cruise here!

This image shows One of the boats that offers tours to the islets from Pera Gialos. It is a traditional wooden boat.
One of the boats that offer tours to the islets from Pera Gialos.

How To Get To Astypalaia

By Ferry

There are ferries that connect Piraeus Port in Athens to the new port of Astypalaia. The Piraeus Astypalaia journey time is about nine hours. There are also ferries to Astypalaia from many other islands in the Dodecanese and the Cyclades, such as our beloved Amorgos and Donoussa.

Book your Astypalaia ferry tickets here!

By Plane

In the summer, there are daily flights to Astypalaia Island National Airport from Athens. Some flights connect Astypalaia airport to other nearby islands. For more information on available Athens Astypalaia flights, click here.

Have you watched our Astypalaia YouTube video?

How To Get Around Astypalaia

There’s public transport in Astypalaia (bus) and, also, taxis. All useful information, such as bus schedules and taxi drivers’ phone numbers, is displayed on a board near the Windmills in Chora.

Astypalaia is one of the best Greek islands that you can easily visit without a car. However, your best shot at seeing the island at your own pace is renting a car or scooter. If you want to reach Kaminakia Beach or Vathy, avoid the scooter and rent a car.

Rent a car for your adventures across the Greek Islands here!

This image shows an open road in Astypalaia. The road winds its way through the mountain.
Driving in Astypalaia is easy and fascinating.

Where To Stay in Astypalaia

As mentioned above, Livadi is a very popular place to stay in Astypalaia, due to its proximity to the beach and Chora alike. That said, nothing beats staying in Chora. Although the Old Town has its fair share of uphill streets, which can be wearisome under the scorching sun, you shouldn’t let that discourage you from staying in Chora.

This image shows a whitewashed alley in Chora.
The alley right outside one of the Esperia Suites.

Throughout the years, we’ve stayed at many hotels in Astypalaia, as we have been visiting the island for over a decade now. We’ve stayed in budget Astypalaia rooms and luxury hotels, both in Livadi and Chora. Yet, when it comes to Astypalaia accommodation, we have a personal favourite that we can’t recommend enough.

This image shows a smartly decorated bedroom.
Esperia Luxury Suites, one of the best Astypalaia hotels

Esperia Luxury Suites are four suites scattered across the Old Town. Each of them is smartly decorated, retaining Chora’s traditional ambience, but with all modern comforts for a fantastic stay. Some of them boast unique views, while others enjoy a location filled with authentic vibes. All of them are impeccably clean, home-like, and comfortable and promise to make your holidays in Astypalaia all the more memorable.

Book your home away from home in Astypalaia here!

This image shows the view to the sea from the bedroom at Esperia Luxury Suites.
Waking up to this view isn’t bad at all.

Where To Eat & Drink in Astypalaia

Here’s a list of some of the best places to eat and drink in Astypalaia:

  • Castro Bar in Chora is more than just a bar. It’s one of the best attractions in Astypalaia in its own right. Situated under the shadow of the imposing Venetian Castle, there’s no better place to enjoy a sunset cocktail or late nightcap than Castro Bar.
  • Kafeneio Apanemia is a new addition to Chora’s food scene, but it quickly became everyone’s favourite meze restaurant. Don’t forget to try pouggia there.
  • Meltemi in Chora is the ultimate hang-out for locals and visitors alike. Open all day for coffee, drinks, snacks, and sweets, it’s the latter you don’t want to miss.
  • Since we’re talking about dessert, Archipelago in Chora is also an essential stop for your sweet tooth.
  • Kafeneio o Mouggos in Chora is a blend of meze restaurant and Greek culture museum. With mosaic floors, old-fashioned furniture, and hundreds of black-and-white pictures covering its walls, this place screams history and nostalgia. For that alone, a visit there should be added to your list of things to do in Astypalaia.
  • Akrogiali in Pera Gialos is one of the best Astypalaia restaurants for seafood dishes.
  • Korkodeilos in Livadi for Greek cuisine with a twist.
  • Artemis in Chora for late-night drinks with a view.
  • Notos in Chora for snacks and breakfast.
  • Sti Thea for cocktails with the best view.
This image shows a few tables of Castro Bar right under the castle.
Castro Bar

Final Thoughts: Why Visit Astypalaia Island Greece

Astypalaia is one of the most easy-going small islands in Greece. As such, it’s the ideal destination for a relaxing, stress-free summer vacation like no other. So, now that you know what to do in Astypalaia and why it’s worth visiting, why don’t you let this sweet butterfly carry you on its wings on a unique journey in the heart of the Aegean Sea? You’re sure to enjoy the ride!

Planning a trip to the Greek Islands?
Be inspired by our list of the best books set in Greece!

Disclosure: We were guests at Esperia Luxury Suites, but, as always, we express nothing but our honest opinion about the experience we had.


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