Astypalea


Astypalea (also Astipalea or Astypalaia) is the most westerly of all islands of the Dodecanese. It is half way to the Cyclades and by all means "off the beaten track". There is very little tourism on Astypalea which makes it a very interesting destination for visitors that are interested in let's call it the "old Greece", the traditional lifestyle. The reason for Astypalea being a bit backwards is simple: It is surprisingly difficult to get there and hardly any tourists come. Imagine it like this: You enter a local pub in the Irish countryside wearing a topee. If nothing else you'll get the locals attention and most likely spend an interesting time.

The Island of Astypalea
Picture: tella0303 - Fotolia.com

The locals and now we are back on Astypalea are friendly people and always up for a little chat. Since they hardly ever see a tourist they are most interested in you. There is only a thousand of them so after a week you'll probably know them all.

If you look Astypalea up in a map (or Google earth) you'll immediately see why it is called the butterfly island. Its shape is unique.

What now is the capital Astypalea used to be two smaller towns Skala and Hora. If we refer to Hora now we always refer to Astypalea as a whole. It is very common in Greece to call the local capital Hora. Literally translated it does mean town or city so it makes sense.

Castle in the Capital Skala (Altypalea)
Picture: tella0303 - Fotolia.com

Worth visiting in Astypalea are the little museum and the castle that overlooks the village. Prices are moderate; the little cafes are a perfect spot to talk to the locals. There is one tiny little though: Unlike the rest of Greece most people here do not speak English. If your Greek is as good as my Mandarin you may find it difficult to communicate. They'll try and probably have a few drinks with you but it is going to be one of these conversations where one talks a lot but no one understands what you're going on about.

There are a few nice beaches in walking distance from Astypalea town (Hora). Most of the times they'll be very quiet and you can get there within 15 minutes. What else could you ask for? If you come here in July/August it might be a good idea to arrange something in advance. The few rooms available might be booked out. Before an after high season you won't have a problem getting a room.

Astypalea is perfect for hiking. There are only few roads, hiking paths lead you into the remote parts of the island. The locals will gladly assist you in planning the trips. Make sure you carry enough water. It's Greece, the temperatures can be challenging especially in high season. The small villages on the island are connected by bus.

Ferries to Astypalea: To get to Astypalea requires some planning. There are very few ferries to the island. You can get there from Athens, Naxos and Paros but only twice a week. One of the boats proceeds to Kalymnos, Kos and Rhodes. You'll probably be surprised to find an airport on Astypalea but there is. It won't do you any good though since the flights being booked out is pretty much the standard not an exception.

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