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Quick Facts: Astypalea
Pronunciation ah-stee-pal-e-ah
Alternate Spelling Astypalaia
Transportation Air, ferry, hydrofoil
Main Attractions Beaches, quiet getaways
Food Good choices
Accommodations Good choices

Astypalea Characteristics

astypalea  greek island guideastypalea  greek island guideastypalea  greek island guide


Astypalea, while in the Dodecanese, is its western most island. It lies nearer to the Cyclades in geography and architecture. It has a land mass of 97 sq. km and 110 km of coast.

astypalea  greek island guideThe island is shaped like a butterfly and connected by a 105 meter long isthmus at times only 50m wide. The population is about 1100. The highest peak, Vardia, is 482 meters. There is an airport and the back-up port of Aghios Andreas. Astypalea Town (Hora - Kastro) is the capitol and encompasses part of the port Pera Yalos. At its top rests a Venetian Castle or Kastro.

Astypalea is a lovely island that has gently rolling hills, verdant valleys, sheltered coves, nice beaches and a few villages and farms. The island's mascot is Carlos the Pelican. The best beaches are to the east of Astypalea Town and accessible by foot.

Its a good place to really enjoy the summer because it's relatively less accessible and doesn't have huge summer throngs of tourists.

Island Features

astypalea  greek island guideAn ancient name for the island was Ichtynoessa or 'fishy island' and the fishing continues to be good, perhaps due to the many coves and small bays. The island is rocky and austere, with dazzling white houses spilling down the hillside from the citadel on the top.

Inland it is more verdant. Homer called Astypalea's fertile Livadia Valley the Table of the Gods because of its rich soil and fertility. There are citrus groves and corn fields in the valley. It has a shingle beach popular with locals in the summer. Windmills overlook the valley from the west while towards the foothills small paths lead to the tree shrouded artificial lake where ducks float in the afternoon sun.

Astypalea Town Pera Gialos the Port

astipalea astplaia dodecanese travle tourism  greek island guideAstypalea Town, the capital, consists of two parts. There is Skala (or Pera Gialos), the old town which curls down toward the beach, and Chora, the upper town.

This the is the hub of the island and all paths lead from it including the Skala or stairs to the harbor below. The harbor below is called Pera Yalos ('further sand') and where ferry passengers disembark. Here the islands' pelican mascots receive morning fish handouts from local fishermen. Pera Yalos offers most basic amenities including an ATM, cafes, international newspapers, and public facilities.

It also possesses the new Archeology Museum (Mon-Fri, 8-2:30, Sat 10-2:30) with finds from around the island; classical burial steles, 6th Century Byzantine artifacts, the Quirini coat of arms and, the finds of four Mycenaean tholi or round burial chambers.

astypalea  greek island guideastypalea  greek island guideThe Chora is dominated by its Castle of St. John. Upon ascending to the outskirts of town are eight windmills along the ridge. There are many appealing lanes where you can see Turkish style houses with their painted poundia or wooden balconies. The bones of Hora's oldest families are buried in nine small barrel-vaulted chapels you will pass on the way. Many cubistic Cycladic stone and white washed houses are also to be seen.

The Castle or Kastro

astypalea  greek island guideastypalea  greek island guideastypalea  greek island guide

Keep winding your way upwards and after a pleasant walk you will arrive at the portcullis of the Kastro for whose embellishments  we can thank the islands' Venetian rulers, the Quirini. Outside the castle, the  aptly named Xokastro area consists of numerous dwellings attached to its exterior walls and is the oldest section of the town. Within the keep the ruins of several houses built into the walls may be seen as well as the Church of St. George and the Church of the Annunciation. Archeologists have discovered within the keep ruins of ancient roads, temple foundations and sophisticated drainage systems from the 6th Century BC.

astypalea  greek island guideJust below the Castle is the most important church of the Island the Panagia Portaitissa. This richly decorated  edifice is one of the most beautiful of the Dodecanese and is crested with a white tiled dome. Intricate gold-leaf carvings decorate the interior. It is open to the public until sundown and its eminent location makes it an ideal spot to enjoy the sunsets.

Astypalea's Best Beaches

astypalea  greek island guideastypalea  greek island guideJust to the west, downhill from the windmills, lies Livadia, literally meaning valley. This shingly, sandy beach is popular with familites.

Just to the south of Livadias' beach is the nudist beach of Tzanaki and continuing further will bring you to the beach of St. Konstantine, one of the island's best.

To the north of Skala and on your way to the steno (isthmus), a paved road passes a group of beaches collectively called Marmari. Continue on to Maltenza (Anlypsi) just past the isthmus, which was once the lair of Maltese pirates. The airport is nearby. Its neighboring cove is secluded and naturalists sun bathe there. It also boasts the remains of ancient Roman baths with well preserved floor mosaics.

BeachOther beaches include Vathy (deep) with its stalactite cave, which can only be reached by boat. It is popular with yachting enthusiasts, has a good seafood taverna and a few rooms to let. Its Drakospillia or Dragons Lair Cave is likewise only attainable by boat and it's best to bring your own supplies and flashlight.

Additionally, the two beaches of Kaminiakia and Negrou are only attainable by water taxi or private boat.

Drinking and Dining

Most of the better eateries are in the Skala/Chora area. There are also a few bars offering a relaxed nighttime scene.


astypalea  greek island guideThe island was known, due to its Venetian past, as Astropalia and Stampalia. The current name is derived from a sister of Europa, the mother of King Minos. In classical times the island was famed for what it lacked: snakes! There was a short-tempered boxer named Kleomedes from Astypalea who killed his opponent while competing in the Olympics. This got him disqualified from the Olympics, so he went back to Astypalea and knocked down the school, killing all its pupils, in his rage.

astypalea  greek island guideInhabited since pre-history, excavations show traces of both Phoenician and Karian settlements. Early Cretans, Mycenaeans and Megarites followed. Pyrra, Pylaia, and Theon Trapeza are additional names the island was known by. The many inscriptions discovered hint at its importance. Under the Romans it became a base from which to pursue the Aegean's many pirates.

astypalea  greek island guideastypalea  greek island guideThe present castle or Kastro (9th Century), which overlooks the capital, Astypalea, was initiated under Byzantine Rule and called St. John or Aghios Ioannis. From 1203 the island was ruled by the Venetians (who enhanced the Byzantine keep) and subsequently sacked by the Turkish pirate-admiral Barbarossa in 1537. It took part in the War of Independence in 1821 but remained under the Turks until 1912 when it again passed to the Italians who held it until 1948. At that point all the islands of the Dodecanese were incorporated into the current version of the Greek state.


Even though this island is less crowded than many, advance room reservations are a good idea in summer. Visit in June, early July or September, if you can, and you'll have a peaceful and relaxing stay.


astypalea  greek island guide

astypalea  greek island guide

The Complete Details

Helpful Information
Transportation Facts
  • By Air: 6 per week from Athens.
  • By Ferry: 3 or 4 a week from Piraeus, Naxos, Kos, Kalymnos, Amorgos, and the Leser Cyclades.
  • Once a week with Syros, Symi, Rhodes, Nissyros, Paros and Tilos
  • Bus and water taxi service is available on the island
Island Resources
  • Tel. code: 2243
  • Astypalea Port Authority: tel. 61208
  • Airport: 61665
  • Post code: 61207
  • Municipal Tourist office, Tel: 61412


Ikaria - Armenistis
New Maisonettes

Price: €209,000
 -  125 m2
Bedrooms: 3  Baths: 2


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