When we talk about Greece, the first images that come to mind are the caldera of Santorini, the acropolis of Athens, the festive atmosphere of Mykonos. Immediately after, the second vision is the horde of people that we can meet there. The good news is that the Hellenic Republic is not limited to these emblematic places. There are still some lesser known areas, still preserved. This is the case of the island of Astypalea, which we had the opportunity to discover this summer.
Astypalea, an authentic Greek island
We have just spoken about it, as in the rest of the world, travelers focus on a small area of Greece while the country has more than 6000 islands and 227 of them are inhabited. There is therefore to discover places still authentic as it is the case in Astypalea.
Presentation of the butterfly-shaped island
Astypalea is easy to spot in the middle of thousands of Greek islands, it is the one that is shaped like a butterfly. Seen from the sky it is superb with its isthmus of hardly 100 meters. Its surface is equivalent of Santorini, that is to say 75 m², but it receives much less tourists. Indeed the population can reach at the peak of the summer 70 000 people, nothing to with the 6.5 million of its cousin. Moreover, even if you are going to meet tourists know that they are mostly Greek tourists.The charm is always there and operates quickly.
The island is part of the Dodecanese, it is the point of between these islands and the famous Cyclades. Although Astypalea is not part of these last ones architecturally speaking one finds much of similarities, especially in Chora.
How to get to Astypalea
There is an airport, for those who are in a hurry, which allows to Athens. We advise you to take the ferries instead. It is an opportunity to experience slow travel. You will have plenty of time to admire the different coasts and ports of the islands where
- You will have time to admire the different coasts and ports of the islands where you will stop,
- to read good books,
- to prepare your stay on Astypalea by leafing through the pages of your guidebook,
- to marvel at the dolphins playing in the waves of the ferry, and if, like us, you are lucky
- to sleep...
In short, this time is not wasted, it's a quiet time, perfect to experience on vacation and moreover it is more ecological especially if you don't take a car. I invite you to read our article on travel without plane.
Coming to Astypalea is a little more preparatory than going to Mykonos but it is not insurmountable. There are shuttles every 2/3 days from Naxos and passing through Amorgos. In short, Astypalea fits perfectly in a boat trip in the Cyclades.
Getting around the island
For nature lovers it is the perfect place because on the island there are very few paved roads. And don't worry, it's quite easy to get around. If you don't want to bother with a car a scooter will do.
However, you should know that Astypalea has been selected to be the test city of a Volkswagen program called "Smart & sustainable island ". The objective is to make it a showcase for green mobility by replacing all of the island's vehicles (1500) with their electric equivalent. It doesn't stop there, they are also setting up a car-sharing system (car and scooter) on the same principle as the Parisian Autolib' and a chauffeur service. In Paris and a chauffeur service. All this of course in 100% electric vehicles.
Where to sleep in Astypalea
Last but not least, we come to the most important point for us: is it possible to sleep in an eco responsible hotel in Astypalea? Well, the answer is a big YES. We have found you a address in the heart of the island. This address ticks a lot of boxes to make sure you have a wonderful stay without compromising on your ecological footprint :
- The reception is at the top with a smile at every moment
- The availability of the team to give us advice to discover this unknown island and book if necessary restaurants or other activities.
- The view on Chora is just incredible. The view of Chora is just incredible. Whether it is at breakfast or at nightfall, we never get tired of looking at the old city
- The comfort of the rooms with private bathroom, a large comfortable bedding that invites you to sleep in and a small kitchen area if you don't want to go every day to the restaurant. Each room also has an equipped terrace.
- breakfast is a moment not to be missed. It is copious and allows you to leave for the day with a belly full of delicious food. Everything is made on the spot with local products. We choose the day before what we want to avoid the waste of a breakfast buffet. And in the morning you wake up with something to eat on the terrace while admiring the view. What more could you ask for?
In short you will have understood it we advise you the eyes closed Kallicharon.
Top 8 things to do in Astypalea
Here again the island itself is an invitation to slow travel. It is not big so take the time to live and discover. Here are some suggestions but do not hesitate to ask around you, when you arrive, to complete this list :
Visit the beautiful Chora. Like Fira, the city is built on the side of a is built on the side of a cliff. With its typical Greek architecture, its white and blue white and blue walls it is a real delight to get lost in the maze of streets. Especially since the latter often offer views of the coast. Explore the ruined Venetian citadel. For the record, the island was the victim of a violent earthquake and the citadel was completely destroyed at that time. In fact not completely! The only 2 buildings that remained standing were the two churches! These last ones, nicely painted in traditional white and blue, offer an exceptional panorama. It is really a free visit not to be missed if you come to Astypalea. Stroll around the windmills perfectly aligned and symbols of the island. The square is the place of animation of the city and it is here that you will find several restaurants.
- Discover the island from the sea. Unfortunately there is no sailboat or electric boat to do it yet but it is still a must. Indeed, the road network being not very developed, it is difficult to go everywhere. And it is perhaps better, so the fauna and the flora are not disturbed. The boat is indeed a good solution to fully discover the beauty of the island. And to tell you that there are few tourists, there are only 3 boats offering the tour with a maximum of thirty people. Moreover, they do not all follow the same itinerary, so you will not be disturbed in the swimming spots.
- Enjoy the beautiful beaches. And we can tell you that this is not what is missing on the island. Here are some names in bulk, but if you have a car, it is better to stop by feeling: Kaminakia, Livadi, Agios Konstantinos, Agio Ioannis Makris.... Marvel at the Dragon Cave or Dracospilia. At the other end of the island, in the small village of Messa Vathi discover this geological peculiarity. It is also an opportunity to borrow a caïque, a traditional boat, to go there.
- Go hiking in Astypalea. There are indeed about twenty hiking trails to discover the island from another angle. Before leaving, take this topographic map to avoid getting lost. Visit the archaeological museum. It is not very big but it is still interesting and allows you to combine culture and vacations.
After reading this article, are you tempted by an off the beaten track in the Greek islands? Tell us incomment if you know of any other places in Greece that are preserved from mass tourism!