Astypalaia

Floats like a butterfly, blends with the sea
At the top of the hill, the famous stone castle of Astypalaia which towers over Hora is a special attraction
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Purity, tranquility, hospitality, beautiful beaches and hidden treasures: The ideal place for an offbeat holiday

Astypalaia: It’s been dubbed “The Butterfly of the Aegean,” partly because of its peculiar shape and partly because of the beauty of the landscape. For those willing to travel off the beaten track, it’s love at first sight. At the southeastern edge of the Aegean, in the Dodecanese (not the Cyclades as some may think), there is an island rich in imagery and emotions. Many stay forever devoted to this island of white light, with its crystal-clear water, sun-drenched beaches, historical heritage and hospitable residents.

What to do in Astypalaia

‘Astropalia’

It looks like a traditional Cycladic hora, even though it’s part of the Dodecanese. Its famous castle, majestic views of the Aegean, windmills and whitewashed homes make up a remarkable traditional settlement. Hora, or Astropalia as the locals call it in their dialect, is the island’s largest town, offering a variety of choices for food and fun.

Castle on a hill

At the top of the hill, the famous stone castle of Astypalaia which towers over Hora is a special attraction. Erected by the Quirini family in the 13th century, it was a typical fortified settlement, built for protection from pirates. But as the island’s population grew, their homes overflowed beyond the castle and onto the slope and today reach as far as the foot  of the hill and the port of Pera Gialos.

Beaches, pure and seductive

Astypalaia’s beaches may not have a cosmopolitan vibe, but they offer something else: translucent water, relaxation and tranquility. The most beautiful beach on the island is Kaminakia, but Vatses, Livadi, Steno and Psili Ammos are also lovely.

The Virgin Mary in the shade of the castle

Founded in 1762 by Saint Anthimos, Panagia Portaitissa is one of the most beautiful churches in the Aegean. Whitewashed, with an impressive bell tower and silver dome, it is located right below the castle, in Rodia, a poetic place whose name is derived from the pomegranate tree (rodia) that once grew nearby.

In the island’s garden

Livadi is a fertile valley with citrus groves and vineyards. The homes are awash with flowers and are spread along the length of a stream that ends in one of the most beautiful and populated beaches on the island, filled with coffee shops and restaurants.

 

Hidden gems of Astypalaia

Hellenistic bath houses

In Maltezana (Ascension) you’ll find the famous Baths of Talara, with their trademark blue tiles and mosaics from the Hellenistic period. Experts have singled them out for their unique composition, which depicts the seasons and the symbols of the zodiac.

The stalactites and stalagmites at Negrou

The Cave of Negrou at Vatses has impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations that are interwoven with myths about pirates and the treasures they buried there. From the beach you can hike (45 mins) to the cave, or you can also reach it by boat.

Rock climbing in Astypalaia

Give yourself an adrenaline rush. There’s a climbing site at Ftera, just 20 minutes outside the island’s hora. The relief of the limestone rocks has created two climbing sites, offering some 20 routes of varying difficulty. Are you up for it?

 

Reaching the central square of Hora, you are going to admire the town's eight windmills

Experience the best of Astypalaia

At the top of the hill, the famous stone castle of Astypalaia which towers over Hora is a special attraction

A walking tour of Astypalea’s radiant Hora

The main town of Astypalea emits classic Cycladic charm everywhere you look – except that it’s not in the Cyclades at all and, once you’ve...
  • ‘Astropalia’
  • Beaches, pure and seductive
  • The Virgin Mary in the shade of the castle
  • Hellenistic bath houses
  • The stalactites and stalagmites at Negrou
  • Rock climbing in Astypalaia
Highlights

Travel ideas

Shining the light on stories
The windmills of Hora

The Dodecanese: An island chain made for hopping

It takes just one step on holiday to start the process of discovery. So, what if that step becomes a hop? And then another? Welcome to the Dodecanese, a cluster of magical islands in the South Aegean simply made for hopping. Some you will have heard of (R