Situated on the southernmost edge of the Aegean Sea, Karpathos is one of the most beautiful Dodecanese islands. Due to its rather secluded position between Rhodes and Crete Karpathos has still not been discovered by most tourists. It is an unspoiled beauty, somewhat tourism developed but keeping its wild natural charm.
Why go to Karpathos?
Karpathos is an island of incredible natural beauty. Exotic beaches, crystal-clear waters, quaint villages, and a unique geology make Karpathos one of the best trekking destinations in all the Greek islands. The picturesque mountain villages of Olympos, Othos, and Menetes are perfect for relaxing while enjoying the absolute stunning views of the sea and the landscape.
How big is Karpathos island?
Karpathos is the second largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Together with the neighboring smaller Saria Island it forms the municipality Karpathos. From its remote position Karpathos has preserved many peculiarities of dress, customs and dialect, the last resembling those of Crete and Cyprus. The highest point in Karpathos is Mt. Lastos, at 1,215 m.
Where is Karpathos Greece?
Karpathos is located on the southern side of the Aegean Sea in between Crete and Rhodes island, about 47 km southwest of Rhodes, in the part of the Mediterranean, which is named, after it, the Carpathian Sea.
Karpathos on a map
10 villages of Karpathos
Karpathos is dotted with picturesque traditional villages, 10 altogether. All villages preserve intensively the traditional style of the island. In the southeast of the island, you will find Pigadia (official name Karpathos), capital and main port of the island. The capital is surrounded by the villages of Menetes, Arkasa, Aperi, Volada, Othos, and Pyles. In the northern part of Karpathos, you will find Mesochori, Spoa and Olymbos, the last of which is of great folkloric and architectural interest. There are two ports on the island; one is in the town of Karpathos and the other in the north next to Olymbos named Diafani. The most beautiful village in Karpathos is Olympos, a stunning village in the mountains. Here you really can get a glimpse of the traditions in Karpathos; every house has its own windmill and church, and the locals are still wearing their traditional costumes at their everyday tasks.
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Karpathos Beach Guide
Especially one feature makes Karpathos to really stand out: its stunning beaches! Apella and Kyra Panagia are the most popular beaches in Karpathos because of their spectacular beauty, but if you enjoy watersports like windsurfing, kitesurfing, and surfboarding the southern and western coasts are where you should go.
The beaches of Karpathos island can be divided into four large groups: the beaches on the east coast are smaller and gravelly but without wind; the beaches of the southern part of the island, near the airport, area made of fine white sand; the sandy beaches on the west coast are the most exposed to the Meltemi winds and they are only available in low wind conditions; the beaches of the north side of the island, accessible only by sea and partly by jeep.
- East coast: Apella, Amopi, Karpathos Beach, Achata, Kato Lakkos (reachable only on foot)
- South coast: Damatria, Diakoftis, Devils Bay, Agrilaopotamos (nude beach)
- West coast: Finiki, Arkassa, Lefkos
- North coast: Diafani, Vananda, Forokli
- Apella beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 18 km north of Pigadia
- Kyra Panagia beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 14 km north of Pigadia
- Mikri Amopi beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 7 km southwest of Pigadia
- Megali Amopi & Pera Ammos beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 7 km south of Pigadia
- Achata beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 13 km north of Pigadia
- Lefkos beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 31 km northwest of Pigadia
- Vrontis beach – Pebbled, family friendly, harbour, located 1 km north of Pigadia
Partly organized beaches
- Votsalakia beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 7 km south of Pigadia
- Arkassa beach – Sandy, windsurfing, located 16 km southwest of Pigadia
- Finiki beach – Pebbled, family friendly, located 18 km southwest of Pigadia
- Afoti beach – Sandy, family friendly, harbour, located in walking distance from Pigadia
- Agios Nikolaos beach – Pebbled,surfing, located 42 km north of Pigadia
- Diakoftis beach – Sandy, secluded, located 20 km southwest of Pigadia
- Christou Pigadi beach – Sandy, secluded, located 15 km southwest of Pigadia
- Damatria beach – Sandy, secluded, located 13 km southwest of Pigadia
- Agrilaopotamos beach – Sandy, secluded, located 20 km southwest of Pigadia
- Psoraris beach – Sandy, secluded, located 20 km southwest of Pigadia
- Valias beach – Pebbled, secluded, windsurfing, located 12 km southwest of Pigadia
- Kastelia beach – Sandy, secluded, located 7 km south of Pigadia
- Kato Lakkos beach – Pebbled, secluded, accessible on foot (2 km walk), located 14 km north of Pigadia
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Karpathos – How to get there?
Flights to Karpathos
The easiest way to reach Karpathos is by plane from Athens. It will take you about 1 hour to reach the island by plane. Karpathos Island National Airport, with its relatively large runway, is located on the south side (Afiartis area). Karpathos is connected to neighboring islands and to the mainland via ferries and airplanes. Scheduled domestic flights connect the island with Rhodes, Kasos, Crete and Athens daily. Additionally, charter flights from various European cities are frequently scheduled during the high season (April–October). Arriving in the island you best arrange for a taxi for your transfer. The airport is located approx. 14 km from Pigadia, the port and most central point in Karpathos.
Ferries to Karpathos
You can also choose to reach Karpathos by ferry from Piraeus, the port of Athens. There are routes about 3 times a week, but the travel duration is exhausting, 18 – 21 hours. Except from Athens Karpathos is interconnected by ferry with Heraklion and Sitia in Crete, Rhodes island, Milos, Santorini, Kasos, and Anafi. The ferry ride from Rhodes lasts approx. 5 hours.
Within the island, cars are the preferred mode of transportation. The port, the airport, the main villages, and other popular locations are connected by adequate roads, most of which are paved. During the summer months, small private boats depart from Pigadia to various locations daily, including Olymbos (via Diafani) and some inaccessible beaches. Fixed-rate taxis and municipal buses are also available all year long.
Karpathos – What to do?
Surfing, Kitesurfing, Windsurfing
The beaches in Karpathos are ideal for all kinds of water sports, especially those involving the winds like kitesurfing and windsurfing. Especially in the southern part of Karpathos you will find great spots to enjoy your favourite sport. During summer you will find everything your windsurfer’s heart could possibly desire.
The meltemi blows full force from the north down through the high mountains, with high-wind days being virtually an everyday occurrence in July and August. Karpathos enjoys steady winds even in spring and autumn, making it an ideal spot for novices and those who wish to improve their surfing skills. But advanced surfers, too, can rely on getting an adrenaline boost.
Hiking in Karpathos
Karpathos is a rather big island, and it has many beautiful hiking routes from north to south. You can reach stunning, secluded beaches, unspoiled landscapes, and picturesque villages with a traditional way of life. You will get unique experiences and live an adventure in this mountainous and wild island. In between the villages you will find many footpaths, often marked by signs and red dots painted on rocks. Karpathos is a true paradise on Earth, nature unspoiled and a huge geological diversity, perfect for hiking. For experienced hikers, the northern side of Karpathos will be a discovery.
Karpathos has a single riding club in Karpathos (Pigadia). Riding lessons are available for all ages, starting at the age of 6 years. All riding sessions are carried out in nature, on the beach or in the mountains.
You will find Karpathos Diving Center in Pigadia on the main promenade road, a few minutes from the city centre. Training and diving trips can be arranged for individuals as well as groups. Tel: 0030 22450 22860
Tours by boat
During your holiday in Karpathos, you should go on a daytrip to the remote Saria island, it is uninhabited, but will surprise you with some amazing beaches and sites.
Festivals and celebrations in Karpathos
Karpathos organizes some local cultural events with lots of music, wine, and dancing that goes on to till the early morning hours. Through these small festivals, the island aims to highlight its traditional aspects and pass on the old customs to the new generations.
is the Panagia’s festival (Assumption of Virgin Mary), which is considered the most important festival on the island. Individuals travel from around the world to attend the festival and view the many traditions that remain on the island.
This day is a spectacular celebration to honor the feast day of Agios Ioannis. The festival is held in the ancient site of Vourkounda, in the church of Agios Ioannis. It is an overnight festival where locals arrive there one day before the feast. There is a service followed by food, music, and dancing.
Locals organize a festival to honor the feast day of Agia Sofia. It is an important day in Karpathos as many women are baptized by that name. Visitors will hear the church bells from the early morning hours meaning that there is a service later and a feast begins from the late evening hours.
The most important cultural event in Karpathos is the International Tsambouna (Bagpipe) Festival which is held every summer in Pigadia and Oly mbos.
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The islet of Saria is a rocky, volcanic island along the northern edge of Karpathos, separated from it by a strait just 100 meters wide. It has a population of 45 (2011). It has little plant or animal life and has several sharp cliffs.Read more
Although only shepherds live on Saria now, the ruins of the ancient city of Nisyros can be found here. It is also a breeding area for a breed of falcon known as Eleonora’s Falcon.
Although the name is subject to dispute, scholars link it with the name of an ancient Greek Princess named Katherine from a line of Saria royalty. Greek legends say she was as beautiful as Helen of Troy and so they named an island after her majesty. On the island of Saria, it is recorded history that a kingdom existed named Mikri Nisyros.
This tiny islet has a spectacular landscape comprising of white sandy virgin beaches with crystal clear water, abrupt cliffs, calcareous rock beds, deep caves, and dashing streams. In summer, there are small tour boats to connect Pigadia to Saria islet in frequent and daily itineraries.
History of Karpathos
The island was both in ancient and medieval times intricately connected with Rhodes. Its current name is mentioned, with a slight shift of one letter, in Homer’s Iliad as Krapathos.Read more
Carpathians fought with Sparta in the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC and lost their independence to Rhodes in 400 BC. In 42 BC the island fell to Rome. After the division of the Roman Empire the island joined the Byzantine Empire.
By 1304 Karpathos was given as fief by the Emperor to the Genoese corsairs Andrea and Lodovico Moresco, but in 1306 it fell under Andrea Cornaro, a member of the noble Venetian Cornaro family. The Cornaro controlled Karpathos until 1538, when it finally passed into the possession of the Ottoman Turks. Under the Ottomans the island decayed deeply.
In the years 1821-22, during the Greek War of Independence, the island could free itself, but afterward it fell again under the Ottoman rule.
The Ottoman rule ended on May 12, 1912, when the Italians conquered the island, together with the whole Dodecanese, during the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-12. With the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 Karpathos joined the other islands of the Dodecanese in the Italian possession of the Isole Italiane dell’Egeo and was ceded by Italy to Greece with the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947. The island formally joined the Greek State on 7 March 1948, together with the other Dodecanese islands.
Weather and climate in Karpathos
The weather in Karpathos is like the rest of the Dodecanese islands Mediterranean, just a bit dryer. The climate is mild with dry and sunny summers and mild winters. During July and August winds are blowing refreshingly making the heat rather comfortable. Due to these winds Karpathos is known for its great wind conditions which allow for many watersports like wind- and kitesurfing.