View Karpathos in Google Maps here
Karpathos is located in the southeastern islands, between Crete and Rhodes. The island belongs to the group of the Dodecanese islands. The island is approximately 48km long and 12km wide.
The island is among the Greeks called the “winds of the winds” perhaps because of the unpredictable winds that often occur on the island.
“Karpathos is one of the most beautiful Greek islands we’ve been to”
Karpathos has the smallest international airport we have seen in Greece. But big enough for you to come by plane directly from, among other things, Copenhagen. Otherwise you can find cheap flights to Athens and domestic flights from there to Karpathos. There are also nice ferry services to the surrounding islands, so that is also an option.
Karpathos is one of the most beautiful Greek islands we have been to and a trip around the island is an absolute must. Unlike most other Greek islands, there are excellent paved roads all around the island and car wars most places in the mountains, which is definitely not something you can expect in Greece. It is also very clean and tidy everywhere, which is certainly not a matter of course (-: The higher status of order and infrastructure is largely attributable to the fact that many inhabitants of Karpathos emigrated to Canada in the difficult years after the war. Many have had a career and earned a fortune that they have brought back to their birthplace in their older days to spend their retirees here.
“Steep bare cliff sides, lush unmatched gorges that stretch down to the little magnificent coves”
The island is divided almost in the middle of a mountain range that fills the entire northern part. The northern part begins at the town of Spoa, and has a really raw nature. Steep, bare cliff sides, lush unmatched gorges stretching down to the little amazing coves, some of which are the pure idyll for bathers, but also very accessible. There are vast stretches of scattered forests. Some flatter stretches of terrain farms, olive trees and sheep farms. On the north island there are only few, fairly inaccessible settlements. But here is the famous village of Olymbos, which is definitely worth a visit. You can come to Olymbos by boat from the main town of Pigardia, or even drive in a rented car on the ever-honored road that has been built.
Olymbos was built high in the mountains at the time so the inhabitants could hide from pirates who attacked and robbed them in the main city of Pigardia. For many years, the city was so cut off from the rest of the island that the inhabitants developed their own own dialect. It was first in the 1960s, electricity came to the city and only in recent years there has been a useful road to the city that could only be reached from the seaside or by the small meadows in the mountains. The city is very nice and authentic, although it is clear that you have been aware of the possibilities with the many day-to-day tourists. If you like it, you can rent a small cozy room and stay overnight so that the city and the population can be experienced in the evening without other tourists.
“Olymbos was built high up in the mountains for the inhabitants to hide from pirates”
Around the island: Starting from the airport, the road north of the east coast will first take a pass by the city of Afiártis, which is the place for windsurfers. Some think it is one of Greece’s best surfing sites. If we continue north we will reach the east coast tourist center Amopí, with its many tavernas and hotels and the beautiful sandy beaches and bathing coves. A little outside of Amopí you can cross the island to Arkássa on the west coast, through the mountain village of Menetés.
If you continue north you reach the island’s capital and ferry port, Pigadia. Here is a long good beach outside the city, and here is quite touristy. The city’s harbor promenade is a long nice variety of bars and tavernas. In the streets behind the harbor there are tourist shops but also a very clear local Greek city life. Pigardia is definitely a nice city. Here is the shelter for the cold north wind in the offshore season, and the city is therefore more relaxed than in the west coast tourist areas.
Eating at the tavern in Pigardia required some attempts before we discovered “Jannis” almost at the end of the many tavernas on the harbor promenade. Here we had the great and well prepared Greek food. Unfortunately, you must note that there is a lot of tourist food in this city.
“The Àpella beach is located beneath a very steep cliff dirt road in a magnificent cove of pine forests by the steep cliffs around”
When driving out north of Pigardia there is a road by Apéri leading to the west coast, via the small mountain towns of Voláda, osthos and Pilés. If you stay on the east coast at Apéri, the road continues north along the wonderful bathingbeaches at Kira Panagia and ellapella to Spóa located on north border of the good roads. Among other things we are very excited about the beach at Apella. It is located below a very steep twisted dirt road in a stunning bay with pine forests on the steep cliffs around. It is a great place even though beach chairs had begun their entry at one end of the beach, when we visited the island for the first time in 2005. The nature along the coastline is some of the island’s most beautiful. Dramatic mountains, the deep blue sea and the small wonderful bathing bay.
Update from 2019: As an increased amount of tourists (and beach chairs) along with touristboats sadly have found the way to the beautiful Apella beach, we recommend a walk/hike on the cliff at the end of the Apella beach (towards the south). This will lead you to a slightly smaller and even more beautiful beach than on the other side of the cliff. And here is a lot more space and fewer tourists. And luckily no beach chairs.
Link to Apella beach and the smaller beach behind the cliffs, which can be seen at the end of the video here.
Further along north of Apella beach you can find Achata beach, which is also amazingly beautiful and with more hidden caves, which you can swim/dive into. Can definitly be recommended. Link to Achata beach here.
Even further north of the eastcoast is yet another beautiful beach. This is Kato Lakkos Beach. A great place with beautiful caves with clear blue water. Beginning already on the trip down to the beach you will pass even more caves. The road leading to the beach can be a little difficult to find, but is definitly the trouble worth it.
Link to more info on the beautiful Kato Lakko beach here.
And a video from Kato Lakko, where you can also se some of the beautiful caves.
“White houses, narrow alleyways and stairs, small churches and chapels everywhere”
From Spóa, the road goes west through close forest past the southern island’s most picturesque mountain village, Mesohóri, where there are some taverns and accommodation possibilities. Mesohóri is high 200 meters above sea level, steep rocky down to the sea. White houses, narrow alleyways and stairs, small churches and chapels everywhere. The city is totally car free. You have to park on the road over the city. All transport takes place on foot or with donkeys / mules. The largest and most famous church is next door to a really lovely tavern with panoramic views. Overlooking the terraced farm and the sea below. From the church a narrow gravel path leads to another gender little church. Here is peace and a beautiful view. Close to the church you will find a circular, stony area with high-rise stones to enclose it. It is one of the old places to spice grain. The grain spread out into the stone circle, and a donkey travelled around, releasing the nuclei. Then they removed the straw and then could shovel kernels and the pieces of straw into the air, so the wind could sort the grain from the rest. We have seen these threshing places on other small islands. Among other things. in the old village of Alonnisos.
From Mesohóri we can drive south towards the fishing village and the resort town of Lefkós with the three very different bays in a row.
It is a very cozy little distant place, but with some tourists. From Lefkos you can drive south and a nice little fishing village, Finiki, with a small good beach and some hotels. The city also has a small white church with the characteristic greek blue dome. Here are also a few small hotels and good fishing tackles at the waterfront. In Finiki, in the summer season, like from Pigardia, it is possible to sail to the neighboring island Kassos, which is located between Karpathos and Crete’s east coast.
View more photos from Karpathos at Instagram #KruseTravel.dk.