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Seducing contrasts

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Seducing contrasts

At the southeastern edge of the Aegean Sea, in the centre of the Carpathian Sea, the second largest island of the Dodecanese resembles a natural and cultural bridge between Crete and Rhodes.

Its history is marked by the passage and osmosis of great civilizations that left their permanent mark on the island’s culture: from Homer’s "Krapathos" and the ancient "Tetrapolis" to the medieval "Scarpanto", the authenticity of Karpathos stems from this fascinating mosaic of contrasts.

Beautiful villages with untouched ancient traditions, wonderful beaches and stone paths that carve centuries-old trails, create a setting of phenomenal beauty in Karpathos.

Routes & attractions

Built at the foot of Kali Limni Mountain, on the site of the ancient Potideon of the Minoan era, Pigadia, the island’s capital and harbour, enchants its visitors with its impressive buildings dating back to the Italian occupation. Wander along the busy pedestrian streets and visit the magnificent Archaeological Museum, with important findings from the Neolithic era to Byzantine times.

Just like gems on a crown, the mountain villages of Karpathos are a treasure. Clung into a steep slope between the mountain peaks of Prophitis Elias, the legendary Olympos offers an unforgettable journey back in time. The isolated medieval settlement of the 7th century with its beautiful architecture and delightful people, is a vibrant folklore museum and the most stunning balcony above the Aegean.

Built at an altitude of 510 meters and wrapped in clouds, picturesque Othos is one of the most charming mountain settlements of the island and famous for the wines it produces. Do not miss the excellent folklore museum of the village.

Amphitheatrically built on the mountain of Prophitis Elias, beautiful Menetes, the largest village of Karpathos, will impress the visitor with its wonderful old mansions and neoclassical buildings. Stop at the church of the Assumption (19th century) that stands on the edge of the cliff, offering magnificent views of the sea.

In Byzantine Mesochori, you shall admire the impressive Skopi, one of the largest and most beautiful, pebbled squares of the Dodecanese, and the traditional decorations of the houses with their doors always open to passers-by.

For the most stunning sunset on the island, visit Pyles. Tucked in an evergreen embrace of orchards, the village also offers magnificent vistas of neighbouring Kasos and the mountains of Sitia.

Do not leave Karpathos without visiting the islet of Saria, by boat from Diafani. In the place where the Minoan city of Nisyros once stood, the history and myth coexist harmoniously with the unparalleled beauty of the natural landscape. Gaze at the Aegean from the hilltop chapel of St. Zacharias, admire the awing "Palatia" of the Arab settlement, a series of single-space medieval buildings with vaulted roofs. Dive into the emerald waters or relax with bird-watching. The entire area is a protected habitat for rare birds and the Mediterranean monk seal.

Continue your journey through time with a visit to the rocky peninsula of Paleokastro to tour the ruins of the ancient city of Arkesia and admire the early Christian Basilica of Agia Anastasia (5th century) with its exquisite mosaic floors.

Tastes of the island

The traditional kafeneia that still exist in Olympos, Mesochori and picturesque Spoa offer some of the most authentic natural sceneries to taste the traditional dishes of Karpathos.

Try the makarounes (handmade pasta served with myzithra cheese and sautéed onions in stakobouturo or sitaka ), vyzanti or ofto (lamb or goat cooked in wood-fired oven stuffed with rice, offal, raisins, pine nuts and herbs), kopeles (greens pies), gra (vegetable pie), lachanopiti and kolokythopoulia (courgette blossoms), local cakes (sweet pies with myzithra cheese or sitaka cheese) and zebilia (sesame crescent-shaped pies stuffed with raisins and clove spice).

Sea food lovers will be delighted with dishes such as fried skaros or giahni (a small fish endemic to Karpathos seas) and menoules (salted sardines in olive oil). The village of Othos, you have to taste the sweet red wine produced by the locals for centuries.

Traditions & events

Karpathos is famous for its primordial traditions and customs which are preserved unchanged through time. In the village of Olympos, the visitor can see the local women still wearing traditional costumes, speaking in an ancient dialect and lighting the traditional wood-fired oven every Saturday to bake bread or pies.

Karpathos festivals last for several days like the Dionysian fiestas, with music in the rhythm of the lyre, the lute and the tsabouna (musical instrument resembling a bagpipe), embellished by improvised mantinades (couplets) and plenty of food and wine.

Do not miss the two-day festival of Agios Ioannis in Vroukountas, Olympos (August 28 & 29), the most important on  the island. August 15th is the day of celebration of the Virgin Mary in Menetes, while on September 8th, Mesochori hosts a large festival gathering locals from all over Karpathos, dedicated to the grace of Panagia Vrysiani.

Beaches & Activities

The beaches of Karpathos form a collection of small exotic paradises with crystal-clear waters.  Apella, one of the top beaches in the Mediterranean, resembles a turquoise pool in the arms of pine-fringed rocks reaching down to the sea, waters gushing from the springs of the mountain and the chapel of Agios Loukas carved into the rock.

The golden sand and turquoise waters of Kyra Panagia make it the most photographed beach on the island. Diving enthusiasts love to explore the magical seabed at Saria‘s Palatia, the Kastelia, the pebbled Ahata and the sheltered Diakofti (with the famous Italian shipwreck) in the South. The organized and hustling Ammoopi is ideal for water sports, while on the beaches of windswept Afiartis, a meeting point for surfers from all over the world, you can enjoy some windsurfing lessons.

The uniqueness of Northern Karpathos landscape is rewording for those coming here for hiking and sightseeing. Hidden among picturesque villages and beautiful countryside, on plateaus with farmhouses and ancient threshing floors are ancient trails worth discovering.

Don't miss...

Visit the unique stivania workshop (the traditional boots of Karpathos) in the village of Olympos to order a pair of your own. Elaborately hand-embroidered, they are the top souvenir of the island, along with the hand-woven textiles and ceramics of excellent quality made by the women of Olympos.

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