Things To Do In Astypalea: Escape To The Butterfly Of The Aegean

Greece has many wonderful places to visit besides the well-known Santorini and Zakynthos. In this post, I want to introduce you to the butterfly of the Aegean: Astypalea. With a little bit over 1,000 residents, there are plenty of things to do in Astypalea, including paradisiac beaches, stunning architecture, friendly locals, and so much more.

Keep on reading and discover the fun activities in Astypalea, Greece to add to your itinerary.

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Things To Do In Astypalea

Visit The Venetian Castle 

Venetian Castle

The Venetian Castle is the perfect spot for watching a sunset or sunrise and taking incredible pictures. This castle is located on top of a hill and can be easily distinguished due to its black stones, which make a quite interesting contrast against the other building’s beautiful white-and-blue colors. This is one of the top things to do in Astypalea when visiting.

It was built in 1204 by a noble Venetian named John Querini, hence the name Venetian Castle of Querini, as a shelter from enemies and pirates. This is one of the best things to do in Astypalea for free, that will allow you to admire the beauty of the city from above. The views are epic from the top with the endless sea, whitewashed buildings, and rolling mountains on the island. 

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes for the trek up to the castle. There are many steps and the paths become rocky as you get closer. 

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Drakos Cave

Drakos Cave, or Cave of The Dragon, is a wonderful cave straight out of your Pinterest travel board. It is located on the northern side of Astypalea, close to the fishing village of Vathi.

Not only is this fun activity in Greece perfect for taking loads of pictures and videos but for doing some physical activity as well. It is the perfect spot for trekking!

The cave is like a time capsule where you can see magnificent stalactites and stalagmites of a wide range of colors and sizes that have been formed over time. What’s more, some legends say Drakos Cave holds plenty of treasures, as it was thought to be a hiding spot for pirates.

See The Astypalea Windmills

The Astypalea castle and windmills one of the top things to do in Astypalea.
Astypalea windmills

Visiting the Astypalea windmills is another activity to add to your Astypalea, Greece itinerary. It is believed that they were constructed around the 18th or 19th century, and were used by the people of the town to mill some of the crops they grew on the island.

There are eight windmills, all perfectly conserved, which make a unique postcard thanks to their white walls and red roofs. Nearby, you can find a small coffee shop as well as the city hall. Also, if you’re hungry I suggest you grab a delicious souvlaki wrap from Cafe Ouzeri o Kouklas nearby. 

If you’re wondering what to do in Astypalea on a budget, visiting the windmills is completely free!

Get Lost In Chora

Chora is the capital of Astypalea and is known as the Queen of the Island due to its strategic location on top of the hill. This was made to overlook the village from above. It is one of the most interesting and best things to do in Astypalea, at least in my opinion. 

I suggest you get lost in the winding pathways that will lead you through home with colorful doors, bars, and cafes.  In Chora, there is plenty to explore until your feet get tired. 

Indulge In Greek Food

Horitaki and Greek beer. One of the things to do in Astypalea to is eat the local cuisine.

Of course, your Astypalea, Greece itinerary can only be complete by indulging in proper Greek cuisine. Astypalea has some interesting traditional dishes, including lobster spaghetti, and fish with saffron made in an oven. I also recommend you try the yellow cookies in Astypalea, which are made with saffron, giving it that distinguishing color. 

Astypalean cuisine stands out for its use of fresh and locally sourced ingredients, such as cheese, honey, saffron, fish, and oregano. 

Be sure to when you’re dining out to order entrees that have the ingredients that are specially sourced on the island. 

Relax At The Beaches In Astypalea

A Greek island trip must include multiple stops at the beach, and Astypalea has plenty to choose from. 

Plakes is located 5 miles (8km) from Chora and features crystal-clear water and rugged cliffs. It is a quiet and chill beach, perfect for relaxing and connecting with nature. 

Tzanaki is the only official nudist beach, but anyone (nudist and non-nudist) can enjoy basking under the sun. It is a very small area and has no waves due to its protection from the wind. 

Vatses is another tropical paradise, and what’s great about this remote beach is that it offers umbrellas for rent, and has a small bar that serves great drinks. Vathi is also a remote beach with pristine waters highly recommended.

Finally, Kaminakia is considered the best beach in Astypalea thanks to its size and amenities.

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Shop Local 

Local goods in Astypalea.
One of the local shops selling honey, olive oil, and herbs

What I love most about traveling is shopping for local products, and one of the most recommended things to do in Astypalea is to shop at the local markets. Bring home all the delicious ingredients they use to make traditional dishes, and if I had to make a list of all the things I’d want to buy I’d include saffron, honey, cheese, and oregano.

Personally, my recommendation would be to buy as much honey as you can. It was some of the tastiest honey I have ever eaten. 

Don’t forget to browse for artisanal products as well, as you’ll find some stunning souvenirs for all your friends and family.

Take A Boat Tour Around Astypalea

One of the exciting things to do in Astypalea is to take a boat tour and admire the stunning architecture of the city and the crystal-clear water. Astypalea offers many different boat tour options for you to choose from according to your budget and preferences. 

Boat tours are perfect for exploring “hidden” parts of Astypalea, and finding isolated spots to spend a wonderful afternoon. Depending on the tour, most will take you to the islands nearby to sunbathe at those beaches as well. 

Where To Stay On Astypalea

View of Chora at dusk.
View of Chora at dusk from Ihthioessa Boutique Hotel

There are three different areas where you can stay in Astypalea: Livadia, Chora (Astypalea Town), and Analipsi. You can find more accommodations on other small parts of the island but they’re very secluded and don’t have many restaurants or shops nearby.

Livadia is great for families since it’s less than a mile from Astypalea Town and has various restaurants, a nice beach, and a beach bar. 

Chora is recommended for couples as it is the most romantic place in all of Astypalea. It is pretty quiet and often named a budget-friendly alternative for Santorini. 

During my visit to Astypalea, I stayed at Ihthioessa Boutique Hotel. This small boutique hotel is within walking distance of many cafes and restaurants. It’s a small and quaint hotel, the staff is friendly, and the view of Chora from the balcony is mesmerizing.

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Best Time To Visit Astypalea

The best time to visit Astypalea is during spring and summer, which is from May to September. The temperatures are very nice and accompany all your outdoor activities. However, the best months to avoid the crowds would be May and September.

Winter is not a bad time to visit either, but Astypalea can have some harsh winds which can make your visit unpleasant. Also, not much is open when the season is over. So many hotels and restaurants are closed which will leave you with limited options. 

How To Get To Astypalea 

View for the castle of Astypalea one of the things to do in Astypalea.
View of the sea from the castle of Astypalea

There are two ways to get from Athens to Astypalea. You can arrive either by plane or by ferry.

Taking a plane is perhaps the best choice since arriving on the island takes less than an hour. Weekly flights are limited so be sure to plan accordingly. Depending on when you visit tickets can go up to 200 euros. I arrived by plane and it was a very quick flight to Astypalea. 

Another way to reach the island is by ferry. However, getting to Astypalea takes up to 9 hours. Keep in mind it only takes off from Piraeus, the main port in Athens, 3 times a week. It connects Astypalea with other Greek islands, like Rhodes, Paros, and Tilos.

How To Get Around Astypalea

Small fisherman's boat in Astypalea, Greece.
Fisherman’s boat in Astypalea

If you’re like me, you plan your Greek island trip in detail, including your transportation. Since Astypalea is a small island, getting around might get a bit tricky if you’re not prepared.

There are public buses available with a somewhat frequency of 30’ that can connect you with other major areas, but they’re not recommended for quick and nearby destinations.

What most tourists and locals are using today is AstyGO, which is a ride-sharing service. However, I cannot comment on this app as I experienced issues inputting my information. 

Another option is to rent a car so you can easily get to all your activities and attractions at your own pace. Various agencies offer car rentals in Astypalea, and according to various sources, the average price for renting a car per day is $25.22.

You can also rent an ATV or scooter if you’re traveling solo or with a partner. Many car rental agencies offer ATVs and scooters, in case you don’t want to use AstyGO.

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What To Do In Astypalea Final Words

Astypalea is a wonderful, Greek paradise that not many people have heard of. If you’re looking for a more private and peaceful place in Greece, with similar vibes to Santorini and Mykonos, then this is a great choice. 

Astyplaea quickly became my favorite Greek island. You will enjoy the smells of oregano and jasmine in the air, the friendly locals, the scenic views, and the cuisine. I know you will enjoy it as much as I did. 

Be sure to use these Greece quotes for all the pictures you will post on Instagram.

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