What to See in Karpathos
The beach at Agios Minas is one of the most beautiful small, flat pebble beaches in Karpathos, not far from Apella. This remote beach, previous to summer 2004, could only be accessed by rent-a-car (on an awful road) or by private boat. It has now become a tourist magnet, with beach chairs and a small incongruous cantina affecting the landscape. Our recommendation is to pack yourself a picnic lunch, lots of water and take the charter boat to Agios Minas but avoid the beach chairs and cantina. We think that some things are meant to stay unspoiled and natural, and Agios Minas is one of them.
Rated #1 in Europe's Best Beaches for 2003. This paradise offers very limited parking but at least the road is paved. The beach boasts pure fine grain sand on one side, moving into pebbley areas further in. Great spot for swimming, picnicking and sunbathing. There is a restaurant at the top of the beach, but it is a bit pricey.
A tourist and native favorite because it is close to the capital and absolutely beautiful. The beach is named after the Virgin Mary and is composed of golden sand with plenty of sun chairs, as well as plenty of room to stretch your towel out for free. There also is a rock that you can safely jump off of into the sea. The water there is fairly deep so you must be an excellent swimmer to swim here.
There are two main restaurants and a few hotels, if you prefer to stay by the beach.
Ahata is a pebble beach that starts big and ends into the water with miniscule pebbles. The road was fixed during 2003-2004 and it is safe to drive your rental car there without worrying about voiding the insurance. There is plenty of parking but try to get there before 2 pm as whatever is open fills up quickly. This is another beach where strong swimming skills are needed. After 2 steps into the water you will find yourself completely submerged. It is difficult to climb out sometimes because the pebbles give under your weight as you try to exit the water. There is a cantina/cafe just meters from the beach and they have great frappé but extremely slow service. We waited 20 minutes for 3 frappedes but the view was great so we didn't mind. A great beach must is to freeze a 3/4 full bottle of water and carry it to the beach with you. If your hotel does not offer a freezer, then any local restaurant will probably be happy to accommodate you (probably as long as you buy the water from them).
Near the capital of Karpathos, Pigadia, you will find a long stretch of beach called Vrontis (the locals also call it "Xenonas"). It is not the best beach in Karpathos, but it is certainly the largest. It is also the most easily accessible because of its proximity to Pigadia and its many hotels.
There are two Amopi beaches: Mikri (Little) and Megali (Big). Mikri Amopi is small and quiet, with mostly serious sunbathers. Megali Amopi is the most popular. There you will find a mix of older and younger tourists, Greek-Americans, and locals. There are 3 restaurants at Megali Amopi and a Bar/Cafe called "Avra" where the young people drink coffee and play tavli (backgammon) and/or play beach volleyball next to the cafe.
On the other side of Megali Amopi there is a beach called "Kastelia". It is primarily for nudists, even though nude beaches are against the law in Greece.
One of the best beaches for body surfing, as there are always plenty of waves here. It is more like a wave pool at a fun park and less for surfing, but it is still fun. Avoid the left hand side of the beach at all costs. There are markers in the water for the rip-tide current that exists only on that side. You must be a strong swimmer to swim here. Agios Nikolaos also boasts a great cantina and fresh water showers to rinse off.
Lefkos has one of the nicest beaches in Karpathos. There are many hotels near the beach, so finding accomodation is generally not a problem. There are also several restaurants nearby that serve good seafood.
Villages in Karpathos
A tourist resort set in an area of scenic beauty, offering a happy alternation of bights, sandy beaches and rocky coasts, within 6.5 km to the south of the town of Karpathos.
A township of noble allure and a long tradition of opulence and cultural life, the see of the Bishop of Karpathos and once the capital town of the island, built in the concavity of a slope of mount Lastos, at an altitude of 320 meters. Invisible from the sea, it was a safe haven from corsair raids. Up until the island fell under the Ottonab rule, this settlement bore the name of Karpathos. The name "Aperi" derives from the Turkish word "Aperghi", meaning "the capital town". With a population of 400, this settlement lies within an 8 km distance from the town of Karpathos.
Arkassa has been able to preserve its ancient name - Arkesia - almost intact. The scenery is truly enticing, with the diminutive peninsula of the citadel protected by the natural wall of a rocky range in the backgrounds. There are 400 people dwelling in Arkassa, lying within 16 km SW from Pigadia.
Flat-roofed houses neatly arranged around a narrow bight, with a fishing boat dock and the pier for the docking of the liners as well as the boats carrying visitors to the village of Olympos. This is the second port of Karpathos. A pebbly beach is offered to the pleasure of swimmers and sun worshipers. There are 250 people living in Diafani, reachable through Mesochorio after a 67 km drive SW from the town of Karpathos.
A beachfront township with a joyful alternation of bights and sandy beaches, famous for the sand lilies abounding there in the summer. There is a beautiful pine grove around the settlement. Population: 25 - Distance: 31 km SW from the town of Karpathos.
A favourite tourist destination, extending between Afiartes and the airport, with spacious sandy beaches, crystal-clear azure waters set against the austerity of an arid valley in the background, where surfing aficionados from all over the world converge to practice their favourite sport. Location: 15 km to the south of the town of Karpathos.
Amphitheatrically built on the slopes of a hill, Menetes lies at a 8 km distance from the town of Karapathos. Its 450 inhabitants take special pride in the church of the Dormition, dominating the settlement from its extremity. There is a thoroughfare typically cutting the village in two. Picturesque, beautiful little homes with flowerpots to contrast against the whitewashed walls harbour a long tradition of culture, as most celebrated musicians of the island were born here and it is no secret that the people of this village have been delving into a long tradition of poetry and music.
Literally suspended over the sea, densely built, with its narrow streets leading to steps running over laughing little streams alimented with the water of the tree fountains that have since always been watering the orchards and gardens of the settlement, Mesochori basks in the sunset and contemplates on the inmensity of the sea beyond. Above the fountains, there rises the Church of Panaghia Vruyssiani. Only a few houses remain to remind the old architectural tradition. Lore is nevertheless very much alive in the hears and manifestations of its 350 inhabitants. Distance: 24 km NW from the town of Karpathos.
Clerly mountainous in its location and structure, built at a 500 m altitude above sea level, Othos is often clad in puffy clouds. With some 8 to 10 feasts hosted here every year, it is small wonder that the village of Othos has come to be a synonym of merriment and celebration. The main thoroughfare running through the settlement continues on to Pylaes. There are 230 people living in Othos, which lies at 12 km NW from the town of Pigadi.
Travellers who have the patience and stamina to drive the demanding route to Olynpos are rewarded by a natural beauty like no other: this is a journey through several traditional villages, plains, pine-grown hills and steep, barren rocky mountains offering some truly breathtaking views on the sea. It is then that the township of Olympos appears, in a way entirely of its own, a splash of white against a most austere background. Its 300 people zealously preserve their tradition and usages in everyday life.
The pattern of building is of the pouring type, with homes built one above the other, from hilltop down the slope and then on up once again, on the various promontories, yet reasonably distanced amongst them to allow for abundant sunlight to inundate their rooms and terraces. The higher one goes uphill, the denser the urban texture becomes, as if the houses struggle to keep themselves rooted and avoid getting carried away by the clouds that often cover the area.
Most homes are still decorated in the old way and women can be seen clad in their traditional costumes - scarves around the head and colourful, joyfully embroidered camisoles. The 57.5 distance separating Olympos from the town of Karpathos (direction North) can be covered either by boat to the port of Diafani and on by bus to the village or simply by car, via Mesochori.
A picturesque village of lovely houses overlooking the sea, down to the port of Aghios Nikolaos. There are 200 people living in Spoa that lies within 38 km NW from the town of Karpathos, from where one reaches the settlement through Mesochori.