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AEGEAN ISLANDS

Escaping the crowds in Astypalea

Swathed in smooth turquoise waters, butterfly-shaped and located exactly where the Dodecanese meets the Cyclades, the island of Astypalea boasts as an idyllic destination for alternative holidays, which will give you a deep insight to the authentic Greek life.

 

With its quaint fishing villages, beautiful sun-drenched beaches and quiet bays, it is an ideal place for vacations and relaxation, especially when traveling with your family. The island beckons for unforgettable experiences, not only on its amazing beaches. With a rich cultural heritage and a wealth of things to do in its scenic town and the nearby areas, it promises delightful moments for all tastes!

 

A throwback to a gentler, slower, more elemental way of life, Astypalea is surprisingly easy to get to via Athens. The ferries from Piraeus are now using the remote Agios Andreas harbor on the north side of the island with a really spectacular view. Thanks to its massive Venetian castle and the whitewashed houses of Chora surrounding it, the approach to Astypalea by ship is beautiful.

 

So, hop on board and let’s get to know a little about this under-the-radar place that will live you at awe. Compared to other Greek islands you can enjoy the idyllic atmosphere without crowds and in perfect silence.

Chora is a cartoonishly Aegean blue and white town, a pretty cascade of cubes and alleys, dominated by the imposing Venetian Castle, built by the Querini family who established themselves there in 1207. Only by walking through Chora, one can reach the cross-vaulted entrance to the castle, where entrance is free. Inside there are mostly ruins, except for two churches - Panagia tou Kastrou near the entrance and Agios Georgios further down, the only two whitewashed buildings inside the Castle.

 

More than the food, or the buildings, the thing you’ll never forget about Astypalaia is the water. You will never see water this clear and blue, and the contrast with the surrounding cliffs makes it that much more surreal.

 

Set against the Castle, most of the travelers prefer the deep bay of Livadi, with waterfront cafes and taverns, and spread their mats beneath the trees in the sandy beach of Agios Konstantinos, while groups prefer the pebbled Tzanaki beach. If you really want to be alone, rent a motorboat from Maltezana, an old-time fishing village, and set route to Koutsomiti and Kounoupes and plunge into the turquoise waters and uninhabited tiny islets connected by a double-sided beach.

Alternatively, for more private dives, you can continue walking on pebbled coves neighboring chair. From Pera Gialos a summer boat is departing to the best beaches of the island, the Vatses, Kaminakia and St. John that sum up Astypalea perfectly.

 

The appeal of Astypalea seems somehow to be more than the sum of the natural beauty of the island, its manageable size, and the islanders' warmth. What sets it apart is its ability to slow even the most overwrought visitors down to the local pace, allowing them to stop long enough to enjoy its lost-in-time charm.

 

Will you give it a try…?

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