20 Best Things to Do in Karpathos (Greece)

apella beach

Karpathos is a narrow and elongated rocky island, located between the islands of Rhodes and Crete, in the Southeast Aegean.

It is known for its superb climate with very long, dry and hot summers and mild winters.

It is the right place to spend your holiday, especially if you want to travel in spring or fall but still want to take advantage of your favourite beach activities and water sports.

Karpathos is one of the hottest places in Europe, together with Rhodes, Crete, Malta, Cyprus, Costa del Sol, Algarve and Sicily.

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The easiest way to get there is with a charter flight between April and October.

1. Spend a day in Pigadia

karpathos town at night
Karpathos town at night by chripell/Flickr

Pigadia is the main settlement on the island and is also known as Karpathos town.

Despite Arkaza is the main tourist center, locals recommend to spend at least a day in the lively port village.

Here you will find the ancient ruins of Agia Fotini, a number of great traditional local taverns and of course the small but busy yacht marina.

The beach is wonderful and the entire atmosphere of the village is very pleasant.

Most of the buildings are very well maintained and good-looking, so it is a very nice experience to walk around.

2. Windsurfing

windsurfing
Windsurfing by LEndy/YouTube

Karpathos is one of the top 10 best windsurfing destinations in Europe.

Because of its location in the Southeast Aegean, the island is quite windy throughout the year which is a blessing during the pretty hot summer season.

The windy coast attracts lovers of kitesurfing and windsurfing from across Europe.

Young people from different countries describe Karpathos as the Mecca of water sports.

This place is a good choice if you want to windsurf but have never tried before.

There are some great schools on the island, including Chicken Bay Windsurfing School on the west coast, in Arkaza.

3. Rent a boat to discover the secret gems

diafani tour with a boat
Diafani tour with a boat by pastitio/Flickr

There is a number of paradise beaches along the east coast of Karpathos.

Most of them, however, are quite isolated and difficult to reach by land.

The easiest way to get to almost any of them is by boat.

Fortunately, in Karpathos is easy to rent a boat at a reasonable price, especially if you go to Diafani.

The village is located in the northern half of the island so you can visit all the beaches along the northeastern shore.

The water in the most secluded and remote coves is very clean and smooth so you better bring your snorkeling equipment with you.

Very few people visit this part of the island so you can definitely find some solitude and privacy, even in July and August.

4. Swimming and snorkeling in Diakoftis

beach of diakoftis
Beach of Diakoftis by Anita Szeicz/Flickr

The best place to swim and snorkel in Karpathos are the beaches of Diakoftis.

They are two (one of them facing south and one facing to the east) and are located in the extreme south of the island, not far from the airport.

They are very tempting and attract snorkelers and divers from around the world with their white to pink sands, turquoise waters and exceptional visibility underwater reaching up to 40 – 50 meters.

5. Visit Menetes and the Folklore Museum

the folklore museum menetes
The Folklore Museum Menetes by TripAdvisor

Menetes is an old historical village in the heart of southern Karpathos.

It has remained practically unchanged over the last few centuries.

Low two-storey flat-roofed buildings dominate the silhouette of the village.

The main tourist attraction here is the popular Folklore Museum.

It offers a rich collection of traditional items of the everyday life of local people as well as different forms of decoration and embroidery.

6. Try the most popular local foods and drinks

taverna with scenic view
Taverna with scenic view by Anita Szeicz/Flickr

Karpathos is well-known for its old authentic tavernas, some of which have been opened in the early 20th century!

They keep old traditions and visiting some of them is the best way to discover the real taste of the Greek food.

Keeping in mind that Greece is one of the European countries with the greatest culinary variety, it is practically impossible to taste everything during your holiday.

This is why you should try at least the following foods and drinks:

Traditional local onion bread (kremidopsomo). The best one you can find in Olympus;

Greek salad (or village salad). It contains fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion, olives, olive oil, vinegar and cheese;

Boiled shrimps and lobsters, fried squid or grilled fish, garnished with fresh vegetables;

Traditional local yogurt (incredible taste and really healthy);

Musaka (one of the most delicious Greek meals, contains potatoes and minced meat);

Metaxa (traditional alcoholic drink);

Homemade makaronia (a kind of high quality pasta which locals produce at home);

Local cake with yogurt and honey;

Farizo (lentils and rice cooked together);

Cooked pumpkin baby flowers;

Kolokithopita (zucchini and cheese pie).

7. Swimming at Kira Panagia Beach

kira panagia beach
Kira Panagia beach by Anita Szeicz/Flickr

One of the best beaches of Karpathos is Kira Panagia.

It is located on the east coast of the island and is famous for the unique color of the sea.

The water along the coast is turquoise blue and offer visibility of more than 30 meters below the sea surface.

Usually the beach is very quiet, and large crowds of visitors are something quite uncommon here.

The reason is the isolated location of the beach.

Even if so beautiful, it is a bit remote and not easily accessible.

8. Spend a day in the village of Olympus

village of olympus
Village of Olympus by Kostas Limitsios/Flickr

Olympus is definitely the most interesting village on the island of Karpathos.

The first thing you will notice is its traditional architecture and white washed buildings with colorful doors, windows and decorated balconies.

One of the most impressive buildings is the main church.

The interior is just breathtaking!

The village is known with the fact that here live mostly women and fewer men.

This is the best place to visit if you want to explore the ancient traditions of Karpathos.

9. Visit Diafani – the main port to the north

diafani
Diafani by boaski/Flickr

Diafani is the most important settlement in the north of the island and still, it is a small village.

This is the main port town to the north and some of the ferryboats come here instead to Pigadia (Karpathos town) to the south.

It offers some very nice silver pebble beaches.

The water along the coast is smooth and emerald, great for swimming at least between April and October.

The village offers also a number of very good taverns to visit.

This is the place to try a glass of the fabulous local wine while enjoying the beauty of the Aegean.

10. If you love mountain biking

mountain view
Mountain view by pastitio/Flickr

The island of Karpathos offers a number of secluded routes to enjoy your favourite sport without being disturbed.

There is a large number of mountain trails to choose from and some of the most beautiful are those leading to the north.

You will drive your bike for miles without seeing anything else but spectacular landscapes.

Be prepared with food and water, however.

Most of the island is pretty deserted and wild so you won’t find any facilities outside the small villages.

11. Visit Agia Sofia Basilica

agia sofia basilica
Agia Sofia Basilica by TripAdvisor

Located in the coastal tourist town of Arkaza, Agia Sofia is a beautiful old chapel.

It consists of two buildings.

They are both small but impressive.

The basilica is whitewashed and is partially surrounded by a massive stone wall.

Apart from the basilica, you will be totally impressed by the stunning scenery of the area.

At a walking distance from the basilica you will find one of the top beaches to the west.

Agios Nikolaos Beach is an important tourist attraction and definitely worth a visit.

12. Agios Theodoros Beach

agios theodoros beach
Agios Theodoros beach by Ελληνικός Ήλιος/YouTube

Overhanging coastal cliffs protect Agios Theodoros Beach from the north.

This is a wonderful place, secluded and isolated.

You will find it in one of the most remote areas to the southwest.

With its emerald waters, the beach looks like an oasis amidst the spectacular semi-deserted landscape.

Because of the mostly rocky bottom, the water is crystal clear.

The visibility under water reaches up to about 40 meters.

13. The most beautiful beach of northern Karpathos

apella beach
Apella beach by Miemo Penttinen/Flickr

Locals say that Apella Beach is the most beautiful in the north of the island.

It is located on the eastern coast of Karpathos and is known for its scenic location.

Very high coastal rocks are overhanging the white large-grain sand.

Its crystal clear emerald water is usually smooth and perfect to swim.

Because of the lack of town and villages nearby, the beach is very quiet.

Only sometimes occasional day-trippers come by boats to spend the day here.

14. Cruise to Rhodes

cruise to rhodes
Cruise to Rhodes by linmtheu/Flickr

If you are on a holiday in Karpathos, you should take advantage of the opportunity to visit the neighbouring island of Rhodes.

The cruise boats or ferries depart from the ports of Diafani and Pigadia.

The ferry boat trip from Pigadia to Rhodes town lasts between 3 and 4 hours so it is recommended to spend in Rhodes at least a day.

This is a great way to get to know two of the most beautiful Greek islands.

15. St. Luke’s Cave Church

cave church of st. luke
Cave Church of St. Luke by TripAdvisor

Once a secret pirate’s shelter, St. Luke’s Cave Church is one of the most interesting places to visit in Karpathos.

It is located right next to Apella Beach, on the central east coast of the island.

The church dates back to the 13th century and is well-known for its frescoes.

The surrounding area is wonderful too.

It is covered by species of pine and evergreen broad-leaved Mediterranean trees.

16. Climb Kali Limni

kali limni
Kali Limni by Anita Szeicz/Flickr

If you are a hiking lover, you should definitely try to climb Kali Limni.

With its 1215 meters, this is the highest point on the island.

The place is rocky and barren but it is not so difficult to reach as it seems.

Kali Limni is located in the heart of the island, and for this reason, it reveals a breathtaking panorama toward the entire island.

Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you go there.

17. Lefkos Beach (Paralia Lefkou)

lefkos beach
Lefkos beach by Anita Szeicz/Flickr

Lefkos Beach (or also known as Paralia Lefkou) is located in the central share of the west coast of Karpathos.

It actually consists of three separate beaches – northern, middle and southern.

They are all quite famous for their turquoise smooth waters and are very good choice if you love to swim and snorkel.

The beaches of Lefkos are considered the best on the western side of the island.

After getting tired from the beach entertainment, you will be able to choose from a number of great cozy taverns and cafes along the coast.

18. Visit the deserted island of Saria

island of saria
Island of Saria by Nikos Patsiouris/Flickr

Located north of Karpathos, Saria is an uninhabited island which in the past was connected with the main island.

However, a powerful earthquake transforming them into two separate islands.

The landscape of Saria is semi-deserted.

The island is dominated by dry and barren mountain slopes, steeply descending into the sea.

The coastline is rocky, with only a few small coves which are good for swimming.

As it is uninhabited, the island is a shelter of many birds and species of marine animals.

Dolphins and seals often come near the coast and could be seen from the few tourists that visit the island.

19. Buy souvenirs to remind you of the island

souvenirs
Souvenirs by Melinda/Flickr

The small mountain village of Olympus is the best place in Karpathos to buy souvenirs from.

This is because the village is surprisingly well-preserved and has remained almost unchanged over the last few centuries.

Here you can find traditional craft works such as local embroidery for example.

If you need something more practical, you could buy local homemade soap or even traditional leather sandals.

20. Explore the far north (Avona, Vrykountas and Tristomo)

tristomo bay
Tristomo bay by steynard/Flickr

Heading north, you should be prepared because this part of the island is rarely populated and you will hardly find a shop to buy food or water from.

The most interesting spots in the far north are Avona, Vrykountas and Tristomo.

Avona

Avona is a small village, nestled in a fertile hollow and surrounded by barren hills and mountains;

Tristomo

Tristomo lies on the shore of a deep and narrow bay. This is a nice eco-tourism destination;

Vrykountas

Vrykountas is the ruins of an ancient settlement, which lies on a rocky peninsula.

Except the ruins, here is a small church, called St. John Vrykountas.

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