Karpathos, ( Carpathos )
is the second largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, in the southeastern Aegean Sea. High mountains, unspoiled scenery, traditional villages, blue clear waters and plenty of history. Together with the neighboring smaller Saria Island, it forms the municipality of Karpathos.
Karpathos has preserved much distinctiveness of dress, customs, and dialect, the last resembling those of Crete and Cyprus. Many women still wear traditional dress. Men and women sit separately at village festivals, where musicians play the bagpipes, lyre a plucked string instrument associated with ancient Greece and consisting of a U-shaped frame with a crossbar from which the strings stretch down to the soundbox and lute, singing in the style of their ancient ancestors.
The vast number of beaches, around 75 are on offer. Good beach variety of sand, pebble stone, and stunning beauty. The more popular and easily accessible beaches of Apella, (less than 16 km mountain road north of Pigadia) Kira Panagia, Achata, Amoopi, and Lefkos are ideal for families with full-service facilities such as tavernas and beach beds with umbrellas, whilst more secluded “magical” beaches such as Diakoftis and Agios Minas suits more the adventurous beach explorers.
Karpathos originally had only four villages, one of these was on the now uninhabited Island of Saria, but due to frequent raids by Arabs and the Saracens the Islanders dispersed and built the existing 11 main villages. Each and every village has its own character, history, and even dialect. (this text is part of a tourist presentation from 2015 by Karpathos Isl.)
Pigadia, (also known as Karpathos) the capital, and the main port. Located in the southeast of the Island with a population of around 2,500. Many of the visitors to Karpathos choose to stay in Pigadia. Most accommodation (hotels, apartments) is found here and at the beach resorts close to Pigadia, as Mikri and Megali Amopi. Shops, cafes, bakeries, restaurants, tavernas, especially down at the port. Post office, banks, supermarkets. Good town beach, 4 km long sandy beach with all the usual service. The port is rather picturesque. Ferry connections are ok, not brilliant for Island Hopping, domestic routes and links with Crete, Cyclades, and Dodecanese Islands. Boats to various beaches and Diafani depart from the port next to the ferry quay. If you arrive by air, the airport is around 17 km away from Pigadia.
The most famous village of Karpathos is the mountain village of Olympos, and it is also the most photogenic village. Pastel coloured houses cling on to the windswept mountainside, steep alleyways some narrow. Here the locals (400 inhabitants) are very proud of their tradition, It holds onto its ancient old dialect and customs, making Olympos a living museum. The women wear classical costumes daily, one for weekdays and a more colourful costume for celebrations. Olympos is located in the north of the Island. The driving distance around 44 km from Pigadia.
Diafani a fisherman’s village, located in the north of the island is the second ferry port. A beach, cafes, and tavernas. To drive around 50 km. There are boats from Pigadia that run up the coast to Diafani and at least one of the boats visits the inhibited Saria Island.
Villages in the south. On the way to the seaside resort of Arkasa (17 km from Pigadia) visit the Menetes Village (8 km from Pigadia) whitewashed street top of a hillside location. Arkasa once a traditional village is now a quiet resort dotted with hotels, cafes, and tavernas. The pleasant bay formed beach is named Agios Nicholas.
Don’t miss the mountainous village of Aperi, ( about 9km north of Pigadia) once known as a spiritual center and capital of the island. Climb up to the top of the hill where the ancient Acropolis of Karpathos lies and enjoy the stunning panoramic view.
Note to road users! Roads can be improved. Karpathos is a mountainous Island with many bends in the road. A positive note is that not that long ago the new tarmac road made it possible to drive from the south up to Olympus village and Diafani in the north.
How to get here
Be aware if you choose to travel to Karpathos from Athens-Pireaus (3 times a week) that the “sailing” time could be up to 20 hours
as you dock into several other Greek Islands during your journey. There are shorter “sailing” times (3-6 hours) from closer ports like Rhodes and from Crete (Heraklion and Sitia). Karpathos has two port, Diafani and the main port Pigadia.
Karpathos International Airport (AOK) is located on the southern side of the island, Afiartis region. Domestic flights from Athens for approximately 1 hour. In the summer there are also a few European charters and International flights. Travelling distance to Pigadia is around 14-15 km.
Local bus or taxi from the airport.
Local buses are not scheduled for Island routes until May and to October. Facebook page will be kept updated with timetables and other useful information. Facebook link here.
Karpathos Airport taxi on Ihatetaxis.com, here is the web page link.
Check ferry availability and book your tickets here