This lovely little island between Rhodes and Crete is still a very genuine
place without any major tourism and friendly people. It is a great place
for windsurfers since it gets quite windy here which often keeps the
mosquitoes away, and keeps even the hot summer days enjoyable.
Half the island is harsh and inaccessible, the other is lush and idyllic. Some buildings are small and very genuine, others are modern. The same applies to the locals: many are modern and dressed accordingly, others wear more traditional clothes in bright colours. Even today in Karpathos can be found alive the folk tradition. The local songs, accompanied by traditional instruments like tsampouna, the lyra and the lauto you will often hear at weddings and festivals, in local cafes and restaurants.
This island is so varied and original that it is ideal for photographers and painters, and quite a few artists have taken refuge here. It might be a bit difficult to get here, but once you've made it you won't regret it.
Karpathos is mentioned by
Homer in the Iliad and the island might have been inhabited from
prehistoric times. According to legend, there lived the king of the
Titans, Iapetos, son of
Uranus (Heaven) and
Gaia (Earth). It was also
Athena sprung out of her father
It is very likely that the island was part of the kingdom of the Minoans of Crete in the 2nd millennium BC. The Dorians came from the north in the 9th century BC and settled here.
Although Homer supports the presence of the Achaeans, the island continued to be the center of the Minoan civilization at the end of the Bronze Age. Karpathos participated in the war against Troy. Later the island was colonized by Dorians who named the island Tetrapolis because it had 4 cities, the archaic names of these ancient cities survive until today for example Arkesia, which is close enough to the current Arkasa the Potidaion or Possideion near to modern Pigadia and elsewhere.
In the classical period Karpathos status and culture was high due to the proximity of the island with the port of Lindos of Rhodes. In 478 BC Karpathos became the first member of the Athenian alliance of Delos, but in 404 BC at the end of the Peloponnesian War, the island was dominated by the Spartans. In 42 BC Karpathos was conquered by the Romans. With the division of the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD Karpathos becomes part of the Byzantine Empire. At the time of the Emperor Heraklios Karpathos was part of the theme of Crete.
In the beginning of the 13th century the island (the called Sarpantos) came under Venetian rule after Constantinople had fallen, and in the 16th century the Turks followed. They stayed here until 1912, when the island was taken by Italy. In 1948 it was finally given back to Greece.
The great revival of Karpathos came in the 1980's, when many of the locals returned to the island after years abroad.
What to see
-The village Olympos
is a must!!! Because Karpathos was often raided by pirates, this little
village was camouflaged since the people built their houses with natural
stone. The village is also called "the Women's' Village") since the
women have been and are in majority: their men have either been out
fighting pirates and Turks, or forced to work abroad. There are also
many local customs here not to be found anywhere else in Greece.
Lefkos is a very pretty little fishing village that is worth a visit, or why not stay the night here. In Arkasa there is a church from the 5th century, Agia Sophia ("Holy Wisdom"). The village Aperi is located on a height of 320m, and used to be the capital, and it is very pretty with small churches, a little square and a fountain.
Menetes is a village in the mountains built during the Middle Ages. There are many churches here as well as an archaeological museum, and the view is breathtaking.
Vounos was likely a fortified castle in the Mycenaean times and was the ancient citadel of Posideon raised over the port of Karpathos. Today are existing only foundations of buildings and parts of cyclopean walls.
In Pigadia located the Cave of Poseidon in the area of Mili. This is a sculptured tomb or sanctuary. There are indications that in front of the tomb was a wooden building. Perhaps the sanctuary was dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite from the fact that they have found statues of Venus in the region. The cave of Poseidon is eroded by the continued use by sepherds. They also found tombs from the Minoan and Mycenaean era in the surrounding area. On the beach of Pigadia in the area Afoti are the ruins of an Early Christian basilica of St. Fotini.
What to do
:Karpathos is a great place for windsurfing and taking long walks. The snorkelling is also very good as well as the diving (there is also a diving school here). Explore the villages - they're very original. There are bus tours to Olympos. The island is also ideal for climbers because there are many climbing locations on the mountains..
Many agree that the best beaches are in Lefcos, where there is a
beach for nudists. In general, there are many beaches, coves and
rocky shores on the island, where you can swim . Karpathos has
many small beaches, sandy or with pebbles, which are away from
the crowds offering direct contact with the natural serenity and
The greater beach is in Pigadia, a sandy beach with clear water. In the south you will find the beaches of Amoopi and Makrygiallos. boats from the port can take you to the beaches of Kyra Panagia,the beach of Apella, Achata beach, Agios Nikolaos and Agios Minas beaches, Diafani and Vananta beach.
In Amoopi you will find clean blue beaches and crystal clear waters in Fokia and Lakki. In the small village Arkasa you will find the beautiful beaches aof Proini and Finiki , you can also enjoy the sea and the beach in Agios Nikolaos, one of the best beaches in Greece.
In the small village of Aperi will find Achata, a small cove with a pebble beach with blue and crystal clear waters. You can also swim in the beach of Kyra Panagia, which has many pine trees.
:Most bars and clubs are in Pigadia. The Greeks love staying out until late, but it hardly ever gets out of hand. You'll simply have a very good time. Karpathos also have bars and nightclubs with Greek and foreign music, covering the full range of nightlife.
The food served in many
restaurants are mainly traditional Greek cuisine of high quality. The local
specialty is pasta with onions called Makarounes. In Karpathos, you can try
traditional rusks from rye, sousamokouloura (sesam cookiees), avgokouloura,
psilokouloura, Makarouna, lachanopitia, drilla, the specialty Bizanti, a
local dish with lamb filled with rice and baked in a wood oven, Hontrs is
another local specialty with minced meat and wheat, the local aspic, and the
kavourmas. You should also try different kinds of bread that are made from
wheat and barley, eaten together with the spicy local cheeses, armotyri and
From sweets, taste the local baklava of Karpathos that is very different than the usual one, the myzithropita (myzithra cheese pie), the sisamopita (sesam pie), sitakopita , sousamomelo and xerotigana.
Apart from the many shops in Pigadia, where you can find newspapers, magazines, fashionable clothes and shoes (in some local traditional shoe shops you can order stivalia the traditional shoes of Karpathos), there are many shops in the villages of the island. You can find many souvenirs such as handmade textiles, painted ceramic plates, woodcut toys and kitchenware. You can also buy local honey, olive oil and wine.
There is a quite good network of buses connecting Pigadia with several beaches and villages. A special bus takes you to Olympos. There are also car and bike rentals, and small boats that can take you to various beaches and villages. Taxis are also available.
The airport doesn't take large airplanes, but there are flights to and from Athens Greece, Rhodes and Kassos. There are also ferryboats from Rhodes, Kassos and Crete
Facts about Karpathos
Size: Size: 300 sq. km
International code: 0030
Population: about 5500
Local code: 22450
Cash machine: yes
Health center: 22228
Internet cafe: Yes
Highest Mountain: Kali Limni, 1215 m
Port Police: 22227
Tourist Police: 22212
Price rate: cheap