The second-largest island of the Dodecanese, Karpathos is a picture of wild, untouched beauty.
Once you’ve driven around the island, explored its stunning beaches and taken in the unique geology that surrounds you, you’ll feel like part of a secret club of those who have been fortunate enough to visit this very special part of Greece.
Written by Gina Lionatos
Taking in the beauty of Apella beach
The road to Apella beach along the east coast of the island boasts a view of deep blue that sets the tone for the beaches of this island. Somewhere on the road from Kyra Panagia beach to Apella is a section of the road where you can stop the car and take in the beauty of Apella from above. After taking in the majestic bird’s eye view of the turquoise sea lapping against white rocks, drive down the winding road towards the nearby taverna and head the rest of the way on foot. Once you pass through the rocky corridor leading to the beach, find a spot to leave your things and, quite simply, forget about them. You’ll spend the rest of your time floating blissfully in the salty, clear water that will softly nudge you into vacation mode. Insider tip: Apella is, with good reason, a popular beach. Get in early or on a weekday to enjoy this spot without the masses that often follow.
Strolling through the village of Menetes
The village of Menetes sits between the two coasts of Karpathos. Its alleys lined with colourful homes perched upon the mountain make for a magical late afternoon walk. As the sun starts to set slowly, it leaves a soft glow on the colours of peach, pink, lemon yellow and soft blue. Once you’ve strolled through the town, head to the Church of the Assumption for a picture-perfect view of the town in all its colourful glory.
Lunching at Folia Taverna
Spoa is a small, slow-moving village, and that is exactly how the locals like it. Folia Taverna is the quintessential village taverna, serving up classic dishes like souvlaki, fried garidakia (baby prawns) and calamari. Spoa’s close proximity to the small port of Agios Nikolaos means that the seafood is freshly caught, and it also means you have the perfect swimming spot before or after your lunch. The balcony at Folia boasts sweeping views of the village and sea below, however, there is a more authentic local experience to be had at the street-side tables which are usually frequented by the older inhabitants of the village who spend the afternoon in discussion over a beer.
Swimming at Diakoftis beach
Also dubbed “Paradise beach”, Diakoftis is a beach that lives up to its name. Slightly tricky to find (drive around and behind the airport and take the bumpy road all the way to its end), the reward is a pristine stretch of turquoise that could leave you thinking you’ve been magically transported to the Maldives. Lined with soft white sand, the beach of Diakoftis has two sides to choose from and both promise clear, slightly cooler water. Insider tip: try to plan your trip to Diakoftis on a less windy day for maximum enjoyment.
Chasing the sunset along the west coast
After taking a late-afternoon dip at the beautiful Lefkos beach, hop in the car and follow the road along the west coast of the island. The low sunlight throws a magical glow on the rocky landscape of the island and leads you all the way to the traditional village of Olympos, where time seems to have stood still. Aside from the ladies dressed in traditional Karpathian costumes selling trinkets, you’ll find a sunset that’s so breathtaking, that even the locals stop what they’re doing to take the view in.
Sampling the local speciality – Makarounes
When the Italians invaded Karpathos in the early 1900s, they brought with them their love of pasta. Makarounes is the Karpathian combination of handmade pasta and local Greek cheese. A soft, curled pasta made from flour and water, Makarounes are usually served with sautéed onions and topped generously with grated sheep’s or goat’s cheese. Makarounes are found on almost every menu in Karpathos and must be tried at least once. You can also find them dried and available to buy in packets throughout the island to take home with you.
Spending a blissful day at Mikri Amoopi beach
For a day of doing absolutely nothing other than relaxing by the most crystal clear beach you can imagine, head directly to Mikri Amoopi beach. Located next to the larger Amoopi beach, Mikri Amoopi is a smaller bay with a handful of sun beds, often nabbed early in the day. There’s a tavern and a hotel restaurant nearby, which is a good thing because once you arrive at Mikri Amoopi, you’ll want to stay all day.