Best 10 beaches in Astypalea
Astypalaia where? That was the comment I received from most of my friends when I talked about my next destination in Greece. Indeed, a remote and beautiful island, however not one on the main radar.
In this post, you will see all the beautiful Astypalaia beaches and also a full guide to the island, with a few tips on the top restaurants.
Table of Contents
I did my first trip to Greece a long time ago when the Internet was a rare thing to have.
My first experience was in Santorini and Ios, and from there I explored many other islands. By now I have visited most of the islands and the mainland too. I also lived in Athens for 6 months, my base for lots of local tours.
What is the most beautiful thing about Astypalea (also spelt as Astypalaia)?
I think it is its isolation from the rest of Greece.
For other destinations in Greece, you should check out this guide to the best places to visit in Greece.
Best Astypalaia beaches
Let’s start by saying that the island has not that many sealed roads. The main one goes from west of Livadi Beach to Analipsi (less than 10km).
There are also a bunch of small winding roads that can take you to isolated beaches and to the main port.
If you want to experience the island, you may want to rent either a scooter or a car (more on this later).
Do not be afraid to drive on the unsealed roads. Most of them are perfectly fine. I rode all around the island with a little scooter and I never experienced any problem.
Of course, it all depends on how wet was the winter and how that ruined the unsealed roads.
What is the worst-case scenario? Easy, the road is not usable anymore and you will have to go back. Just make sure to have always enough petrol.
Drive around 5km west of Astypalea Town and you will arrive in Livadi.
It is a small village which is very popular with its beach life.
Most of the accommodations are meters away from the sea and restaurants and this is what makes Livadi so popular with the tourists
I have spent there a couple of afternoon relaxing and reading my book, definitely a great quiet place with few facilities.
You can also have an active day with some trekking to the island dam, probably around 10 km away. You never know what you can meet in the countryside.
Kaminakia Beach is reachable through unsealed road or by boat. The beach was great, however, the trip that took me there was even better.
I rode my scooter up and down a few hills and through amazing switchbacks from where I experienced one of the best views of Astypalaia town.
If you are on the island and you have a spare afternoon, rent a vehicle and have a go. There is a lovely restaurant too.
This is another quiet small village metres away from the airport. It is super quiet and still with a fishermen’s population.
Go there for a visit to the local pier and if you want to rent a boat to navigate to the close-by islands of Chondro and Glino.
This is my favourite beach for some quiet time reading my book on the sunbed.
There is a small pier from where you can have a dive. Worthless to say that the water is to die for.
My only daily activity was the short walk (less than 10 meters) to the restaurant for some fresh and extraordinary food…..and beer obviously:).
This is an afternoon trip to explore the northeast of the island. There is also a small church, Agios Nikolaos, that you can visit with a short walk.
This area is favoured by nudists
Probably the most beautiful beach close to Chora, around 10 minutes from the main town, by either scooter, car, bus or the new AstyBus system (more on this later)
Steno Bay is well repaired from the northerly strong wind (the Meltemi) that can be very annoying in July and August.
On the right side of the beach there is a small Taverna that provides exquisite and reasonably priced food.
For around 10euro, you can also get 2 sunbeds and an umbrella.
On the left side there is a more high end organised bar with very comfy sunbeds (beach mattresses) and the iconic water swing.
They have often a DJ or chilled out music.
The central section is free for everyone.
The beach is very shallow and ideal for families with little kids.
There is beautiful fine sand and rocks on the side which is great for some snorkelling.
This is one of the two amazing beaches you can access only by boat (the other one is Kounoupa Beach).
It’s a relatively short trip from Astypalea, around 45 minutes and, if you join the organised tour, it makes a great half/full day experience, including a swim in the spectacular Red Rocks cave and the double beach of Kounoupa.
The highlight of Koutsomiti is not actually the beach, pebble and small, but the water, of the best turquoise colour you can imagine.
I highly suggest 20-30 minutes of snorkelling around, the best way to enjoy this hidden corner of Astypalea
This is a double beach that you can access with the same organised tour of Koutsomiti/Red Rocks.
It is a 45 minutes trip from the main port of Astypalea.
The beach connects two tiny islands, and you will have two sides where you can stay.
The southern side, next to the beach bar, is the most popular place, mostly because it is partially sandy and easier to get into the sea.
The other side is with pebbles and usually more waves too, facing the northerly Meltemi wind.
The beach bar has also a bunch of sunbeds for free (but you will have to have lunch there – consumption other 15 euro).
The water on both sides is once again spectacular and the snorkelling on the souther side is unique.
As you swim out, try to stay close to the big red cliff where you will find tiny coves and a more spectacular seabed.
Vathi is the northernmost settlement. Just a few houses and a little port. A restaurant is also available.
Again, it’s more for an exploration day than a beach destination as such, although you can find a few tiny coves to have a swim.
On the way to Vathi, you can also experience the ruins of an old furnace, probably reminiscence of an industrial settlement, actually an interesting site to visit, considering you are on an otherwise touristy island.
More on the island
Astypalaia town (Chora)
As it happens in most of the Greek islands, the main town is named after the island (or vice-versa?).
Astypalaia town is a beautiful waterfall of typical white Greek houses that start on the top of a hill, where you will find the Castro (castle), to finish down in the small local port.
A bay of amazing beauty, completely repaired by the winds coming from the north.
The beach at the pier is not the most amazing one, however, the architecture of Astypalaia will for sure grab your attention.
This is the town I would suggest to stay if you like to experience the typical Greek island scenery.
This island is not that touristy and this means you will be quite likely to experience the real local life.
The alleys and lanes of this town can be pretty steep and they can take you suddenly in an expected and beautiful tiny square as well as to an amazing viewpoint where you can admire the never-ending Aegean Sea or the coastlines to either the north or the east of Astypalaia.
The highest point of the town is the castle. Plan a visit just before sunset time for the best light
Walking in these lanes is an activity by itself. It does not require a high level of fitness however it is not either an easy walk.
Most of the restaurants and bars are around the mills’ area, where the street is closed to the traffic, creating a beautiful square that gets “crowded” in the late stage of the day, with live music and many open-air food options.
If your accommodation is not in town, try to spend at least an evening here. Taxis are available to drive you through the island.
Panagia Portaitissa is actually in Astypalaia town however it deserves a section by itself.
It was built in the 18th century by Anthimos, an Athonite monk, who worked on many other churches in the Aegean Sea.
The attention to the details in the construction is quite impressive. Ornaments are everywhere. Really outstanding. How can you not enjoy a visit here?
This church hosts the icon of Panagia Portaitissa, the Guardian of the hearth
If you are here around the 15th of August (book well in advance) you will experience a big celebration of Portaitissa.
This is the most famous festival in the island with violins, lutes and lots of local music. Great fun for sure.
Where did I sleep
I decided to stay in Astipalea town. I really wanted to be based there to have more opportunities for my photography at sunset and sunrise.
There are, however, other areas that be better for your style of holiday. You can read my full guide to the best villages and areas to stay in Astypalea.
I decided to book at Aphrodite Studios. I read so many great feedback and honestly, after my stay, I can only suggest it. I had also the lift from the airport to the studios included in the price, besides an almost daily supply of freshly cooked cake and biscuits.
I really felt a part of the family with daily talks and suggestions on the best spots to visit.
How to get around Astypalea
My transportation experience in Astypalea has been somehow a hit and miss.
I visited the island on two occasions, the first time in June and the second time in peak season, mid of August.
In June you will easily find scooters and cars to rent on the go.
In fact, I could bargain between a couple of shops for the best price and quality of the vehicle.
In August, and generally speaking, peak season, I highly suggest booking your car and scooter in advance by contacting directly the rental agency.
You can easily google these agencies and email/call them.
They can leave the car straight at the port or airport.
You can easily find a taxi in June, much less so in July/August (waiting time may be up to 60-90 minutes)
There is a timetable for busses but they are not totally reliable, based on my experience.
The busses are run by privates that tend to skip stops based on where they can make more money (I was said).
I personally got stranded once, without the scheduled bus.
AstyBus is a new service started in June 2022.
You need to download an App (AstyMove) and you can book a shared car (similar to Uber).
The fleet is based on VW Electric Cars, which is great.
I would love to say that AstyBus is flawless but it has its own problems, with the cars arriving later than expected, sometimes up to 45 minutes, again based on personal experience.
The problem is more related to the App itself giving a default 15 minutes waiting time, independently from where the cars are actually located.
Hopefully, the new App release will address this problem.
You will get to share the car (4 seats + driver) with other passengers.
Overall, you will be able to get around Astypalea without a rented car/scooter but you will not have any certainty about the travelling time, and a simple 20 minutes trip may take up to 90 minutes or more, again based on personal experience.
Rent a car or motorbike in Astypalaia
I start saying that the island can be relatively windy. Also, the road network is quite winding.
If you feel confident driving a scooter or a motorbike in these conditions, then it is the best solution to explore Astypalea island.
There are a few shops down at the Astypalea town port. I had a great price for a weekly rent.
I was surprised myself, but that happened in June because in August I could not even find available ones.
The alternative is to rent a car. A small one is ok, better if 4WD in case you want to explore the whole island.
How to arrive in Astypalaia
It was time to visit this beautiful island I have read so much about it.
There are two ways to arrive in Astypalea, by boat or aeroplane.
If you decide to fly, then you will arrive at JTY, an acronym used for the small Astypalaia airport.
To give you an idea about the airport size, just think that the opening and closing time is based on the arrival time of the flights, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Once the passengers leave the airport, the keeper closes the main gate with a chain and see you later.
Really fascinating. It gives you straight away a sense of isolation from the world.
If you decide to take a boat, the experience is quite similar. You will arrive in a port which is active uniquely when the tourists arrive or leave.
The Ferry terminal is located on the North Coast, a side of the island which can be quite windy through the summer.
The Meltemi wind blows from around the end of May till the end of September, with the strongest gusts in July.
Most of the settlements are on the South coast and the Meltemi is probably the reason for that.
Update: the ferries now go to Astypalea town and not anymore to the ferry terminal on the north coast that has structural issues that need to be addressed.
Photography in Astypalaia
Certainly, there is no lack of photography opportunities in Astypalea.
I decided to travel light and I took with me only one zoom lens, a 24-120mm f/4, beside a Nikon camera, which certainly it is not a light camera LOL
Going back, I would probably take with me also a quick prime lens in the 40-50mm range as the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
That would have helped with some travel-street photography, so many interesting and characteristic people around, everyone with the own story.
Although my Greek is not that great, I could still have a small chat, and they did appreciate my effort.
I felt like the 24-120mm was on the big side and a bit intimidating. Also, the narrow depth of field of the 50mm is amazing, a great buy if you are looking for a similar solution.
What are the places I loved to photograph?
Astypalaia town was the spot I liked the most, and that is why I suggest looking for accommodation in this area.
So many little corners and lanes to explore.
Typical Greek island colours all around; blue and green on the doors and windows, red and purple on the flowers. Amazing contrast.
You have two great points of view.
The first one from the castle down to any direction.
The second one from the hill opposite Astypalea. It’s quite a long walk from the town, but definitely worth the effort.
I tried also some night photography down at the local beach. Just worth the visit to the restaurant LOL
If you venture out of Astypalaia town, I suggest a visit to the viewpoint from the top of the switchbacks, after Livadi.
My biggest photography regret? I should have shot more portraits of the interesting local people.
Correct spelling of Astypalaia
I have seen the spelling of this island in 2 ways: Astypalaia and Astypalea.
Which one is correct? Probably both.
The name in Greek letters is Αστυπάλαια which, in Latin letters, is Astypalaia. However, the pronunciation is Astypalea. I have used both in this guide. Either way, it’s an awesome island to visit, a bit harder to reach 😉 .
Map of the island
For an interactive Google Map click here