Karpathos is a rugged Dodecanese island that features wild mountains in the north and beautiful beaches in the south. In Greek mythology it was home to The Titans, the mighty giants whom Zeus had to defeat before establishing Mount Olympus. Karpathos is an ideal island for tourists looking for “the real Greece”.
Karpathos is comprised of distinct northern and southern areas. In the north, tourists can explore the mountain villages. Due to its higher altitude, northern Karpathos is full of trees and flowers in the wild mountains. A rocky road winds through the mountains and the area is excellent for hikers looking to explore.
To find a true traditional Greek experience, head to Olympos (Sometimes spelled Olymbos) where women wear traditional attire and the locals speak with a dialect containing traces of ancient Dorian Greek. The village is ideal for day-trippers and is at its quietest during the early morning and late day. The village is perched on the ridge of Mt. Profitis and offers excellent views. The festival mass of St. Panagia is held every August when everyone in the village dresses in traditional garb while enjoying the feast and celebration.
Diafani is a more remote fisherman village in the north, but is beautiful with its mountainous backdrop. The wharf is a ferry destination and there is a daily boat from Pigadia in the south. It’s the starting point for hikes and walks to Vananda Beach, the Hellenistic site of Vroukounda, and the agricultural village of Avlona.
Southern Karpathos is where you’ll find the best sandy beaches on the island to wander, dispersed among charming villages. Menetes, set high up in the cliffs, is worth a short visit. From the church there are great views of the hills below and the sea in the distance.
Arkasa has become a resort village and features Agios Nikolaos Beach. However, there’s lots more to explore. In the area is the remains of the 5th century Basilica of Agia Sophia. Two chapels stand amid mosaic fragments and columns. There is also an ancient acropolis.
Picturesque Finiki, north of Arkasa, is a typical Aegean village. It features white and blue houses along the small beach and harbor. This is where you’ll find Agios Georgios Beach and Kamarakia Beach.
Lefkos, on the far west coast along the Sea of Crete, is a summer resort village. Lefkos Beach is quite popular. Nearby are the underground remains of a Roman cistern.
The airport on Karpathos is accessible via Athens, Kasos, Sitia, and Rhodes. Ferry service runs from many nearby islands. Pigadia is the transportation hub of the island where there are daily excursion boats and buses serve most areas in southern Karpathos, although there is no bus service to the northern villages of Olympos or Diafani.