You can get around Karpathos island in Greece by bus, car, taxi, boat trip, or hiking the numerous trails. Here is all the information you need to travel around and see more of Karpathos.
Getting around Karpathos island in Greece
Karpathos is one of the Dodecanese islands in Greece. It is located in the South Aegean Sea, between Rhodes and Crete.
The island is known for its incredible beaches and scenic wild landscapes. It is a favourite destination with hikers, windsurfers, divers, and anyone who likes wild nature.
There are many ways to travel around Karpathos. Whether you want to rent a car or use buses or taxis, this guide shows you the best ways to get around Karpathos.
Ways to get around Karpathos Greece
Once you have decided where you are staying and what to do in Karpathos, here are the main ways to see the island:
- Use the network of public buses to get to some of the towns and beaches
- Rent a car, scooter or ATV for more flexibility and to visit the more remote areas
- Choose one of the boat tours and explore the island’s incredible beaches and Saria island
- Use a taxi service
- Hike around the numerous trails in Karpathos and wander around the various towns and villages
Let’s explore further the best ways to get around when visiting Karpathos!
1. Use the public buses to travel around Karpathos
The public bus system, known as KTEL bus in Greek, is a straightforward and inexpensive way to get around Karpathos – or, at least, some areas.
The main bus station in Karpathos is in Pigadia, the island’s capital and main port town, and it’s located on 28 October street. Here is where all buses depart from to all areas of the island.
Buses in Karpathos will take you to the main towns and villages, and some of the most popular and beautiful beaches. Ticket prices vary from about 2 to 7.50 euro, depending on the route. As an example, a single trip to Ammopi costs 2.50 euro.
You can get your ticket at the bus station, or on the bus itself. When on the bus, you can only pay cash, so try to have exact change, or at least small notes, if possible. You can only pay by credit / debit card at the bus station.
Buses in Karpathos are not so frequent
The main downside with buses in Karpathos is that, unlike other islands, they are not as frequent as you’d hope.
Ammopi is the best connected area with Pigadia, as there are a few services per day during the tourist season.
Some of the Karpathos bus routes only run a few times a week. This includes the routes to some great beaches such as Ahata beach, Apella beach and Kyra Panagia beach.
Depending on where you are staying and what you want to do in Karpathos, the bus might not be a suitable option. As an example, buses from Pigadia to Arkasa or Finiki village are very infrequent. Also, keep in mind that, as bus services are not so frequent, buses can get very busy.
All in all, if you want to explore Karpathos at your own pace, you’ll be much better off hiring your own vehicle, which is what many tourists do.
Karpathos bus timetables
Bus timetables in Karpathos change every month or so, with more services running during peak season.
At the time of writing, there doesn’t seem to be an official website for the Karpathos buses. The best place to find recent bus information before your trip is this unofficial FB page.
When you are on the island, you can either ask at Pigadia station, or check at the bus stops on the island, where you can find a printout of the timetable.
Buses to Olympos village
One of the most popular places to visit in Karpathos is Olympos village. It is known for its women, who still wear traditional clothes, and is often described as “frozen in time”.
As a result, Olympos has become famous, and it’s one of the highlights of Karpathos. This means that it’s more touristy than descriptions will have you believe.
In my opinion, there are many other traditional villages in Greece that are much less affected by tourism. Still, Olympos is definitely worth seeing when you are in Karpathos.
Buses run between Pigadia and Olympos several times per week. A one-way ticket cost 7.5 euros, and travel time is about an hour and a half. Keep your eyes open, as the landscapes that you’ll see on the way are really fantastic!
2. Hire a rental car, scooter or ATV in Karpathos
If you are happy to drive in Greece, the best way to explore Karpathos is to hire your own rental car, ATV or scooter. Much of the island is easily accessible by road.
And while a car hire is not necessarily the cheapest option to get around Karpathos, it is probably the most convenient.
A car, often in combination with walking or hiking, is ideal if you want to visit the more remote villages, or discover some beautiful undeveloped beaches away from the crowds. If you want to get to the more remote beaches, it’s actually best to rent a jeep, as normal cars can’t go everywhere.
Apart from a car, some people like renting ATVs / quads or scooters. If you rent any of those, make sure to use plenty of sunblock on your arms and legs, as the distances in Karpathos are quite long. Also, be mindful of the strong winds, especially if you are up on the mountains.
As the distance from south to north Karpathos is quite long, it’s a good idea to pre-plan some of your itineraries. This way, you can make the most of your time.
Where to rent a car, ATV or scooter in Karpathos
Discover Cars is a fantastic platform where you can compare various rental car companies. That makes it easy to plan your booking in advance of your trip at very competitive prices.
Furthermore, there are several car rental companies on the island, including Karpathos island national airport. If you are travelling during the off-season, you could easily book a vehicle on the spot.
For example, you can check out Sofia’s Car Rentals, Auto Union Car Rental, Margarita Rent A Car and Billy’s Rent A Car.
Cost of car rentals in Karpathos
Like everywhere in Greece, the price of a rental can vary a lot. It depends on the type of vehicle, the season, and the number of days you want it for.
As a rule, July and August (the high season) are the most expensive months to rent a car in Karpathos. Still, if you book the vehicle for several days, you will typically get some sort of discount.
You can check rental vehicles here: Discover Cars.
Tips on driving in Karpathos
If you are happy to drive on winding roads, you will love Karpathos. Most of the roads on the island are paved, and are generally in good condition. Driving in Karpathos will reward you with incredible views of the beautiful landscapes.
One thing you should be aware of in Karpathos, is that parking spots are usually outside the towns and villages. This means that you might have to park the car at a designated parking area, and continue on foot. So, please make sure that you only park where permitted.
The village roads in Karpathos are often very narrow. Be very mindful of children playing on the streets, pedestrians and other vehicles. You will often find that signposts are nowhere to be seen, so drive slow just in case.
Make sure your licence covers you to drive in Greece, and make sure you get full insurance, in case something goes wrong!
Here is some more information about driving in Greece.
3. Take a boat trip to the best beaches in Karpathos
With its stunning beaches, Karpathos is a fantastic place to explore on a boat. It has some of the most spectacular beaches in the Aegean Sea!
From May to September, there are a few cruises departing from Pigadia port. Beaches where those tours stop include Achata, Kyra Panagia and Apella beach.
Depending on the time of year you visit, you might need to make a ticket reservation on the night prior to your trip. During the shoulder season, you should be fine booking it last minute.
As prices vary from year to year and from one cruise to another, it’s best to ask around when you are at the port.
Boat trip to Saria island
North of Karpathos, lies the uninhabited island of Saria. It is a protected area, and it’s only reachable via boat.
Saria island offers fantastic beaches and caves for diving, snorkelling or just swimming. There are also some great hiking paths where you’ll likely be on your own.
You can take a boat trip to Saria from either Pigadia, the main port, or Diafani, a smaller port on the north-east coast of Karpathos.
These boat trips offer transportation, plus an optional meal. You will need to take all your essentials with you as there are no services available on the island. So, bring plenty of water, perhaps a couple of snacks and sunscreen.
I took the Chrisovalandou boat to Saria and really enjoyed swimming in those crystal clear waters! The ship owner Nikos, his mother Fotini and the rest of the crew were great to spend the day with.
Going to Olympos by boat and bus
It’s worth noting that the day trips from Pigadia to Saria also stop at the smaller port of Diafani on the north. From there, you can take a short bus ride to Olympos village.
This is another option if you want to visit Olympos but prefer not to drive or take the bus. However, it would be a shame to miss out on the awesome landscapes that you will see if you go by road!
4. Take a taxi in Karpathos
Another way to get around Karpathos is to take a taxi. This will save you from driving on the winding roads.
Taxis in Karpathos are painted silver-gray, and operate at fixed prices. You should be able to find a current pricelist at the main taxi stop in Karpathos town.
As you would expect, a taxi is more expensive when compared to public transport. After all, Karpathos is the second largest island in the Dodecanese, and distances can be pretty long.
As an example, a one-way taxi ride from the main city of Pigadia to Olympos costs around 100 euro, whereas the bus fare only costs 7.50.
With that said, the amount you will be charged will be the same for 1-4 passengers. If you are travelling as a group of 4 people, the cost of a taxi would be affordable for many of the routes.
You can also check this local company, that provides private transfers in Karpathos. I have no personal experience, but they come highly recommended.
5. Hike around Karpathos island Greece
Karpathos is a perfect getaway for hikers. You can spend several days (or weeks!) exploring the well marked trails on the northern part of the island.
We spent a few nights in Diafani port town, and met a few people who were there mainly to go hiking. This is also a good base to explore some of the island’s hidden beaches that can be reached on foot.
Terrain Maps have created a fantastic hiking map of Karpathos and Kasos, which you should also be able to buy when you are on the island.
We really enjoyed hiking to the ancient city of Vroukounta, to the north west of Karpathos. But there are several hiking paths, suitable for beginners or more experienced hikers.
And even if you are not a hiker, if you want to explore the villages in Karpathos there is only one way – on foot! Leave your vehicle outside the village, and wander around the narrow streets, exploring the vibe and the architecture.
How to get to Karpathos island Greece
Karpathos has a small airport, which is located at the southern part of the island.
In spring, summer and autumn, various airlines operate regular and charter flights to and from Karpathos Airport.
Some of the European cities you can fly directly from to Karpathos include Rome, Milan, Bergamo, Vienna, Düsseldorf, Munich, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Prague.
In addition, there are year-round domestic flights connecting Karpathos with the Athens international airport, as well as the nearby islands of Rhodes and Kasos.
By booking in advance, you can easily find affordable flights, especially when traveling outside July and August.
Another option if you are visiting Athens on the same trip, is to take the ferry from Piraeus to Karpathos. The Blue Star Ferries run this route year-round, and they take anywhere from 14 to 18 hours, so flying makes more sense if you are pushed for time.
You can check routes on Ferryscanner.
Island hopping from Karpathos
If you are planning to island hop in Greece, you can arrive in Karpathos, travel between the islands on the ferries, and fly home from another Greek island with an airport, like Rhodes or Kos.
And remember that Karpathos has two main ports, Pigadia and Diafani. Most ferries go to Pigadia, but some routes pass by Diafani as well.
You can check ferry routes and book your tickets on Ferryscanner.
Here is my complete guide on how to get to Karpathos.
FAQs about getting around Karpathos island
Here are some of the questions people who visit Karpathos often ask:
Is there public transportation in Karpathos?
Karpathos has public buses that cover the main towns, villages and beaches. Some of the bus routes, however, are not very frequent.
Do you need a car on Karpathos island?
Unless you are planning to stay at one or two places for the duration of your stay on the island, a car is the best way to fully explore Karpathos.
Does Uber operate in Karpathos?
No, Uber does not operate in Karpathos, and is unlikely to operate in the near future. However, taxis from the town center have set prices.
How do I get from Karpathos island national airport to Ammopi?
The best ways to get from Karpathos airport to Ammopi are by rental vehicle or taxi. Public buses from the airport are very infrequent.
More guides about the Greek islands
I hope you’ve enjoyed this travel guide! Here are a few more articles that you might be interested in:
- Where is Karpathos
- Introduction to the Greek island groups
- Island hopping in Greece on a budget
- Why I fell in love with Kasos island
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens and my mission is to visit all the Greek islands. I’ve been to about 65 or 70, but there are many more! Karpathos has some of the prettiest beaches I’ve seen in Greece, and the waters are the definition of “crystal clear”! Follow me on FB for more Greek-related news, photos and trivia!