Some of the best things to do in Karpathos Greece include swimming, hiking, exploring, and immersing yourself in the culture and culinary traditions of the island. Here is what to do in Karpathos island Greece.
Best things to do in Karpathos Greece
Are you planning to visit Karpathos for your summer vacation?
Located in the Aegean Sea, Karpathos Island in Greece is an upcoming destination. It is known for its incredible beaches, natural beauty, and rich traditions.
Karpathos offers an array of unforgettable experiences. It is ideal for travelers seeking an authentic Greek island adventure in the Dodecanese.
Whether you are interesting in swimming and hiking, or you are interested in traditional Greek culture, Karpathos island will steal your heart!
So, here are the top things to do in Karpathos Greece.
1. Explore the stunning beaches in Karpathos, like Apella or Kyra Panagia
Karpathos is renowned for its truly amazing beaches, which are among the best in Greece. The island boasts crystal-clear waters, golden sands, secluded coves and sea caves.
From the more developed southern side to all the remote corners of the island, there’s a large number of beaches to enjoy on your holiday.
The iconic Kyra Panagia, with its turquoise waters and scenic surroundings, is the most photographed beach on the island of Karpathos.
In my opinion though, one of the best beaches in Karpathos is Apella. It’s a truly incredible beach with fine sand and small pebbles. There are loungers and umbrellas on the one side, and plenty of free space on the other side for anyone who wants to sit under the trees.
Other famous beaches in Karpathos include Achata, Agios Nikolaos Arkasa, Agios Nikolaos Spoa, and the coves at Amoopi. These are all easily accessible and ideal for all types of travelers.
However, there are also several secluded beaches such as Agios Minas, Papa Mina, Aperi, and so many more.
Allow at least a week on the island if you want to check out some of the prettiest beaches in Karpathos. If you are really a beach person, like me, two weeks is even better!
Here is my guide on the best beaches in Karpathos.
2. Enjoy an evening stroll around the capital, Pigadia
The capital town of the island of Karpathos is called Pigadia. This is the biggest town, and also the main ferry port in Karpathos.
Granted, the architecture in Pigadia is not as interesting as in some other main towns in the Dodecanese, like for example Rhodes or Symi. Some of the buildings are modern, and not visually appealing. Regardless, the town itself is charming and relaxed.
Wander along the lively harbor area, and explore the backstreets, where locals and tourists gather to socialize. Here, you will discover several shops selling unique items, perfect for finding souvenirs from Greece.
For a peaceful break, head to the church of Agios Nikolaos, which offers beautiful views of the town. It’s only a short walk from the main promenade in Pigadia.
At nightfall, Pigadia lights up, and is the ideal setting for a leisurely stroll. Sit for a meal or drink, and feel the town’s laid-back ambiance with a view of the sea.
Here is some more information about Pigadia Karpathos, including where to eat and where to stay.
3. Visit Olympos village in Karpathos
Outside Pigadia, Karpathos is dotted with charming villages. Each of them has its own distinct character and allure.
Undoubtedly, the most popular village in Karpathos is Olympos. This is a remote settlement up on the mountains, which features in every single Karpathos guide.
Arguably, Olympos has a touristy element, as there are many souvenir shops, tavernas and rooms to let. Yet, you can still experience the rich tradition and local culture.
Olympos is one of the very few places in Greece where some women still wear traditional costumes in their everyday life. The custom has been passed on from generation to generation.
Take your time to explore Olympos Karpathos. Wander through the cobbled streets and steep staircases, and enjoy the incredible views out to the mountains and the sea. Here is my full guide to Olympos Karpathos.
Other villages in Karpathos include Menetes, Aperi, Othos and Piles. Diafani, a coastal village on the northern side of Karpathos and the island’s secondary port, is also ideal if you like peace and quiet!
4. Watch the sunset from the ancient city of Arkasa
Located on the west coast of Karpathos, you will find the small town of Arkasa. This popular coastal resort stands on the grounds of ancient Arkesia, a city which thrived thousands of years ago.
Squeezed between the two main beaches in Arkasa, you will see the ancient acropolis of Palaiokastro, a site steeped in history. Resting on top of a rocky outcrop, Palaiokastro’s ruins offer a window into the island’s past civilizations.
On the way to Palaiokastro, you will come across the little church of Agia Sofia. Pay attention to the mosaic, which was constructed in the 4th-5th century AD. Some sections of the mosaic have been moved to various museums, but you can still see certain fragments outside the church.
Set against the backdrop of the blue Aegean Sea, Palaiokastro is a fantastic point to be during sunset. All it takes is a short hike. Bring some water, and maybe a couple of snacks, and enjoy the amazing views!
And, if you aren’t so keen on hiking to Palaiokastro, don’t worry. There are so many places in Karpathos to see the sunset from!
5. Take a boat trip to Saria island
If you like sea caves and seclusion, you should take a boat trip to Saria island, an small island to the north of Karpathos.
Despite its proximity to Karpathos, Saria is currently uninhabited. It’s a real haven for people seeking tranquility and untouched landscapes.
The small island boasts a diverse topography, featuring rocky cliffs, pristine beaches, and sea caves. If you like snorkeling, you will love swimming around the rocks and the caves.
Nature lovers are drawn to the island’s ecological diversity, as Saria is home to unique flora and fauna. Moreover, the panoramic vistas from Mount Profitis Ilias offer breathtaking views of the surrounding archipelago.
In summer, boats to Saria depart from both Pigadia and Diafani ports on most days. I took the Chrissovalandou boat and really enjoyed it! Here is my experience: boat trip from Karpathos to Saria island.
6. Hike to the Ancient city of Vrikounta
If you like the great outdoors, you will love the hike to the site of Ancient Vrikounta, on the north west coast of Karpathos. The ancient town was likely abandoned around the 7th century AD.
Vrikous is located on the peninsula known as Vroukounta today. Today, you can see a necropolis, and more ruins dating from the Classical and Hellenistic period.
A little further out from the ancient city, you will also see the entrance to an underground cave. Walk down the stairs and inside the cave, and you will find the church of Agios Ioannis, or St John. It’s a unique place to see!
Some people begin the hike at Avlona village, but it’s also possible to follow the hiking path from either Olympos or Diafani. The trail meanders through a rocky, rugged landscape, showcasing the island’s stunning natural beauty.
The hike itself presents various levels of difficulty, ranging from easy to moderate. Depending on your fitness levels, you might find it a little challenging on the way back. You will need to bring enough water, and maybe a snack.
I did this hike in my Teva sandals, and was fine for the most part. You could also consider wearing closed hiking shoes, as there are a few rough patches.
On your way back, you can stop at this small taverna in Avlona village for a meal or drink. The lovely Mrs Anna and her husband will take care of you! This day was one of our highlights in Karpathos.
Apart from the hike to Vroukounta, Karpathos offers an extensive network of hiking trails, providing breathtaking views of the island’s rugged landscapes and coastline. Buy a hiking map, and get ready to discover the island on foot!
Hiking tours in Karpathos
If you like hiking but are unsure of going on your own, you can take one of these hiking tours in Karpathos:
- Hiking tour from Pigadia to Agia Kyriaki church (easy)
- Hiking tour to Lastos and Kali Limni (medium)
7. Snorkel or Scuba Dive in the Crystal Clear Water
Karpathos is a paradise for anyone who enjoys being underwater. The turquoise, crystal-clear waters and the island’s rich marine life make it a fantastic place to snorkel.
The visibility in Karpathos’ waters is exceptional. Whether snorkeling near the coastline or diving in deeper waters on a scuba diving excursion, your experience will be unforgettable.
In order to go snorkeling, you only need a mask and a snorkel. You can also use flippers, which help you move smoothly and quickly through the water.
By the way, if you don’t have snorkeling gear, you can always go to this store at Pigadia. They have a great selection of top-quality products, I was pretty impressed.
I’ve been snorkeling since I was about 5 years old, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! It’s like entering a different world, right below your feet – peaceful, beautiful, and waiting for you to discover its wonders. Karpathos is one of the best places in Greece for snorkeling!
8. Go Windsurfing in Karpathos
Thanks to the steady winds and favorable conditions, windsurfing is a popular activity in Karpathos. The island’s position in the Aegean Sea makes it an ideal destination for anyone who likes water sports and water activities.
Windsurfers use a windsurf board, which looks like a surfboard with a mast and sail attached to it. As the wind catches the sail, the board glides across the water.
The feeling of zipping across the water, the salty breeze on your face, and the rush of adrenaline as you catch the wind is absolutely thrilling. Plus, the clear blue waters of Karpathos make it even more incredible!
Don’t be surprised if you see windsurfers from all over the world heading to beaches like Agrilaopotamos, Psoraris or Agios Nikolaos Arkasa. Here, the winds are perfect for exhilarating windsurfing sessions.
9. Dive into the traditions and culture of Karpathos island
Visitors who choose to dive into the traditions and culture of Karpathos Island will be rewarded with a deeper understanding of the island’s identity. They will come across the numerous panigiria festivals, and discover the warmth of Karpathian hospitality.
Karpathos is one of these islands in Greece where certain customs have been meticulously preserved over the centuries. One of the most striking elements is the island’s traditional costumes, which serve as a vibrant reflection of its heritage.
The colorful attire features intricate embroidery, vivid colors, and unique designs, each carrying its own symbolic significance. These costumes are mainly worn during special occasions and festivals, embodying the islanders’ pride in their heritage.
The Greek panigiria festivals are integral to Karpathos’ cultural fabric. These lively celebrations are held throughout the year near the island’s numerous churches, honoring saints and local traditions. Locals and visitors come together to enjoy the spirit of the island with music, dance, and feasting.
10. Discover the culinary delights of Karpathos island
Karpathos Island is a food lover’s paradise, offering a delicious mix of dishes that represent its unique culture and flavors. Although the island is mountainous, it produces grapes, citrus fruits, olive oil and honey.
To this day, the women of Karpathos get together at the traditional bakeries and prepare several types of bread, all sorts of rusks and various pies. If you like bakery goods, don’t miss the bakery at Menetes village. Everything we tasted was heavenly!
One of the island’s best known dishes is “makarounes“, a type of hand-made pasta served with butter and fried onion. You can also buy those to cook back home.
Karpathos also has a range of cheeses, such as manouli, a soft white cheese, or armyrotiri, a salty, hard cheese which is usually served on top of pasta dishes.
Goat meat, fish and seafood are very popular in Karpathos, as are the local wine and strong raki. You will be able to find them in most restaurants on the island.
And, as with anywhere in Greece, tasting those dishes isn’t just about the flavors. It’s about sharing stories, and embracing the island’s rich culinary heritage in every delicious bite!
Here is some more information about the food culture in Greece.
Bonus: Take the ferry to Kasos island
Anyone who likes quiet islands, should not miss out on visiting Kasos, a small island which is very close to Karpathos.
Kasos stands as a hidden gem within the Greek islands, offering a serene and authentic experience for people seeking a genuine taste of traditional Greek life. This unspoiled destination boasts a unique charm characterized by its untouched beauty, friendly locals, and rich cultural heritage.
The island’s picturesque villages, including Fry, the capital, known for its distinctive architecture and narrow alleys, provide a glimpse into a bygone era. Kasos enchants visitors with its secluded beaches and crystalline waters, which are perfect for relaxation and exploration.
You can either take a day trip to Kasos from Karpathos, or go for a few days. In summer, there are frequent ferries connecting the two islands.
And if you want to know more about the small island, here is why I fell in love with Kasos!
FAQs about Karpathos
Here are a few questions that people planning to visit Karpathos ask:
What’s the best way to get to Karpathos island?
You can get to Karpathos by flight, or ferry. Here is my complete guide on how to get to Karpathos Greece.
Should I hire a car in Karpathos?
For those who want to properly explore Karpathos, a car is the best option. If you hire a car, you will be able to drive to most beaches, and visit Olympos and the other beautiful villages.
For rental cars at competitive prices, check out Discover Cars, an online platform where you can compare various companies and book your rental car easily.
Not keen on hiring a car? No worries. Here’s my full guide on how to get around Karpathos island.
Where to Stay in Karpathos island
Some of the most popular places to stay on the beautiful island include Pigadia, Amoopi, Lefkos and Arkasa. If you like more seclusion, it’s worth spending some time in Diafani, the island’s smaller port town.
Here is my complete guide on where to stay in Karpathos. I’ve included the best areas to stay, plus a small selection of top-rated hotels and apartments. Chech it out!
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens, and I’ve been to over 60 of the Greek islands. Karpathos has some of the clearest waters I’ve seen in Greece! Follow me on Facebook for more Greece-related inspiration.