Karpathos is one of the Dodecanese islands in Greece, and it’s located near Crete in the Aegean Sea. It’s easily accessible from Athens, Rhodes, and certain airports in Europe.
Where is Karpathos located?
The Greek island of Karpathos lies to the southeast of mainland Greece, in the Aegean Sea. It is located between the larger islands of Rhodes and Crete.
Karpathos belongs to the Dodecanese group of islands, along with Rhodes, Kos, Symi, Nisyros, Patmos, and many others.
Southwest of Karpathos, lies the small island of Kasos. To the north of Karpathos, you will find the uninhabited Saria island, which is a great day trip from Karpathos.
Geography of Karpathos
With a land area spanning 324.1 sq kms (125.1 sq miles), Karpathos is the second largest island in the Dodecanese archipelago, outranked only by Rhodes.
It has an irregular shape, which is long and narrow. The distance from north to south is about 49 kms (30.4 miles).
At its widest point, the island spans approximately 11 kms (6.8 miles) wide, whereas it only measures 3.3 kms wide (2 miles) at its narrowest point.
The terrain is quite diverse, with the south part being relatively flat. In contrast, the north part is very mountainous and rugged, with many winding roads. Τhe island’s highest point is Kali Limni, at an altitude of 1,215 m (3,986 ft) above sea level.
Finally, the coastline of Karpathos island is a whopping 160 kms (99.4 miles). The island is home to some of the most visually stunning beaches with the clearest waters in Greece.
There are many beach resorts and traditional villages that you can visit or stay at. Here is a guide on the best places to stay in Karpathos.
How to get to Karpathos Greece
Karpathos has an airport, and two ferry ports, so you can reach it either by air or by sea. Depending on where you are traveling from, and if you are visiting more islands on the same trip, it’s sometimes best to use a combination of flights and ferries.
Flights to Karpathos
The most common way to reach Karpathos is by air. Karpathos airport is located a 20-minute drive south of the capital town of Pigadia.
There are direct flights connecting Karpathos to major European cities, such as Rome, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Munich. This includes regular and charter flights.
In addition, there are domestic flights to Karpathos from Athens and Rhodes. The flight from Athens to Karpathos takes about 80 minutes. There are two local carriers, Aegean Airlines / Olympic Airways and Sky Express.
Once at the airport, you can get a taxi or rental car to your hotel. The airport bus service in Karpathos is not very frequent.
Ferries to Karpathos
Another way to get to Karpathos is by ferry from Athens, or other nearby islands. Karpathos has two ferry ports, which are both on the east coast.
The main port is called Pigadia, often referred to as Karpathos Town. It’s the biggest town on the island, and gets pretty busy in the summer season.
The secondary port, which is located at the north, is called Diafani. It’s a small, quiet village, with a few hotels and restaurants, and a good base for hikers.
In summer, the Blue Star Ferries depart from Piraeus port in Athens to Karpathos several days a week, stopping at several other islands on the way. Depending on the itinerary, the journey takes between 14 and 18 hours.
In addition, there are ferry connections to Karpathos from Crete, as well as many other Dodecanese islands.
You can check all routes and book your tickets on Ferryscanner.
Here is my complete guide on how to get to Karpathos.
What is Karpathos island famous for?
Karpathos island is known for its incredible beaches with crystal-clear waters. It’s a paradise for people who like to swim, snorkel, or just enjoy some beach time.
Beaches like Apella beach, Achata beach and Kyra Panagia beach are on every visitor’s list of the best beaches in Karpathos. Or, if you like unspoiled beaches, you can explore the island and you will discover many hidden gems that have not been affected by mass tourism.
The island is also known for its windsurfing and kite surfing opportunities, thanks to its strong winds. Water sports enthusiasts flock here to enjoy these popular activities.
Moreover, Karpathos is one of the best destinations for hiking in Greece. The island boasts a network of well-maintained hiking paths that lead to hidden beaches, traditional villages, and breathtaking viewpoints.
Karpathos Island has its own unique culture
The island’s culture is rich in traditions and customs. The women in Karpathos are known for their beautiful traditional costumes, which they still wear on special occasions.
Many panigiria festivals take place throughout the year. These cultural celebrations are a perfect opportunity to experience the island’s unique atmosphere and genuine hospitality.
One of the most celebrated festivals in Karpathos is the Festival of Panagia (Virgin Mary), which takes place every year on August 15th. It’s a religious and cultural event, with traditional music, dancing, and lots of local food.
Karpathos is recognized for its delicious local cuisine, which includes fresh fish and seafood, local meats, and local specialties like makarounes, a type of pasta.
Although tourism in Karpathos is on the rise, the island has largely managed to keep its authentic Greek charm and local traditions alive. This makes it a popular destination for tourists seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience.
Here are some of the best things to do in Karpathos.
Best season to visit Karpathos
Despite its relative remote location, if you visit Karpathos island in peak season, you will inevitably encounter a larger number of tourists. Many of the amazing Karpathos beaches will be crowded, and full of umbrellas and loungers.
In fact, even the traditional settlement of Olympos village, which is often described as “a place where time stopped”, will be busy with visitors.
If you prefer quieter holidays, you could consider visiting Karpathos in the shoulder season (May-June and September-October). During those months, the crowds are thinner, but the weather is still great. In fact, Karpathos is one of the hottest Greek islands in October.
Still, if you want to experience the full summer vibe of Karpathos, then July and August are the best months to visit.
No matter when you choose to visit, Karpathos island is guaranteed to make an unforgettable impression!
FAQs about Karpathos
Here are some more questions that people often ask about Karpathos:
Is Karpathos very touristy?
While Karpathos is not as touristy as some other Greek islands, some areas are more touristy than others. Certain resorts, such as Ammopi or Lefkos, get very busy in summer. The capital, Pigadia, is also where many visitors choose to stay.
Which is the best village to stay in Karpathos?
It depends on what you like! Here is my full guide to where to stay in Karpathos.
How long do you need in Karpathos?
Karpathos has dozens of beautiful beaches and well marked trails. You should aim to spend at least five days in Karpathos, but you could easily stay much longer if you like wild nature.
What is the closest island to Karpathos?
The closest island to Karpathos is Kasos, which is just over an hour away on the ferry.
How long is the ferry from Crete to Karpathos?
Ferries from Sitia port in Crete to Karpathos take 3 hours 40 minutes. If you want to take a ferry to Karpathos from Heraklion Crete, you’ll need to allow 6 hours 40 minutes. You can check ferry routes and book your ferry tickets at Ferryscanner.