“Astypalia is a little drop of heaven in the middle of the Aegean Sea” said Maria Kampouri the vice-mayor of Astypalea.
I had visited many Greek Islands in the past, but I had to agree with Maria’s statement after my visit to Astypalia. The island was absolutely beautiful, I was able to connect with the locals and experience real warm Greek culture and also tasted their delicious flavours. All I can say is that Astypalia is the perfect place for tourists who are looking for an authentic Greek experience in a beautiful, peaceful surrounding.
Love at First Sight
After a long ferry ride, I finally landed on the island of Astypalia at 4:30am on a beautiful starry night only a few days before the Greek Easter celebrations. I had to admit, this underrated island on the Aegean Sea is a real hidden gem. The sky was lit up by the stars. I was blown away by the scenery of the town lit up town with a beautiful castle on the top of the mountain.
Discovering the Island of Astypalea
Next morning, when I woke up, I took a walk from the port up to the windmills on top of the hill, where the main square of the island was located. I loved walking up the hill and enjoying the view of the Aegean Sea and the typical Greek, white and blue architecture around me. The island had a peaceful, friendly vibe. The people would smile at me as I passed through the port.
From the main square, we continued onto the castle on the top of the mountain. Our guide told us about the history of the island and showed us the infant cemetery, where the Greeks buried their dead babies. Astypalia is the island of child birth and fertility. People from all over Greece brought their babies to the island to bury them here, hoping their next child would be born healthy. We walked to the top of the mountain to visit the old castle. The views from up there were absolutely stunning. There were two Greek Orthodox churches inside the old castle.
Hiking the Kastellano Peak
Astypalia is famous for its nearby beautiful beaches and beautiful mountains. In these mountains one can discover a wide variety of herbs and Mediterranean veggies. A German lady Bettina Mohn took us for a walk in the mountains and introduced us the local herbs, fruit and vegetables of Astypalia. She was an expert, who knew much about the local vegetation. We hiked up to the Kastellano Peak and admired the views of the mountains and the surrounding scenery. The island had a wide range of vegetation.
Best Time to Visit
I visited Astypalia during the Greek Easter celebration. Given that the Greeks celebrate Easter in the beginning of May, the island is not overcrowded with tourists yet, but at the same time the weather is already beautiful and sunny. So, this time of the year is the ideal time to visit Astypalia.
I enjoyed experiencing one of Greece’s biggest holidays. I attended a beautiful mass in the local Greek-Orthodox church and observed how the locals celebrated the holiday. I loved the huge Easter fireworks. The two churches on either side of the mountain were competing to put up the most spectacular fireworks. I also had a chance to try the traditional stuffed lamb that the locals prepared with rice and sweet spices. They roasted it overnight in a large oven. I spent Easter Monday partying with the Greeks in their local bar. They were welcoming and friendly. A band was playing local music and they would keep on giving me Raki to drink. Greek Easter was a very special experience for me and I can only recommend everyone to visit Astypalia this time of the year.
Best Place to Stay
Vithos Apartments has a spectacular view of the entire island, the sea and the castle on the top of the mountain. The hotel is right on the port, allowing the guests to enjoy the view of the sea and the boats cruising by.
Astropelos is the best restaurant on the island. It serves amazing fresh organic produce, colorful salads and fresh seafood. Their feta stuffed octopus and their lobster spaghetti are amazing. They also prepare beautiful raw fish dishes that reminded me of Peruvian Ceviche. This place is a must, when you visit the island.
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Disclosure: I participated in the above trip free of charge for the purpose of this article and the article reflects my unbiased opinion about the country.