The locals call it “butterfly island” due to its particular shape. I would just call it the “the island loved by the winds”... since the sometimes strong winds, characteristic to the area, fail to effect the tranquility of the swimmers at all beaches.
Untouched by contemporary manners and above all detached from the commercial dimensions of development in the tourism sector, it maintains its ability to remain an authentic destination for particular visitors who want to see and feel the zest of what a Greek island has to offer.
An amalgam of the Dodecanese and the Cyclades
You are located at the western island of the Dodecanese yet you experience images of a Cycladic landscape. And then you start wondering! There is really nothing to worry about because the island of Astypalaia or Ihthioessa, as it is otherwise called, is lucky enough to ‘flirt” with both of the abovementioned island complexes, thus yielding a particularly attractive character.
The first thing you will see approaching the island is its picturesque main town Chora dressed in white. Within just a few hours you will be convinced that this is an island of contrasts. Do not hesitate to explore in the afternoon hours and capture more than once with your photographic lens the Venetian Querini castle which dates back to the 15th century. Typically characteristic of the local architecture the whiter-than-white houses built under the castle one next to the other. If you are into history and civilization, then by entering the Castle you will find numerous churches and rare wall paintings that will deserve all of your admiration. Your promenade around the castle will have as its highlights the blue and white church of Portaitissa and the amazing view downwards to the rest of the island.
Don’t be surprised if you encounter a different side to the island, because you will not be able to maintain this feeling of calmness everywhere...The 2 or 3 little bars in the narrow streets of Chora is where you will head to, as if drawn by a magnet, in order to team up with other visitors of the island and altogether enjoy the evening with the sounds of music creating a party atmosphere. Then again, if you still want to have a good night out but still maintain a more quiet and private surrounding then you can always find more cozy bars a bit further down the street.
You really must explore around the island. You will not be disappointed. The island of Astypalaia is not densely populated and the one thousand inhabitants are shared between 4 settlements. Apart form the main town Chora, there is the settlement of Maltezana which got its name from the Maltezan pirates who used to use it as their shelter, the settlement of Vathi which the locals also call Exo Nisi and the growing Livadi at 3 km East of Chora.
Beaches like swimming pools
Unaffected by the strong Aegean winds, the beaches of Astypalaia resemble little heavens on Earth with crystal clear waters and various different options of sand. You will indeed feel spoilt for choice, as there are enough beaches to suit every taste.
Astypalaia can and does have it all in abundance...It belongs to the Dodecanese islands but also offers landscapes "borrowed" from the Cyclades. It remains a unique, authentic island through the passing of time. It does not follow trends, but is a definite advocate of aesthetics and culture. If you can “tolerate” its pure natural beauty, only then you will be able to appreciate it and fall in love with it.
So...stay spontaneous and this is an escape to an island you will never forget.