Karpathos travel guide

Karpathos Greece: a complete travel guide

Nestled between Rhodes and Crete lies Karpathos, one of the most beautiful islands in Greece. Although rising in popularity, this island remains relatively untouched and is a perfect destination in the Dodecanese Archipelago. Especially if you’re a fan of beautiful beaches, charming villages and epic mountainous landscapes. In this post you’ll find a full list of the best things to do in Karpathos Greece, accompanied by a comprehensive travel guide with the inspiration and tips you need to plan your trip to the island. Let’s start with a summary:

Karpathos travel guide

Best things to do in Karpathos

Karpathos is the second biggest island in the Dodecanese Archipelago, behind Rhodes. It’s a place of singular beauty and rich history, being one of our all-time favorite destinations in Greece. There’s plenty to see and do in Karpathos, so plan for some quality time and get ready to explore the island. These are our top 10 favorites things to do in Karpathos Greece:

1) Explore Olymbos

Visiting the village of Olymbos is like taking a trip back in time. Nestled atop majestic mountains, this quaint village has been isolated from the modern world until recent years. It’s one of the most genuine and historical villages in Greece, but that’s not all. Olymbos is also a gorgeous spot with picture-perfect views at basically every corner. It’s such an unique place on earth and perfectly combines tradition and beauty. Visiting it is, no doubt, one best things to do in Karpathos.

Best things to do Karpathos
Olymbos best things to do in Karpathos
Things to do Karpathos: Olymbos

Olymbos beginnings can be traced back to an inland migration, driven by the need to protect coastal inhabitants from relentless pirate invasions. For centuries, Olymbos thrived in isolation, devoid of electricity, paved roads, or communication with neighboring towns. As a result, it evolved into a unique community with customs and traditions that continue to flourish to this day. They’re ready to be explored and

Here you’ll find a complete guide to Olymbos, filled with inspiration and tips to plan your visit

Villages in Karpathos

You should definitely check our in-depth guide to Olymbos, but if you’re looking for quick tips, here it goes. Get there in the afternoon and spending some hours exploring the quaint streets and beautiful views of the village. Make sure to wander the main pedestrian road and check the main square where the Assumption of the virgin church lies. Have dinner at Milos Taverna (next topic) and continue strolling around Olymbos after sunset!

2) Have dinner under an ancient windmill

Milos Taverna is a unique restaurant in Olymbos, where you can dine under an ancient windmill while watching an epic sunset and savoring delicious home-cooked meals. This is one of the best things to do in Karpathos and one of our favorite experiences in the Greek Islands so far. It’s necessary to book in advance if you’re traveling in high season.

Windmill restaurants in Karpathos Greece
Milos restaurant Karpathos
Best things to do in Karpathos

The menu is hand-written and the whole family is involved in creating the most unforgettable experience to the restaurants guests. Before leaving, check the oven in the main house, where the grandma produces traditional Karpathian breads. This is a delicious and authentic experience!

3) Check Vrikous

If you’re an history enthusiast, you may want to check the ancient village of Vrikous. Not so far from Olympos, the ruins of Vrikous are a testament to an powerful ancient settlement which stood there 5 centuries BC.

4) Visit Diafani village

Diafani is a charming village in the north of Karpathos with a nice beach and good infra-structure. It’s where the boats to Saria island depart from, so you’ll probably visit it during your holidays on the island. We decided to stay in Diafani for a couple of nights and from there visit Olympos and Saria island. It was a really good choice and enabled us to explore the north of the island comfortably. Villa Diafani Anna was a great find and a place I’d recommend booking if you want to spend some time in Diafani.

Diafani Karpathos Greece
Best things to do Karpathos

There are some good restaurants at the village, like The Dolphins. But we decided to drive to Olympos for sunset and dinner both nights. These two villages are just just 20 minutes away from each other. If you decide to spend some time in Diafani like us, make sure to spend some time at the beach which has crystal-clear and very calm waters. Also take time to explore the waterfront of Diafani and absorb its genuine atmosphere. This is a place mostly frequented by locals, so you’ll hardly find a more authentic spot than that in Karpathos!

5) Take a boat trip to Saria Island

Saria is an inhabited island to the north to Karpathos, separated from it by a narrow straight. It can only be reached by boat and the best way to explore it is joining a guided tour. There are full-day excursions leaving from Diafani almost daily during high season. We joined one of these during and had a really great time out in the sea. We snorkeled in sea caves, spent some time and the beach and learned about the history of this island which one once upon a time has been a small empire.

Saria island Karpathos
Saria island: best things to do in Karpathos

This is hands-down one of the best things to do in Karpathos. The water in Saria is pristine and the spots we visited were very interesting. We joined Capitain Manolis group tour, but wouldn’t recommend it. The boat was comfortable and lunch was ok, but he didn’t take us to explore the ruins of ancient Nisyros, which is a highlight of any trip to Saria. Maybe this is not a recurrent problem, as the reviews from Monolis excursions on Tripadvisor are pretty good. But since this was our experience, we felt compelled to let you know!

6) Delight in the best beaches in Karpathos

There’s no shortage of gorgeous beaches in Karpathos. Some are sandy and shallow and other are dramatic, nestled amongst imposing mountains. Regardless of the landscape there’s one thing all beaches in Karpathos share: pristine crystal clear waters. Apella Beach was by far our favorite, especially the hidden cove on the right side of it which can be accessed by a short hiking trail. You’ll find all about it on this in-depth post.

Best things to do in Karpathos Greece
Karpathos travel guide
Apella Beach best things to do in Karpathos

Apart from Apella, we loved visiting Ahata and Kyra Panagia beaches, which are totally mind-blowing. That’s not to mention the hidden coves between Kastelia and Ammopi beaches, which are perfect. No matter how long you stay in Karpathos, you’ll never run out of great beaches to enjoy!

Check our complete guide to the most beautiful beaches in Karpathis island filled with amazing pictures and tips!

7) Visit Lefkos village

Lefkos is a prominent village nestled in the central west coast of Karpathos. It has a gorgeous beach and some nice restaurants like Krinos Restaurant and Taverna Perdika. You can spend a full day in Lefkos enjoying the beach and the village’s authentic atmosphere. But you can also visit it shortly on your way to the north of Karpathos, or even decide to spend a night there. I’ve talked in details about the best beaches in Lefkos on this post, make sure to check it if you’re heading to the village!

8) Watch the sunset in Arkasa

Arkasa is a super charming village on the west coast of Karpathos. It boast beautiful beaches, great restaurants and hotels. As well as a historical acropolis right by the sea. And it’s a perfect home-base to explore the south of Karpathos. We stayed in Arkasas for 3 nights, more specifically at the magnificent Arkasa Palace, and really enjoyed it.

Arkasa village Karpathos
Sunset Arkasas Karpathos

It’s a perfect spot to visit for sunset and dinner. The views of the sun going down in the sea surrounded by majestic mountains are truly immaculate. The mountainous landscapes are like a crossing of California and Hawaii, so as you can imagine, a place of unique beauty. Kipos, Steki.O.EYLORHMENOS and Kedros taverna are great restaurants in the village. After dinner, check the schedule for open air movies streamed by a cute shop in the village.

9) Explore Pigadia

As the capital of Karpathos, Pigadias is the most developed and bustling town on the island. It’s where most ferry-boats arrive and depart from, and in close proximity to the island’s airport. So, chances are that you’ll have the chance to visit during your stay in Karpathos, even if you choose not to stay there. Pigadia is filled with nice restaurants, bars and shops and it’s a perfect place to explore by foot. Park your car at the port and wander around to admire the city’s art deco buildings, the Archaeological Museum and ruins of an ancient acropolis at the top of the hill.

10) Village-hop around Karpathos

Although it’s possible to drive around Karpathos in one day, I’d advise against it. It’s better to split your stay on the island in 2 or 3 home-bases and from there explore nearby villages and beaches. But, if time is short and you’ve already decided to stay put in one place plan for a village-hopping itinerary around Karpathos. These are the most interesting villages in Karpathos:

  • Pigadia
  • Arkasa
  • Menetes
  • Aperi
  • Spoa
  • Mesochori
  • Othos
  • Diafani
  • Olymbos

11) Try wind or kite-surfing

Karpathos is known as the wind island and I definitely agree this is a suitable name. Especially in the south of the island, the winds blown at a wild speed, creating perfect conditions for wind and kite surfing. In fact, Karpathos is one of the best spots in the whole of Europe for practicing these adrenaline-fueled radical sports. So if you are a veteran or someone who would like to learn kite of wind-surfing, make sure to plan for some days in the south of Karpathos.

Makris Gialos Beach is a mecca for these sports, as well as other nearby beaches. Karpathos Surf and Ion Club are the most recognized schools

12) Go hiking in Karpathos

As a mountainous island, Karpathos is a perfect place to hike. There’s a traditional hiking route in the island of Saria passing through the temple dedicated to Apollo and some beaches. You can agree with a boat excursion provider to leave at the beginning of the trail and get picked up at some designated spot on the way back. In mainland Karpathos there’re also some interesting trails, but be aware with the extreme heat during summer.

13) Join a guided wine tasting

If you are a wine lover like us, you may want to join a guided tour of Mattsson Winery. In this tour you’ll be presented to the vineyard and learn more about the different stages of production. At the end you’ll be able to taste some wines and visit the rooms where wines are produced and stored. Definitely one of the best things to do in Karpathos and we recommend booking in advance here.

Karpathos Travel Guide

Karpathos travel guide

How long to stay in Karpathos

Karpathos is a long and diverse island and can be better experienced in 7 to 10 days. To optimize your exploration of the island, I recommend splitting your stay in at least two different regions, but ideally three. By spending a few days in the south, middle and north of Karpathos you’ll be able to explore each of these regions in depth and avoid long and tiresome car rides.

If you’re planning a island-hopping itinerary around the Dodecanese islands, it’s possible to combine a visit to Karpathos with Symi, Halki and Rhodes. In this case, you may not be able to spend so long in Karpathos. So, it’s good to know that in 5 days it’s possible to enjoy the island’s highlights. Less than that may feel too crunched.

Where to stay in Karpathos

We spent 6 days in Karpathos and split our stay in two areas (Arkasa and Diafani). It was ok, but it would’ve been much better if we had stayed in 3 areas instead. It would also have been better if had more days on the island.

  • In Arkasa, we stayed at the magnificent Arkasa Palace in a super modern suite with private pool. The hotel was great and had sunset views and the village where it’s located is genuine and filled with restaurants. Definitely a must-do in Karpathos.
  • In Diafani in the north of Karpathos, we stayed at the Villa Diafani Anna with amazing views and great location.
Hotels in Karpathos Greece
Karpathos travel guide: where to stay

I would 100% recommend both stays, but there are other great options to consider. I’ve selected the best hotels and guest-houses in the three main areas in Karpathos for your convenience. Here they are:

Best hotels in Karpathos Greece

If you’re traveling as a family, you may want to check the gorgeous Akropolis Village Complex or Theros Luxury Villas for 4 people. But if prefer to look for other options besides the ones above, please research using our Booking.com link. When book through it, we may earn a small commission. You won’t pay extra for this, so it’s a win-win. Thanks in advance! 🙂

Where to eat in Karpathos

Karpathos is a foodies paradise, a place where you can indulge in both local specialties and traditional Greek dishes. Makarounes and hylopites are some pasta based recipes typical from Karpathos. Manouli goat’s cheese, which comes in three different consistencies is another Karpathian delicacy you’ll want to try. Not to mention the sousamomelo and the delicious pies, especially the onion pie. And let’s not forget about the sea food dishes, which is served with the most fresh catches at the coast.

Restaurants in Karpathos Greece
Where to eat in Karpathos Greece

We indulged in varied and tasty meals during our stay in Karpathos. Slow cooked meat dishes are common in the mountain villages, whereas seafood dishes are served everywhere on the island’s coast. On top of that, you should try the most traditional Greek dishes such as moussaka, souvalaki, saganaki, which are to die for. These were our favorite restaurants in Karpathos. Try it for yourselves and thank me later!

Best restaurants in Olymbos

  • Milos restaurant with sunset view and romantic atmosphere
  • Edem Garden Restaurant serves delicious dishes and has a very friendly staff
  • Taverna Parthenon is a traditional restaurant in Olymbos

Best restaurant in Arkasa

  • Kipos Taverna is a cozy place serving delicious home-cooked meals
  • Steki.O.EYLORHMENOS has great views and prices, as well as delicious dishes
  • Taverne Kedros is right outside the center of Arkasa and has the most beautiful sunset views

Best restaurants in the rest of the island

  • Ellinikon, Poseidon and Orea are the best restaurants in Pigadia
  • Keralia and Seafood at Kavor are the best places to eat close to Kyra Panagia
  • Calypso and Esperida restaurants are great restaurants in Ammopi
  • Mama Cuisine is a good bet in Finiki Village

How to get to Karpathos

Karpathos is a well connected island and can be reached by ferry-boat or flight via . These are the most common and practical routes:

  • Karpathos airport operates direct flights from/to Athens, Rhodes and Crete. It also receives direct flights to other destinations in Europe such as Milan, Venice, Amsterdam, Prague Vienna and Munich. I recommend checking Google Flights to find suitable routes for you.
  • There are ferry-boat routes connection Karpathos to other Dodecanese islands, such as Crete, Halki, Rhodes, Kos and Kasos. Most ferries arrive/depart happen in Karpathos town, but some may use the port of Diafani in the north of the island. Dodekanisos Seaways, Anek Lines and Blue Star Ferries have frequent routes between these islands all year round. The schedule may vary from season to season, so it’s best to check directly with them or with Ferry Hopper.
  • There are also ferry-boat routes between Karpathos – Athens, Milos and Santorini. These are very long rides so not really advisable ways to get to the island. But if you’re curious about it, the shortest journey between Athens – Karpathos takes approximately 14 hours. For this trip, it’s possible to book a cabin and fares start from 90€ per person, but increase in accordance to the comfort of the room.

Ferry tickets can be purchased directly at the company’s websites or by using the the established ferry booking platform Ferry Hopper. Book in advance if you’re traveling during high season.

Best time to visit Karpathos

The weather in Karpathosi is relatively warm all year round, but Spring and Summer are typically the best time to visit the island. The end of spring (May to June) and late summer (September to early October) are particularly great periods to travel, as the crowds are fewer and the rates lower compared to the ones during peak summer.

We visited Karpathos in the second week of July and were surprised about how tranquil the island felt. It sure wasn’t empty, but it definitely didn’t feel uncomfortable or overcrowded. Thus, I’d say that different from other Greek Islands, Karpathos can be an appropriate destination for the buzzling summer weeks of July and August. It’ll hardly get as packed as some other Eurosummer hotspots, or as expensive as some other popular islands in Greece!

Best months to visit Karpathos Greece
Best time to visit Karpathos Greece

How to move around Karpathos

You’ll need a car to explore Karpathos well. We rented with Karpathos Car and had a good experience overall, but I recommend comparing prices with Discover Cars before settling with a supplier. Although a small car was enough for us, I must admit it felt a bit unstable while driving the elevated roads up north in windy conditions. Not that it was unsafe, but if I’d known it, I would have gone for a studier car instead. Just a personal preference and a quick remark to if you like me don’t cope well

There are buses departing from Karpathos town and Lefkos to the most popular beaches, but the schedule is limited. If you aim to visit the village of Olympos and to explore the island at your own pace, going beyond the highlights, I definitely recommend renting a car.

What to pack for Karpathos

As you will most probably be visiting Karpathos during spring or summer in Greece, you should be prepared for very sunny and warm days. Hence, my suggestion is that you pack light and fresh clothes, beachwear, and casual shoes. Aim for beach attire and bring a light jacket just in case – chances are that you are not going to need it!


For women: pack summer and fresh dresses in various styles, from flouncy to long ones. Skirts, linen pants, fresh tops, and shorts are also great items to bring to Halki. Flat and comfortable shoes should be your way to go and you absolutely won’t need high heels or heavy makeup.

For men: pack linen shirts and fresh fabric shirts, as well as t-shirts, shorts, and fresh pants. Shoes should be casual and comfortable, with no need for fancy items.

You will also need:

Now that you’ve discovered the best things to do in Karpathos, do you feel ready to plan your trip? If so, you may be interested in:

Best beaches in Karpathos

Symi Travel Guide

Halki Travel Guide, a genuine island to combine with Karpathos

Best Greek Islands to visit in 2024

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