Bright, white-washed villages contrast against the blue of the Aegean Sea
There’s something dreamy about Greek islands – the slow pace of life, the smell of sea salt and pine sap, the whitewashed houses shimmering in the hot sun. Astypalaia ticks all those boxes and more. It’s the perfect getaway for those who want all the sun-soaked fun of the Aegean Sea, but without the crowds to match. Located just off the Turkish coast, this little butterfly-shaped island is packed with picturesque coves, remote beaches and tiny, bright-white villages.
One of Astypalaia's paradisiacal coves
Yet it’s still not on the radar of most tourists, so you’ll be able to enjoy its idyllic panoramas in peace. It’s worth packing your camera for the wild beauty of Kounoupa Beach, a strip of shingle flanked by lapping waves, and the castle, perched atop a hill with houses spilling down the slopes like an alabaster tide. Come dinnertime, there are plenty of romantic spots overlooking the sea, where you can feast on lobster spaghetti, the local favourite. In keeping with the laid-back rhythm of island life, Astypalaia abounds with quiet apartments where you can unwind in your own space – and enjoy having breakfast made for you by friendly hosts.
A rocky coastline lapped by irresistibly clear waters
When to go?
Summertime is by far the best time to visit Astylapaia, since restaurants are open for business and temperatures are perfect for lazing around on the beach. Time your trip to coincide with the end of high season in September to have the island to yourself – since the few summer tourists that Astypalaia gets will have drifted away.
The view from the terrace at Aphrodite Studios
Where to stay?
Aphrodite Studios – Astypalaia, Greece
It’s no wonder this property scores so high with Booking.com guests. As the name suggests, this is one of the most romantic spots on the island, with views of the castle and out to sea. The host, Ilias, is famed for his hospitality, and he’s happy to pick you up from the ferry port at all hours of the day or night.
The impressive pool at Mouras Resort
Mouras Resort – Astypalaia, Greece
If you love nothing better than stretching out on a sun lounger and dipping in and out of a pool, Mouras Resort is the place for you. This collection of five smooth, whitewashed villas are set around a relaxing pool area and a bar, tailor-made for lazy afternoons in the sun.
A traditional Greek island bedroom at Kalderimi
Kalderimi – Astypalaia, Greece
The level of hospitality at these charming apartments has visitors waxing lyrical every time. The hosts, Katerina and Adonis, consistently get rave reviews on Booking.com for their friendly, helpful demeanour. As for the breakfast, many think it’s the best in town, with home-made jams and ‘loukoumades’ (donuts) drizzled with honey.