Karpathos - Greek island in Aegean sea - where the tradition is still alive

by Marko

This beautiful Greek island in Aegean see has long sand beaches, restaurants with delicious food and fantastic cultural heritage, especially in unique old village Olympos.

Karpathos has its own airport so it is very easy and fast to be reached from central Europe (about 1,5 -2 hours). It is a perfect destination for almost everyone - for windsurfers (great wind in some bays), for swimmers (turquoise warm water), for those who want to discover history (Museum, Olympos village), for divers who seek for crystal clear water (PADI center in Pigadia) or for those who just want to enjoy holidays and taste delicious Greek food. Join me here and discover the beauty of Karpathos (Greece, Europe) through my eyes/photos.

Basic facts about Karpathos

Karpathos is Greek island in the southeast Aegean sea (Mediterranean sea).

Pigadia, Karpathos

It is one of Dodecanese group of islands. The islands of Crete and Rhodes, its neighbors,  are perhaps more famous (especially for tourists and archaeologists), but Karpathos' name was mentioned already in Homer's Iliad and the island has great history since the Peloponneesian War (431 BC) when Karpathians fought with Sparta. Later the island was part of Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, under Venetians and Ottoman Turks. Karpathos formally became part of Greece in 1948.

The capital city of the island is Pigadia (the official name is Karpathos City) which is the centre of tourist life in Karpathos. There are less than 7000 inhabitants but during the summer time the population can increase to around 20000.

After the II. World War many Karpathians left the island and went to the United States. Nowadays many of them have returned and invested their money in tourism. The modern way of living is spreading among the island. Only in the northern part of the island, especially in the mountains, residents try to preserve the tradition.

How to arrive to Karpathos?

Tourist arrive on Karpathos by airplane (international airport near Pigadia) from Athens, Rhodes, Crete or (especially during the high season - from April through October) directly from many European countries (charter flights). The island is well connected also by ferries from Greek mainland (mainly from Pireus) or from the islands in the neighborhood (Crete, Rhodes). There are two ports in Karpathos, in Pigadia and in Diafani (important for Olympos village).

Find more information about Greek islands

Tradition and folklore

Karpathians are devoted to their tradition and customs.

According to mythology the first settlers were the Titans, but archaeological finds proved that the island was inhabited during the Neolithic times. Later the Minoans and their culture had a great influence on people who lived there. This island is well-known for many customs which have their roots in Ancient times. 

Very popular is traditional Karpathian festivity ("kathisto glenti"), where men sit around a table with the music players of the traditional instruments (like "lyra", "laouto", "tsambouna" and the "violi"). They drink wine, compose and sing songs. 

Another important custom is Karpathian wedding. It used to last for eight days in the past, but nowadays it lasts from two to three days and include all the preparations, house decoration, the engagement, wedding ceremony and also previously mentioned "kathisto glenti".

The most important festival on Karpathos is Panagias festival (Assumption of Mary) on 15th August.

Olympos, Karpathos, live museum

  

 

 

 

When talking about tradition I must mention Olympos village. It is built according to the traditional style and people living there are trying to keep the traditions alive.

Olympos village

This exceptional village is located on the northern side of Karpathos, about 60 km from Pigadia and 400 meters above the sea level.

 

Olympos village, Karpathos

 

 

Traditional architecture, decoration of houses interiors, wind mills, open air furnace, beautiful old church at the top of Olympos, fantastic view, delicious restaurants, small shops with traditional sweet "loukoumades", Mediterranean herbs and much, much more - these are only few reasons for visiting Olympos. 

More pictures about Olympos village

On the top of Olympos, Karpathos
On the top of Olympos, Karpathos
 
Unique Olympos, in Karpathos
Unique Olympos, in Karpathos
 
Souvenir shop, Olympos, Karpathos
Souvenir shop, Olympos, Karpathos
 
Traditional Greek instruments, Karpathos
Traditional Greek instruments, Karpathos
 
Olympos from the other side
Olympos from the other side
 
Mediterranean atmosphere everywhere, Olympos, Karpathos
Mediterranean atmosphere everywhere, ...
 
Church on the top of Olympos, Karpathos
Church on the top of Olympos, Karpathos
 
Interior of the Church, Olympos
Interior of the Church, Olympos
 
View from Olympos, Karpathos
View from Olympos, Karpathos
 
Beautiful summer colors, Olympos
Beautiful summer colors, Olympos
 
Wind mills still work, Olympos, Karpathos
Wind mills still work, Olympos, Karpa...
 
Wind mill, Olympos
Wind mill, Olympos
 
Open air cooking, Olympos, Karpathos
Open air cooking, Olympos, Karpathos
 
Blue Mediterranean sea, Olympos
Blue Mediterranean sea, Olympos
 
Blue color everywhere...Olympos, Greece
Blue color everywhere...Olympos, Greece
 
The Olympos cemetary
The Olympos cemetary
All by A. and M. Simčič

Beaches on Karpathos

Karpathos has some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece.

I already mentioned the Meltemi wind on the west side of the Karpathos - beaches there are sandy and can be reached by boat only in low wind conditions. South western coast is ideal for windsurfing. Very popular beach is Finiki.

East coast has smaller, gravelly beaches without wind. Here are many known beaches, like Apella, Kato Latos, Achata and Amopi 

The northern part of the island are mostly accessible by the sea. Forokli and Diafani are well known beaches.

Fine white sand can be found on beaches on the southern coast. Popular beaches are Diakoftis, Damatria, Agriopotamus.

Beaches and their diversity

Best beaches can be reached only by boat...
Summer daily cruises, Karpathos
Summer daily cruises, Karpathos
Vasilis Paradize, Karpathos
Vasilis Paradize, Karpathos
Apela Cape beach, Karpathos
Apela Cape beach, Karpathos
Kira Panagia beach, Karpathos
Kira Panagia beach, Karpathos
Refreshment - jump from the boat, Karpathos
Refreshment - jump from the boat, Kar...
Deep blue Mediterranean, Karpathos
Deep blue Mediterranean, Karpathos

The Climate on Karpathos and the vegetation

The climate is typical Mediterranean - mild, wet winters and dry, hot summers.

On Karpathos the climate is a bit dryer than on the neighbor islands. On July or August a strong wind, called Meltemi, blows from the north down through the high mountains. Especially west cost is exposed to this wind,  and there are good conditions for windsurfing. But, don't worry - if you prefer location without wind, there are beaches on the eastern part of the island...

The vegetation is also typical Mediterranean - cypress, evergreen shrubs and bushes, olive trees, macchie, wild herbs (sage or Salvia, oregano) and many more. With their diversity and hard growing conditions they definitely deserve to be presented on this page. See these beauty below...

Mediterranean vegetation

Vegetation by the sea
Vegetation by the sea
Grows where is possible...Karpathos
Grows where is possible...Karpathos
Growing stars, Karpathos
Growing stars, Karpathos
Green from the rock, Karpathos
Green from the rock, Karpathos
Agave, Karpathos
Agave, Karpathos
Hibiscus, Karpathos
Hibiscus, Karpathos
Old olive tree, Karpathos
Old olive tree, Karpathos
Don't touch me! Karpathos
Don't touch me! Karpathos

Shops and souvenirs on Karpathos

We all love to bring back home some souvenirs which remind us later on places we loved during our stay on holidays. There are many different small shops on Karpathos - some of them are kitschy with no soul, but some are really a kind of artistic shops with genuine atmosphere. 

Shop in Olympos Old olive oil factory, now shop, Karpathos

Honey, Mediterranean herbs, tea, ceramics, spices

 

Different souvenirs, Karpathos

 

Nice shops with souvenirs, ceramics, Karpathos

honey, spices, Mediterranean herbs, olive oil,...

Greek cuisine

Like everywhere else on Greek islands there are many different restaurants on Karpathos where you can enjoy delicious Greek cuisine.

Greek cuisine is well known with its diversity, use of olive oil, fresh vegetables, fruits and different Mediterranean herbs. There are many other web sites and books describing healthy Greek food so I will not write about the Greek cuisine. I can only say that the food is delicious - I am fond of sea food (calamari, shrimps, fish) and was enjoying the stay on Karpathos also by eating Greek yogurt with honey and another known pastry - Loukoumades with honey (see picture below). 

Loukumades with honey and cinnamon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, if you like Mediterranean food, you can see my recipes for Adriatic shrimps with tomato sauce, or Goat ribs with Mediterranean herbs and sweet vegetables.

 

Greek cuisine and its specialities

Thanks for reading this article...

I hope that I managed to give you some basic information about Karpathos in this article and that you feel the Greek atmosphere in it. I really enjoy my holidays in Greece - the sun, the sea, delicious food and wine, the scenery, some history and kind people. What can we expect more from our holidays?

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Updated: 10/05/2012, Marko
 
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Have you ever been to Greece?


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Marko on 05/27/2012

I believe the continental Greece is also beautiful and worth to see, but we have just visited once Olympia (the place of ancient Olympic games), otherwise we like to discover Greek islands (so far we have visited Zakynthos (3 times), Corfu, Thasos, Karpathos and Lefkas)

sheilamarie on 05/26/2012

I have yet to travel to Greece despite many Greek friends, though I hope to go there some day. My husband has been to Mt Athos a couple of times.

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