Karpathos (Pigadia) Is the capital of Karpathos, the town of Karpathos or Pigadia, population 1300, is situated on this part of the island, on the site of the ancient Greek city of Karpathos. Karpathos serves as the island main port. It's a modern town, pleasant enough, but with out any eminent buildings or sites. The town is built on the edge of Vronti bay, a four kilometer sandy beach where you can go swimming and rent personal water crafts. On the beach are the remains of the early Christian basilica of Agia Fotini.
Aperi, Volada, Othos, Pyles, Arkasa, Phoiniki & Menetes (Kato Horia)
Aperi is situated up in the mountains between Pigadia and Volada. It was the old capital on the island. Among other things it's now the seat of the Archbishop of Karpathos/Kassos. The town is also one of the richest in all of Greece. We recommend that you visit the beautiful church. There is a very special history to the church. Above the village on the top of the commanding hill of Kastro, there are the remains of medieval fortifications.
Volada is situated right next to Aperi. You will there find several tavern's and restaurant's. From Volada you can start your journey to the highest mountain on the island Kali Limni 1215m. Kai Limni means "Good Lake". Take start your journey you will need to first pass the plateau of Lastos. It is said that Lastos was in prehistoric times a lake, formed by the water from the springs of Kali Limni. In recorded history times, Lastos has been producing excellent wine. There are still a few farmers' cottages in the plateau, the "stavli" where the Karpathians resided during the harvest. There is a Tavern where you can stop by and try the local food and wine. The journey to the top of Kali Limni is a long one and make sure you bring lots of water for the climb. Once you reach the peak you will find a breath taking view of the island.
This town is situated between Volada and Pyles. It is the highest village on the island with a great view of Pigadia. In Othos you will find among other things a local artist called Mr. Hapsis. He paints different motive's from the island, and sells them from his gallery. He plays also local Karpathian music for those who will listen and he gives tours of a traditional Karpathian house.
Pyles is situated on the west side of the island right next to Othos. Pyles offer you a breath taking view of the sun set and the wine they make is strong.
Arkasa is located on the south west side of the island past the fishing port of Phoeniki. Arkasa lays at the area of the ancient city of Arkesea. The area of Arkesea is mostly turned into fields today. The chapel of Agia Sophia marks the site of three early Byzantine basilicas of large proportions (20x15m), built successively on one another, and each level having mosaic floors. Unfortunately the long story of "diminution" of the ancient Arkesea continues today with the destruction of the fragile mosaics of the basilicas. The ancient acropolis of Arkesea occupies the prominent peninsula projecting out of the sea. There are cyclopean walls and ancient Greek walls, and foundations of public buildings, probably temples. Follow up the path from Agia Sophia. In the outskirts of this town you will find a beach called Agios Nicholas, who is proclaimed as the best beach on the island from a survey we did on this website.
Phoeniki is a small fishing village a couple of kilometers north of Arkasa. There you will find several taverns and restaurants. The offer a variety of fresh fish. The local fish they serve is called a skaros and you must try it.
Menetes and Othos were built after the destruction by the pirates of the Byzantine city of Thaetho, by the city's remaining inhabitants.
The middle northern part of Karpathos is dominated by the island's highest mountain range, Mount Kali Limni. There are two villages here, Mesochori and Spoa, with their sea side fishing-hamlet of Lefkos, situated at the site of another Byzantine city, of considerable size. The basilica excavated in the mid '70s at Lefkos's anchorage was of unusual size, being 60m long.
Opposite Lefkos, at the strategic position of Karpathos's westernmost point, there is the islet of Xokastro. The island seems to have been a stronghold, of the frankish era. It is fortified by a medieval wall, with only one entrance. The interior of the fort is covered with piles of stones. The only structures to be distinguished are several vaulted cisterns, two of which are as large as 20x10m half hewn deep (5m) into the rock half vaulted out of the surface. The only inhabitants of the islet today are shy rabbits.
Diafani, Olymbos, Mesochori & Spoa (Pano Horia)
The northern part of Karpathos has the most wild nature, preserved forest, precipitous mountains, inaccessible settlements, solitary old paths, and harsh character.
Olymbos is described as a living museum, and in many ways, Olymbos is still an open living museum, of architecture, ethnology, linguistics, musicology. It is also the most famous place for tourists and the village is one of the few places in the world that is ruled by women. Women over forty, still wear their colorful traditional robe, and seem to be doing all the work, unlike men, who only seem to be eternally involved in singing dancing and playing the lyra (local music instrument resembling a violin). Unfortunately the "history of diminuition" of Arkesea, is applicable to this "open museum" too. With the invasion of tourists due to the recent construction of roads and ferry boat connections, the returning of some immigrants, and most importantly the invasion of television lately, very little time remains to the complete extinction of traditional customs and way of life.
Areas near Olymbos
Avlona is a small farmers village located north of Olymbos. Avlona's fields and houses are owned by the Elymbites who still cultivate the land with vine yards and cereals. About 40 of them reside here during the harvest seasons. Some of the houses are abandoned.
Vroukounda is the site of the ancient Greek town of Vrykous. The city was built on a peninsula, at the island's northwest tip. It was destroyed by a strong earthquake probably during the early Byzantine era. It then became yet another "city for the taking" on Karpathos. The only remains to be seen today are (in some places) the lower parts of the city's walls, several (plundered) chamber tombs, and the foundations of three basilicas. It is widely accepted today, that the inhabitants of Vrykous, scattered throughout the island after the city's destruction and never rebuilt it, and that, later their descendants gathered at Elymbos where they built the first nucleus of the village, probably in the 16th century.
Tristomo in the Mycenean period served as a natural port for the provision for the village of Vrikous. Two large rocks formed three entrances to the port hence the name.
Diafani is the port of Olympos and is located on the east side of the island, it was discovered by the inhabitants of Olympos around 1850, and are since then been used as a center for supplies to Olympos. There are some taverns, and some small supermarkets here, and a church with some fantastic Fresco paintings. North of Diafani is Vanadna which provides a stream and has a great pebbled beach.
Is an incredibly figurative town, with a lot of nice people. One of the best experiences we had on the island, was one evening in Messochori with a delicious meal, while watching one of the nicest sunset's we've seen. In Messochori you'll find some taverns, and a couple of small supermarkets. There is also a great church in the town, and if you take the stairs "under the church" you will find a natural spring . There is a saying about this spring that says if a woman drink from this, then she will be married with a local man from the island.
Lefkos is a small fishing village on the north west coast of the island. At Lefko you can really find a quiet atmosphere in one of the 3 beaches. Here are some taverns, some hotels and a couple of small supermarkets. Daily buses leave Pigadia for Lefkos.
Spoa is a rural village on the narrowest point of the island is only an 1/2 hour walk from Messochori. The village has pretty white houses and water springs give the impression of being buried in the country side. Spoa is considered to be the most hospitable village on Karpathos and home made sardines are a specialty there.