A Greek island is no guarantee for a romantic holiday… Welcome to Karpathos!

The turquoise waters, the grilled octopus and the white houses. Greece is one of my favourite countries, and the many islands are great for family summer vacations or romantic getaways. I’ve spent many  childhood summers on Greek Islands, and I’m not angry at my parents for that. To say the least…

I have only visited Karpathos once and as an adult, and it was the most calm and quiet place – perfect for a couple just looking to do nothing else then stare into each others eyes! This is maybe the reason why we argued most of the trip. Always remember your problems travel with you – all over the world.

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I’ve had bad travel experiences before as some of you might have read, for instance in Ha Long Bay, which you can read all about in Vietnamese adventure! When a Ha Long Bay trip became a Monkey Island prison! This trip was our first real international trip as a couple – you know just when when you shift from madly in love to an actual relationship.

WHAT TO SEE & DO

Maybe there’s just to little to see, and that’s why we had to much time looking at each other and ending up getting on each other’s nerves. Maybe the cultural sights you see on your travels is what keeps you together 🙂 But you will hopefully have  different experience, since this is a nice little island – although on the boring side.

Karpathos is a great island for hopping on your scooter with a towel and a book! If you are like me and travel for culture, this is not the place. But if you just want sun, sand and good food for your holiday, then this is the island for you.

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The view from our bathroom

We got a small room in Karpathos main city Pigida and hired a scooter to get around, and it worked great. But a car is also a good idea. In this way, we could drive to different beaches and also eat dinner in smaller restaurants up in the mountains instead of only on the harbour front.

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Despite arguing about stupid things and getting to know the worse of our relationship, we also did enjoy the trip. My favourite memory of Karpathos is sitting on the back of a scooter with my husband driving down a mountain after a great Greek dinner  – with the warm air and the smell of the Mediterranean.

karpathos viewThe island is definitely mostly for the nature lovers. The surrounding nature is quite spectacular with mountains. But of course there are some sights, since this is Greece. Besides the main city, there’s a smaller one Lefkas – a fishing village. Another city is Olympos. It’s an small mountain town, with a fine cathedral with frescoes from the Ottoman period. Also check out the other churches in the city if you have time.

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The main cultural sights are the archaeological site of Vroukounta, which was one of four ancient cities of the island. The only remains is the city’s wall, burial chambers, 3 churches and some tombs.

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And of course the small mountain towns like Olympos, the many churches alongside the road with their distinct Greek architecture. The most visited church though is the cave church near Apelle with frescoes. It once served as a shelter for pirates as well.

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But most days will probably just be spend on the beach. There’s a beach in town, but take your scooter and go further up and down the coast for better beaches. Try the Achata Beach, Amopi or the Diafani. Or just anywhere…

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The beach near the main city

THEN AND NOW

It was way back 15 years ago, and we are still married, so no worries. But this also means Karpathos might be less quiet now.

As far as I can read from you travellers, who been more recently, it seems like the ecotourism thing is growing, which could be great. We only had a scooter, but with a car I would have gone more north. By Tristomo, there’s a small nature reserve, where you can see seals and turtles if you’re lucky.  If I was going today, I would probably stay at Iliahtida. It’s a small ecolodging in an old rural house from 1800s near the nature reserve. Some cultural and historical ruins can bee seen on the smaller island just north Saria, that also has four basilicas and a bath, medieval structures with unique domed roofs, an acropolis and more.

But will probably not go back and check…

A DODECANESE ISLAND

Karpathos is an island in the Dodecanese along with Kos and Rhodes. Just like neighbouring Crete, Karpathos has a history full of different foreign rulers. It started with the Minoans about 4000 years ago and was attacked by the Arabs between the 7th and 10th centuries.

It doesn’t have luxurious resorts and fancy restaurants, and there aren’t any important Ancient ruins. This is probably, why it has escaped the worst mass tourism. But it’s a very small island, so of course the few tourists take up a lot of space. It’s also the islands main income. Many of the inhabitants of the island migrated to USA, but later returned, which can sometimes be seen in the style of their homes.

PRACTICAL INFO

  • You have to either buy a packet deal or plan a layover. From most places in Europe it will be cheapest to buy a package deal
  • We rented a scooter in Pigadia for most of the time to get around. A scooter is about 15 Euros a day.
  • The price level is a lower than the rest of Greece

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For a different Greek island Go to the lesser-travelled East side of Crete & do as the locals!

Did you have a bad travel experience once?

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