On the border of the Cyclades and Dodecanese group lies a small island in the shape of a butterfly. This is Astypalea (Astypalaia), a relatively unknown to mass tourists island with impressive capital. Although it belongs to the Dodecanese, the island is closer to the Cyclades and it is reflected in its architecture - white houses with blue window covers and whitewashed churches with blue domes. Astypalea attracts people who can estimate and enjoy the tranquility, lack of night night, quiet beaches and the thought that in some days of the week no ferry departs from the island.
Curiously, it is easier to get to Astypalea from the Cyclades islands. There is a regular ferry line which departs from Piraeus to Astypalea 5 times a week and passes through Naxos
. As to the Dodecanese group, there is only one ferry which starts from Kastelorizo just once a week and passes through Kos
on the way to Astypalea. Also, a passenger only ferry links Astypalea with Kalymnos twice a week. The small airport of the island serves only domestic flights from Athens.
Astypalea is very rocky with no greenery. There are only four settlements on the island and three of them are in the west part, around the capital. The capital`s name is Astypalea or Chora ("town"), and its port is very spectacular while approaching it by sea. The houses are built amphitheatrically on the slopes of a hill, on the top of which stands a Venetian castle (Kastro). The seaside prolongation of Chora is called Pera Gialos, although they seem to be one and the same village, with hotels, taverns and a sandy beach. Livadi is a small resort 2 km south of Chora, with shingle beach with sunbeds and parasols to rent. The tiny village of Analipsi
with its beach Maltezana is in the east part of the "butterfly", 8 km away from Chora. Maltezana has sand mixed with pebbles.
Except for the above, there are also beaches out of the settlements. Some of them are remote and secluded (Pachia Ammos, Psili Ammos and Vathy), others are partly organized with facilities in the summer (Marmari, Kaminakia, Vatses and Agios Konstantinos). Numerous small beaches and coves are accessible by boats, especially around Maltezana. Boat trips are also organized around the groups of islets right below Astypalea.
As it comes to sights, the capital with its old windmills and castle is the most interesting place to see. A labyrinth of narrow streets lead from Pera Gialos to the top of Chora. The castle was built around the 13 century and today only its outer walls are preserved, and in the inner parts it houses two small churches. Other interesting places are the ruins of ancient bath near Maltezana and Drakos cave (dragon`s cave) and Negros Cave accessible by organized boat trips. The northwest side of Astypalea is full of churches and a monastery suitable for peaceful walks and sea views from above.