Worth getting out of bed for
Astypalia’s main town – known locally as Chora – is worth a good day or two out of your otherwise busy sunbathing schedule. Gleaming white stone windmills line the boulevard that leads up to theatrical Querini Castle, the well-preserved medieval fortress that crowns the village, and which comes complete with classic Greek chapels, Cyclades-style whitewashed walls, powder-blue domes and Instagrammable perfection. For the best photo opportunities, head up at sunrise or sunset, when you’re far less likely to arrive perspiring like you’ve staggered off a treadmill.
Livadi is the closest main beach to Saluti da Stampalia Suites. Its crystal-clear waters and row of traditional tavernas make it a fine place to nurse a Greek mojito (with Metaxa instead of rum). But you don’t have to stray far from the beaten path on this largely undiscovered island to find more secluded, even private spots. For example, tucked away just beyond Livadi Beach is the tiny chapel of Agios Vasilios, beneath which lies a small stretch of unspoiled pebble bay shaded by tamarisk trees. Take a good book and a picnic and, with luck, you might even find you have the place to yourself.
Snorkelling day trips out to the uninhabited islets of Kounoupa and Koutsomitis are a great way to get up close to the Aegean’s aquatic life. Yacht charters usually include lunch on board and can be organised via the hotel.
Astypalaia is becoming something of a mecca for seafood lovers. There’s little to beat grilled octopus from the morning catch, paired with a crisp sauv blanc in a taverna by the shore, something every visitor to the island should experience at least once.
For something a little more upmarket, Akti Restaurant is a romantic Chora favourite that perches on rocks over the Aegean, with views of the castle and a quite dazzling array of fish and seafood specialities on the menu – think swordfish carpaccio, grilled lobster and squid ink linguini with calamari.
Set in view of the stone windmills on Chora’s main square, Ducato di Astypalea serves up Greek and Mediterranean dishes such as Astypalaia goat in lemon sauce, octopus with fava beans and fillet of Black Angus beef.
Kafeglikatzidiko O Marinos is considered an institution in the nearby town of Maltezana, serving up a bewildering array of millefeuilles, cakes and other pastries, all freshly made on the premises daily. Greenery surrounds the small terrace dotted with decorative tables and chairs, where you’ll feel your waistline gently expand upon second and third helping.
On the road to Livadi you’ll find Argo Coffee Bar. By day, it sedately serves coffee and astypalitika (local biscuits made with saffron and thyme honey). Later the bar morphs into a favourite nightspot for locals, where you can expect traditional ouzo and raki, live music, Greek snacks, and a good time.
You can, of course, bring the party to your private balcony at the hotel, especially if you’ve booked a room with a hot tub. But if you want to sample Astypalaia’s low-key nightlife, you’ll find plenty of small, traditional dance shows around Chora’s tavernas, especially during the religious feast festivals that take place from July to September.
Located right in the shadow of the castle, Castro Bar serves up cocktails while DJs spin the tunes until late. Its wide terrace, open courtyard, colourful decor and – naturally – panoramic views of the Aegean, make it a great spot for people-watching over a margarita or three.
The younger crowd heads for Vatses Beach Bar, five miles south of Chora, where sundowners on the menu include the mastichito: another Greek variation on the mojito, where the rum is replaced with mastiha liqueur from the island of Chios. We’d strongly suggest organising yourself a cab home afterwards.