These Dodecanese drinking dens, beach bars and cafés let you rub shoulders with locals while admiring this island in Greece’s windmills and Chora – the main town – which trails dramatically down a cliff to the harbour.
Known as the Butterfly Island due to its unique shape, Astypalea, one of the chain of Greek islands in the Dodecanese, draws visitors to its citadel above Chora, offering 360-degree views across the Aegean Sea. With no package tourism, the island attracts independent travellers wishing to experience a real Greek island holiday. Despite its small size, its bar scene here is thriving, with authentic spots and family-run cafés hidden among the backstreets of the Castro, or castle, area and beside the island’s famed windmills, offering cocktails, wine and beer to while the night away.
The aptly named Castro Bar commands the best location through the winding streets in the island’s main town near the castle. Its quirky decor of colourful chairs, walls and cushions scattered around the courtyard makes for a great meeting place whether you’re a local or just visiting. This being Greece, naturally, there’s a view to die for – this one across the Aegean. Kick back and browse the cocktail menu for ice-shaken margaritas while listening to the latest tunes and watching the sunset.
Strictly speaking more of a café than a bar, Dapia is worth a visit due to its waterfront location in the harbourside village of Péra Yialós. It offers a shaded terrace where you can watch the world go by, eat your breakfast crêpe and sip your freshly squeezed orange juice while catching up with work using the free wifi. It stays open until late and commands peaceful sunset views, as it’s not as lively as several others on the island – a great place for young and old alike.
Sitting just below the eight windmills that stand out in the main town, Archipelago occupies an old traditional house with a large garden and veranda with sweeping views up to the old castle. It’s an island institution, with a menu that ticks off the usual fare of alcoholic and soft drinks plus refreshing frappés and helpings of homemade lemon cakes. This joint is particularly favoured by locals, so it’s the perfect place to sit back and see island life unfold.
Vatses is a pebbly beach on the south coast of the island, 8km (5mi) from the main Chora. Popular among younger travellers, the adjoining beach bar here offers you sunbeds to rent, cool vibes and an excellent place to watch the sunset. Don’t leave without trying the mastichito – a mojito made with mastiha liqueur, from the island of Chios, instead of the usual rum.
For a more traditional Greek experience, head to the colourful Argo Coffee Bar located on the road towards Livádhia, the next resort village over from Chora. Open from the morning, selling local astypalitika – locally made yellow biscuits with thyme honey – until late into the night, Argo serves up traditional Greek ouzo and raki accompanied by live rembetika– the blues music of Greece. An excellent place to soak up island life with the locals.
Al Mare, an outdoor bar on Agios Konstantinos on the south coast, serves juices, coffees and cocktails throughout the day and well into the night – along with simple food such as salads using ingredients from the organic garden. Although not a massive party place, it’s a good place to get together with friends after a day on the beach, but note the dirt road to reach it is a little bumpy.
Not far from the windmills that adorn the skyline of the island, and named after the island’s shape, Butterfly is a café with chic decor and several seating tiers, offering great views across to the castle. Healthy smoothies during the day switch to a great choice of beers and wines as you head into the evening. Also try the feta and honey loukoumades – bite-sized fluffy sweet fried balls that go well with any drink.
Book your stay in one of the best hotels in Astypalea through Culture Trip. Once you arrive, make sure you frolic on the best beaches on the island. See our list of the other best things to do in Astypalea, then check out the best restaurants in Astypalea.
These recommendations were updated on June 29, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.