Set high in the mountains of Karpathos Greece is the unique village of Olympos. Bright and colorful buildings are stacked into the cliffside as the town looks out over the beautiful ocean and rugged landscape. No visit to the island of Karpathos would be complete without exploring Olympos, but there are some things to know first! Join us as we breakdown our experience in this amazing Greek village.
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GETTING TO OLYMPOS IN KARPATHOS GREECE
Before planning your trip to Olympos Karpathos, you should know that getting there is not easy! The drive to the far north of the island is filled with twists and turns high in the cliffs. Rent a car from the airport or the main town of Pigadia to make the 1.5 hour drive.
At the time of our visit, there were no buses available. That could be because of how new this road is, or the time of year we visited. I mean before a few years ago, the only way to get to this secluded mountain village was to take a boat to the nearby Diafani port!
When booking rentals abroad we always check with Kayak Car Rentals. You can also contact local rental agencies on the island.
PIGADIA TO OLYMPOS GREECE
The narrow road from Pigadia to Olympos village runs along a massive cliffside with a steep drop to the oceanside. However, that part didn’t bother us so much. What was slightly terrifying was driving underneath the towering cliffs above with no netting to protect you from falling rocks!
Honestly, the car rental office did not emphasize the difficulty of this drive enough. If you’re not used to driving on tight European roads this may not be for you! Nevertheless, as Karpathos continues to grow in popularity the infrastructure and roads should be improving every year.
Olympos Karpathos Tip: We actually don’t recommend traveling directly from the main town of Pigadia to Olympos. Check out our One Week Karpathos itinerary for the best route!
PARKING IN OLYMPOS KARPATHOS
Don’t worry… When you turn that final corner to catch your first glimpse of Olympos, it will all be worth it! And once you’ve braved the drive it’s time to explore. Now you should know the entire town of Olympos Greece is pedestrian-only with small footpaths and steps in between the local houses.
On the map, there appears to be a second parking area. Yet, the road down to it is very worn will not be great on your rental car’s tires. Use the google map location below to find the main parking lot.
Google Map Location for Parking in Olympos Greece
DAY TRIP VS OVERNIGHT VISIT
While many travelers make a day trip to this small Greek village, this would be a mistake! It’s such a special town to visit on Karpathos that you truly need to experience it for more than one night.
After arriving, we grabbed our bags and started the walk through the small streets of the town. At once a woman in the traditional Kolaina dress of the village stopped us and asked with a puzzled look if we were staying the night. Her face lit up when we told her we were, and she directed us to our hotel on the other side of Olympos village.
Quickly, we realized the town (which now sees its fair share of day tourists) isn’t as popular of a destination as we first anticipated. Staying overnight would be a completely unique experience than most travelers would get. Guided by the local women, we found our way to the small coffee shop which was run by the family of our hotel.
WHERE TO STAY IN OLYMPOS KARPATHOS
After an adventurous walk with our bags through the winding streets of Olympos, we got into our room and couldn’t believe our eyes. For 40 Euros a night we had one of the most beautiful views that we have EVER had from a hotel room! Yes, the accommodation was basic but the view from the balcony was absolutely stunning.
With that said, you should know there are only a handful of places to stay in Olympos Karpathos. The village is tiny and is still mostly filled by local homes. For this reason, it’s best to book in advance if you are traveling in high season.
Aphrodite Hotel – This is where we stayed in Olympos and we loved every second of it! Enjoy incredible views from the small balconies that overlook the coastline. Basic accommodations, but one of the best deals you can get for the location.
Irene’s House – Stay in a unique traditional home in the heart of town.
Olympos Archipelagos – Gorgeous apartments just below the town center and close to Milos Taverna. Stunning views of the ocean and Karpathos Island.
HISTORY OF OLYMPOS KARPATHOS
Now that you know how to get to Olympos and where to stay, you should have some information about the amazing history of this village! First established in 7th Century AD, people have been living Olympos Karpathos for over 1,300 years. Originally they came from a town on the water called Vrykounda, but moved up into the mountains to escape frequent pirate attacks.
The traditions and customs of this town come from the ancient Doric people and were passed down from many generations ago. Still today, the women of Olympos wear the traditional clothing of their ancestors. This dress is so unique, you will not see it anywhere else in the world but Olympos Karpathos!
Like we mentioned before, the roads have only recently been built into Olympos. So prior to recent years Olympos has been largely cut off from the outside world. They take their traditions very seriously which brings an incredibly authentic feel to the town. Remember to be respectful of locals and always ask before taking photos.
EXPLORING THE VILLAGE OF OLYMPOS KARPATHOS
Excited yet? Exploring this historic village is truly like walking through a living museum! Realistically in just a couple of hours, you could walk every street in the town. However, your visit to Olympos Karpathos will be so much more. This is your chance to slow down and really embrace Greek island life.
Watch the goats roam through the mountains from your window. Listen to the church bells chime and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Eat a local goat dinner with artichoke hearts, and sip wine as the sun sets in the distance! Olympos in Karpathos Greece is truly an enchanting place to visit.
Aside from all that good stuff, one of our favorite things to do was simply walk up and down the steps of town. As you weave your way through the colorful homes you’ll have endless viewpoints and photo opportunities. From one side, you’ll be looking down on the town. While at the top of the village you’ll have a view of the ocean as well.
Olympos Karpathos Tip: The weather this high up is cold even in the summer months. Make sure to pack some layers for any inclement weather or wind.
DINNER AT MILOS TAVERNA
When we arrived on the Karpathos we were connected with a local who had grown up and spent most of his life on the island. He was the one who encouraged us to spend at least two nights in Olympos. While he had many recommendations for the island, he said there was one restaurant we couldn’t miss in Karpathos!
Milos Taverna is special for several reasons. Yes, the sunset view is one of the best you’ll find on the island… And of course, it’s some of the most delicious homemade food we’ve had in all of Greece. However, what makes Milos Taverna truly stand out is it has a working windmill! Sitting underneath the windmill with drinks at sunset was such an amazing experience.
WHAT TO EAT IN OLYMPOS GREECE
When you sit down at Milos Taverna the woman will list off the dishes she has prepared fresh for the day. We’re not sure if there is an actual menu, but we much preferred it this way! Eating here both nights during our stay in Olympos village, we got to try some delicious local dishes.
Some of our favorites were the artichoke hearts, fresh tzatziki, and stewed goat. Also, make sure to try the traditional Makarounes pasta which is famous in Olympos in Karpathos Greece. Hands down, this was our favorite restaurant on the island. We were seriously disappointed when we had to leave town and bid Milos Taverna goodbye!
Read our Karpathos Food Guide to find all the best restaurants and island specialties!
SARIA ISLAND BOAT TOUR
One of the reasons that we decided to spend two nights in town was because we wanted to take the boat tour to Saria Island. Just 10 minutes down the road from Olympos village, is the charming seaside port town of Diafani. If you can time your visit to take a boat that leaves from here it’s the best option to get to Saria!
The other way to go to Saria Island is to jump on the boat from the main city of Pigadia. However, the ride is much longer from here and you won’t have as much time for sea caves and swimming.
We paid €25 Euros for a full day boat trip and added on the fresh fish lunch for €10. This wasn’t our original plan when we arrived on the island, but after talking to several locals we are so happy we made the trip!
Learn more about our Saria Island Boat Tour
Have any questions on Olympos Karpathos or want to share your own experience in this one of a kind Greek village? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!