Astypalaia is an island of wild landscapes and welcoming locals, of beautiful beaches and historical charm. The westernmost island of the Dodecanese, it is still relatively untouristy and not as hard to get to as you might imagine, thanks to daily flights from Athens.
Its capital is Chora, built on a steep hillside and topped by a Venetian castle, with whitewashed houses spilling down to the port at its base.
Other must-sees include Livadia, a seaside village with a golden-sand beach backed by citrus groves; Koutsomiti and Kounoupes, tiny islands with castaway beaches that could be in the Caribbean; Vathy, an otherworldly lagoon and archaelogical site and Kylindra, with its excavated infant cemetery; incredibly moving.
Akti, Chora (pictured): great seafood overlooking the ocean, with a couple of tables seemingly hanging above the waves (arrive early to grab these).
Gerani, Livadi: a safe bet for honest Greek food at very decent prices.
Krokodilos, Livadi: tasty salads, mezze and fresh fish, served at tables right on the sand.
From Pera Gialos, take a boat to the tiny island of Tigani and adjacent beach of Koutsomitis (pictured) - the narrow straits between them have some of the most translucent, sparkling water this side of Evian. On the way there, you can also stop off at the pebbly two-sided beach of Kounoupes - a unique spot.
Archipelagos, Chora: for homemade cakes and good cocktails with wonderful views.
Mouggos, Chora: an old-time kafeneio by the windmills serving simple mezze and rakomelo (warm grappa with honey).
Castro Bar, Chora (pictured): head here at sunset for exotic cocktails and unforgettable sea panoramics.
Ayios Ioannis (St John) beach, on the barren northwest coast, is a stiff but rewarding 1-hour hike down a dramatic valley watered by rock pools. The secluded pebble beach is often deserted. Watching sunset from the cliff-top monastery of the same name after climbing back up the hill is unforgettable.
Photo: (c) Konstantinos **
This huge cavern near Vatses beach has dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. You'll need a good head torch and a guide (or patience to find the tiny entrance, halfway up the barren hill west of the beach). Vatses is a bumpy drive or short boat ride from Pera Gialos.
Chora has a tiny Archaeological Museum, including clay burial pots from the unique infant cemetery excavated at Kylindra.
This archaeological site has a beautiful otherworldly lagoon and its tavernas serve wonderful fresh fish. There's another cave near here (north of Panagia tou Thoma), called Drakospilia (or Dragon's Cave), though other stories talk of hidden pirates' treasure here.