Swathed in silky aquamarine waters, far-flung, butterfly-shaped Astypalea is richly rewarding for walkers, campers and history buffs. For any island hunter, this is the ultimate escape – think mountainous meadows straight from the pages of Homer, and rugged beaches fringed in vivid blue water. Chance of sighting a mermaid: fair to middling.
The island’s main settlement, hilltop Hora, is a tumble of bleached-white houses cascading down from a medieval fortress to the fishing port of Skala. Although boutique hotels have been sprouting here in recent years, the tourist infrastructure – and ferry service – remains minimal, and most visitors are Greek, with the rest largely French and Italian. Fed up with the package crowds, Irish bars and fish and chips? You’ve come to the right place.