All the literature and guides will tell you that the inhabitants of Karpathos withdrew into the mountains to avoid the pirates that plagued the shores in the middle ages, hence the village of Olympos. It is a striking location, set high in the mountains and originally clinging to the protected inner valley. It has grown a little since then, and some buildings look out to the sea. But this is not a beach resort.
Guides and locals say someone should do a sociological study of Olympos, mainly because it has maintained its traditions while much of the rest of Greece has not. The most obvious case here is gender politics. There is a strong matriarchal power structure, in which the eldest daughter inherits the family's property and the mother's surname. This is seen as wildly radical in a country that has such a strong patriarchal society. But Karpathians are proud of Olympos, ostensibly because it shows their ancient culture, but possibly because they realise it is just the formalisation of the reality, in which men pretend to rule the household while the women do everything and let the men pretend. But that is just me talking.
Many of the women wear traditional costume, which I am assured is not just for the tourists. I did see women clad traditionally catching the bus to Deifini to buy fish, so that seems to be right. The postcards you see showing traditional dress invariably depict Olympian women.
The men seemed all to wear brown pants, and several had moustaches. So that may be traditional too.
The medieval Church of the Virgin Mary is worth a look. Alas, the centuries-old frescoes have been damaged by water and soot, but the iconostasis is still wonderful.
Several people recommended staying over in Olympos, to see the real village once the tourists have left. I didn't get to do so, but would like to. There are few who overnight here, so those who do are supposed to experience real Olympian hospitality.
Car, scooter, or other motorbike rental is the best way to get around Karpathos and it is very affordable there too. I was afraid to drive a two wheeler there, so this is what we had and we had an exciting time with it too! If you want to go to the north and all the way to Olympos you will need a 4wd. And be prepared that driving on those winding mountain roads is not allways that easy! But the locals that do drive quite fast are luckily patient.
A small and serene town on the side of a mountain. The road to Olympos was built in the 70's, so it
still is a very traditional small town with an interesting history to go with. So going there I recommend an arranged tour to get all the small details of the town. Several tours leave from Pigadia. Usually they take you closer first on a boat ride and then there is a short bus ride up the mountain.
Pigadia is the capital of Karpathos and a good base to stay during your visit. Many restaurants and
nice for shopping souveniers. The beach is ok, but outside of Pigadia you can find more beatiful beaches.
Located 15 km north of Pigadia, another beatiful beach with a nice tavern. Great for a relaxing day, surrounded by wonderful mountain scenery.
A beautiful small beach located a few kilometers north of Pigadia. Mostly pebble, with clear emerald blue waters. A small tavern with food and drinks but no accomondation is located on the beach.
Go to Olympos - village reachable only by 4WD or by boat. This is an old primarily fishermen village with houses scattered on the hill. The architecture is quite rich.