If you’re looking for a travel guide to Lispi Island then you’ve come to the right place! This exotic paradise is part of the Dodecanese Islands and is the shining pearl of the south-eastern Aegean Sea.
Lipsi offers visitors a simple, relaxed and authentic Greek experience with some of the friendliest locals anywhere in the world.
Before I delve into this Lipsi Island travel guide let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m Mina Delilabrou and I grew up in Athens, Greece. I work as a Pharmacy Assistant in one of the oldest university hospitals in the centre of Athens.
I met my husband John 22 years ago. He’s a passionate travel photographer. My husband inspired me to travel with him and capture with my camera all the magical places we are visiting together! We have a lot of fun traveling together as a husband and wife duo.
The Rich History and Culture of Lipsi Island
Lipsi is the island of the goddess Calypso where according to legend she kept Odysseus. Excavations reveal that Lipsi was first inhabited in the prehistoric times by the tribe of Cares.
Located in the Dodecanese group of 15 larger islands, many inhabited for over 4,000 years, Lipsi was absorbed into a succession of empires and rulers from the Romans and Ottomans to the Italian empire of Mussolini (1912-1943). All left their imprint on Lipsi.
United with the Dodecanese group and the Greek Republic in 1948 Lipsi has maintained its traditional way of life. Although Lipsi is a small island it has many reasons to be famous in Greece:
- The award-winning ‘Aposperitis’ wine using the rare ancient Fokiano grape variety.
- Recycling: The locals recycle their trash at a staggering 96% rate! That’s number one in all of Greece!
- The Monastery of ‘Panagia tou Harou’ (Madonna of Death) is famous in Greece because the eponymous icon is considered miraculous!
A Wonderful Three Day Trip to Lipsi Island
Lipsi is a small island with a 14 km road network. It has one settlement which is built around the wind free harbour of the island. The village on Lipsi is a scenic place full of traditional white houses with blue and brown shutters and picturesque churches.
The Municipality School of Lipsi Village has been declared a historical monument. Down at the harbour you’ll find many shops, taverns and colourful fishing boats. The mayor of Lipsi invited 30 members of the Greek Instagramers Events to his beautiful island for three days.
My husband and I were so lucky to participate in this fascinating artistic trip. We had a great time capturing and highlighting the beauty of Lipsi through our unique photographic style. During this wonderful trip, I found out that Lipsi is the ultimate paradise destination.
It’s an ideal escape for people who want to relax, experience the simple life, enjoy swimming at the beautiful beaches, eat fantastic local food and feel the serenity of a place which has not been altered by mass tourism.
One of the things that I love most about this beautiful Greek island is the hospitality of the local people. They make you feel right at home! This island has such wonderful energy that made me feel so calm and relaxed. I was so relaxed that I had the best ever sleep of my life.
Highlight of my Trip: The Churches of Lipsi
My favourite places on Lipsi Island were the churches of Pano Kimissi (Kimissi tis Theotokou) and Kato Kimissi which are connected by the ‘Path of Kimissi’, a 900m stone-paved footpath.
When we arrived at Kato Kimissi we passed the church (set amid a verdant landscape) and walked down to the Kimissi Beach. This beach is a stunning secluded small gulf. It’s full of round pebbles and aquamarine waters.
As you follow the paved path to Pano Kimissi – the sea and skyline views can only be described as dazzling! Walk further up and you get a feeling that you are watching the world from an aeroplane.
The sky was so clear that we could see most of the nearby islets. I just fell in love with the tranquillity of this beautiful landscape.
Lipsi Island Travel Guide: Top 5 Things To Do
Every place I visited on Lipsi had something special about it. There are so many wonderful activities to enjoy on this gem of the Dodecanese. Here are my top 5 experiences for this Lipsi Island travel guide.
1) Taste the Amazing Food: All the places we visited for lunch or dinner served delicious food plus had exemplary service. Lipsi goes against the spread of “tourist cuisine” and they use local produce for their delicious, traditional recipes. This makes a huge difference to the taste.
This 5 island cruise was the best boat tour I’ve experienced in my entire life. The entire crew was super friendly. Swimming in the incredible crystal-clear waters was an unforgettable experience.
3) Road Trip around the Island: The drive around the island’s periphery is a must! This route can be enjoyed any time of the day but especially when the sun goes down. The view of the sea and the nearby islands from above is simply spectacular.
4) Visit the “Madonna of Death” Church: A worthwhile stop is at “Panagia tou Harou” or “Madonna of Death”. The church is the beloved Virgin Mary of the island which celebrates a great feast each year on the 23rd of August.
In the area of “Panagia tou Harou” there is also a surprise. Although the island is dry, this area is extremely green and fertile.
5) Discover the Alfa Farm Dairy: Here you will find local and traditional products such as semi-hard soft cheeses, cream cheeses and yoghurt. These were some of the best cheeses I’ve ever tasted in my life.
Lipsi Island Travel Guide: The Ultimate 1 Week Itinerary
Day 1: “Arrive and Relax”
The trip to the island of Lipsi takes up to 9 hours from the Port of Piraeus. For that reason, on the first day, it is best to relax on a nearby beach and in the afternoon, visit the port. There, travellers and locals get together and have fun with island music and enjoy traditional wine and local food.
Day 2: “An Unforgettable Experience on a Traditional Sail-Boat”
The most beautiful excursion you will take is to the nearby islands. All you have to do is to go to the port and get on Rena’s Boat!
First stop is Makronisi, where you can swim and admire the wonderful rock formations. Then it’s on to the dazzling white island of Aspronisi, followed by a swimming stop in the turquoise waters of Tiganakia.
Next stop is at the beautiful Marathi for a swim and lunch. Here you can eat at one of the taverns or bring your own picnic.
The last stop is the little island of Arki where you will have time for a short visit and coffee. There is only one student in the Arkian school and the population is a mere 50 people! The cruise goes from 10am to 6pm.
Day 3: “Alfa Farm Diary”
It’s worth visiting the “Alfa Farm Dairy” which is a 5-minute walk from the port of Lipsi, next to the Aphrodite Hotel, on Lendou Beach. Maria and Bartholomew will guide you around the place, give you information and offer you a taste of all their produce.
In this local dairy, which Alessandro Baldissera opened in 2016, you can try some goat’s cheese and Italian caciotta, made with milk from cows and buffalos. Ask for their signature cheeses – like their unforgettable spicy goat’s cheese with peppers.
Day 4: “Lipsi Winery”
Did you know Lipsi Island produces its own wine? A trip up to the Lipsi Winery to view the vineyards is a must!
The Lipsi Winery was created to revitalize the island’s long-standing tradition, which is that during the Italian occupation the island’s wine (known as Liastos Fokianos) was exported to the Vatican.
Additionally, there are popular wine tasting events which you must book in advance to secure your place. As well as tasting the wine, you’ll view the majestic sunset over Lipsi Harbour.
Day 5: “Traditional Greek Churches”
The island is full of churches and chapels – all white with blue details and very well kept. The most popular church is “Panagia tou Harou” (Madonna of Death). Hundreds of visitors flock to the island to worship the miraculous icon in the harmonious church.
Every year, flowers are placed on the icon of Panagia tou Harou in the spring that dry up and blossom at the feast on the 23rd of August. The church was named after the eponymous icon showing the Virgin Mary holding Christ Crucified, rather than an infant in her arms.
The most impressive church complex on the island is the churches of Pano Kimissi and Kato Kimissi. The church of Kato Kimissi was built in the 16th century in the small port by the same name. It’s located on a spot surrounded by vegetation next to a fresh water spring.
Day 6: “Hiking”
The fascinating biodiversity and geology of Lipsi, in conjunction with gently sloping hills and an accessible coastline, are an open invitation to a step-by-step exploration of the island on foot.
The five hiking trails, that in combination make the big circuit of the island, give you the chance to do so. You can download the hiking map when you get there.
Day 7: “Castle and Windmill”
Of particular interest on the hill of the castle are the ruins of an acropolis and the surrounding tombs. On the top of a hill above the village stands the old windmill, constructed with natural stone and mortar, and it’s fairly well preserved.
Lipsi Island Travel Guide: Best Beaches on the Island
What visitors most appreciate about Lipsi is the authenticity and sincerity of the natural landscape. My favourite beach is Katsadia (15 minute walk).
It’s one of the most popular beaches on the island, sheltered from the wind, sandy, with shallow waters and large trees for shade. The bar-tavern on the edge of the beach completes the idyllic landscape and is an excellent choice if you fancy staying up late.
Chochlakoura Beach (30 minute walk) is another truly magical landscape! White pebbles everywhere on the coast and in the water, reflect the sun and lend the sea a fabulous aquamarine colour.
If you continue to the right of the beach, you will find a cave that offers shade, but make sure you get there early. There is limited space and it fills up quickly.
Tourkomnima-Xerokampos beaches (40 minute walk) are two quiet beaches which stand back to back to each other. They are part sand, part pebble, with few trees and clear waters. When it’s windy and the waters are choppy on one of the beaches, the other one is calm.
At the top of the hill between the two beaches stands a tiny chapel. Travel tip: There is a tiny beach located at the back of the hill that not many people know about.
Monodendri is the favourite beach for nudists. While Platis Gialos – with its white sand and blue waters – is one of the most beautiful beaches on Lipsi.
Lipsi Island Travel Guide: Authentic Greek Food
One of the main reasons to visit Lipsi Island is to sample the authentic Greek food. It’s an ideal place to enjoy fresh fish and seafood dishes such as stuffed squid, rice with seafood, cuttlefish ink and more.
Also try local goat cheese, cheese pies and snacks. Accompany your meal with the famous but hard-to-find sweet red wine from Lipsi and ask for desserts or sweet puddings.
Yiannis Restaurant is located on the banks of the peaceful Lipsi Harbour and is considered one of the best taverns on the island. The restaurant has beautiful decorations as well as the iconic pink Yiannis Boat moored outside. It serves meat and fish in huge portions.
Manolis Tastes is another fantastic restaurant. It’s located in the heart of Lipsi village and in one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings. This is the type of restaurant you return to again and again.
Manolis specializes in traditional Greek cooking supplemented with a number of his own creations such as apricot chicken, roast beef with vegetable sauce and lobster spaghetti.
My last recommendation is a place called Calypso. This family-run restaurant uses only the freshest local ingredients. The cuisine combines local and international gastronomic trends throughout its menu.
From local stuffed goat, chives and tasty pies, to tuna or shrimp tartare. Try carpaccio or sauerkraut, fresh fish or longline fish, or soups from the hands of mum Alexandra who continues to put her stamp on one of the island’s finest cuisines since 1974.
Lipsi Island Travel Guide: Best Places to Stay
The other members of the team were also very pleased with the hotels they stayed at. Some of them were: Mira Mare Studios, Angela Studios, Hotel Calypso, Calypso Apartments and Mina studios.
Lipsi Island Travel Guide: Tips for your Visit
The island is quite green and is ideal for families with children, as most of the beaches are shallow, calm and sandy. Rental umbrellas, sunbeds and food trucks are forbidden on all beaches on the island.
There is not much accommodation and no large hotel units, so it is advised to plan early for your stay. You can do without a car, as there are frequent municipality buses with schedules to the main beaches. In case you are interested there is a bike/car rental service and two taxis.