Astylpalea – The World’s first smoke free island

You might not be familiar with the name Astypalea? I wasn’t either until just a few weeks ago! When an exclusive invitation landed in my inbox from PMI to go and check out a pioneering project about this Greek Island becoming smoke free. This was one opportunity I wasn’t going to turn down!

Astypalea is a tiny Greek Island on the Aegean coast, the 2nd smallest Greek island, with a population of just 1,300! It has recently received smoke free certification from TUV Austria, a leading  independent certification organisation. My journey to this remote Greek island (known as the butterfly of the Aegean) began a on a Monday, the first destination being Athens. This included an overnight stay at the luxurious Sofitel at Athens airport. Wow what a hotel! I mean 5* absolute luxury and without doubt the comfiest bed I’ve ever slept in! 

An early start was needed next morning to catch the private chartered flight to Astypalea. That was of course after after the most important meal of the day… breakfast! And it didn’t disappoint!

After a short 1 hour flight, we arrived on the island where our journey began. First of all we had to check into our hotels, I was staying at Saluti Di Sampalia. What an absolute delight of a hotel it was! Complete with indoor Jacuzzi, sun terrace and separate upper bedroom level! This is one of the hotels on the island that have gone smoke free, but smoke free IQOS devices are allowed.

That afternoon we went to check out one of the smoke free beaches,  Steno bay, known for its quiet beach and crystal clear waters. Perfect for chilling out! Here we got to learn more about the smoke free culture and try out out activities such as SUP, Kayaking and snorkeling!

After freshening up back at the hotel, we got picked up to go to Akti restaurant for a tasting experience with Rene Soffner, a mixologist from Berlin, where local ingredients were mixed with classic drinks.

This was followed by an amzing multi course dinner with an impressive backdrop overlooking Astypalea harbour. 

One thing is for sure, Greek people really do know how to feed you! The roasted feta cheese and home made tzatziki were both amazing appetizers! Being a sea food restaurant, fish dishes were obviously going to feature. The sword fish and tuna were so fresh tasting and delicious.

The next morning we headed over to Livadi smoke free beach, another picturesque part of the island! The idealistic  surroundings make it perfect for yoga or meditation! Other activities such as massages and watersports are also available at the beach.

At lunch time we took part in a sensual tasting experience! This involved tasting a selection of unknown things having 2 of your senses taken away, sight and smell. It’s surprising just how much you actually taste with your sense of smell! 

The tasting session was led by Sotiris Knitzas, a famous Greek chef, who runs Nolan restaurant in Athens. I managed a very respectable 3 out of 5!

Later in the afternoon we found out more about what it meant for Astypalea (the Aegean spring of energy) going smoke free with a discussion with the Mayor of the island, Nikos Komineas and one of the local hoteliers. The decision to go smoke free has a symbolic meaning, they want to give islanders and tourists clean air, clean water and clean beaches.  Astypalea focuses on promoting well being and good health for its people and tourists alike

We also got the opportunity to check out the old town, Chora! Its lined with white houses with blue windows, that have  a very typical traditional Greek feel to them.

The windmills are definitley worth checking out and are a tourist hot spot! This is another designated smoke free parts of the island!

If you brave the steep ascent up the winding alleyways to the Ventetian castle of Querini, you’re rewarded with an amazing 360 degree view of the island!

That evening we dined at Agoni Grammi restaurant. Here we were served a selection of local dishes, including meat and fish specialties. The fish magiritsa, was amazing, that’s coming from someone who doesn’t usually go for fish soup! You can see why this place has a reputation as being one of the best restaurants on the island!

This is one of 5 restaurants on the island that has gone smoke free with the aim of making a better experience for diners along with 7 hotels and 2 beaches on the island. There was just time for a few final drinks on what was our last night on this special island. 

What are your thoughts on this project? Would you consider visiting Astypalea in the future?

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