Some years ago, when my parents and I were on holiday on Karpathos, we met a man called Manolis on the beach at Arkassa. He told us that he had opened a cocktail bar in Arkassa and that we should definitely visit. He told us it was the best bar on the island, haha. That same holiday we went to have a look: and yes, he was right 😉 . Stema bar is in my opinion the most cosy bar on Karpathos!
The Stema bar is located in the village of Arkassa on the west coast of Karpathos. It is situated just off the main road, in a narrow street. It lies on the walking route between the center and the beach. Stema is a cocktail bar and is mainly known for its cocktails. The menu is very original, being placed on a piece of wood that was washed ashore. Apart from cocktails, you can also find other drinks like wine, tea and ouzo. With your drink you get a nice bowl of peanuts or chippies. Ah! I love that 😉
Hospitality. Something the Greeks are so well known for. We Dutch can really learn something from that! Manolis is a wonderful man, he chats with everyone and makes sure that everyone feels at ease. If he sees that you are ‘new’ and still a bit uncomfortable among all those people, he will start a conversation with you to make sure you feel at home. Manolis often uses his quality to connect visitors with each other. Great to see! Every year he looks for new staff to help him during the summer period. Often it is a number of girls and boys around 25 years old. You notice that he selects his staff well, they are busy the whole evening to make your evening perfect and like to make a chat, all very social!
Everyone is welcome at Stema, no matter how old (or young!) you are. It’s nice to see that everyone talks to each other and that age doesn’t play a role, that’s what makes it so special. The atmosphere here is very relaxed!
Tips for your visit to the Stema bar on Karpathos
Tip #1 Be on time for the sunset
The Stema bar opens around 6.30pm. If you make sure you are there on time, you can sit in pole position to see the sunset over the bay. It is very beautiful! You will notice that more visitors come around sunset. A few years ago, Ion Club did a mountain bike tour and had a stop at Stema Bar around sunset. Then on some days there were suddenly a number of mountain bikes there haha.
The sunset is so beautiful at Stema because the sun sets in the sea right in the middle of the u-bend. In addition, there is lovely Cuban music played. This gives a paradise-like feeling. The people who have sat here at sunset know exactly what we mean!
Tip #2 Come to the opening of Stema
The Stema bar always opens at the beginning of May. If you are on Karpathos in that period, it is really the tip to come to its opening. Then many locals come from Arkassa and it is one big party. You should not miss this special evening!
Tip #3 Eat before you go
Actually, before almost every visit to the Stema bar, we eat at the Kipos restaurant. This restaurant is at the end of the street when you walk past the Stema bar from the centre. A lovely restaurant with fresh dishes on the menu every day. A must to combine! After all, you have to eat well before you drink 😉 . We have also experienced several times that people order a pita gyros at the neighbors of the Stema bar, haha.
Vitamines are healthy
Always funny when Manolis walks by with a big smile and asks if you want vitamins. In the past, if you didn’t watch out, you got a shot glass full of raki. Here in Greece, it is often said that if you are not feeling well, a sip of raki can help kill the bacteria. Hence the saying: A raki a day keeps the doctor away 😉 . Nowadays, it is a bit milder and you get a shot filled with a nice cocktail flavour.
My favourite memory of the Stema bar
Vincent and I were dropped off at the cocktail bar by my parents. We were going to have a drink and then go home. Once we arrived at the cocktail bar, we saw about 20 children inside. It turned out that Manolis’ daughter was celebrating her birthday. All his friends and parents were present. Drinks and especially lots of food were available everywhere. In the Netherlands you would not be welcome at all, but here you are. Manolis invited us to attend and said that we could eat and drink everything. We were a bit uncomfortable, as this is almost unheard of in the Netherlands. In the end, we had a very nice evening! We stayed a bit longer than planned 😉 .