Renowned for years but still under tourism’s mainstream radar, the Arcadia region’s villages at Mount Mainalo in central Peloponnese tend to draw thousands of visitors on weekends, throughout the year.
Numerous tavernas operate in the area, most serving traditional dishes of the region such as rooster with noodles and oil-and-oregano prepared goat meat. The food quality is generally good. Most recipes are prepared using ingredients cultivated on the fertile Arcadian land. Local produce may be bought for home, reasonably priced, at groceries that remind of big-city delicatessens.Accommodation cost is slightly pricey, especially at the area’s two main villages, Dimitsana and Vytina.
ADVENTURE IN NATURE
The raging waters running along Lousios River, its bends, plunges and overall scenery amid the nature all add up to promise a thrilling rafting experience for enthusiasts of this water sport. | INFO: Trekking Hellas Arcadia, tel. (+ 30) 6974.459.753.
A quad ride along the dirt roads of Mount Mainalo also offers excitement. Trekking and bicycling options offer quieter experiences. | INFO: Explore Mainalo Vytina, tel (+ 30) 6938. 169.580.
BREAKFAST AT DIMITSANA
Marina and Nikolas, who run the Villa Vager guest house, quit their jobs in Athens and relocated to Levidi. They prepare breakfast meals for guests with a real passion. Marina makes her owngranola, cake with raisins, as well as sweet and savory tarts, while Nikolas freshly squeezes juices, prepares mountain tea, heats cheese pies and makes the fruit salads. The list of breakfast delights included on the menu here is endless and different each time, depending on the fresh produce of each season.
INFO: Levidi, tel. (+30) 27960. 22.073
The breakfast menu range is extensive at the Theonimfi guesthouse. Everything is made on the spot – omelettes, pies, loukoumades (fried dough pieces covered in honey and cinnamon). The marmalades are superb as are the regional cheese products served here. Its rooms are equipped with all the comforts.
INFO: Dimitsana, tel. (+30) 27950.29.215 • Breakfast is included in the room price.
Nerida Boutique Hotel
Small pies with greens, bougatsa (semolina custard pastry) served hot, straight from the oven, homemade apple pies, marmalade made with fruit from the region, as well as fresh vegetables and fruit are included on the breakfast menu here. The hotel offers a view of the Lousios Ravine all the way to the Arcadian city Megalopoli.
INFO: Dimitsana, tel. (+30) 27950.32.700 • Breakfast is included in the room price.
Located at the heart of Dimitsana, this spot serves well prepared Italian espresso and a wide range of drinks and cocktails. Its décor, highly impressive, displays the café owner’s passion for old motorbikes, which he likes to hunt around for and restore. A standard meeting point for locals in weekdays, the spot draws more people on weekends.
INFO: Dimitsana, tel. (+30)6974.043.498 • Open all day until late at night • Prices: Coffee from €2, cocktails from €6-7.
An authentic cafe offering a wood-fired heater, card games at the tables and well prepared Greek coffee, Gerousia also serves other types of coffee and traditional sweets such as galaktoboureko (semolina custard pie), baklava (sweet filo-layered pastry filled with chopped nuts and held together with honey) and orange pie. If in the mood for Greek coffee, have it here.
INFO: Stemnitsa, tel. (+30) 27950-81.253 • Open from morning to night • Prices: Coffee from €1.
Kato apo to Roloi
If it is not too cold, consider sitting at the tent-covered outdoor space, offering an incredible view of the Lousios river and gorge. This art café and wine bar serves coffees, fruit juices, sandwiches and Arabic pita bread snacks from the morning hours, while fine wines, distilled spirits and cocktails are offered in the evenings. The barman here can make custom cocktails based on favourite drinks and tastes of customers. Don’t hesitate to inform.
INFO: Dimitsana, tel. (+30) 27950.32.444 • Prices: Coffee from €2, cocktails from €7, glasses of wine from €3.
TA PANO KATO CAFÉ BAR
This café bar, the most stylish in the Arcadia region, provides coffee, snacks and comfortable couches for reading during the daytime, as well as fine cocktails and drinks at night, to be enjoyed either at the bar or long monastery-type table. Live music performances and wine tasting events are often hosted. The cocktails here are of city standards.
INFO: Dimitsana, tel. +30 6932.336.461 • Open all day until late at night • Prices: regular drinks €6, cocktails €8.
Though small in population, inhabited by just 17 residents, the village Zygovisti features a large square with plane trees, ideal for coffee under the shade. If cold outside, the cozy and warm interior is worthwhile. Fine meze dishes served.
Zygovisti, tel. +30 27950.31.642
FOR A VIEW OF LOUSIOS RIVER AND THE GORGE
TO KAPILIO TON ATHANATON
This restaurant barbecues marinated pancetta, sliced into three pieces and braided. Other menu choices include wild boar, grilled local mushrooms, wild greens and creamy bean soup (fasolada). | INFO: Dimitsana, tel. (+30) 6977.422.578 • Open daily, except Wednesdays, for lunch and dinner • Prices: €10-15 per person.
Klimataria, a family-run taverna established in 1931, offers traditional cuisine including wild greens pie and rooster with noodles.
INFO: Vytina, tel. (+30) 27950.22.226 • Open daily during lunch and dinner hours • Price: €12-14 per person.
Ta Kokkina Pitharia
Using local ingredients, this place, located in the center of Vytina, likes to add fresh touches to traditional recipes, making it a popular draw for visitors. Recommended dishes include caramelized pancetta and deer with plums. Select Greek wines are included on the menu.
INFO: Vytina, tel. (+30) 27950.22.540 • Open daily during lunch and dinner hours • Price: €15-20 per person.
MENUS WITH A TWIST
If the overall uniformity of menus at most local eateries eventually dampens your appetite, consider Tefthis, whose meze dishes include bouyiourdi, a baked feta recipe, tenderly prepared pork, kagianas, a scrambled egg-and-tomato offering, and wild boar stew. The wine list is extensive.
INFO: Dimitsana, tel. (+30) 27950.31.514 • Open daily during lunch and dinner hours • Price: €10-14 per person.
Homemade pasta with dry myzithra cheese and rooster is one of the traditional dishes served at Drymonas taverna. Local ingredients chiefly used.
INFO: Dimitsana, tel. (+30) 27950.31.116 • Open daily during lunch and dinner hours • Price: €12-15 per perso
Amadryades grocery store
Smoked Kourounioti cheese from the Arcadian village Elliniko, pasta from Petromylos and Trahia (Argolida), as well as marmalades and sweet preserves made by regional women’s cooperatives are all on offer at Amadryades, a small grocery store on the Dimitsana main road. Don’t overlook the sack of fresh walnuts, sold in bulk.
INFO: Dimitsana, tel. (+30) 6977.234.813 • All day open.
To Arkadiko (Arcadian) grocery
Marmalades, sweet preserves, noodles and orzo as well as traditional cookies are available at To Arkadiko grocery, run by a duo prepared to also offer useful information on local culinary ways and the region. Liqueurs, wines and tsipouro (distilled spirit) supplied by small-scale domestic producers also available.
INFO: Stemnitsa, tel. (+30) 27950.81.373 • All day open.
Vytina Pasta Workshop (Ergastirio Zimarikon)
The pleasant scent of fresh pasta becomes immediately apparent upon entering this workshop, a family-run venture producing various delicious pasta varieties, including versions with vegetables and tomato.
INFO: Vytina, tel. (+30) 27950.22.573 • All day open.
Nondas Spiropoulos, the head at Domaine Spiropoulos, cultivates PDO Mandinia moschofilero and other grape varieties at an 80-hectare vineyard surrounding his winery. It is open to the public Tue-Sat, 09.00-15.00, upon arrangement by telephone. | INFO: 15th km Tripoli-Artemisia road, ancient Mandinia, tel. +30 27960.61.400
Tsatsoulis feta cheese
The reputation of the feta cheese produced in Vytina has spread well beyond the Arcadia region. It is distributed throughout Greece at many major supermarkets. Operating in Vytina, the Tsatsoulis family, which has been making cheese products since 1958, produces a slightly hard and spicy feta cheese. Also try this producer’s anthotyro, a salt-free cheese, as well as the superb traditional yoghurt, a revelation. Open all day until late at night.
INFO: Vytina, tel. (+30) 27950.22.561
ARCADIA CHEESE STORE
The owners of the cheese products workshop and store Arcadia, covering the region’s entire cheese gamut, have been involved in cheese production for three generations. It is located in the village Zevgolatio, close to Tripoli, while an additional outlet, also operating as a café, has been opened along the Tripoli-Pyrgos road. Additional outlet, 12th km Tripoli-Pyrgos road, tel. (+30) 2710.221.563, open 10:00-21:00.
Two stores in Vytina sell various fine honey varieties, including pine and thyme-based, as well as herbs and spices from the mountain. Don’t skip the marmalades, all homemade by a local woman. Open all day.
INFO: Vytina, tel. (+30) 27950.22.295 & (+30) 27950.22.657
Palia Agora (Old Market)
This grocery store, thoroughly stocked, sells spices, pasta, cheese products, sweets, honey, beans, both regional and from beyond the area. Open all day.
INFO: Vytina, tel. (+30) 27950-22.933
FOR BREAD AND SWEETS
Paradosiakos Fournos (traditional bakery)
At the traditional bakery in Levidi, now a century old, the bread loaves, made with a delicious hard crust, are hand-kneaded with yeast and baked in a wood-fired oven. The bakery’s shop area is tiny, about 2×2 meters. Cheese pies and various cookies are also produced here, all in the wood-fired oven.
INFO: Levidi • Open from 06:00 to the afternoon hours.
Paradosiakos Xylofournos (Traditional bakery with wood-fired oven)
Every morning, this bakery’s owner, Eleni, bakes traditional bread with yeast in her wood-fired oven, producing fluffy yet firm bread, definitely different to the spongier breads produced in cities. Traditional cheese pies and spinach pies are also baked here.
INFO: Stemnitsa • Open from 06:00 until the early afternoon hours.
Maestro confectionary store
The baklava, diples (crispy fried pastries rolled and drizzled with honey and sprinkled with walnuts), melomakarona (honey cookies), various cakes and orange pies are just some of the fresh sweets made at it this family-run confectionary store.
INFO: Vytina, tel. (+30) 27950.22.881 • Open 09:00-21:00.