Located in the mountains of Vardousia just a few hours outside of Athens, the village of Athanasios Diakos is an ideal destination for a short break in the mountains away from the city. Don’t worry about boat or plane tickets, just rent/borrow/steal a car (or motorbike!) and go.
Surrounded by dense pine and fir forests, the village is a perfect jumping off point for nature walks and healthy outdoor activities. Or just kick back and enjoy the clean mountain air in the pretty village square.
TOP REASONS TO VISIT
1. The enormous plane tree in the square
The leaves are just starting to come in and soon the tree will be bursting with life, casting a deep shade over the main square. The centuries-old tree is even taller than the nearby church of the Transfiguration of the Savior, built in 1872.
2. Hiking and climbing in the Vardousia Mountains
Spring is the perfect time for an excursion for both beginner and experienced hikers. For information on the Vardousia refuge at 2,015 meters, visit the website of the Athens Hiking Club who run the refuge. The website provides information on the condition of the trails – particularly important now given this year’s heavy winter.
3. The Regional food
From the local meat you’ll find at the tavernas to the yogurt and cheeses you can take home with you, the quality of the local products is incomparable. Don’t fight the urge to try the famous Ravanis ice cream.
4. The Athanasios Diakos Museum
The Greek revolutionary hero’s father was a member of the Massavetas family who were originally from here. The village was named for its hero (who called himself “Thanasis Diakos,”) in 1959. Until then, it was known by the somewhat more quaint name of Ano Mousounitsa. If you find the museum closed, phone the president of the community, Thanasis Mastrokostopoulos, (tel. +30 6946.899.322) and someone will come and open it for you.
5. The Mountains of Oiti, Giona and Parnassos.
These mountains are so close by that their foothills approach the Vardousia range. Make a stop at the Stromi waterfall and head for the Mornos artificial lake, or go in the opposite direction towards Mount Oiti and visit the Oiti refuge activity center. The latter is a must for those with children as there is plenty here to keep them occupied.
EASTER IN THE VARDOUSIA MOUNTAINS
From the villages of Athanasios Diakos and Mousounitsa in the east to Artotina in the west, the Easter celebrations at the village churches are low-key but very authentic. The overwhelming beauty of the natural setting and the area’s laid-back atmosphere allow one to combine traditional Easter festivities with a relaxing break in the mountains.
• Vardousia (tel. +30 22650.631.48). On a hill just outside Athanasios Diakos with an excellent view of the Giona and Vardousia mountains. Outdoor pool, restaurant, bar, gym, meeting room and a farm with animals. Double room – €70 incl. Breakfast
• Kastanies (tel. +30 22650.631.25, +30 6977.151.195, ). A guesthouse with seven spacious rooms. Starts at €75 for a double room.
• Meterizi (tel. +30 22650.632.01). Traditional guesthouse on the main square. Double room €50 incl. breakfast.
• To Meterizi (tel. +30 22650.63201, +30 6948.824.029). Authentic, good quality selection of casseroles and grilled meat, and organic vegetables from Kyria Dimitra’s garden.
• Ravanis (tel. +30 22650.632.10). On the Athanasios Diakos village square. Known for its grilled meat, but mainly for its yogurt and delicious ice cream made with fresh milk.