3 Must-Visit Guesthouses in Central Greece

Embrace the great outdoors and authentic Greek experiences at these 3 cosy guesthouses, located in the central region of Sterea Ellada.


Afanos

Afanos, a small, stone-built guesthouse, is located behind Lakka Square, Arachova’s most central area, which is home to many popular cafés and bars. Its main entrance is on the square from which it takes its name. Fires were said to have been lit in antiquity at this location, which now serves as a free parking lot, to signal the nearby site of Delphi and the surrounding villages. And this is the first surprise you’ll see when you arrive: a breathtaking view of the deep gorge that leads to Delphi, with the sun shining through the clouds.

The second surprise occurs as soon as you enter the guesthouse. The tasteful, elongated reception area, completely decorated in wood and featuring wooden blinds and a plain seating area, exudes warmth and intimacy. In 2020, Georgina Paikopoulou and her older brother Dimitris decided to purchase the building, an old Arachovian mansion that the previous owners had partially converted into a guesthouse; they renovated it and opened in 2021.

Info

1 Afanou Square, Arachova 

Tel. (+30) 22670.315.14

 

afanos.gr

Double rooms from 104 euros, with breakfast 

The heritage of the mansion  

“We don’t have many ties to anywhere, so Arachova became our adopted hometown. We have many friends, we know most of the owners of the other accommodations and we support each other,” adds Dimitris, who previously worked in shipping and traveled the world. “We wanted to create a tasteful and welcoming space where we could welcome friends, relatives and visitors from Greece and abroad and introduce them to Arachova and Mount Parnassοs, the places where we spent our childhood. The daily contact with people is very refreshing; you don’t feel confined in a small space. Also, we close during the summer, so I can travel.”

From May to September, depending on the weather, the guesthouse is closed and reopens as soon as it gets cold. The old mansion has three levels, with rooms and suites named after Greek mountains and peaks like Ziria, Olympus, and Liakoura. The lower level contains two 50-square-meter suites that can accommodate up to three people each, while the other two floors house double rooms and a breakfast area. Most rooms have a fireplace. Their decor seamlessly blends rustic aesthetics with modern elements, successfully evoking the feeling of being on the mountain.  

The porthole of Aghios Georgios 

The Ziria room, the attic with the stone-built bed, fireplace, and white wooden ceiling, has a small porthole window. As soon as you open it, you are magically transported to the village world, with a view of the stone bell tower of Agios Georgios Church, which has been designated a historic monument since 2000. To reach the church, visitors must climb 264 steps, where important events from the historic Battle of Arachova in 1826, in which Georgios Karaiskakis played a key role, are said to have occurred.

Arachova has many places to discover, and its narrow streets are ideal for walking, particularly in the upper part. It’s also very convenient to be able to walk everywhere from Afanos.

The hospitality manifesto

“Cleanliness, a real concern for our visitors, restful sleep, and a genuine smile are values we uphold. We want people to feel really peaceful. That is why we ensure that the rooms are fully equipped, from firewood for the fireplace to coffee capsules, high-quality bathroom amenities, and Coco-Mat mattresses. Second, we want our common areas to be inspiring, bringing people together and encouraging connections,” adds Georgina.

The lovely breakfast buffet exemplifies the same level of care and attention to detail, with all the essentials: eggs from local producers, honey from the neighboring Oiti region, homemade cakes, locally sourced milk, bread, sausages, cereals, and fresh orange juice. “As much as possible, we invest in partnerships with local producers; it is critical that our guests try Mount Parnassus products. These are also part of the experience,” concludes Dimitris.

Forest Suites

The impressive 1,975-meter peak of Helidona can be seen from the large balcony of the Forest Suites boutique hotel at the entrance to Megalo Horio, which is approximately 13 kilometers from Karpenisi in Evrytania. Most of it is covered in dense fir forest, with clusters of deciduous trees like walnuts, chestnuts, and oaks at its base. The Karpenissiotis River, which originates on Mount Tymfristos’ western slopes, can be heard at dawn or late at night when absolute silence prevails. Along the way, it joins the Krikeliotis River to form the Trikeliotis River, which empties into Lake Kremasta.

A twenty-minute drive south of the hotel, near where the two rivers meet, is the stone bridge of Balta, built in the late 19th century by builders from Epirus. In addition to the lush nature, with its running waters and dense vegetation dominated by the dark green fir trees and the brown bare branches of deciduous trees this time of year, visitors can also witness the tragic history of the region.

 

On Sunday, January 13, 1963, shortly after eight a.m., a landslide of unprecedented magnitude engulfed the village of Mikro Horio. The tragic toll was 13 dead, 60 homes destroyed, and countless animals buried beneath the mud and debris. Years later, in Gremenitses, 2.5 kilometers to the north, the new village of Mikro Horio was ready to welcome the victims. So, what the visitor sees is the original settlement on the left, with a large chunk missing from the mountain just above it, and the new village to the right. The past and the future sit side by side.

Info

Megalo Horio, Evrytania

Tel. (+30) 22370.411.55

 

forestsuites.gr

Double rooms from 100 euros with breakfast

The hostess from Messinia

“I began visiting the area shortly before 2000, staying in various guesthouses and occasionally renting a house. I really liked the nature and tranquility of the mountain; it’s a different life up here,” says Toula Thanopoulou, the lodge’s owner. Her hospitality is ready and sincere; she treats the guests as if they were her own children.

The lounge, located above the breakfast area, is inviting, with large and comfortable sofas and spectacular mountain views, and the lending library has books for anyone who wants to read by the smoldering fire. The ten rooms, seven of which have fireplaces, also have a warm feel. Three of the rooms are simple doubles, with the rest being small, large, and family suites with comfortable mattresses, earthy colors, and wooden floors. However, the most impressive of the rooms, all of which are named after colors, is the bridal suite: the elevated bedroom next to a panoramic window creates the illusion of sleeping in nature.

Activities in nature

“During the summer, they swim in the pool, get a deep tan and just relax on the sunbeds,” Toula says. “If you want, you can visit Megalo Horio, which has many hiking trails around it, or I can call Fotis to take you horseback riding,” she adds with the warmth of someone who genuinely cares about their guests. An hour later, at the foothills of Kaliakouda, among dogwoods, plane trees, oaks and firs, we go for a beautiful ride on Anemos (Wind), led by local guide Fotis Kalantzis, owner of Natfil Horseriding (Tel. (+30) 698.899.8016).

Evrytania’s landscapes are captivating, particularly the valley of Karpenissiotis, which is incredibly diverse. Another activity for nature lovers is to explore off-road routes in a buggy. Vangelis Kakouras in the nearby village of Agios Nikolaos (20 km from Forest Suites) organizes mountain tours with buggy vehicles (Off-Road Tours, Tel. (+30) 694.545.9335). We followed him to the area’s unique chestnut forest, which starts just above the village.

Mavrodimos

Thanasis Mavrodimos and Katerina Zepidou harvest winter vegetables early in the morning in their vegetable garden in Riganorema, with the village of Agoriani visible in the mist in the background. It’s very cold, and only the sound of a strong wind fills the air, freezing our faces. They fill their wicker basket with cabbage, lettuce, leeks, scallions, and a couple of dozen fresh eggs from their chickens The chicken coop is shielded from foxes, martens, and hawks by the wire fence that encircles it and even stretches across its roof. Here, on the edges of Parnassos National Park, nature is real. The morning harvest will be carefully transported to the Mavrodimos Guesthouse kitchen, where Voula, Thanasis’ mother, will prepare salads, small vegetable pies, and eggs with pastirma.

In 1984, local resident Thymios Mavrodimos and his wife, who is from the nearby village of Vargiani, decided to open a guesthouse at the village’s entrance in 1984, complete with 14 rooms and a large central hall where they would serve good food. They were both familiar with the restaurant industry, having spent 13 years working at Thymios’ uncle’s taverna on Agoriani Square.

Info

Eptalofos (Agoriani), Fokida 

Tel. (+30) 22340.612.89

 

mavrodimos-guesthouse.gr

Double rooms from 75 euros, with breakfast. The restaurant and guesthouse are open from 28 October to 1 May, Friday to Sunday. In the summer, the guesthouse is open every day, and the restaurant serves only breakfast. 

The value of the handmade

Thymios crafted the window frames, floors, interior and exterior doors, windows, and even some beds. “In our region, there are many cedar trees; it’s strong wood that lasts,” he says. Everything has the appearance of being handcrafted, from the spotless rooms with rustic, homey decor to the wooden staircase leading to the lofts, to the breakfast options and restaurant fare.

Of course, the menu is primarily seasonal. “Our field in the Kopresia area produces apples, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and lotus fruits. We use most of the fruits to make jams and desserts,” notes Thymios, bringing out a jar of plum jam. They also sell their own products.

 

Summer vegetables like green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, cherries, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes come from their other field in Riganorema. “Whatever you sow grows, but because we are at an altitude of 800 meters, they ripen slower than in the valley,” explains Voula, who begins setting the table like a proper host. “In winter, because we are on the northern side of Parnassos, we get a lot of snow and the temperature drops to -7 degrees Celsius,” explains Thymios, who has spent his entire life on the mountain.

Cooking classes

We pair our meal with a 2019 Manteio red wine from the Argyriou Winery in the nearby village of Polydroso. We sample the local specialty, mounouhi (castrated goat), served with thick pasta, as well as cabbage pie, eggs with pastirma and tender sweet peppers, a morning salad, and goat rib chops. The next day, we have a similarly generous breakfast of mushroom omelet, cheese pie, local butter, cherry jam, and Parnassus fir tree honey. The restaurant’s menu ranges from zucchini soup and mushroom soup to boiled goat, wild boar stew, bean soup, rooster in wine sauce, chickpea casserole with mushrooms, and hilopites (traditional pasta) with sausage. Visitors can also participate in cooking classes for 40 euros per person, which allow them to experience the entire process, from harvesting to cooking.

Life in the forest

Throughout our conversation, the family’s close connection to the forest becomes more apparent. “There is a bush with purple flowers that blooms in the summer called kounoukla. They used to brew this for us when we had stomach problems. Also, our oregano is miraculous. We used to drink it to relieve stomach pain, and to treat coughs, we would sit with a towel over a boiling pot and inhale the steam. Animals that got sick would have ambelina to keep them warm, although it burns like poison,” says Thymios, listing home remedies. Fortunately, all this knowledge has been passed down to Thanasis, who has tried to transform the traditional guesthouse into a culinary destination. The task was difficult, primarily because Arachova, only 24 kilometers away, is more popular and the ski resort draws the majority of visitors.

 

However, they are becoming increasingly popular among hiking groups from Germany and Scandinavia, who prefer the peace and quiet of Agoriani, direct access to the forest, and, of course, the food at the guesthouse. While the experience focuses on gastronomy and Thymios and Voula’s stories, spending the night here is also an experience in and of itself, thanks to the direct contact with the forest. From the window of the wooden loft, you can see firs and plane trees and hear the wind whistling. Inside, you’ll everything you may need, including a warm bed, a beautiful view and, most importantly, cold and refreshing water from the village’s many springs.



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