1. On the Train in Vouraikos Gorge
The cog railway is like a time machine transporting you to the late 19th century, when it was built to link Diakopto and Kalavryta via the Vouraikos Gorge. The landscape is largely untouched, although the trains and their infrastructure have been upgraded since. The journey lasts an hour and is by reservation only (Tel. (+30) 26910.43206). When you reach Kalavryta, head to Café Stathmos for some refreshments.
2. Tentura liqueur stop
While in Patra, make time for a visit to Castro Spirits (Tel. (+30) 2610.277.077), a distillery and store on Aghiou Nikolaou Street, to pick up a bottle of proper Tentura. This traditional liqueur comes in all sorts of flavors – classic, semi-sweet, masticha and sour cherry – and there are alsosyrup and loukoumia (Turkish delight) versions.
3. Archaeological Museum of Patra
This isn’t your typical archaeological museum, either in terms of location (it’s inside a very modern building designed by Bobotis and Bobotis Architects, with a domed roof made of titanium sheets) or taxonomy (the exhibition is arranged according to subject rather than geography or chronology). Highlights include the mosaic floors and the miniature Roman-era replica of the gold and ivory statue of Athena that once graced the Parthenon. (Daily 08:00-20:00, Tel. (+30) 2613.616.100, ampatron.gr).
4. Strofylia’s umbrella pines
Nature buffs mustn’t miss Strofylia Forest, home to the umbrella pine, or Pinus pinea, which lends the landscape something of an exotic African note. The forest grows down to the beach of Kalogria, whose sand dunes are also reminiscent of Africa. It is an absolute delight for hikers (with eight routes), cyclists (four routes, but C2 is best avoided), birdwatchers and landscape photographers. (Forest Management, Tel. (+30) 26930.319.39).
5. Cave of the Lakes and Planitero
The Cave of the Lakes, or Kastria, is just 17km from Kalavryta and well worth a visit for its crystalline waters and weird rock formations. Make sure to wear long sleeves or a light jacket, because the temperature inside the cave is never above 16°C (Open: Mon-Fri 09:00-16:30, Sat-Sun 09:00-17:30, Tel. (+30) 26920.310.01). Wrap up the excursion with a visit to the village of Planitero for delicious trout and a walk among the plane trees.
6. Going in circles at the river
A great way to really appreciate the attraction of the area of Ladonas River is the 55km route starting from the village of Dafni that runs through Kontovazena and Paos before returning to Dafni. The natural landscape is beautifully lush and there are plenty of opportunities for a refreshing swim. In Dafni, try the homemade pizza at Ferles (Tel. (+30) 26920.714.44), served in its flower-filled courtyard.
7. A meal among the trees
Located on a verdant hillside on Mt Erymathos, 25km from Kalavryta, Ano Vlasia is renowned for the waterfalls, known as Taxiarches, at the southern end of the village. For a meal, head to nearby Tsapournia and to the fir-shaded balcony of the taverna Zacharakis (Tel. (+30) 26940.913.55).