Lesser-Known Mountain Villages: Syrrako, Kastanitsa and Dilofo

These three car-free, stone-built villages are perfect for leisurely strolls, nature hikes, and enjoying the fall.

Syrrako, in charming Tzoumerka (Epirus)

In Syrrako, with its cobblestones and stately houses with arched entrances, you’ll marvel at the church of Aghios Nikolaos, little bridges, stone-built water fountains, and the ice-cold water from the Goura spring which numbs the lips. Along with the neighboring village of Kalarrites, Syrrako is one of the most beautiful villages in Greece.

You’ll note the childhood home of famous author and poet Kostas Krystallis, before following the historic cobblestone path that leads to Kalarrites, through the incredible Chrousias Gorge. The colors at this time of year make the walk, which takes about an hour, all the more enchanting. Once there, order a tsipouro at the Napoleon Zaglis guesthouse. If, rather than walking, you’ve come here by car, ask here for the keys to the Monastery of Kipina, located 6.5km away (a 15-minute drive). It will be an unforgettable experience.

Kastanitsa, in the forests of Parnon (Arcadia)

Kastanitsa, with its tile roof tower houses, humble whitewashed stone houses, and well-kept alleys, is the most beautiful village on Mount Parnon. Walk through the neighborhoods and pay a visit to the Environmental Information Center to learn about the nature of the mountain, and about the Tsakones – a population group with a unique dialect and customs. Then climb the hill with the ruins of the Kapsabelis Tower, a Byzantine-era castle, and enjoy the wonderful view.

The village is named for the surrounding chestnut forest (“kastano” means chestnut), and walking around during the fall, you’ll meet plenty of locals busily harvesting the nuts from the trees. The 39th Chestnut Festival just took place (on October 28). While it was a slightly smaller event than usual due to the pandemic, chestnuts are still very much the protagonists of the village right now.

Dilofo, in striking Zagori (Epirus)

None of the other 45 villages of the Zagori region compares to Dilofo. We single it out for several reasons; besides its incredible, inimitable Epirotic architecture, it also enjoys a special charm because of its small number of inhabitants. Yet despite the few residents, you’ll find one of the most popular restaurants in the whole region, Lithos, located at the entrance of the village. Worth noting also, just before Lithos, is the Makropoulos mansion, said to be the tallest in Zagori.

Enjoy a walk around the square covered in fallen leaves. Then cross the cobblestones and go uphill between the mansions to reach the imposing church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.

Very close to the village at the intersection of the main road, if you don’t continue towards Kipous and Koukouli, you will also come across the little stone bridge of Aghios Minas, and some of the most beautiful views of Epirus.

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