Summer Road Trip: Southern Evia

Southern Evia, with its impressive Mount Ochi, mysterious dragon houses, and quiet beaches, is the ideal destination for a summer road trip.


For those who prefer a quiet, relaxing atmosphere, Karystos and Marmari offer boardwalks for evening strolls, children playing soccer, quiet beaches on the Evian Gulf that are perfect for the entire family and quaint ouzeris that serve fresh fish straight from the caiques. For everyone else, Karystos and Marmari offer beautiful hikes, scenic drives and surprises they wouldn’t expect to see so close to Athens.

Dragon houses

How can anyone blame the older generations for attributing the construction of this megalithic structure to dragons? Huge rocks, perfectly assembled without any binding material, were used to build the famous “dragon house” of Mount Ochi, which sits close to the mountain’s peak next to the small church of Profitis Ilias. Of course, according to researchers, this site was perhaps a place of worship, a fold (animal enclosure), or the home of ancient quarrymen, as are all of Greece’s dragon houses. This house in particular, however, is the largest and most impressive in Greece.

You can reach the site via the trail that starts from the mountain shelter of Mount Ochi, which you can reach by car (6km) from the village of Metochi. The road ends at Kastanologgos, an ancient forest on the slopes of Mount Ochi that is a habitat for centuries-old chestnut trees, whose massive trunks are like works of art.

Alternative beaches

Karystos and Marmari have a number of beautiful beaches, quiet with serene waters and golden sand, as well as stores where you can find everything you need. Our favorite beaches, however, which have been a secret of campers and recluses for years, are located a bit further south. The lush gorges in southern Evia, which today is a popular destination, prove wrong all those who believe that this part of the island is arid and barren.

Potami Beach, which looks out at the Strait of Kafireas, lies under the village of Platanistos. It is located 20km from Karystos at the end of its namesake stream. The stream itself can be explored on foot, while you can stop along the way to swim in the crystal-clear waters of its plunge pools and enjoy the sights such as the waterfall and stone bridge. The beach of Aghios Dimitrios or Schinodavleia is located at the end of its namesake canyon that starts from the village of Aghios Dimitrios (20km from Marmari) and looks out at the Aegean Sea. Kallianou Beach is also located nearby, where the famous canyon of Dimosari (and the road) ends; a beautiful scenic walk that starts from Mount Ochi.

Summer winds

Cavo D’Oro – the Cape of Kafireas – famous for its strong winds, offers one of the most beautiful experiences in the area. Located about 60km from Karystos, the road follows the base of Mount Ochi and is marked with wind turbines, cliffs, beautiful rock formations, the scent of fresh thyme and oregano and lush gorges that lead to untrodden beaches, like Archampoli Beach.

Of the region’s remote villages, it is worth visiting Antia, where you can learn about “Sfyria” – a unique language native to Antia where whistled tones transmit letters and syllables, which has also been included in the national inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece – and Amygdalia, which has the most inhabitants. Your trip would not be complete without driving out to the small church of Aghios Grigoris at the northern tip of Cavo D’Oro, where you can enjoy the wild landscape and breathtaking views of the nearby islet of Arapis.

Cuisine

Karystos and Marmari offer a variety of choices that suit everyone’s taste, from fresh fish and seafood to burgers. In Karystos, try the ouzeri Sinantisi (Tel. (+30) 22240.245.26) or the traditional Greek restaurant Cavo D’Oro (Tel. (+30) 22240.223.26). Gefsiplous (tel. (+30) 22240.256.97), whose menu is prepared by chef Giannis Baxevanis, serves delicious, carefully prepared dishes.

At Choni (Tel. (+30) 693.221.8107), located just outside the town with panoramic views of Karystos and the Aegean Sea, you can enjoy savory dishes that evoke the senses. In Marmari, in the courtyard of the popular steakhouse Tsamis (Tel. (+30) 22240.321.00), you can try select meat dishes, while Thalassa (Tel. (+30) 22240.324.59) offers a wide selection of fish and seafood.

 

You can also find very good restaurants in the surrounding villages. Xipolito (tel. (+30) 697.489.2742) in Pothi, which rears its own animals and grows its own vegetables, Stefosi (Tel. (+30) 22240.712.19) in Aghios Dimitrios and Mouries (Tel. (+30) 22240.317.60) in Paradeisi are excellent choices.

Knights

Kokkinokastro or Castello Rosso, just a few kilometers outside of Karystos, is one of the few castles on Evia. It is said that the fortress was first built in antiquity. It was later reinforced by the Byzantines, while its present form was shaped by the Venetians. Visit the castle in the evening when the view of the sunset is breathtaking, while locals will recount stories of the forbidden love between 13th century Byzantine admiral Licario and the Venetian noblewoman Felisa.

From the nearby village of Mili, take a walk out to Point Kylindroi (it’s about a 1-hour walk), the site of an ancient quarry, to see the five 12-meter columns that were left there thousands of years ago. Marble was once excavated and sculpted at this ancient quarry and then transported to the port for exportation – an incredible feat! If you’re not a fan of hiking, you can visit the Montofoli Wine Estate (Tel. (+30) 22240.239.51), a winery and archaeological site, with beautiful buildings of various periods and a rich history.



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