Walking in Greece: Parnassos National Park, Central Greece

Walking in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims, Parnassos’ trails take you past the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi and the sacred cave of Pan, god of the wilds.


The route

The trail from the village of Agoriani (or Eptalofos), through the Parnassos National Park and on to Delphi is arguably one of the loveliest on the European E4 path and very well signposted. It also has sections that follow the paths used by the ancients to reach the Corycian Cave from Delphi.

As you leave Agoriani heading in a southward direction, the last of its houses is succeeded by a forest of firs. The going from here to Kalania is uphill, but not too strenuous. You will come across a clearing and the church of Agia Triada some two kilometers into the trek, continue along the undulating path to reach the village and hills of Kalania. At 1,300 meters, this is also the highest elevation along this path – the remainder of the trek to Delphi is mostly downhill and back down to 550 meters.

After crossing meadows, dirt roads and spring water taps, you will come to the camping area of Kroki and then to a cobbled stretch of steps that was part of the ancient path to the cave. The closer you get to the archaeological site, the more rewarding its views of the olive groves and the ancient theater down below, as well as the bay of Itea and the sea on the coast.

Once you pass the ancient stadium, the path continues downhill, but now along a dirt road. It then takes you past the parking area of the archaeological site and the Angelos and Eva Sikelianos Museum, before you make your way into the village of Delphi.

Stops

The church of Agia Triada is a good place for a first, brief stop but save your big break for Kalania and Kroki, where you will also find fresh drinking water. It is also worth taking a few moments on the descent at Skala, if only to admire the amazing view.

Legends and stories

Mount Parnassos and Delphi are extremely important from an archaeological, historical and even mythological perspective. The section of Skala, from Kroki to the Delphi Ancient Stadium, is an ancient footpath made of stone that was described by 2nd century AD traveller Pausanias.

The Corycian Cave, at an altitude of 1,360 m, has yielded evidence of worship dating all the way back to Neolithic times, while legend has it that the cave was dedicated to Pan, the god of the wilds, and the Corycian Nymphs.

Who it’s for

Even though the trail does not present any technical difficulties or particular demands, you do have to be quite physically fit to walk it.

Tips

The first part of the route from Agoriani to Agia Triada is an easy and pleasant two kilometer-walk that can also be attempted by young children. Overall, the Parnassos National Park offers a plethora of trekking options, both easy and demanding.

If you feel like exploring just a little bit more, take the path from Kroki to the Corycian Cave, while the north side of the mountain is also great for more experienced trekkers and boasts some very demanding routes, such as the Velitsa ravine and the Nipsi summit. The trek from Delphi to Chrisso and onto Kirra in Itea is also interesting. Easy and all downhill, it is the same path taken by pilgrims to the sacred site of Delphi in antiquity.

Duration

Our route is 17 kilometers long and ascends from 990 meters in Agoriani to 1,300 meters at Kalania before descending to 550 at Delphi. The uphill stretches are easy, but you do need to be careful on the downward parts. Overall, the trek should take around 7-8 hours.

A hat and sunscreen are essential, as the last stretch heading into Delphi is very exposed to the sun. It’s a good idea to arrange a ride from Delphi back to Agoriani.


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