A Winter Getaway to Relax at Lake Plastira

The beautiful Lake Plastira, surrounded by fir trees and wild mountain terrain, offers plenty of low-key activities and relaxing things to do.


Lake Plastira is the proof of how a reservoir can dramatically change the natural, social and economic landscape of an area. The dam that holds back the waters of Tavropos River was built in 1959 and was the product of the vision of a local politician, Nikolaos Plastiras, who was originally from the neighboring village of Morfovouni. The artificial lake was created on the old plateau of Nevropolis, at an altitude of about 700m, with the purpose of irrigating the plain of Karditsa, providing water to the city and also generating electricity.

Until the construction of the dam, the area, at the foot of the wild Agrafa Mountains, was rugged and inaccessible. Progressively in the last decades the roads connecting Agrafa with Karditsa were improved and the inhabitants of the villages engaged in tourism, realizing that the lake offered a great privilege to their area, attracting visitors. Pezoula, Neraida and Neohori are villages that have been developed and welcomed the first travelers.

Very few people still take the road to the imposing mountains of Agrafa, after Neohori; on the contrary, the lake draws plenty of people all year round. In autumn, fallen leaves are the main photo theme, in winter countless fireplaces spread the smell of burnt wood in the atmosphere, in spring nature blossoms while in summer, water activities are the main attraction.

Surrounded by fir trees, the lake is always there with its still waters, challenging those who visit it to practice silence and immerse themselves in the beauty of its landscapes.

EIGHT EXPERIENCES FOR RELAXATION AND WELLBEING

Cycling on water

The pontoons on which the water bike rests calmly, tear through the normally calm water of the lake, which ripples only when the wind blows. Cycling on the water is a very relaxing activity that will allow you to enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains from the lake. You won’t need to pedal hard, nor will you get particularly tired, since the bike moves easily and quickly with little effort. You can pedal around the small islands or approach the opposite shore. Water bikes, as well as canoes, kayaks, sups and electric bikes to cycle outside the lake, are available for rent by Tavropos Activities at Pezoula Beach. For information and reservations, please call at Tel. (+30) 6977.740.066 or visit their website.

Exploring the forest

Around the lake and beyond the paths that lead to the various peaks of Agrafa, there’s a dense network of paths that are ideal for moderate hikes through the forest. You will find nice paths in the forest around the village of Mpelokomitis, to and from the mountain refuge of Agrafa, in the ravine above the village of Anthohori but also between the settlements above the lake. In September 2020, Cyclone Ianos caused a lot of damage in the area and has affected many routes, so before you start you should better consult the locals. You can also get information at the Karditsa Mountaineering Association (Tel. (+30) 6973.695.595, eoskarditsas.gr), which takes care of the maintenance of several paths.

The ideal Asana

Strength, balance, concentration. Yoga is known to have many benefits for the body and mind, one of the first being stress reduction and relaxation. When practiced in outdoor spaces, ideally, such as the meadows of Lake Plastiras, it is a unique experience. Two-day yoga retreats are often organized next to and around the lake but also in the forest or other outdoor areas. Elmina Roditi, professor of Physical Education and PhD candidate at the University of Thessaly, who works as a yoga and acro yoga teacher in Trikala, organizes three-day yoga workshops at the lake (Tel. (+30) 6972.648.610). Yoga classes are also frequently hosted at the Montanema Handmade Village Guesthouse, (Tel. (+30) 24450.452.20).

Horseback riding

You may be afraid to ride or feel nervous at first, but you’ll soon feel comfortable in the saddle once you’ve established your bond with one of the fifteen horses at Zampetas Farm (Tel. (+30) 24410.928.55, www.lakeplastira.gr). The owner Sofia Zampeta, who explained to us that riding is safe even for three-year-old children, will help you with this. You will take a long ride in the meadows by the lake, hearing only the soft sound of the horse’s hooves against the ground and enjoying the view from above.

With the power of plants

Gardening is quite relaxing, as is a walk in a well-tended garden. In Neohori Botanical Garden (Fteri area, Tel. (+30) 6946.476.683), you will have the opportunity to browse among a variety of flora (herbs, bushes, trees, etc.), see the artificial wetland and get to know the indigenous medicinal and ornamental plants. The garden is open daily except Tuesday from 10:00 to 15:00 and on weekends until 16:00, and entrance is free.

Doing nothing

Sometimes, the most enjoyable and relaxing thing is to do absolutely nothing ‒ and Lake Plastiras is the ideal place to do that. Especially in the two places we recommend you visit, your mind will empty of all your thoughts. Drive up to the dam, pass by it and take the first dirt road you see on your right. You will get above the dam, with a view both to its front and rear side. Stop and enjoy the view of the lake’s waters and the towering structure that holds them. Alternatively, follow the signs leading to Lake Plastiras’ Observatory that you will find a little earlier. Driving through a dense fir forest, you will reach the stone gazebo, where from the view of the lake is spectacular. Sit in silence and enjoy the scenery and the quiet.

Stop at the refuge

The stone-built mountain refuge of Agrafa (Tel. (+30) 6988.586.292) was built in 2002, in a unique location, on the slopes of Mount Voutsikaki and at an altitude of 1,536m. The dense fir forest expands all around you and you can explore it by walking its marked paths. Sit in front of the large fireplace, enjoy well-made coffee and let Vlasis and Irini, who run the lodge, share their knowledge on the area with you. The menu includes traditional dishes, such as spetzofai (sausages and peppers cooked in tomato sauce), stir fried pork and pasta, but also more refined dishes, such as sweet potato soup and vegan lentil burger. The route from the lake to the refuge is also interesting and on your way there, you might see horses, cows, bulls and even wild boars that live in the area.

A sanctuary with a view

The Monastery of Pelekiti (Tel. (+30) 24410.947.47) seems to hang from the steep slope of Agrafa, a little above the village of Karitsa, at a distance of 14km from Neohori. Full of natural domes, it was carved with wooden tools on the rock and is believed to have been built in the 15th century. You will come here for the wonderful view of the lake and the forest, but also the absolute tranquility that this place inspires.

Notebook

Getting there

Lake Plastira, and specifically its western part which is the most developed as regards tourism, is about 340km from Athens. For example, Kalyvia Pezoulas is 337km and Neohori 342km. You will get here by following the Athens-Lamia National Road and, after passing the bends on the old Lamia-Domokos road, you will come out on the new E65 road. Before Karditsa, turn towards Lake Plastiras. The cost of the trip is about 65 euros for fuel and tolls, one-way. From Thessaloniki the distance is 240km and it will take you about 3 hours (47 euros for fuel and tolls for one way).

 

Accommodation

Montanema Handmade Village (Anthohori, Τel. (+30) 24450.452.20, www.montanema.gr, at 120 euros for 2 people, breakfast included): More than just a guesthouse, Montanema stands for a different philosophy of hospitality. In the forest and in the ravine above the village of Anthohori, the complex consists of more than 30 cottages, which are fully integrated into the surrounding area. It is a unique retreat, which is vibrant and full of activities. The spa center has a pool and a whirlpool with mountain views, a hammam, a sauna, and offers massage treatments. The restaurant prepares delicious dishes with local ingredients every day, while the café is ideal for reading a book, getting lost in its pages, and occasionally looking up at the forested slopes. You can learn how to roll out pastry sheets, make soap from olive oil and herbs collected in the mountains, swing over a steep slope or see the turkeys, sheep, piglets and ponies in the farm. Upon consultation, the people of the guesthouse will guide you around the area and the mountain peaks, while they will also inform you about the paths around the guesthouse – nearby, you will find the waterfalls of Anthohori. Each cottage has a fireplace but no TV. All cottages are comfortable and spacious.

Kazarma Hotel (Kalyvia Phylaktis, Tel. (+30) 24410.922.90, www.kazarma.gr, at 106 euros for a double room, breakfast included): When you wake up in the morning and open the shutters, the view of the lake covered in fog brings a smile on your face. All rooms face the lake and are spread over various buildings located on the hillside above the main building, which houses the restaurant and café. The use of the spa is included in the room price. All you have to do is make an appointment to enjoy the indoor pool, jacuzzi, hammam and sauna. Wide variety of massages, facial and body treatments.

Naiades Hotel (Neohori, Tel. (+30) 24410.933.33, www.naiades.gr, at 118 euros per double room, breakfast included): Its view to the lake is excellent and it has many open outdoor spaces and stately rooms. The executive suite with hydromassage bathtub and individual sauna stands out, while the hotel also has a children’s playground and a café with board games.

Pandion Boutique Hotel (Neohori, Tel. (+30) 24410.934.40, www.pandion.gr, at 86 euros for a double room, breakfast included): The hotel’s double rooms and suites have king-size beds, wooden ceilings, antique lamps, in-room fireplaces and are decorated with a romantic mood. From almost everywhere you will have a view to the lake, while some of the suites are equipped with a hot tub and a sauna.

Aiolides Hotel (Kalyvia Pezoulas, Tel. (+30) 24410.929.66, www.aiolides.gr, at 73 euros per a double room, breakfast included): Stone-built fireplace, handmade rugs, iron canopy bed, jetted shower and a lake view. The hotel also serves Greek breakfast made of local products.

Nevros Hotel (Neohori, Karditsa, Tel. (+30) 24410.932.01, www.nevros.gr, at 57 euros per double room, breakfast included): Amphitheatrically built above Lake Plastira, it is the most value for money option in the area. In addition to double rooms and suites, you will also find family rooms. At the hotel’s Aloe Spa Center you will find a sauna, hammam, whirlpool and massage treatments.

Food

Fagotopi (Kalyvia Pezoulas, Tel. (+30) 24410.929.98): They use local raw materials and, based on traditional recipes, create new, original dishes. They use cherry tomatoes from the garden to prepare a nice dakos with tsalafouti (soft, creamy cheese used as a spread) and basil oil, blueberries to make a sauce to accompany local wild boar, while they also make cherry plum jam to pair with the homemade ice cream.

Manitari (2nd km of Neohori-Pezoula road, Lake Plastiras, Tel. (+30) 24410.933.22): From your table, you will have a view of the lake. Start with the mushroom soup and then try the beef steak, knuckle of ham with herbs and stir fried pork with leeks. Excellent cheeses such as grilled tsalafouti and talagani.

Zarnavalos (Kalyvia Pezoulas, Tel. (+30) 24410.920.08): The butcher next door supplies this taverna with local meat. Try their mutton ribs, pork steak, sausage and stews.

Megdovas (Mouha, Tel. (+30) 6982.434.465): Visit this traditional taverna for the stews, such as goat with potatoes in the oven and excellent grilled meats.

To Fragma (1.5km after the dam, on the road to Mouha, Tel. (+30) 24410.941.93): This family-run taverna serves delicious meatballs, well-cooked meats, hand-cut fries and seasonal salads. At the end of the meal, they will treat you to yogurt with homemade fruit preserves.



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