The northern Peloponnese forms part of ancient Arcadia - a bucolic landscape watered by Elysian streams - and is a great place to start a Greek adventure with flights into Athens being frequent and very well priced. Easily accessible within a 2 hour drive is a stunning and varied landscape of mountains, sea, rivers, gorges, alpine lakes, and pretty mountain villages just waiting to be explored.
There are plenty of hiking trails to discover and some of our favourite walks include the rugged valley of ancient Pheneos, The Fall of the River Styx where Achilles was dipped to ensure immortality, Heracles's spectacular Vouraikos Gorge, and Lake Tsivlos with the clean scent of the surrounding pine forests. Transhumance is still a way of life in these parts and high up in the pastures of Mount Helmos you will still come across flocks of sheep or goats and their blue-eyed shepherds. An added delight is foraging for wild mushrooms and collecting wild greens that grow profusely in these parts amongst the mossy clumps of wild cyclamen and star-studded meadows of saffron crocus.
Archaeological treasures abound where history and culture meet to tell the story of this ancient country. Aside from the well-known sites of Mycenae, Corinth, and Delphi which are easily accessible, the Northern Peloponnese has a few treasures of its own up its sleeve including Ancient Eyira. This site is set on a quiet hillside with astonishing views right out over the Corinthian Gulf with the mountains of Parnassos and Helicon beyond. Eyira was one of the twelve great cities of the Achaean League. Its amphitheatre, with superb acoustics, dates to around 280BC. There are two temples as well as the Agora and the Acropolis still in the process of excavation.
Another fascinating trip is to the Monastery of ‘Panagia ton Katafigion' (Our Lady of Refuge) close to the mountain village of Evrostina. The monastery is built into a vertiginous cliff and exploring it is not for the faint-hearted! In Evrostina itself is the lovely church of Aghios Georgios (St George) which has an interesting history - it was built during the Turkish occupation when building permits were only valid for 40 days and no building was allowed to take place after dark. The wily Evrostinians, who numbered around 6,000 at that time, built one third of a church in the first 40 days knowing that the Turks would order it to be knocked down. They numbered every stone and hid them away in their houses. Re-applying for their second permit, they managed to complete an incredibly beautiful and unusual church within the 40 days stipulated which is still studied today at the Athens Polytechnic.
The Peloponnese is also a great place for wine lovers since it grows about a quarter of the grapes used in the production of Greek wine. In the Northern Peloponnese close to Diakopto, Tetramythos is one of Greece's most interesting small wine producers and is becoming justifiably well-known among wine connoisseurs. A tour of the vineyard
followed by wine-tasting is a must for anyone visiting this area.
The biodiversity and ecological tapestry offered to nature enthusiasts is literally endless in Greece. Whether your interest is walking, hiking, mountain biking, river rafting, mountain climbing or simply eating, all is at your disposal - and the lovely mild climate in autumn and Greece's warm people combine to create an off season adventure worth remembering.