The vast diversity of the Greek landscape and the wealth of natural beauty are among the top reasons travelers chose this wonderful country for their holidays. Although Greece is mainly known as a summer destination, it is in fact blessed with a myriad of activities and experiences which are perfect for any time of year. For those seeking to discover the lesser-known destinations which offer a fantastic mix of nature, cuisine and fun-packed activities, how about taking a trip to Central Greece.
From hiking, to rock climbing and enjoying the tremendous health benefits of the famous thermal springs, Central Greece promises a rewarding experience for outdoor enthusiasts.
Adrenaline pumped activities in Mount Oitis
Central Greece’s fifth highest mountain, Oitis is in fact a National Park included in the Natura 2000 network and not only does it hold great importance in terms of the wealth of its biodiversity but is also closely connected to the legendary hero, Hercules. The mountain is often referred to as the Hercules’ mountain due to the remains of an ancient temple built in his honor, found on a small hill of the Katavothra plateau. Every September the Hercule’s Mountain Trail Race takes place in the area, attracting runners from all corners of Greece.
The verdant peaks of Mount Oitis are home to unique and rare flower species, that thrive in a stunning natural environment created by the wealth of springs that run through the dramatic gorges. There are a total of 86 waterfalls scatter all across Mount Oitis, many of which are far from reach to the amateur hikers. Hiking enthusiasts will have plenty of opportunities to discover the area’s diverse natural environment, the region offers 60 kilometers of hiking routes, and as many as 18 marked hiking trails are available for exploration.
A fairly easy route that we got to experience during our weekend getaway leads towards the impressive Kremastos (the hanging) waterfall is the Farmakides Path that starts in the area of Ypati.
There are over a thousand species and sub-species of plants that have been recorded on Mount Oiti and a rather substantial amount of endemic plant species grow here. In antiquity, herbs were widely known for their healing and supernatural powers, and in fact, right here in the heart of this soaring mountain, the school of witches would take place at the path of Farmakidon, hence the name that implies medicine. Ladies from far and wide would travel here to master the techniques of potion-making using the herbs that covered this rugged landscape.
For those who want to try something a little more adventurous, there is rock climbing and rappelling – an excellent team of experienced guides led by Loukas Pratilas are here to show you how it’s done. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rock climber, there are plenty of surfaces to practice this outdoor sport. Contact Nature in Action for group activities in the mountain.
Spending time in nature does have a way of healing one’s body, mind, and soul – and one can plan their time and activities here based on their individual itinerary.
Katafygio Oiti – at 1250 meters
Those looking to spend some quality time in nature, in a desolate corner of the vast mountain range – will find refuge at the Katafygio Oiti, a charming mountain lodge located at 1250 meters. Home to wild horse species, you are bound to come across a handful of them freely roaming the meadow. A beautiful sight to behold!
In the summer visitors can engage in activities such as canyoning and river trekking and for those who are fond of free camping will find the whole area absolutely spectacular. As fall approaches so does the season of mushroom hunting combined with a leisurely hike this is an activity that is both fun and exciting. Come winter, get your skis ready and enjoy the crisp mountain air. There are several trails for all levels of experience, including options for the freeride ski. If skiing is not your cup of tea, then you can try snowmobiles or simply sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and admire the view.
Spring is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the numerous hiking trails or spend the day mountain biking, guided by professional athletes such as Greg Tsalafoytas.
Families traveling with children will find Katafygio Oitis a perfect destination for the whole family. There is an adventure park located right at the premises perfect for children and for those young at heart.
Enjoy the soothing waters of Ypatis Thermal Springs
The therapeutic springs of Ypati were known for their healing properties since as early as the 4th century BC. In the early 1900s, the Thermal Springs of Ypatis were considered to be the Paris of the thermal waters, attracting some of the most prominent figures of those times. Among the famous guests who would frequently visit the thermal springs was Queen Amalia.
Set in the verdant area of the Fthiotida Plain, right next to the foothills of Mount Oiti, the Ypatis Thermal Springs occupies a total area of about 900,000 square meters. The hydrotherapy clinic covers an area of 2,680 square meters with a total of 80 baths, including luxury baths, regular baths, special treatment baths, and baths for people with severe skin diseases.
The outdoor swimming pool welcomes over 16,000 visitors annually and is a truly rewarding experience. The therapeutic spring water of Ypati has a temperature of 33.2º Celsius and is rich in both carbonic acid and hydrogen sulfide. The thermal springs are open all year round except for March (due to maintenance works).
Visit the historical bridge of Gorgopotamos
The bridge of Gorgopotamos is the link between the two slopes of Mount Oiti and the national railway that connects Athens and Thessaloniki. It is historically known for a major event that took place on November 25, 1942, following the decision made in the Allied Middle East Headquarters, the united resistance organizations of E.A.M. and E.D.E.S. together with English saboteurs blew up the bridge causing a great delay to the crossing of the German troops. This event was considered to be one of the two most important rebellion actions of World War II, mentions of which were documented by Winston Churchill in his Memoirs.
While visiting the village of Gorgopotamos we recommend that you enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner at Tembelis, a family-run taverna surrounded by the shade of plane trees and running waters. Very refreshing on a warm summer night.
Pavliani Recreational Park
If you are looking to experience a combination of nature, humor, and adventure all in one place, then we invite you to discover the village of Pavliani. The village is separated into two, the Ano Pavliani (Upper) and the Kato Pavliani (Lower).
Located at the foothill of Mount Oitis, this charming village is characterized by the quirky art that decorates the most bizarre surfaces of the entire village, including garbage bins.
In Greek mythology, the area was known for the final scene of Hercule’s death, and the remains of the 3rd century BC temple erected in his honor can still be found to this day at the entrance of the Katavothra plateau, near Pavliani. In more recent history the village was the site of the Battle of Pavliani which took place in 1943 when the Greek army resisted the Italian troops. A monument dedicated to the battle can be found in Kato Pavliani.
In the verdant heart of Pavliani, locals and volunteers created a magical space that is perfect for all ages – the Pavliani Recreational Park is truly nothing like you have ever seen. Along the banks of the Asopos river, shaded by the sprawling branches of the plane, maple, and chestnut trees you are invited on a leisurely walk through the most creative park decorated with humorous paintings, hammocks, loungers and swings.
You know what they say, the hardest climb rewards with the best view, in this case, keep on walking towards the Iron Throne, the pinnacle of the National Park offering the most sweeping views.
All the sayings are written in Greek,- making it an excellent opportunity to make new friends with the locals. Despite the language barrier, you will find this place absolutely amusing.
After several hours spent in nature, time for a hearty meal. There are several taverns in the area where you can enjoy a delicious, well-deserved meal. Check out Litsa taverna with a great verandah and wonderful view.
Reach for the stars in Ypati, Central Greece
Right here in the heart of Ypati town visitors can learn all about the vast Universe at the third-largest planetarium and fully equipped observatory in Greece.
Housed in a former school building, the Kakoyianneio Star School is certified by the European Space Agency (ESA) and features an 80 seat capacity amphitheater and a 50 seat capacity planetarium. Regular lectures, projections, and films are screened at the premises. Numerous university programs are offered at the premises of the Star school which is a member of the ARIEL survey program.
Stargazing enthusiasts should not miss this opportunity to learn more about our world and beyond. Looking at the night sky is rewarding, educational and awe-spiring.
Explore Ypati Town and its turbulent history
Situated just a mere 22 kilometers west of Lamia, this charming mountain village is the heart and soul of Mount Oiti. With a history spanning over 2,500 years, the first mentions of Ypati were made by Aristotle. The first signs of the history of Ypati are evident in the coins that date back to 400 BC as well as the mentions of the capital city of the Greek tribe of Aenianis – bearing the name of Ypati. During the Archaic and Classical periods, the Aenianians were members of the Delphian Amphictyonic League.
Over the course of history, Ypati played a crucial role and was the site of many important historical battles. It was also under Byzantine, Crusader, and Ottoman rule. During the Greek War of Independence scenes of three battles took place at Ypati. The town faced its worst blow on 17 June 1944, when the German troops surrounded the town executing 28 people, wounding another 30, and burning down 375 of the 400 buildings. As the result of this major damage and destruction, Ypati has been declared as a martyr city and a memorial that commemorates this event can be found in the town center.
The town center is lined with a few delightful cafes where you can soak in the town’s wonderful atmosphere and fresh mountainous air. It is a great place to spend a few days enjoying nature and the surrounding region.
Where to Stay in Ypati
During the weekend trip to Ypati we stayed at Loutra Ypatis at Hotel Pringipikon which is ideally located in close proximity to the thermal springs and tavernas in the area. The rooms feature balconies, air conditioning, complimentary WiFi, and mini-fridge. The hotel works on bed and breakfast basis.
Passion for Greece was invited by Visit Central Greece, all opinions expressed are always our own.