On the northern shore of the Gulf of Corinth and at the foot of Mount Parnassus, lies the bucolic village of Arachova, Greece. The village and its surroundings offered our tour group an exhilarating setting for testing our nimbleness and stamina.
Countryside Village of Arachova, Greece
We began our day in Arachova, Greece by climbing the iconic clock tower offering commanding views of the village’s terraced hillsides and red-tiled roofs. Arachova sits at an elevation of 2,700 feet and has a population of about 3,000. The area played an important role in the war for Greek independence from Ottoman rule when a decisive 1826 battle drove the Ottomans out. Toward the end of the 1800’s, the town grew when archaeologists excavating the nearby site of ancient Delphi established their operations base here. Today Arachova is often a base for tourists who visit Delphi and athletes who ski Mount Parnassus in winter.
Formaella Cheese in Arachova
There was a chill in the late September air when we walked around the town and stopped at a family-run cheese production facility. The Christos family produces the mild Formaella cheese only in Arachova from sheep and goat milk. The size of the facility limits annual production to 50,000 units. Since there is no room for expansion in Arachova and the cheese makers can’t produce it elsewhere and still legally brand it Formaella, they sell the limited output only in Greece.
Our next stop gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of traditional Greek candies and other sweets. Melted chocolate swirled in vats as husband and wife owners Thomas and Effie Papasthathis operated the equipment and passed out samples of a tasty, chocolate-covered pistachio, walnut and almond mixture.
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Our lunch at Taverna Kaplanis took the eat-local movement to the ultimate level. While the owner is a wine producer and raises the goats and sheep consumed in the restaurant, his wife creates the actual menu and cooks the traditional Greek dishes. We benefited from their teamwork by dining on spinach pie, fried zucchini blossoms, grilled Formaella cheese, stuffed cabbage, green salads, sausage with green peppers and tomato, lamb chops, rooster fetuccini and french fries.
As if this weren’t enough to satisfy our midday cravings, an intriguing Greek dessert topped the meal. Moustalevria is a flat, pancake-shaped concoction created by boiling the remnants of grapes, after being pressed for their juice, with wood ash. The solids are then filtered out and the liquid is boiled again with flour to a gelatin-like consistency and then ground pistachios added.
Recent rain in the area afforded a perfect opportunity to work off the meal by going on a hike to hunt for mushrooms in the National Forest of Parnassus. There are 280 different kinds of mushrooms that grow in the forest and it is legal to pick up to one kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) per person.
We passed under towering Kefalonia fir trees, a species that grows only in this forest and on the island of Kefalonia. Along our route we came upon an intact stone wall that lined a 3500-year-old path to Delphi through the forest. Political leaders of the early Greek city-states sought the advice of the famed oracle of Delphi whose visions allegedly predicted the future. A massive building complex developed at Delphi where the city-states erected temples to the gods who had bestowed fortunes on them. In addition, each city-state maintained a treasury building which housed the spoils that it had looted in its wars.
That evening, we capped our perfect day by dining on fresh fish in the seaside village of Antikyra at the wharf-side Valaouras Restaurant before heading back up the mountain to spend the night in Arachova at the Skamnos Boutique Hotel.
To book a room at the Skamnos Boutique Hotel in Arachova, Greece, contact:
WHEN TO VISIT ARACHOVA
Arachova is located on the slopes and is the most popular winter destination in Greece. Summers are dry and temperatures at night may drop significantly. Winters are cold and are characterized by heavy precipitation and snowfall.
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Traveling To Arachova Soon? Here are a few tips:
How to get there: In order to get to Arachova, you will have to follow the National Road of Athens to Lamia. Following the signs to Livadia at the junction of Thebes, you will continue towards Arachova/Delphi.
The road trip usally lasts two to three hours. Train and Bus are also available. Buses of Boetia operate routes from the Liosion Station in the City of Athens to the village of Arachova on a daily basis. The journey lasts three hours.
Trains operate daily from Athens and Thessaloniki to the city of Livadia. From Livadia, you can either hire a taxi or use the local KTEL bus to get to Arachova.
Where to stay: There are many places to stay in Arachova, Greece. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. For a luxury hotel that won’t break the bank, I recommend the Elafivolia Arahova Suites, which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor. For a mid-level hotel, I suggest the Aegli Arachova. Finally, for a budget hotel, try the VIP Chalet 4 Epoches. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Arachova Hotel Rates.
What to pack: The temperatures each season vary, but even in winter, it can be warm and you should always prepare for rain. You will want a waterproof outer layer, rain jacket, and travel umbrella. You’ll also want a good pair of walking shoes (I love Keen). If you are visiting in Winter, you’ll want to pack layers including a light sweater or scarf.
Arachova Trip Essentials
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Arachova Vacation
- Get the Lonely Planet Guidebook to Greece.
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Arachova mountainous village shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Summers are hot in Arachova, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- A great cross body travel bag. Cross body bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!
- You’ll want some great walking shoes for Arachova. I love Keen, they are so comfortable and a great shoe for summer trips to Greece. Here is a great option for women, and here is a great shoe option for men.
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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
David Lee Drotar’s travel stories appear in The Globe & Mail, New York Post, The Buffalo News, Perceptive Travel and numerous other publications. Drotar is the author of seven books including Steep Passages: A Worldwide Eco-Adventurer Unlocks Nature’s Spiritual Truths. See more at http://www.brookviewpress.com.