Greece has more secret treasures than the pirate Barbarossa it seems. Just a couple hours away from Athens lies Greece’s second largest island; Evia. We’ve been blessed with so much beauty that this has been going on right under our noses and we’ve been non the wiser. It’s almost insulting. But hey, Evia, like Andros, is one of those islands reserved for Greeks. It gets hardly any exposure, even on local media and so goes unnoticed. Which is a great thing for pretty much everyone including the environment.
Because Evia is not developed for mass tourism it has retained that classic old world charm, time warp feel. That’s not to say that modern amenities are non-existent. Far from it. Evia ticks all the boxes. And then some. As one of the largest islands it definitely won’t bore you. With several big towns such as Kymi, Chalkida, Edipsos and Eretria to name but a few, you’ll always find something to do. The truth is that Evia has tons of small villages and small towns to explore.
Evia is nothing if not a naturalist’s paradise. With rugged mountains traversing the island south to north like a spine, the hiking opportunities are numerous. The island’s highest peak is Dirfis, and just off it lies Stenies, a charming village from which you can step out in the wild and enjoy some primo mountaineering opps like hiking, climbing, biking and 4×4 trails. Further in along the Ochi Mountains one can go up against the Dimosari Gorge and see how you stack up against nature. Waterfalls and rapids are the name of the game here. Tucked under a thick canopy of chestnut, oak, holly, plane trees, olive and pear trees one can also spot some wildlife such as eagles, owls and buzzards along the ravine. Drimona waterfalls on the north side of the island are also more than worth your while. Situated at an altitude of 620 meters this spot has amenities such as a ranger’s cabin and a café.
The real show stopper in Evia, however, are the natural spings of Edipsos. Famous through the ages, with none other than Aristotle hailing its healing properties, this would be sufficient reason to visit. The healing includes ailments ranging from the skeletal to the muscular. It’s been a magnet for travelers along the ages. When the homonymous hotel opened up a century or so ago, it would become an instant hit with celebrities such as Omar Sharif, Winston Churchill as well as Aristotle Onassis.
But then theres the beaches. And you can bet they’re good. Take Chiliadou for instance. It’s one of the most scenic wild beaches in Greece. Flanked by sheer limestone cliffs with pine and several conifer trees, it gives way to some of the clearest water you’ll have seen. The fine sand and pebbly surface are just the icing on the cake.
Evia is no slouch when it comes to the grind. And of course you can bet your life you’ll come across ancient stuff. And it doesn’t get any better than this, folks. In Eretria, some of the artefacts found date back to the 9th century BC. The ancient city of Eretria is a bonanza of architectural wonder. This ancient polis was a force to be reckoned with back then. Archaeologists have unearthed a bevy of interesting finds, namely two palaces, four temples, a gym, bats and a theater from the 5th century BC.
If you think that’s impressive then a get a load of the ‘dragon houses’. These houses are nothing more than rudimentary stone dwellings. Take a closer look (or take the archaeologist’s word for it, maybe) and it’s apparent that these giant houses aren’t like anything seen before or after. Archaeologists have been flummoxed for decades. There is literally no logical explanation for their existence. Take into account the evidence on site that suggests they date back to the 8th century. There’s a few dozen of them scattered around mountain tops, and their sheer size and weight makes them truly incredible.
Medieval history buffs should head straight to Karababa Castle and the Venetian fortification-castle that the Italians built in 1684 to defend the island from Ottoman attacks. It is in remarkably strong shape, considering. A lot of the original structures and objects still exist in situ.
Evia is a big ol island. With great character, great history and a diverse set of things to see and do, it’s no wonder the locals have kept it under wraps for so long.