Exploring the Mountain: Litochoro & Zagorochoria
The best things in life are free. In Greece, it almost feels like you’re stealing. Because surely, there’s no way that such beauty can be so accessible and amenable. Or can it? Mykonos and Santorini may be out of this discussion, but bear in mind that Greece has tons other islands and a bunch of quaint mountain hamlets that make Switzerland look second rate.
And let’s face it, Greece has better food and friendlier people. It also has the sea. And when you combine sea and mountain, there’s only a handful of places round the world that can boast such diversity. And a fair few of them happen to be in Greece.
Litochoro is one of them. Nestled on the slopes of Mt. Olympus (yes, THAT Mt. Olympus!) it is one of the entry towns to the epic climbs of the mythical mountain. Founded somewhere in the 14th century, this cozy town with its rustic architecture wouldn’t look out of place in Tyrol.
The abundance of monasteries and churches from yesteryear means that some religious/archaeological trekking is in order, if that is on the menu. The churches of Agios Kosmas Aitolos, Agia Paraskevi and the chapel of Profitis Ilias are simply breathtaking, especially when juxtaposed with the dramatic clifftop scenery around.
Hiking enthusiasts will certainly appreciate the Olympus National Park. 45 square km of divine forests await the most intrepid of travelers and mountaineers. Just make sure you don’t actually have a rendezvous with the Gods. Things can get treacherous.
On the plus side, if you tire of trekking mountains you can simply mosey on down to the beach, just a short drive to Plaka and Gritsa. There’s camping amenities and such if you’re into the whole nature thing, too.
Zagorohoria on the other hand are pure alpine villages with a lot of history and extremely quaint spots that will transport you to a different side of Greece.
Zagori in Slavic means over the mountains and these 48 traditional villages are a reminder of Greece’s turbulent past, when being secluded from the world was a matter of survival.
These traditional hamlets are ideal for tranquil escapades into the nature reserves of the country. At varying degrees of altitude, villages such as Monodndri, Vikos and Papingo are the cream of the crop. The activities here revolve around what the Pindos mountain range has to offer. Scenic rivers, stone arch bridges, steep gorges and all the hygge you can possibly take are what’s on offer. They are great, any time of the year, and particularly the autumn and winter months when the fireplaces get err, fired up.
Greece is an all year round destination. It combines mountains and sea and it does that effortlessly.