A two-day escape to the beautiful Xylokastro of Corinthia and its neighbouring mountainous villages will fill your weekends with the scent of summer and will be enough to convince you that a short trip away from Athens’ problems is all that is required to get you into the mood for relaxation and holidays.

Xylokastro : Cosmopolitan Xylokastro is only 127km from the city of Athens. With pebbly beaches, filled with pine-trees, holidaymakers of all ages and a great variety of entertainment options, this picturesque Corinthia town is just as impressive as the main popular tourist resorts of the country.

What to see & what to do : At the blue-flag beaches of Xylokastro’s “Pefkia” you can enjoy cool dips and endless moments of summer relaxation. The area’s natural pine-forest, which extends to about two km, is ideal for invigorating walks, family picnics and afternoon siestas to the sounds of the sea and the crickets. On the east end of the forest, the poet, Aggelos Sikelianos’s uniquely styled villa is one of the must-see spots of the area. Along Xylokastro’s sea-side walking-path, which at dusk is bustling with people, you’ll enjoy plenty of walks and savor your food, your ice-cream or your drink next to the waves. Don’t forget to visit one of the town’s open-air cinemas, “Electra” and “Avlaia”, for carefree movie nights under the stars. Xylokastro has a cycle-track, 5x5 sports facilities, a tennis court and a beach-volley field, a marina with a mooring capacity of 200 boats, a fun-fair and an open-air theatre, which hosts plays and concerts during the summer.  

Zemeno : 10km south of Xylokastro and at a height of 600m you will come across the mountain village of Zemeno. This picturesque little village, the beauty of which was praised through the photographs of Swiss photographer Fred Boissonas, offers a lovely view of the whole Corinthian bay. If you visit it towards the end of August, you will have the opportunity to experience the big feast of the Zemeno sultana, that rare type of grape which the village is famous for.  

Klimenti : Leaving Zemeno behind, you’ll ascend towards neighbouring Klimenti. The climate of the village, due to its altitude, which reaches 960m, its abundance of water and its rich natural environment, is very healthy. Follow the lovely off-road route which begins from the village and ends at the picturesque chapel of Aghios Konstantinos. The moment you get there the panoramic view of the Stymphalian plain will reward you. In the village, which is also widely known for the exquisite wine it produces, there is a winery you can visit. So what could be better than a tour round its spaces, a walk through its vine-yards and a taste of its delicious wines?   

Kaisari : Almost attached to Klimenti, Kaisari is known for its mountain climate and for the high quality of its products. Here you can enjoy your coffee in the stone-built square of the village, with the perennial plane tree, and you can breathe clean, mountain air. Don’t forget to visit the Monastery of the Panagia (Holy Virgin), which is located east of the village, in a green, quiet location. 

Velina : At an altitude of 980m, north of Kaisarios, Velina is proud of its juicy tomatoes and, in fact, even organizes a feast to present them. Near the end of August come to the village and enjoy yourself in an amazing feast with live folklore music and countless local delicacies. If you have time, an evening stroll through the settlement’s black pine-forest will rid you of the stress and the worries of the city. 

Stymphalia : Almost 10km from Kaisari, mythical Stymphalia, of Hercules and the man-eating birds, is still one of mountainous Corinthia’s most charming destinations. The impressive Lake Stymphalia, the definitive landmark of the area, will capture your gaze and take your thoughts on a journey. Just outside the village, built of a green hillock with a view to the lake, you will find the Environment Museum of Stymphalia, which is well-worth a visit. If you love fish, a brief stop for fresh trout at the fish-farm of the area will offer you an unforgettable dining experience.  

Goura : About 30km after Stymphalia, this picturesque village of Corinthia will allow you to travel through time. The main square of the village, with its stone-built church, its old mansions and its traditional cafes create an atmospheric backdrop, reminiscent of the beginning of the 19th century. Though it is usually considered a winter destination, during summer Goura will be the cool and breezy oasis you so deeply need.

Article by Sofia Hatoupi