When you leave Attica by car or bus, the next prefecture you'll come across is Viotia, known in ancient times as Boeotia. It will seem sparse at first with not much vegetation, but will slowly unveil its hidden secrets such as the beaches of the Corinthian gulf (as well as a couple on Evoikos or Euboean gulf), mountain climbing and skiing around Parnassos and a mixed bag of archaeological/religious sites including Plataiai, Chaironia and Orhomenos. As for Parnassos itself, there is so much more than skiing to be had: paragliding, stargazing and trekking are just some of these activities.
The prefecture's lazy capital, Livadia, lies in a gorge where the springs of Erkina flow, against a backdrop of a 14th-century medieval castle that's surprisingly well preserved. The castle is on the hill of Profitis Ilias, where it is said the Oracle of Zeus Trofonios was. Unlike the rest of the prefecture, Livadia is quite green because of its twin springs, Memory and Forgetfulness (Mnemosyne and Lethe).
The sites around this prefecture are not visited by mass tourism, which makes them all the more magical. Among these is the Lion of Chaironia (or Heronia), where Philip of Macedonia had defeated the forces of other city-states in Greece. There are some remains of a theatre and acropolis not far, with a modest archaeological museum. Nearby, Orhomenos represents one of the richest and oldest cities in ancient Greece. Today, the town has a notable Byzantine church and Mycenaean tomb as well as other landmarks, well worth visiting after before a lunch of superior trout from the well-watered area and delicious melons.
An hour or so away lies the quaint mountain village of Arahova, popular in the winter with skiers who seek adventure on Mount Parnassos. Yet Arahova is so much more than an accommodation village for skiers. Its intact traditional architecture is amazing, and it is known for its traditional rugs (flokati), bags and other hand-woven items. Arahova's tavernas that have an amazing view of olive groves and shimmering sea in the distance are not to be missed. Delicious dishes or 'mezes' and the local Formaella cheese are on offer. The spring celebration on Saint George's day (April 23) in Arahova lasts three days and should not be missed if you're in the area during this time.
In another part of the prefecture, while the Thebes of today does not have the glory of ancient times, modern-day Thiva does offer a worthy archaeological museum. After all, Thebes was founded by the Phoenician King Kadmos. It was also the birthplace of Hercules and home to the myth of Oedipus.
Across Viotia, there are some cosy villages with much history and heritage attached to them, such as Davlia. This lovely village features stone-built homes, narrow streets, traditional fountains and a central square dominated by a large old plane tree. Traditional lodgings, various ruins, hiking paths and more will greet visitors who come to discover this relatively undiscovered jewel.
Last but not least, a visit to Osios Loukas – a fascinating Byzantine monastery with a powerful aura – must be part of your visit to Viotia. The religious complex is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site and is found in a serene valley. It is easy to jump to nearby attractions in other prefectures, such as Delphi in Fokida and the beaches in Fthiotida.