Beyond the lovely cafes on the river and near the bridge that connects it to the mainland, inner Chalkida is nothing to write home about, so after a good day or two in the city, take the time to discover the rest of Central Evia which hides many treasures. You will also find some decent traditional accommodation outside the city itself, either by the sea or in the mountains.
Impressive history across the ages
To begin with, not far from Chalkida lies the enchanting Karababa Castle built of stone on the hill near the Boeotian coast. The southern exit of the city boasts the Spring of Arethousa, offering an interesting stop before heading towards the town of Eretria. Midway between Chalkida and Eretria lies Lefkanti, where expeditions in ancient Xeropoli brought to light important knowledge about the so-called Dark Years in the region's history. Once in Lefkanti, look for the Monument of Toumba, considered the largest monument in Greece from the Early Iron Age.
As you reach Eretria, you might not be impressed with the older hotels there, but the seaside town is home to many hidden attractions. These include a very decent archaeological museum, ancient theatre, the Macedonian Tomb of Eroton, temple of Dafniforos Apollo, temple of Isida and 3rd century baths in the region of Limani.
Central Evia's monuments, archaeological sites, museums and castles don't stop here. The Fyllon castle some 8 km from Chalkida, once home of the legendary knight Likarios, stands tribute to the many Venetian remains on the central part of the island. These also include the Venetian towers of Triada, Politika, Pissonas and twin towers of Lilandio. Another Venetian towers survives in very good condition at the centre of Vasiliko, while in Kastri Psachnon there is a Venetian castle and traces on an ancient settlement.
History fans will also appreciate remains from the prehistoric settlement of Kalogerovrysi, as well as the Sanctuary of Artemis at Avlis on the coast between Avlida and Chalkida. In the wider Amarynthos area, a natural harbor on the south side of the island where ancient inscriptions in Linear B script where found, there are plenty of historical surprises and monuments such as the Venetian tower in Gymno and Macedonian-type tomb on the road to Ano Vatheia.
The central region's finds will continue to amaze you once you come across are the roman baths of Aliveri, Mycenaean tomb of Katakalo, La Cuppa Castle in Drgonera above Vrysi, and Skoteini Thourrounion Cave with an ancient cemetery nearby.
If you like museums, head to the Anastasios Liaskos Historical-War Museum in Kontodespoti (north middle part of Central Evia). Also noteworthy is the Folklore Museum of Kymi (Southern coast of Central Evia) considered one of the best regional museums in the country. Also in Central Evia are the Folklore Museum of Ano Vatheia and the Folklore Museum of Avlonari, giving you interesting insight into how the region's inhabitants lived in the not-so-distant past.
Beyond the manmade sites over the millennia, you will be impressed by the biodiversity and nature of Central Evia. The Dirfy mountain range is of special ecological interest, thanks to the diverse flora, shape and hydrological features. Closer to the Aegean coast the ravines of Mourteris and Manikiotiko near Avlonas, Konistra and Kymi have been rightfully designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty by the Greek State.
Crossing Agali Gorge is an amazing experience that must not be missed, so is a visit to the Aesthetic Forest of Steni which is protected by a government decree. Another protected area is the Kolovrechtis wetland of Psachna. If you're near Kymi visit the Oxylithos Volcano towering over the village by the same name.
There are a number of sailing schools and natucal clubs on the island, as well as many diving schools that will let you discover the wonderful aquatic charms of the region (see our diving section). An Equestrian Club operates in Pei, Chalkida, set in an attractive green location.
Hikers and mountain climbers will revel in the Michalis Nikolaou Mountanieering Refuge of Diry at an altitude of 1,100 meters, offering unparalleled views of bothe the Aegean and the Evian Gulf. There are many outstanding hikes such as the 6-hour one from the Dirfy Refuge to the Agali Gorge, or the 2.5-hour ones from the refuge to Steni or Ksirovouni.
Download the new Mount Dirfys hiking/adventure app!
At an elevation of 1743 meters (5720 feet), the volcano-like Mount Dirfys in the heart of Evia will amaze adventure seekers and hikers. Download the Mt. Dirfys topoGuide here, complete with 13 hiking routes, 2 MTB routes, 2 marathon race routes and an SUV tour. Easy and moderate trails available, including challenging mountain ascents over a total length of 70 km (43 miles). The detailed offline maps, in-depth information, pop-up photos and points of interest were compiled in 2016.